Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The Concretes - KidsThe Concretes have a new song entitled "Kids" up on their MySpace. According to an e-mail update I got from the band the song, "...tells the story of Lisa and Maria growing up, sat side by side by the record player, forming a taste in and for music that would much later result in The Concretes." Hmmm, how music-geek of them. The single will be available in stores in Scandinavia on March 14, but the rest of the world can purchase the single on CD or mp3 through the Licking Fingers website. The full tracklisting of the 4-song single will be available in a couple of weeks.

No news on the Belle and Sebastian front except that they have a bunch of merch available for 50% off until the end of March over at their Shop. Stock up, 'cause I know you want to.

So the Feist show at Massey Hall has been moved from May 25 to May 26. Tickets onsale this Saturday March 3 at noon. Maybe House of Blues(at least as of today) could update their site, huh?

Asthmatic Kitty's Castanets, and Shapes and Sizes, plus Mississauga's Ghost Hands will be at Sneaky Dee's on March 24[via Stille Post].

Raleigh, NC's Annuals have been added to the Kaiser Chiefs/The Walkmen show at Kool Haus already scheduled for April 18[via Pitchfork].

UK's The Cribs will be at the El Mocambo on April 30[via High Road Touring]. I haven't actually heard their music yet, but the band's new disc is being produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, which should make the band's upcoming gig of some interest to some people.

The Montreal double-bill of Torngat and SS Cardiacs will be at Tranzac on May 12[via Stille Post].

Brooklyn, NY's Favorite Sons will be part of the Voxtrot/Au Revoir Simone bill at Sneaky Dee's on June 8[via Pitchfork]. The Pitchfork link also reveals, that surprise, surprise, the band's debut is self-titled. Oh, how clever. Ok, when's this show gonna be moved to somewhere bigger? It's just plain ridiculous now even attempting to host this at Sneaky Dee's.

Beirut will be working with Owen Pallett on the next Final Fantasy album[via Pitchfork].

Here's a mp3 music mix from vitaminsforyou. Can't wait to hear his remix of The Coast 's "All Farewells".

Geoff, Beth, and Adrian of Portishead performed an impromptu 2-song set in Bristol at Mr. Wolfs recently, including a new song that as one patron described, "Rarely have I seen a room full of people all wear exactly the same facial expression, but when I looked at the crowd everyone had their mouths gaping and eyes wide open as if they were witnessing an alien landing. It was wonderful. The new song was completely gorgeous, carried by Beth's vocals and with very low-key instrumentation." [via Pitchfork] Photos from the show are here. Portishead lives!

Monday, February 26, 2007


concert review: The Apples In Stereo, Casper and the Cookies, Rock Plaza Central @ Lee's Palace(Toronto, Ontario), February 20, 2007

The Apples In Stereo's Robert Schneider @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

Last Tuesday, Lee's Palace hosted Denver psych-poppers The Apples In Stereo to a near capacity crowd. They were one of the remnants of the 1990's indie rock boom whom I'd always read about but never made the effort to check out until now. Maybe I should just consider myself lucky that they're still around making new music. I'll tell you now, if the 1990's indie rock nostalgia trip isn't already in full swing, I swear it'll be over the next couple of years.

Opening up the show at a quite early 8:30 pm slot were Toronto's own Rock Plaza Central playing their brand of ramshackle country/folk/rock. I'm a little surprised that more people didn't turn out for RPC's set, although 8:30 pm is probably a little too early for some people to make it to on time. Having seen RPC's terrific set at The Boat, I must say that RPC play off the energy of the crowd. However, with a thin crowd on hand at Lee's Palace for RPC's set this time, there's only so much energy you can get, although not for the band's wont for trying.

Athens, Georgia band Casper and The Cookies dress like a glammed up 60's psych-pop outfit with their stage setup with multi-coloured balloons and floral adornments. At the very least the 3 male/1 female band did get my attention. Fortunately, they had the songs to back it up. To my ears, their sound generally mined that 60's/70's power pop terrain, and for the most part they were successful. As with most pop, it can sometimes be too surgary sweet, but there was enough rocking out(complete with the rock moves) to keep things on the level.

If one things for sure, The Apples In Stereo have their ardent fans. It was quite packed for their set and for the next hour and a half, the band performed a schizophrenic set of pop music that rocked out and touched on psych-pop, power-pop and more. Points of interest: one of the keyboardists was dressed in a funky spaceman suit and the other keyboardist provided some of the greatest oohs/aahs/ba ba ba background vocals I've heard in a long time. Performing oldies like "Strawberryfire" and tracks from their newest release "New Magnetic Wonder"(Yep Roc), lead Apple Robert Schneider seems to be still on top of his game. Sorry, it took so long for me to notice.

