Monday, December 31, 2007

Somewhere In Rainbows

Thom Yorke - - Dec 31, 2007Reminder that Radiohead rings in the new year with a webcast at broadcasting on Current TV) tonight at midnight EST. The pre-recorded performance will feature the band performing the entirety of their new album "In Rainbows" plus some "other bits" as Thom says. Unfortunately, I'll be out tonight with a few frends as many of you will be ringing in the new year and I don't get Current TV(which will be airing repeats of the broadcast tomorrow) so I hope some of the video segments end up on a torrent, YouTube, the band's MySpace, or something. The band's new album "In Rainbows" is officially released tomorrow.

Wishing my family, friends and everyone a happy and safe new year!

Update[7:12 pm]: I just realized is broadcasting as I write. Is this the same performance which will be broadcasting on at midnight?

Update: At least for now, the video of the band's performance(which they've dubbed "Scotch Mist") is archived here. Enjoy. So in response to my question above, the answer is 'yes', the performance that was broadcasting at at approximately 7 pm EST was the same performance which aired at at midnight EST.

Update[01/01/2008 - 12:09 pm]: Pitchfork has the "Scotch Mist" videos which the band have posted to their iMeem page and they load much faster than the one at

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Favourite Concerts of 2007

As I'd mention back in June, at that point in time, seeing The National at The Opera House had been my favourite concert of the year, and I can say that that has held true as 2007 comes to a close. The following list below are the concerts that resonated with me the most in 2007 - performances that didn't merely go through the motions, but rather displayed an emotional intensity, whether it be at a loud volume like The National's Matt Berninger screaming at the top of his lungs 'My mind's not right' during "Abel", or at the other end of the volume spectrum like Great Lake Swimmer's Tony Dekker and his fragile vocals during his performance at the beautiful Church Of The Redeemer in Toronto. The crucial factor though is that the performance's emotional intensity translates to the audience - if I feel it and the audience feels it, it's simply a rush:

(Click the hyperlinked dates below for links to my original review)

Jan 04, 2007 - Basia Bulat @ The Drake Hotel
Jan 31, 2007 - Camera Obscura @ The Opera House
Mar 08, 2007 - Under Byen [Canadian Music Week] @ The Mod Club
Apr 14, 2007 - Great Lake Swimmers and friends (early show) @ Church Of The Redeemer
Apr 19, 2007 - The Diableros, The Airfields @ Sneaky Dee's
Jun 05, 2007 - The National @ The Opera House
Jun 11, 2007 - The Long Blondes, Nicole Atkins & The Sea @ Lee's Palace
Jun 30, 2007 - Wilco @ Massey Hall
Sep 18, 2007 - Rilo Kiley @ Phoenix
Sep 21, 2007 - Okkervil River @ Lee's Palace
Nov 30, 2007 - Cuff The Duke, Land of Talk @ The Mod Club
Dec 05, 2007 - Richard Hawley @ Horseshoe Tavern

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Favourite Albums of 2007

By my estimation, the number of albums I bought this year that were released this year has declined as compared to previous years. I guess I've become more selective. It's good on the pocketbook for sure. It's also been a musical cleansing - quality over quantity as they say. On a certain level, this has been reflected in the focus of this blog - my coverage of new/upcoming artists has probably declined, but then my blogging frequency has declined in general. Perhaps in 2008, my interest in the local scene and or new bands will experience a resurgence. Or maybe not. We'll see. After some contemplation, what follows are my favourite albums of 2007. Enjoy - comment/flame as you like:

PJ Harvey - White Chalk (Island)

MySpace: PJ Harvey
Video: PJ Harvey - White Chalk (live on Later With Jools Holland)
Video: PJ Harvey - When Under Ether (promo video)

This album has an undeniable quiet beauty and it's so good that if and when she does tour this album, I'd be happy if she just performed the album in it's entirety.

Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis (Rough Trade)

MySpace: Jarvis Cocker
Video: Jarvis Cocker - Don't Let Him Waste Your Time (live on Late Show With David Letterman)

This was an album I'd never have expected to purchase, but I found a used copy this summer. It was one of my late-summer listening favourites, and Jarvis is looser than ever. I was a casual Pulp fan at best but even at their most accessible(ie. "Common People") there always seemed to be a certain level of affectation in their sound. "Jarvis" is a great focused pop effort.

Feist - The Reminder (Arts & Crafts)

MySpace: Feist
Video: Feist - live on

I listened to "The Reminder" almost non-stop the first week it came out. It's one if the few albums I actually bothered to write a review of. From start to finish, it's a wonderful collection of pop songs.

The National - Boxer (Beggars Banquet)

MySpace: The National
Video: The National - Fake Empires (live on Late Show With David Letterman)

"Boxer" is an intoxicating blend of Matt Berninger's woozy vocals, simple but scintillating melodies and a rhythm section that feels like your heart beating.

Richard Hawley - Lady's Bridge (Mute)

MySpace: Richard Hawley
Video: Richard Hawley - Tonight The Streets Are Ours (music video)

The most romantic-sounding album of the year, even if lyrically, it wasn't all about romance. Mr. Hawley has a voice like butter.

Jenn Grant - Orchestra For The Moon (Paris 1919 Records)

MySpace: Jenn Grant
Video: Jenn Grant - Dreamer (music video)

Jenn Grant is as humble as east-coasters come, on one hand refreshing but on the other hand I'd suspect that if she were any more "glamorous" she could be as big as Feist, someone she's often musically compared to. "Orchestra For The Moon" encompasses a variety of musically rich sounds(pedal steel, violin, viola, cello, glockenspil, harp, etc.) but still manages to maintain a level of casualness.

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (Island)

MySpace: Amy Winehouse
Video: Amy Winehouse - Live on The DL (

"Back To Black" has an undeniable retro soul feel to it but rather than sounding cheesy, it sounds very genuine. Tabloid fodder aside, Ms. Winehouse is a talented vocalist, sounding downright sinister at times like Eartha Kitt as on the title track, and breaking all hearts as on "Love Is A Losing Game".

Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

MySpace: Okkervil River
Video: Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe (music video)

"The Stage Names", over the course of its nine rootsy, rock songs, has a spiritual feel. By spiritual, I mean uplifting. It's hard to describe why, but uplifting is what I feel.

Basia Bulat - Oh, My Darling (Hardwood)

MySpace: Basia Bulat
Video: Basia Bulat - In The Night (music video)
Video: Basia Bulat - Before I Knew (live at LOLA Fest 2007)

Like Jenn Grant, Basia's also released a wonderful full-length debut this year. "Oh, My Darling" is full of romantic notions, as wonderfully expressed as on the intimate acoustic "Little Waltz", the infectious folk-pop of "December", and the harmony-laden "Before I Knew".

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas(Baby Please Come Home)

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm not sure if Darlene Love was on Late Show With David Letterman this year performing her seasonal classic "Christmas(Baby Please Come Home)" but to get you further into the holiday spirit(if you weren't already) you can check out her performance from last year below(and while you're at it pull out "A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector" and give it a's so good!):

Video: Darlene Love - "Christmas(Baby Please Come Home)" (live on Late Night With David Letterman - December 2006) (YouTube)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Belle and Sebastian Wish You A Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my family, friends and everyone out there. Just a few more things to shop for tomorrow morning then I'm all set for the next two weeks off work! My blogging frequency lately has been sketchy for various reasons but if all goes well I should be back later this week(maybe Boxing Day) with my Fave Albums of 2007 post - nothing too fancy but just a reminder of a few more albums that I think need more recognition.

In the meantime, check out the MySpace of Belle and Sebastian who are streaming a lovely brassy new Christmas tune "Are You Coming Over For Xmas", which the band will be offering for free download from midnight on Christmas eve until midnight on Christmas night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I See A Mansard Roof Through The Trees

concert review: Vampire Weekend, We're Marching On, The Torrent @ El Mocambo (Toronto, Ontario), December 13, 2007

Vampire Weekend at El Mocambo: photo by Michael Ligon

I like to think that I'm not easily swayed by the buzz surrounding certain new bands but when something as savorily saccharine as Brooklyn band Vampire Weekend's "Mansard Roof" is, with it's playful keyboards, lush strings, and strummed guitar, vibrant rhythm section, and delectable melodies, that was enough for me to decide to check out the band live when they came to Toronto for a show at El Mocambo last week on December 13.

Opening the show were Toronto 3-piece The Torrent, generally a guitar/drums/keyboards configuration, with some violin at times. The baritone vocals of Cameron Groves reminded me of Calvin Johnson although not as deep perhaps and the minimalist guitar/keyboards/drums arrangements had a new-wavey pop feel a la B-52's . Guitarist Michael Edward Barry was in The Hidden Cameras - his guitar playing was primitive but was more than well-suited to the music. Tara Azzopardi did double-duty energetically alternating between keyboards and drums. I think they're a new band - they're MySpace songs have barely a 100 hits as of now. They're official website indicates they're full-length is out this spring. You can also check them out live in January, first on the 11th at Silver Dollar, then on the 27th at Sneaky Dee's as part of Wavelength.

Next up were Toronto's We're Marching On, a group of young gents exhuberantly performing their brand of skewed pop music, hints of melody intermixed with quickly strummed electric guitar, added keyboards, and vocals that at their most vibrant were shouty and yelpy. Prior to the start of their set, I'd ducked out of the club only to come back to find that the club had filled in nicely(and quickly I might add) for We're Marching On's set. They were energetic, and yes even entertaining - I could imagine them bringing down the house say at The Boat or Sneaky Dee's, a few of Toronto's more indie rock oriented music venues - but the crowd at the El Mocambo, from what I recall seemed somewhat subdued. I believe the gent on keyboards is also in Ohbijou if I'm not mistaken, but then you know, all these indie rock kids start to look the same after a while.

And finally, Brooklyn four-piece Vampire Weekend. They set up their own equipment, at that time giving the audience a glimpse of their now-somewhat-known preppy wardrobe, albeit the keyboardist and drummer in particular looking like they just rolled out of bed. But for all the preconceptions of them being spoiled rich kids just because they all met while going to Ivy League school Columbia University, I couldn't give a shit. Their self-proclaimed music style of "upper west side Soweto" is interesting - I think they succeed when the Paul Simon "Graceland"-era comparisons are toned down. While the African-esque "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" on it's own merits is an entertaining melodic throwaway, part of it sounds like it came straight out of "The Lion King". During that song and a few other moments I felt their appropriation of African rhythms and instrumentation(based on my layman's knowledge of African music) felt a little unsettling(ie. how is that this Brooklyn band came to be influenced by such influences. Is this a gimmick?). Fortunately, I think the guys succeeded overall in not sounding too gimmicky. They started their set straight off with my favourite song off their MySpace, "Mansard Roof", later performing the punchy English Beat-esque pop of "APunk". The band got the audience involved with a song entitled "One(Blake’s Got A New Face)" being sure to point out that the song "One" that they would perform was not a cover of either the Metallica or U2 song, although Metallica's "One" was obviously present in part of the guitar arrangements of Vampire Weekend's "One". At a point in the song, lead vocalist Koenig got the audience to shout out the song's bracketed titled ie. "Blake's Got A New Face", which the audience did with enthusiasm. The musicianship was skillfully performed overall, more than enough proof that these guys are no flukes. Their debut album will be in stores on January 29 of the new year through XL Recordings and you can see the tracklisting here.

Check out a few of my photos from the show.

MySpace: The Torrent
MySpace: We're Marching On
MySpace: Vampire Weekend

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Anorak Christmas

Christmas Tree at Eaton Centre

The image of the Christmas Tree at the Eaton Centre above is a lot nicer than what a lot of GTA'ers woke up to this morning. I know a lot of people wanted a white Christmas but this is ridiculous.

So to rub salt in to the wound, I thought I'd remind you of a couple of winter outdoor shows coming up in the new year. As part of the WinterCity Festival coming to Toronto from January 25 to February 7 of '08, Nathan Phillips Square will be hosting a couple of free concerts: as you might already know, Tokyo Police Club come to the Square on Saturday, January 26(8:45 - 10 pm) and I just found out that The Weakerthans will be there on Saturday, February 2(8:45 - 10 pm). I didn't make it to The Golden Dogs/In-Flight Safety show at Nathan Phillips Square yesterday - damn, I should have went because compared to today's weather, yesterday was a cakewalk.

Thanks to John Sakamoto and his Anti-Hit List for pointing me towards Swedish pop gal Sally Shapiro's MySpace and her piano mix of her modern Christmas indiepop classic "Anorak Christmas". Reminds me, where could I buy an anorak like this?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

These Lights In Our Hearts They Tell No Lies

concert review: Richard Hawley, Ferraby Lionheart @ Horseshoe Tavern (Toronto, Ontario), December 5, 2007

Richard Hawley @ Horseshoe Tavern: photo by Michael Ligon

As part of the Horseshoe Tavern's 60th Anniversary celebrations, Mercury Music Prize-nominee Richard Hawley with opener Ferraby Lionheart came to the venue on December 5 last week. Sold out, if not at least close to capacity by the time Mr. Hawley hit the stage, the Tolkien-esque-named Ferraby Lionheart from Los Angeles and his band opened the show with a pleasant set of introspective if not sometimes sunny folk-pop tunes. For my first listen, there was a hint of promise - a few sparkling melodies here and there and the spare band instrumentation compliments the melodies nicely. If the audience was only politely receptive to Ferraby's set, it was only probably because we were impatient for Mr. Hawley to come on.