Here are my photos from the show.

MySpace: Rock Plaza Central
MySpace: Casper and The Cookies
MySpace: The Apples In Stereo
Unless you're living under a rock, you probably caught The Arcade Fire's performance on Saturday Night live this past weekend. If not, check out The Smudge of Ashen Fluff for mp3's of the songs("Intervention", "Keep The Car Running") performed. Ande Johnston has Quicktime movies of the two performances for download. Brooklyn Vegan points to YouTube video of both performances plus other recent live Arcade Fire-related multimedia.

Blacking Out The Friction has a review of the Final Fantasy show at the Tranzac on February 23 and points to YouTube video from the show. Daniel also points out that according to the Owen Pallett MySpace, he's scheduled to be at Harbourfront on July 1! And if go, which is most definitely a possibily, that'll make 3 years in row me going to Harbourfront for Canada Day!

Wombat Wednesdays is a new music series launching at March at the Tranzac in Toronto and the inaugural month will be curated by The Bicycles. Check out the lineup over at Stille Post. Tickets for each show are only $6, with doors at 8 pm and show at 9pm. I'm particularly interested in checking out the March 28 lineup which will feature Toronto psych-poppers The Old Soul, Massachusett indie poppers Pants Yell!, and Toronto's Catriona Sturton & The Screaming Elks.

Apostle of Hustle has an instore at Criminal Records(493 Queen St. West @ Spadina) on March 9 while Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes performs a solo instore at Soundscapes on March 13.

According to the Horseshoe Tavern website, Scotland's My Latest Novel will be playing an early set(@9:30 pm) at Horseshoe Tavern on March 12 as part of Shoeless Monday. No cover. I'm already planning to see Clinic at Lee's Palace that night but I might shoot over to the 'Shoe early to see if I can catch My Latest Novel.

Trying to see My Latest Novel at the 'Shoe on March 12 will mean skipping Uncut's opening set for Clinic. However, it appears that Uncut have now been added to(and The Diableros removed from) the SXSW Send-Off Party at the 'Shoe on March 6. According to a blog post at The Diableros' MySpace, they've had to cancel their attendance at this year's SXSW "due to work commitments", although they do mention that the songs for the new album are written and they'll be demoing them over the next few weeks. If you're lucky you'll catch some of the new songs at their March 9 show at The Boat(which is part of the Pitter Patter Music Festival).

Brazil's CSS will return to Toronto for a show at the Horseshoe Tavern on June 4[via The Windish Agency].

Friday, February 23, 2007


I remember this obscure band called um, The Arcade Fire, who I first saw at Pop Montreal in 2003. I liked them enough, and in fact thought their debut EP was one of the finest releases of 2003. I was hoping they'd go places. This is the same band that at one time played Sneaky Dee's and Lee's Palace in Toronto. My second time seeing them live was their early afternoon set at the Sloan-curated Olympic Island show in the summer of 2004. The hype was growing around them in advance of their debut full-length "Funeral" which would be released later that year. By the time 2005 rolled around, they were selling out a 2-night stint at Danforth Music Hall where I was fortunate to catch one of the shows. It's been total madness for a while, and they just sold out a two night stint(May 15-16) at Massey Hall today in what everyone is saying is record time.

My story goes like this for why I don't have tickets to either of the Massey Hall shows. I was all ready prior to noon and on the Massey Hall website. Once noon rolled around, I started manically clicking on either of the days options. I was trying to purchase 3 tickets and my first attempt resulted in seats in the 3rd level gallery. I wasn't happy. Eventually I tried 'best available' and scored 3 tickets on the floor, ROW P, on the left side. My downfall would be that I no longer had a login on the Massey Hall website. I thought I had one because I'd purchase tickets through the site last year for the Wilco show. If I did have a login it was gone now. I didn't even make it through the 'registering new account' process before I lost my reservation on the 3 tickets I'd got. By the time I had my new login set up, there was nothing left. And ditto with Not even single tickets.