Pulp references aside(I was never a big Pulp fan and didn't even know Mr. Hawley was in the band at one time), I really first knew Richard Hawley through his association with A Girl Called Eddy who Mr. Hawley had produced her debut album from a few years back, a striking, emotional album of Bacharach-esque melancholic pop songs. I've only recently caught onto Mr. Hawley's output, initially through his MySpace and more recently with his most recent album "Lady's Bridge" which I picked up based upon the recommendations of many bloggers and critics. Starkingly romantic at times but also able to cut loose a little with a little twang and rockabilly, Mr. Hawley's an enigma in the pop scene, at least in terms of mainstream exposure. Richard and his band, a mostly bespectacled bunch decked out in black suit jackets, white shirts and dark jeans, with Richard sporting a greasy, tousled, pompadoured hair style, took the stage to a warm reception from the near-capacity audience. After a few salutations from RIchard, he cheekily got things going by saying "Let's Ballad" to the amusement of at least some of us who picked up on that quick quip. Romantic set-opener, "Valentine" got things underway nicely. In the preceding banter to next song "Roll River Roll", Richard said that the song was written about the Great Sheffield[his hometown] Flood of 1864 and that in an ironic twist several months after he wrote the tune, Sheffield experienced a flood. His most familiar tune to me so far, "Tonight The Streets Are Ours" was greeted with glee from me and even with the canned strings played through a synth, it still sounded glorious. I can only imagine how great a live string section would sound. As an aside, "...Streets..." sounded a lot like Scotland's Edwyn Collins, making me want to revisit some of his works. The venue-appropriate, pop-abilly romp of "Serious"(with Richard asking the audience if we wanted to hear some rockabilly) got a few in the crowd cutting a rug on the spot where they stood. Overall, it was one of my favourite shows of the year and a worthy addition to the Horseshoe Tavern's illustrious history. Just hope it doesn't take Mr. Hawley twelve years(the length of time he'd said he'd last been in Toronto) to come back.

Here are my photos from the show.

More reviews of the show over at chromewaves, It's Not The Band I Hate..., Eye Weekly,

MySpace: Richard Hawley
MySpace: Ferraby Lionheart

On a related note:

- there's a FLAC download(over at nyctaper) of Mr. Hawley's performance at Bowery Ballroom on December 1, 2007.
- Richard gives a heads up that you can now download his recent London Apple store session from iTunes.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Remember The Good Times

concert review: Cuff The Duke, Land Of Talk @ The Mod Club (Toronto, Ontario), November 30, 2007

Land Of Talk's Elizabeth Powell @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

Cuff The Duke @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

On a snowy Friday evening over a week ago[on November 30], Oshawa's Cuff The Duke played a CD release show at The Mod Club for their newly released album "Sidelines of The City"[Hardwood Records], and if that show was any indication, then their subsequent hometown two-night stint at The Velvet Elvis must have been barn-burners. Cuff The Duke's Wayne Petti(Guitar, Lead Vocals, Moog, Bass) and Paul Lowman(bass guitar, piano, fiddle, vocals) are the sole original members with new members Dale Murray(Guitar, Pedal Steel, Vocals) and Corey Wood(Drums, Percussion) now joining the fold. It's almost hard to believe that this at-one-time-unknown band who'd I first seen in 2003 at the Horseshoe Tavern(opening for Versus) are now onto their third album and playing to quite-devoted fans. I've been largely ignorant of their debut release(save for their song "Ballad Of A Lonely Construction Worker") and their new album "Sidelines Of The City" but was quite taken with their eponymous-titled second album when it first came out, an equal parts reflection of their country-roots and pop influences. From what I've heard from the new album, the pop-rock influences are more to the forefront and from their show at The Mod Club, the band's as tight as ever. Opening up the show were Montreal trio Land of Talk who for one reason or another I had not seen live up till then, although had really been wanting to see live for a long time. As visceral as their melodic pop rock sounds on record, my impression of the band bashing away was not entirely a correct one - perhaps it's true in relation to the drummer and partially to the bassist, but vocalist/guitarist Elizabeth Powell seemed slightly more reserved than I expected, almost cradling her guitar, although the amplification of her raspy voice and meaty guitar arrangements was more than enough to compensate. The "Applause Cheer Boo Hiss" tunes were fantastic. I think the band played a few new songs, not as immediately grabbing, but hopefully more of a sign of my unfamiliarity of them.

Wayne was as appreciative as could be for the large, devoted(though not sold out) turn out, raising his drink to the crowd. As he did at the HMV instore a few days prior, he gave props to his hometown, in particular with introduction to new song "Rossland Square", the neighbourhood where he grew up. In slight consolation to my disappointment for not getting tickets to the recent Neil Young Massey Hall shows, Cuff The Duke(who coincidentally will be at Massey Hall opening up for Blue Rodeo this coming February) showed their prowess in Crazy Horse-esque like guitar freakouts with which I believe was their new song "By Winter's End". Guitarist Dale Murray was really a standout, effortlessly making the transition between lead and pedal steel guitar, as natural of a musician that you could swear that he'd been part of the band since the beginning. As their eponymous-titled second album was really their breakout, it was those album's songs, mid-to-up-tempo footstompers like "The Future Hangs", "Take My Money And Run", and "Belgium Or Peru", which seemed to connect with the audience the most. On more than one occassion, I think I heard someone yell out "Ballad"(in reference to their song "Ballad Of A Lonely Construction Worker") so when it came up during the encore(especially with it's phrase "Everything will be alright, will be alright...) it was to an appreciative response. And what seems to be the indie-rock cover du jour, The Travelling Wilburys' "Handle With Care"[I've heard Jenn Grant, and Jenny Lewis cover this tune], Cuff The Duke brought up openers Land of Talk for a rousing rendition of the song(I didn't know it at the time but Wayne had the lyrics scribbled on paper just in case). The encore and the night ended off as Wayne invited audience members to come on to the stage as each band member was given the spotlight to display his musical prowess, and when bassist Paul Lowman picked up a guitar and solo'd the heck out of it it was just one of many moments you realize just how talented these guys are.

Here are more of my photos from the show.
Also, I have photos from the band's instore at HMV(on November 28).

MySpace: Cuff The Duke
MySpace: Land Of Talk

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Silver Bells

Christmas Tree at Yonge Dundas SquareAs I walk/drive/ride the streetcar around Toronto, I realize how many Christmas lights and decorations are up this year. Do yourself a favour and get yourself downtown to check it out. The Christmas lights down Yonge St. between College St. and Queen St. are in particular really nice. So is the tree above at Yonge Dundas Square. And really, I need all the help I can get to keep from Christmas Day sneaking up on me. Who hasn't started their shopping yet? I haven't.

And what's Christmas(for better or worse) if not for the music? East-coaster Jenn Grant has some Christmas tunes("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", "O Holy Night", "Silver Bells") streaming over at her MySpace. What a lovely way to get you into the holiday mood(though it would have been even better if she could make the mp3's available - pretty please, Jenn?). Jenn's back in town for a post-Christmas/pre-New Year gig at The Drake Lounge on December 28.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Seasons

There's more press over at chartattack about Toronto music venue Horseshoe Tavern's 60th Anniversary, also mentioning that the venue will host a private party this Thursday December 8 featuring sets by The Sadies and The Waco Brothers for which the public can win tickets by emailing Forgive my lateness of this posting if by chance all public tickets are gone at this point. The Wacos will be playing a proper ticketed show at the Horseshoe Tavern this Friday night which you probably can still get tickets for. Probably. The Sadies are back at the Horseshoe Tavern on New Year's Eve for more wholesome fun.

Toronto-by-way-of-Halifax(well Matt Murphy, anyway) band City Field are apparently still a going concern[whatever happened to the album you promised us last year?]. A few City Field shows are fast approaching. This coming Saturday December 8, they play an ALL CAPS show at WhipperSnapper Gallery with Kaeru, Big Digits, and The Youngest. The following day, December 9, City Field will be at Smiling Buddha(@ College & Dovercourt) along with The Saffron Sect, and The Hoa-Hoa's. Full details for both shows here and here respectively.

The Hidden Cameras are going to be at The Great Hall, Hart House on December 13. Full details about the show are here - it's a benefit concert featuring The Hidden Cameras, Montreal's Sister Suvi and local Toronto musician Allie Hughes and tickets $5 advance for students, $10 at the door for students and $15.00 at the door for everyone else. In the meantime, B(oot)log has an audio rip of The Hidden Cameras' live set at The Triple Door in Seattle fro December 2, 2006.

The Drake Hotel will host The Two Koreas on December 29. Listen to the band's live session for XM Radio's The Verge.

Welsh popsters Super Furry Animals are booked for a show at The Mod Club on February 20, 2008. While I wasn't impressed with their last show at the Phoenix in 2005, maybe I should give 'em another chance.

Pollstar is listing Jonathan Richman and Matt Costa at the Phoenix on February 27, 2008.

Check out chromewaves' 2nd annual year-end Readers' Poll contest for a chance to win some free schwag - I'm still working on my list Frank, but I realized that 1) I've cut back considerably in my music buying habit and 2) that I've been REALLY lazy in giving albums a full/thorough listen.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Lucky Horseshoe

The Toronto Star's Greg Quill celebrates the Horseshoe Tavern's 60th birthday emphasizing the venue's illustrious past in booking acts that go on to greater things while Toronto music-vet Moe Berg waxes nostalgic about his 'Shoe memories.

So is it safe to assume that Blue Rodeo will be one of the surprise guests playing at the Horseshoe as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations? If you click the first link above and go to the right grey sidebar on that page, Blue Rodeo are listed as part of the celebrations, although this is yet to be confirmed on the Horseshoe Tavern website - the Horseshoe website currently lists December 17 & 18 as featuring surprise special guests. Hmmmm.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tonight The Streets Are Ours

Richard Hawley on Later...With Jools Holland

Apparently, tickets for the Richard Hawley show at the Horseshoe Tavern this upcoming Wednesday(December 5) are selling briskly(Rotate This is sold out, Soundscapes is almost sold out, Horseshoe/ still have sometickets). I picked up my ticket at the Horseshoe today just to be safe. My impression of Mr. Hawley's music is based solely on a few samples I've heard so far - romantic and lush, with a sound that melds Morrissey with Roy Orbison. Perhaps, music for wusses some might say, but I'll wear that badge proudly. Check out Mr. Hawley's live performance on Later...With Jools Holland from a few weeks back:

Video: Richard Hawley - Interview
Video: Richard Hawley - "Valentine"
Video: Richard Hawley - "Tonight The Streets Are Ours"
MySpace: Richard Hawley
I got through Popmatters' interview with PJ Harvey yesterday and I'm glad to have found out two things: one, she's enthusiastic about touring and two, her current gigs have been solo performances of her performing her new material as well as stripped down one-person arrangements of her older tunes. As I said recently, I'm really looking forward to seeing PJ Harvey live performing her new material or the quieter tunes of her older repertoire. Polly read my mind.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Sons and DaughtersI'm almost didn't want to like Sons and Daughters' remake of Seal's song "Killer" but Son's and Daughters' version is too good not to like(I still don't like Seal' original version though). The band's new single "Darling" is streaming over at their MySpace along with the aforementioned Seal cover. Sons and Daughters are in the midst of a UK tour(check out their tour blog at NME) - I can't wait to see them when they hopefully come back to Toronto. I've seen the band live three times and I can't wait to make it a fourth. The band's forthcoming album "Gilt Complex" will be out through Domino Records in 2008.

And while were on the topic of bands that marry swagger and melody, I see that UK band The Duke Spirit also have a new album coming out in 2008. The new album is entitled "Neptune" from which three tracks are currently streaming over at their MySpace. I loved them when I saw them play NXNE in 2006. Like Sons and Daughters above, The Duke Spirit undeservedly seem to be flying under the radar which I hope things turn around in 2008.

Back on the local front, Toronto's The Airfields bring the indiepop live for their CD release that'll be happening at Sneaky Dee's on February 2 in the new year. And if my ears do not deceive me but are those new mixes of new songs "Prisoners Of Our Love" and "Never See You Smile" currently streaming over at their MySpace. At least with the former, I'm pretty sure they were only streaming a demo version of the song before.

Heads up for Cuff The Duke fans - they'll be at HMV(333 Yonge St.) tomorrow afternoon at around 5:30 pm for a live, in-store session sponsored by CBC Radio 3 in celebration of the recently released CBC Radio 3 compilation "CBC Radio 3 Sessions: Volume 3"[info via CBC Radio 3]. The band's newest album "Sidelines of the City" is out now, and the band will be performing some songs live on CBC Radio One's "Q" show this coming weekend - the show broadcasts at 2pm and 10pm, and as the spiel goes, check your local listings.

Thanks to Pitchfork(via Brooklyn Vegan) for pointing to a video clip of Carl Newman(of The New Pornographers) and Peter(of Peter, Bjorn and John) and their impromptu live cover of The Association's pop classic "Never My Love". As much as I was talking above about music with guts and swagger, sometimes I'm just a big softie.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tunnel of Love

Just a few tidbits today:

Lavender Diamond is back in Toronto on December 17 for a show at Lee's Palace.

Plants and Animals will be opening up the Patrick Watson show at The Mod Club on December 14[via Emerge.

Just a reminder that tickets for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band at Copps Coliseum on March 3, 2008 go on sale today at 10 am.

On an aside, I just want to say that Eye Weekly 's new interface for concert listings are a little whack. Did they get rid of their "Just Announced" weekly concert listings section? Reading that every week was one of my weekly rituals.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Air will be on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic tomorrow(Nov 21) for a live session of songs off their most recent album "Pocket Symphony" plus new versions of old favourites. The session is at 2:15 EST(11:15 PST).

Coming up this Thursday, is a CBC Fuse taping at Trinity St. Paul's Church in Toronto featuring the brassy country of Rock Plaza Central and the baroque orchestral music of Tafelmusick. This should be interesting, and it's in Trinity St. Paul's no less. Admission is free, but seats are first-come, first-serve with the shindig starting at 7 pm.

Lily Frost with full band will be playing the Royal Ontario Museum on Friday November 30 at 8pm.

Interesting show news courtesy of Stille Post, Punchclock(a Toronto screenprinting company who design and print a lot of items including band t-shirts) are sponsoring a music showcase on December 6 and 7 at 938 Bathurst St.(a yet to be named gallery). The December 6 showcase will feature Final Fantasy, $100, castlemusic, and The Youngest while the next night's showcase will feature Kids On TV, lsdoubleDcup, and The Blankett. The showcases will have art on sale(items $5-$10) as well. Oh and booze too. Proceeds go to Punchclock.

According to Outside Music, Baby Eagle will be at The Music Gallery in Toronto on December 14. Baby Eagle's MySpace indicates Christine Fellows will also be performing.