According to their tour date schedule, the band has an open date between their May 16 Massey Hall show and their May 18 show in Chicago. Let's start praying now for a third Toronto show on the 17th.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Brampton Indie Arts Festival

concert review: Brampton Indie Arts Festival @ Rose Theatre(Brampton, Ontario), Friday February 16, 2007

Ohbijou @ Rose Theatre(Brampton, ON): photo by Michael Ligon

Friendly Rich brought this year's edition of the Brampton Indie Arts Festival to the new Rose Theatre in Brampton last week with some of the finer acts that the suburbs have seen in a long time, or at least since last year's festival. I only made it out to the festival on Friday night which featured a good selection of acts including Ohbijou, Kids On Tv, Laura Barrett, Baby Eagle and The Acorn. Other than Ohbijou who performed in the Rose Theatre, the rest of the acts I saw performed in the secondary space. The Rose Theatre is posher than most venues I've been to, and it was quite an experience to hear the orch-pop tunes of Ohbijou in these majestic surroundings. It was a shame that attendance wasn't anything close to capacity, and the crowd on-hand seemed quite comatose as a semi-enthusiastic response greeted the end of every song, followed by a eerie, awkward silence. I think it threw the band off because they really didn't know what to say between songs. It was my first time seeing Ohbijou live and while I enjoyed it on one level I think I'd have enjoyed them in a smaller, more intimate surrounding such as the secondary space where I saw the rest of the other acts during the night.

There was definitely a better vibe in the smaller secondary space. While the scale of the festival is admirable, I thought only a few of the acts(Final Fantasy being the most prominent) were capable enough to draw sufficient numbers to fill seats in the Rose Theatre. The secondary space stage was a mostly standing room area that was smaller and more intimate and for the night that I was there, had the better lineup. First act I caught that night were the electro-hip-hop-clash stylings of Kids On TV who for the most part weren't my thing, although I did think the last song of their set which was duet between one of the male vocalist and the female vocalist was totally sexy - it reminded me of that song that Iggy Pop and Peaches had sung. At one point during the set, a member of the group stripped down to his briefs and started to breakdance - it may have seemed like a joke initially, but on closer inspection I realized that he was totally sincere about it. Respect. Next up was the charming kalimba-playing, singing-about-Robot-Ponies-singing Laura Barrett. She encouraged everyone to sit on the floor for her set(even jokingly singling out someone at the back who was still standing up) and with her kalimba and a companion on stage who was playing a toy(?) glockenspiel the atmosphere of the moment made me feel like I was back in kindergarten. It was my first time seeing her perform, and I can see why people like her. The quirky instrumentation, a attractive singing style and her charming lyrics and melodies puts Laura in a class all of her own. She's so charming and she deserves a larger audience. Laura made a funny comment about her fondest memories of Brampton was biking away from it[referring to a charity bike trek from Brampton to Guelph she had took part in a year or two ago]. Baby Eagle(solo project of The Constantines ' guitarist Steve Lambke) was next and his Bob Dylan-esque troubadirian style was great. His rough-hewn vocals don't always seem to do his melodies and guitar strummings and arrangements justice but hey, if Neil Young and Bob Dylan can get away with, well you know. It was a mostly low-key set of acoustic strummings and a little harmonica but Steve did his best to rock out with his last song. The band I was most interested in seeing were Canadian music blog faves from Ottawa, The Acorn. They play delicate, intricate indie rock with great swooning melodies, topped off with the vulnerable-sounding vocals of their lead vocalist. I'd heard their song "Blankets" off the 'net, but live it just bowled me over. If I recall, "Blankets" was the last song of their set, and with the crowd on their feet, it was a triumphant set closer. I could have ended the night at this point, I decided to check out standup bass and harp duo of Trevor Dunn and Shelley Burgon whose experimental soundscapes were interesting but a little over my head.

So in all, a decent night of music. I wish I made it out to one or two of the other nights of the festival but it wasn't meant to be. Oh well. There's always next year. Whatever said above about the Rose Theatre, I do have to point out that the theatre is beautiful and I hope they'll book some good acts there in the future. Just a last mention, it was nice meeting Lidia of

Here are my photos from the show.

MySpace: Ohbijou
MySpace: Kids On Tv
MySpace: Laura Barrett
MySpace: Baby Eagle
MySpace: The Acorn

Monday, February 19, 2007

Littlest Things

Lily Allen

A whole whack of Lily Allen tour dates have just been confirmed including several Canadian dates(including Toronto!):

Mar 27/07 - House of Blues, Vancouver
Apr 05/07 - Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto
Apr 06/07 - Club Soda, Montreal

MySpace: Lily Allen

And btw, Lily was actually in Toronto today doing some promotion and she appeared on MuchMusic's MuchOnDemand. I didn't catch the show but there are some photos of her appearance on the MuchMusic Blog.