Jenn Grant makes her way back to Toronto for a show at The Drake Lounge on December 28.

Young Galaxy have a show coming up at the Horseshoe Tavern on January 18, 2008. Update: They'll also be opening the Peter, Bjorn and John show at the Phoenix on January 22, 2008.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

White Chalk

PJ Harvey live on Later...With Jools Holland

Gotta love YouTube. Here's a couple of clips of PJ Harvey performing live on Later...With Jools Holland on November 16, 2007:

Video: PJ Harvey - "White Chalk" (live on Later...With Jools Holland - Nov 16, 2007)
Video: PJ Harvey - "Silence" (live on Later...With Jools Holland - Nov 16, 2007)

The more I listen to her new material, the more I'm convinced that when she eventually tours she either has to perform just the new songs or a combination of the new songs and the quieter material of her repertoire. As exhilirating as PJ Harvey is during say her big-sounding "Big Exit" or her punk-ish "50 Foot Queenie" days I'm looking forward to spending a quiet evening with Polly Jean when she hopefully hits town in the future.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In Field & Town

Hayden’s fifth full length CD, titled "In Field & Town", is set to release in Canada, January 15, 2008 on his own Hardwood Records label and to celebrate Hayden's going on tour, including a date at Danforth Music Hall on Feb 19, 2008.

According to Emerge, Sondre Lerche's November 22 date at Lee's Palace has been cancelled.

Other concert announcements: The Fiery Furnaces will be at Phoenix Concert Theatre on December 12, 2007 promoting their newest album "Widow City" out through Thrill Jockey.

Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller will be at Horseshoe Tavern on December 19.

An alliance of sorts, The Jam's Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler are joined with The Stranglers' Hugh Cornwell, and will tour as From The Jam(performing Jam songs, natch) which will make its way to Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on February 6, 2008, tickets $30.00.

Pollstar's listing some upcoming shows at Nathan Phillips Square, including In-Flight Safety and The Golden Dogs on December 15 and Tokyo Police Club on January 26, 2008.

Ministry will be at Kool Haus on May 4, 2008.

Listen to/watch the live session that Stars did for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic this past Monday November 12.

Washington, DC pop band Georgie James(who I caught live when they opened for Ted Leo at The Mod Club in October) did a live session for MPR's The Current this past Monday November 12. Good stuff.

Under The Radar has an interview with former Lush frontwoman Miki Berenyi. Although the likelihood of any solo work(nor a Lush reunion) isn't that great you can look out for her on the forthcoming debut album by The Seinking Ships(a project consisting of Eric Matthews and Christopher Seink) where she contributes some vocals. Check out their MySpace, as well as an mp3:

MySpace: The Seinking Ships
MP3: The Seinking Ships - "Mission To Mars"

Broolyn Vegan(via Sound Bites) brings news of a Versus reunion which happened over the weekend. Well, actually it was a birthday present for former Teenbeat labelmate Matthew Datesman. I wish they'd just jump on the reunion bandwagon.

Via Largehearted Boy, The Three Imaginary Girls list the top ten indie birthday songs...and on that note, I just want to wish my buddy a happy b-day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Piano

PJ Harvey live at AOL Spinner - Oct 2007

I've been on a PJ Harvey kick lately with her latest album "White Chalk", so I'm glad to see she hasn't been shy about making the rounds to promote the new album. It gives me hope that she'll likely make it back to North America for a tour in the new year. Here's more recent Polly Jean-related multimedia for you:

Video: PJ Harvey - Interview & Live Session @ Spinner (Oct 11, 2007)
Video: PJ Harvey - Live Session @ BBC 6 Music - The Hub Sessions(Nov 7, 2007)
Video: PJ Harvey - The Piano (music video)

Also Polly Jean was on the BBC Radio London Calling progam with Gary Crowley yesterday(November 10, 2007) when she was interviewed and performed a few songs. Listen here(the session is about an hour and a few minutes into the progam and the progam will only be archived for about a week).
Did anyone catch the Radiohead live webcast a few nights ago? Wish I'd known about it sooner because from what I've seen of it so far it looked like a lot of fun. At least we can all catch it after the fact. As with every live television/webcast performance it seems, someone has uploaded the webcast in its entirety onto YouTube, and Stereogum's collected the videos into one convenient blog post. Radiohead's cover of New Order's "Ceremony" doesn't necessarily outdo the original but it stilled brimmed with energy. Deaf Indie Elephants has mp3's of all of Radiohead's performances from the webcast.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To Talk To You

While I still continue to absorb Ms. Harvey's latest album "White Chalk"(a few songs of which you can sample here) which is far mare subtle than I'd anticiapated but so far is stunning, here are a few PJ Harvey-related links for ya':

PJ Harvey filmed a session for Yahoo! Live Sets which she recorded during her most recent trip to The States. It features an 8 song set, in front of a studio audience, and a Q & A session with fans.

The Smudge of Ashen Fluff has converted Ms. Harvey's recent KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic session(from Nov 2, 2007) for your downloading and listening pleasure. Thank you.

Polly was on the BBC Radio George Lamb program yesterday(Nov 7, 2007) when she performed a live session. Listen to the session here(I think it's only archived for a week). View photos from the session here. Supposedly their should be video of the session very soon so keep on checking back here.

Check out the live session that Jens Lekman did for KEXP over at the radio station website's streaming label archive[the session was November 6, 2007 at 9:30 am].

Record label woes no more, the news is that The Raveonettes haved signed with Vice Records and the label will be releasing the band's new album "Lust Lust Lust" in early 2008, with a US tour to follow.

Vampire Weekend will be at El Mocambo on December 13, tickets $10. I'm digging the tunes over at their MySpace, especially their song "Mansard Roof", creative pop mixing equal parts melodicism and quirkiness. Their upcoming show is on my maybe list for now.

Monday, November 05, 2007

100 days, 100 nights

A potpourri of tidbits today:

Check out the video clips of Feist and her band performing "1234" and "I Feel It All" performing on SNL from a few nights ago. If you'd watched the actual episode this past Saturday, you would have seen Feist hug guest host NBC news anchor Brian Williams at the end - that was so cute.

BlogTO has a podcast interview with Canadian director Bruce Mcdonald.

Have a craving for some vintage soul? If you're looking forward to the Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings show at Lee's Palace on November 13, why not head over to Daptone Records' Jukebox and download the free soul playlist, "Binky Griptite's GhettoFunkPowerHour!". Also check out the vintage-looking new music video for Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings' song "100 Days, 100 Nights".

Soundscapes interviews Holy Fuck.

Check out the rest of the vote-getters in I Heart Music's "Hottest Canadian Bands of 2007" poll.

I heard on Edge 102.1 FM today that The Last Town Chorus was part of The Weakerthans/Jenn Grant bill at the Phoenix on November 7 and 8 - not sure if Last Town Chorus are playing both nights though.

Handsome Furs are back in Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on December 20.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

My Top 10 Hottest Canadian Bands/Artists of 2007

Thanks to Matthew at I Heart Music for doing his "33 Hottest Canadian Bands/Artists" poll once again and also for again including me. I went more with my gut this time around in terms of who I'd listened to the most, who I enjoyed and who had things going on in 2007. The Arcade Fire would have likely made my list, but the fact is I didn't listen to their newest album "Neon Bible" that much even though what I recall of it is actually pretty good. Below is my submission ranked from 10 to 1 with each artist/band's final ranking in the poll in brackets. I've also included the commentary I submitted for the poll. A few of my picks didn't make the top 33 so I'll be looking forward on Monday when I Heart Music posts the list of the rest of the vote-getters. Did anyone else vote for Toronto's The Airfields or Barrie's Fox Jaws?

10. (7) The Acorn (MySpace) - I saw them at the Brampton Indie Arts Festival this year and was blown away by their set. They play delicate, intricate indie rock with great swooning melodies. Lovely stuff.

9. (3) Miracle Fortress (MySpace) - An unmanageable amount of CD's is the only reason I haven't gone back to this band's album "Five Roses" very much. It's a good album and track 4("Maybe Lately") is one of the best Brian Wilson-esque songs I've heard in a long time.

8. (32) Land of Talk (MySpace) - Okay, so all the 'cool' kids were into 'em in 2006. But better late than never. Their EP "Applause Cheer Boo Hiss" is one of the few current Canadian releases I'd bothered to put on my mp3 player. Muscular and melodic at the same time, rock music should always sound this good.

7. (5) Basia Bulat (MySpace) - If she isn't playing her own show, she's performing with others(Ohbijou, The Veils, Great Lake Swimmers). She's everywhere. Which is all the better for everyone. I saw her live a few times this year, and she's one of the more charming artists I've seen. And her smile is adorable.

6. (20) Great Lake Swimmers (MySpace) - Tony Dekker and company toured like crazy this year, released a great album "Ongiara" and performed an intimate show at a church in Toronto this year. And in the near future they'll be the opening act for some upcoming Feist dates. So they only made #6 on my list but I wouldn't be surprised if they're #1 on yours.

5. (17) Ohbijou (MySpace) - Having seen them live three times this year, they've only got better with each show. They're one of the few bands where the 'big band' concept actually makes sense because all the members play a vital role in creating the band's delicate, chamber-pop sound.

4. The Airfields (MySpace) - Like a blast from the C86 Brit pop days, The Airfields perform sparkling indiepop. An enigma in the Canadian music landscape perhaps, but I'm right there with them. They just released a new single("Yr So Wonderful") and a full-length is hopefully just around the corner.

3. Fox Jaws (MySpace) - I've been a fan of them since they were known as Doris Day but I'm glad they changed their name. Their fanbase hasn't exploded this year as I'd hoped but they made some progress. Check out their debut album "Goodbye Doris" , released this year - it's really good and lead vocalist Carleigh Aikins infuses soul into indie rock at a time when indie rock really needs it.

2. (1) Feist (MySpace) - iPod commercials, Starbucks affiliations, magazine covers and television appearances aside, her album "The Reminder" was a consistently wonderful set of pop music. Naysayers, get lost.

1. (16) Jenn Grant (MySpace) - I've mentioned her so many times in the past that I've run out of good things to say. She just released her debut album "Orchestra For The Moon" and it's terrific. A lot of people say she could be the next Feist which talent-wise isn't too far off the mark.

Update: The rest of the vote-getters.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Grow, Grow, Grow

Concert Announcements:

Nov 10/2007 - Rock Plaza Central @ The Music Gallery
Nov 29/2007 - Royal Wood @ The Music Gallery
Dec 04,11,18/2007 - Jason Collett & guests @ Dakota Tavern ($15.00)
Dec 08/2007 - Justin Rutledge w/ Bazil Donovan @ Horseshoe Tavern ($15.00)
Dec 13/2007 - Apostle of Hustle @ Lee's Palace ($15.00)
Dec 15/2007 - In-Flight Safety @ Nathan Phillips Square
Dec 20/2007 - Danko Jones, C'Mon @ Horseshoe Tavern ($17.50)
Dec 31/2007 - The Golden Dogs @ Lee's Palace ($15.00)
Apr 29-30/2007 - Reverend Horton Heat, Nashville P@ssy, Backyard Tire Fire @ The Mod Club

The Hidden Cameras are coming back to Canada for some tour dates - none in Toronto at this time, but the closest they'll be to Toronto will be at Starlight Club in Waterloo, Ontario on November 29.

Unfortunately, I didn't make it to The Diableros CD release show(for their new album "Aren't Ready For The Country") at the Horseshoe Tavern last week. They have some scattered downs in Ontario this month. I probably won't make it to any of those either but maybe you can. The band's offering a download of one of their new songs("No One Wants To Drive") over at their MySpace.

Nicole Atkins & The Sea made their US television debut on Late Show With David Letterman a couple of nights ago(via Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands):

YouTube: Nicole Atkis & The Sea - "The Way It Is" (live on Late Night With David Letterman - Oct 30, 2007)

PJ Harvey will performs a live session for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic tomorrow(November 2/07). The session will be at 11:15 am PST(2:15 pm EST). Oh, I hadn't even realized she was on The Tonight Show a few weeks ago:

YouTube: PJ Harvey - "Grow, Grow, Grow" (live on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno - Oct 16, 2007)

Daytrotter has Andrew Bird in a live session.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Spirit of Giving

concert review: The New Pornographers, Emma Pollock @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Toronto, Ontario), October 20, 2007

The New Pornographers @ Phoenix: photo by Michael Ligon

To play a little catch-up, The New Pornographers show at the Phoenix last Sunday October 20 was the last show I'd been to. I'll spare you the formal review but having seen them live three times now, I'll say not much has changed - musically they have many great moments, but onstage they can sort of be a dead horse. It's not to say I didn't enjoy the show - I liked(well actually loved) much of what I heard but when the most interesting thing onstage is the neon 'The New Pornographers' sign emblazoned at the back of the stage, you know there's something wrong. It was great to see and hear Neko and Dan with them, and Kathyrn Calder is looking more adorable everytime I see her. I didn't realize that was Kathyrn(playing accordion) onstage with Scotland's Emma Pollock(second opening act of the night) when I walked into the tail-end of Emma's set. What little of Emma's pop-rock songs I'd heard that night(quite a bit more polished than her work with The Delgados), was enough for me to decide to purchase her CD "Watch The Fireworks" at the end of the night, which Emma was nice enough to autograph. Oh, and I totally dig that Scottish accent.

Some photos from the show over at Flickr.

Chromewaves, Eye Weekly and chartattack reviewed the show.

MySpace: The New Pornographers
MySpace: Emma Pollock
So lately 'real life' has been taking priority and I've not had much time nor the motivation to do much blogging. Heck, I've hardly been listening to music over the past week. I'd been browsing my hard drive today checking out some mp3's and videos and then came across Feist's song "It's Cool To Love Your Family" - I have to say that that song has to be the most apropos song in my life at this moment.

YouTube: Feist - "It's Cool To Love Your Family" (music video)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Somewhere Out There

The day something cool happens on my walk in to work from Union Station, like Raine Maida busking in front of Edge 102.1 FM's studios for charity this morning, I don't have my camera.

Update: Wish I caught this MySpace posting sooner. Very noble cause.