Here's a torrent[registation required] of an audio recording of Lily Allen's show at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC on February 16, 2007[via Largehearted Boy]. I'm still downloading it but apparently Lily performed a cover of The Specials' "Blank Expression"!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Learn To Live With What You Are

Ben Folds - Live At MySpace DVDThis coming Tuesday February 20 will mark the release of Ben Folds' "Live At MySpace" DVD which was filmed live at Ben’s studio in Nashville, TN on October 24, 2006 for’s first ever live-by-request webcast. I've never been a fan of MySpace except for it's portal to Music but Ben's MySpace session last October almost convinced me to sign up just to request a song. Given some bandwith issues I was only able to catch a portion of the session during the original webcast but I do recall many of the in-studio audience members joining in in an army of acoustic guitars as Ben and band performed.

Here's a clip of Ben and his band covering of Postal Service's "Such Great Heights":

RealVideo: video
QuickTime: video
Windows Media: lo | med | hi

Americans can purchase the DVD through any of the indie records stores listed on Think Indie. Or you can buy it directly through Ben's Attacked By Plastic site. As for Canadians, I'm gonna have to suggest you check out your local indie record store - it's NOT listed on, or If word at Folds Message Board) is to be believed, there may not be an international release. However as the message board does point out, there is a free downloadable version over at The exact download link is below:

Video: Ben Folds "Live At MySpace" (WMV) [212 MB]

As for tour dates, Ben currently has some US dates scheduled starting late March through to the first week of May with more dates to be announced.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shows, Shows, Shows

Concert Announcements:

Mar 04/07 - El Perro Del Mar [instore] @ Soundscapes [!]
Mar 26/07 - Mew @ The Mod Club [#]
Apr 04/07 - Adult, Erase Errata, Parts & Labor @ Lee's Palace [&]
Apr 06/07 - Pere Ubu @ Mohawk Place [Buffalo, NY] [@]
May 26/07 - Feist @ Massey Hall [%]

! - comments over at Chromewaves
# - Brooklyn Vegan
& - The Windish Agency
@ - Billions
% - Just Keep Bloggin'

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pocket Symphony

Air - Pocket Symphony

The worldwide listening party for the new Air album "Pocket Symphony" will be held tomorrow on February 15 through the band's website. You'll need a password in order to access the listening party - you can obtain the password by subscribing to the band's newsletter.
Boohoo for the Final Fantasy/The Silt/The Centaurs show at the Tranzac on February 23 already being sold out. If anything, at least Final Fantasy will be at the Brampton Indie Arts Festival(at the Rose Theatre) tomorrow for a brief(but hopefully satisfying) set.

Just announced, The Acorn, The Hot Springs, Uncut, plus secret guests will be at The Whipper Snapper Gallery in Toronto for a show on March 10. Doors 9 pm and tickets are $8 at the door.

Sondre Lerche with Willy Mason and Thomas Dybdahl are on the sched for a show at The Mod Club on April 2. Tickets onsale tomorrow at 10 am.

Daniel Josef posted a video clip on YouTube from night 5(February 10) of Arcade Fire's recent 5-night stint at The Ukranian Federation in Montreal - the video clip is of the band performing a 'secret' encore in the basement hall of the venue. So now that it's been confirmed that The Arcade Fire will be in Toronto for a two-night stint at Massey Hall on May 15-16[onsale February 23 @ noon], what do you think they can do to top that? There's a torrent(registration required) of an audio recording of The Arcade Fire show from February 10 to download[via Largehearted Boy].

And being released May 8[my birthday, btw], Domino Records will be releasing a double CD of music by Elliott Smith entitled "New Moon", containing 24 songs recorded between 1995-1997. And maybe more importantly, according to Domino, "A significant portion of proceeds from the album sales will go directly to Outside In, a Portland-based social service organization dedicated to providing diverse services for homeless youth and low-income adults."