Update:Here's some video of Raine's busking day.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Tonight The Streets Are Ours

Brit artist/producer/crooner Richard Hawley comes to these shores for a show in Toronto at the Horseshoe on December 5, as part of the venue's 60th Birthday festivities. Tickets $15.50. Mr. Hawley's been getting a lot of exposure lately. There's a video clip of Mr. Hawley performing / being interviewed in BBC 6 Music's studios recently. Mr. Hawley is also Magnet Magazine's featured artist. Brooklyn Vegan's gathered up some Hawley-related video. The one-time Pulp guitarist was never on my radar because I was never a huge Pulp fan but his production skills on A Girl Called Eddy's album a few years back was a thing of beauty. From what I've heard of Mr. Hawley's output he treks a similar sort of melancholy and spaciousness(albeit with a more rockabilly / Roy Orbison-esque touch) that's striking.

YouTube: Richard Hawley - "Tonight The Streets Are Ours" (music video)
Stream: Richard Hawley - "Lady Bridge" (album)
MySpace: Richard Hawley

Robyn Hitchcock returns to Toronto for a show at The Mod Club on November 14, tickets $15.50. He performed an acoustic live session for BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe this past Tuesday October 16/07. Listen here(session is about 1 hour and 40 min into the program and program is only archived for about a week after the original broadcast date).

i(heart)music alludes to the likelihood of Toronto's Laura Barrett being Paper Bag Records' most recent signee as she appears on the label's most recent CD sampler. Good news if it's true. She's at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre on Oct 31 as part of "Hysteria: a Festival of Women" and then joins The Acorn and Bruce Peninsula at Horseshoe Tavern on November 24.

Edge 102.1 Dave Bookman's Nu Music Nite at the orseshoe Tavern coming up this October 23 already featuring Vancouver new-wave poppers Bella and Toronto's The Disraelis just go better with the addition of Japan's The Zoobombs. Not to be missed. [via Stille Post]

The New Pornographers show at Phoenix yesterday was great. I hope to get a review of the show by tomorrow but in the meantime check out the live session the band performed for MPR The Current on October 17, 2007.

The Most Serene Republic will be performing live on MTV Live tomorrow(October 23).

Brit folk-tronica act Tuung who are going to be at the Horseshoe on October 28 will also be performing an instore at Soundscapes record store earlier in the day at 4 pm.

Soundscapes gets into interview mode with The Besnard Lakes.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Don't Make Me A Target

concert review: Spoon, The Ponys @ Kool Haus (Toronto, Ontario), October 20, 2007

Spoon @ Kool Haus: photo by Michael Ligon

I'm losing my patience for the Kool Haus. I have no problems with it necessarily hosting bands/artists that need a large space to accommodate its large fanbase but increasingly it seems that you encounter/observe more and more fuckin' morons at Kool Haus. But more on that later.

4-piece Chicago, Illinois Matador Records band The Ponys opened the show thrashing out a set of tuneful, reverb-charged, punky indie rock exhuberance. I had almost made up my mind before the show that I wouldn't like them based on their ambiguous band name and 2007 album cover, so it was a pleasant surprise they had tunes to back up their hype. If you were a fan of the now-defunct The Rock*A*Teens[who I am only casual familiar with, but who I kniw were also purveyors of a similar reverb-soaked production], you'll probably want to check out The Ponys.

When on-the-brink-of-stardom, band-du-jour, Spoon had their show moved from Phoenix to the cavernous Kool Haus, I underestimated the band's draw. At the show last week, I was towards the front but at least from my vantage point it seemed to be a fairly packed house. And a fair amount of young'uns at that[another thing I wouldn't have guessed]. Ashamedly, I only caught on to the band with their album "Gimme Fiction" (which I admitted was likely my favourite album of 2005), but better late than never. I still haven't explored their back catalogue but I got a taste of it at the Kool Haus last week and it's tempting. But the "Gimme Fiction"/"Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" songs were exciting, especially when the horn section that were in tow got to play like on the most recent album's "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" and "The Underdog". Britt Daniel was impressed by the response the band got from the Toronto crowd, expressing that Toronto's always treated them well back to the day when the band performed first performed in Toronto at the Horseshoe Tavern. Britt even gave a special shout-out to local promoter Craig Laskey for always looking out for them. There's no doubt that the audience was one of the most enthusiastic Toronto audiences I've seen in a long time, although the group of kids(well a few of them at least) I had the unfortunate experience of standing beside were plain annoying, and obviously loaded. Their misplaced hootin' and hollerin' and flailing elbows was grating after a short while. At one point, Britt had even acknowledged them for their 'enthusiasism'. Oh, if he only knew.

I have a few photos from the show over at my Flickr.

MySpace: Spoon
MySpace: The Ponys

More reviews(some good, some not so good) of the show over at Eye Weekly, Torontoist, Just Keep Bloggin', the local black and red, Wolves, Hawks and Kites, Thick Specs, and The Panic Manual.

adangca has some video clips from the show.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Here Comes Mary, All Dressed In Black

concert: The Raveonettes, Nicole Atkins and The Sea @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), October 14, 2007

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

The Raveonettes @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

Chromewaves and Eye Weekly review The Raveonettes/Nicole Atkins and The Sea show at Lee's Palace which took place this past Sunday night. Take this as a placeholder for now - hopefully I'll add my own thoughts to this post later.

For the moment, check out my photos from the show are over at my Flickr.

MySpace: The Raveonettes
MySpace: Nicole Atkins

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Alchemy Between Us

concert review: The Besnard Lakes, Young Galaxy, The Airfields @ Horseshoe Tavern (Toronto, Ontario), October 12, 2007

Young Galaxy @ Horseshoe: photo by Michael Ligon

Having already seen live two of the three acts at the Horseshoe Tavern last Friday night, The Besnard Lakes and The Airfields, it was a pleasant surprise that the relatively unknown act to me, Montreal band and recent Arts and Crafts signees Young Galaxy, were the most entertaining.

Toronto C86-influenced indiepop group The Airfields were the first openers of the night, as well as last minute replacements for Australia's New Buffalo, apparently due to Visa troubles. I know The Airfields can make their live set count like they did back in April at Sneaky Dee's, but this night was a fairly no-frills set of just good indiepop music. The band did just come back from Pop Montreal and maybe their still tired but I'm hoping the next time I see them live they'll infuse a little more energy into their set. On the plus side, the band was performing songs from their newly released limited-to-100-copies "Yr So Wonderful" 3-inch CD single which I snagged a copy of at the merch table and which you can currently listen to over at their MySpace. By the way, Frank Chromewaves shot the photo that graces the inside cover of the single.

For a moment, I'll skip ahead to headliners The Besnard Lakes. I saw them live back in March at Lee's Palace during Canadian Music Week and this time around their sonic blend of pyschedlic influences, 70's rock and Brian Wilson was as about as enjoyable as it was back in March. I'm no sooner becoming a bigger fan of them though unless perhaps they starting writing more songs like the haunting and spacious "Disaster" which has to be one of the freshest takes on Brian Wilson's influence I've heard in a long time. The Besnard Lakes can bring the jam-my rock but sometimes it 's more than my patience can take post-midnight.

Montreal's Young Galaxy were the sandwiched act of the night, but rather than get lost in the shuffle, they were the ones that stood out the most and got the best audience response. Young Galaxy is the brainchild of Stephen Ramsay and Catherine McCandless. Stephen was once a guitarist with Stars, but Young Galaxy[even with the co-frontpersons role of Stephen(guitar/vocals) and Catherine(vocals/percussion)] don't sound much like Stars in my opinion. Rounding out their sound with bass guitar, keyboards and drums, and enshrouded during much of their set in smoke-machine smoke and coloured lights, the band performed a tight set of pop music spanning the genre from the spacious, synth-y "The Alchemy Between Us", to the spare, solemn electro-pop of "Swing Your Heartache" and the magnificent, invigorating "Outside Your City" featuring the lead vocals of Catherine McCandless who transformed the song into something reminiscent of 90's Sub Pop indiepop group Velocity Girl. Yay, Velocity Girl. I could listen to "Outside Your City" all day. Of all the Arts & Crafts artists Young Galaxy possess the slickest pop sheen, but at least from what I witnessed last Friday, not to the detriment of the music.

As usual I took some photos at the show. Smoke-machine overload. Whoah.

More reviews/photos of the show over at It's Not The Band I Hate... and

Video: Young Galaxy - "Outside Your City" (music video)
Video: The Besnard Lakes - "Disaster" (live september 17, 2007 @ the hi-dive in denver) *
MySpace: The Besnard Lakes
MySpace: Young Galaxy
MySpace: The Airfields

* courtesy of dthawkley

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's Not Over Yet

concert review: Klaxons @ The Opera House (Toronto, Ontario), October 9, 2007

Klaxons @ The Opera House: photo by Michael Ligon

I have no doubt young London, UK's Klaxons are a talented band. Yes, they just won the Mercury Music Prize for their debut album "Myths of the Near Future" but that has entirely nothing to do with my opinion of the band. Upon listening to the album a few months ago(that which I posted about last month), I appreciated it for it's youthful energy, it's spiky pop tunes which are at once danceable/pogoable as well as hummable. So it's surprising a little that I didn't get that much into their show at The Opera House last Tuesday. The twenty-something MySpace contingent seemed to be at the show in full-force eating up everything the Klaxons threw at them. While I enjoyed the show for it's energy as much as the next person, I couldn't help feel how rushed the show felt as if the band were compelled to get through their set as fast as possible. Along the way, the band made efforts to bring the audience along for the ride(not that it was that hard to do) such as vocalist/keyboardist James Righton as he got the crowd to clap along on several songs. But that rushed quality seemed to manifest itself in an overall sloppy performance(or maybe it was just bad sound), with vocals and melodies that seemed to get buried in the sonic stew of guitars, keyboards and drums. A commenter over at Brooklyn Vegan said about the band's show in New York City recently, "....just wait a year or two and people will be embarassed to admit they were into these people. Pure hype-machine baloney..." I'd no sooner surrender to those opinions but the fact is any band that can produce wonderful pop moments like "Golden Skans", and "It's Not Over Yet"[check out the links below for terrific acoustic rendtions of these songs the band performed for MPR's The Current] can't be a fluke.

Openers Glasgow, Scotland's Shitdisco cancelled from what I read but in their place were I believe a local three-piece who were purveyors of a somewhat similar disco-electro-punk aesthetic. I didn't pick up on their name, but maybe that's just all for the better since it wasn't my cup of tea.

Some photos from the show over at my Flickr.

Video: Klaxons - "Golden Skans" (live on MPR's The Current)
Video: Klaxons - "It's Not Over Yet" (live on MPR's The Current)
MySpace: Klaxons

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Mind's Not Right

concert review: The National, Doveman @ Phoenix (Toronto, Ontario), October 8, 2007

The National @ Phoenix(Oct 8, 2007): photo by Michael Ligon

Ok, I punked out on the promise of writing a proper review for The National's show at The Opera House back in June. Almost exactly four months later, The National were back in Toronto performing another sold out show this time at the Phoenix. From what I recall, the set list was fairly similar to their show back in June, meaning a generous helping of songs from their last two releases "Boxer" and "Alligator". Whether it be a matter of first time's the charm[their show in June was my first time seeing them live], or this show's set being overly similar to their last show, or maybe it was everyone's Thanksgiving turkey dinners kicking in, but relative to their last show, this show wasn't as exhilirating. Don't get me wrong - lead vocalist Matt Berninger and the rest of the band were as on top of their game as they were the last time, Matt especially as he embraced his mic and sang like his life depended on it, and the audience for the most part responded positively. However the pacing of the set was somewhat off, such as slight delays between songs a few times when chatter from the audience rose audibly, or the curious midset inclusion of their rocker "Abel" which I thought generally should have been included towards the end of their set. Much like The Arcade Fire's familiar set closer "Rebellion", The National's "Abel" evoked similar feelings of euphoria that it was a shame to have spent it so early on in the set. The show was worth it if only to see Canada's Hayden(who seems to have been M.I.A. until now) who the band joined in on a performance of Hayden's "Dynamite Walls".

I have a few photos from the show over at Flickr.

Chromewaves and Eye Weekly both have reviews of the show including comments on openers Doveman[which included 3/5's of The National as part of the band...I almost thought I walked into The National's set] who I'd only caught the tailend of their last song as I'd walked into the Phoenix. Uhhhh ... Thanksgiving turkey slowed me down.

MySpace: The National
MySpace: Doveman

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Living With The Living

concert review: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, Georgie James @ The Mod Club (Toronto, Ontario), October 7, 2007

Ted Leo @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

Before Sunday night's show, I'd already seen Ted Leo and The Pharmacists live five times[1,2,3,4,5], and at this point it's almost redundant to even review this most recent one. Let's first say, a Ted Leo show, is a Ted Leo show - it's always a good time. Still continuing with the 4-member line-up he brought to town the last time he was at The Mod Club back in May but now with new bassist Marty Violence(who replaced long-time bassist Dave Lerner who left The Pharmacists this year), Ted and the band were as incendiary as ever, playing many fan-favourites mostly from the last three albums but also reaching back to "The Tyranny of Distance". The encore included Ted's now familiar covers of The Pogues' "Dirty Old Town"(which Ted performed solo) and Stiff Little Fingers' "Suspect Device". It's been 6 times now that I've seen Ted Leo live. A personal best for me. At this point in time, Ted's general set is so overly familiar that I'd wish he'd play some of his less-performed tunes(eg. "The Crane Takes Flight") but otherwise I think I'm going to take a break from seeing him live at least until after he releases a new album.

Openers for the show were Washington, DC pop group Georgie James, who recently released their newest album "Places" through Saddle Creek. The five piece features the frontperson duo of keyboardist Laura Burhenn[who I'd predict could be indie rock's next big girl-crush] and guitarist John Davis. It was an impressive set of sunny pop melodies and girl-boy vocals backed by vibrant(but never twee) rock instrumentation. I'd love to see them again when they (hopefully)come back to Toronto.

My photos from the show over at Flickr.

For further details on the show check out

MySpace: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists
MySpace: Georgie James