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Pipettes @ Canadian Music Week

The Pipettes

You can purchase advance tickets through TicketBreak for The Pipettes show which is taking place during Canadian Music Week on March 10 at the Rivoli in Toronto. Tickets are $8 plus GST and convenience fee - total comes to $11.66. So far I haven't seen tickets for this show anywhere else, so I'd suggest getting them while they're hot. This one's going to sell out for sure. Note: TicketBreak is also selling CMW wristbands and individual tickets to other CMW showcases.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel

Cowboy JunkiesI used to love Cowboy Junkies. Their succession of 3 albums, from 1987's "The Trinity Session", to 1990's "The Caution Horses" and 1992's "Black Eyed Man" came at a time that really opened me up for the first time to country music. Of course they never were a 'country' band but their forays into country music were definitely an influence on some of my alt-country/Americana musical tastes I subsequently developed. However with each passing album after "Black Eyed Man" I'd grown disinterested for one reason or another, none of which had to do with the Cowboy Junkies' music which was still some of the best music to come out of Canada at the time. Still through the 90's and into the new milleniun I continued to buy many of their albums but never devoting much time to them. Their show at the Ontario Place Forum(July 25, 1989) was one of my fondest early concert memories. Since 1989 I have yet to see the Cowboy Junkies live. However, I do make a vow that the next time they come back home to Toronto to perform, I will definitely go no matter what the cost. A not so little part of my renewed interest has to do with this year being the 20th anniversary of their landmark album "The Trinity Session". Chartattack reports that there are plans to commemmorate the 20th anniversary of the album and as reported back in October 2006 the Junkies have plans to return this year to the 'scene of the crime', the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto(located in the courtyard just behind the Eaton Centre) for the occassion. Not to dwell on the past only, Chartattack mentions that the Cowboy Junkies just completed recording a new 11-track album entitled "At The End Of Paths Taken" which will be released in North America on April 17 and internationally a week earlier. Chartattack also mentions that the band filmed performances at Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity this past November with guests Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams and Vic Chesnutt which I'm assuming is for some sort of DVD release in the future.

Torontonians will probably have to wait until after May for any local live dates from the band since they're fairly booked up until then with European/US dates and I don't anticipate them adding any Canadian dates at this time. I say a summer date would be great and an outdoor show on a warm summer night would be awesome.

MySpace: Cowboy Junkies

YouTube: Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane (music video)
YouTube: Cowboy Junkies - Misguided Angel (music video)
YouTube: Cowboy Junkies - Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning (music video)
YouTube: Cowboy Junkies - Angel Mine (music video)
YouTube: Cowboy Junkies - A Common Disaster (music video)
YouTube: Cowboy Junkies - I'm So Open (music video)

Torrent: Cowboy Junkies - live at The Spitz, London on 2007-01-29 (registration required)
Torrent: Cowboy Junkies - live at Teatro Ciak, Milan, Italy, 1990-04-12 (registration required)

Thursday, February 08, 2007


The Wooden StarsToronto-via-Ottawa's The Wooden Stars are releasing a new album 8 years after 1999's Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars collaborative effort. The new album is called "People Are Different" and will be released through Sonic Unyon this April[via Chartattack]. I'd always had this on-again-off-again relationship with The Wooden Stars' music. At their core, I think they create pop music, but it's a challenging sort of pop music to say the least. With every challenge there comes difficulty, but success can pay off with a little effort. The Wooden Stars' music is full of odd-time signatures, unusual chords, and fractured vocals making them somewhat difficult to listen to(at least to this pop fan at heart), but at their best the buried melodies creep to the surface to reveal something really beautiful. I saw them live at least once or twice in the 90's and had last caught their "reunion" set at 1995's Exclaim Anniversary show at The Phoenix. It's with great pleasure to find out that they have a few shows lined up this spring to get reacquainted with them[tour dates via CBC Radio 3 Blog]:

April 13 - Montreal, Main Hall
April 19 - Toronto, Horseshoe
April 20 - Hamilton, Casbah
April 21 - Ottawa, Babylon

MySpace: The Wooden Stars (new song "Orphans" is currently streaming)
YouTube: Julie Doiron and The Wooden Stars - Dance Music (music video)
Learn a lesson from Bob Mould: back up your computer files.

concert announcements:

Feb 27/07 - Ohbijou (opening for Bright Eyes) @ Massey Hall The Opera House [!]
Mar 21/07 - Basia Bulat (opening for Maria Taylor) @ Horseshoe Tavern [!]
Mar 28/07 - The Blood Brothers, Celebration @ The Opera House [#]
Mar 30/07 - The Pointed Sticks @ Horseshoe Tavern [&]
APR 20/07 - The Frames @ Phoenix [#]

! - Ground Control Touring
# - Billions
& - Horseshoe Tavern

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You Hold Me, Like A Child

Junior Boys - Like A ChildAOL Music's Spinner has the video premier of the new Junior Boys music video for "Like A Child". Check it out. Junior Boys are at The Mod Club on April 6.

And to further pilfer AOL Music for links, Ted Leo performed a session for AOL Music's The Interface, the full download which will be available March 9. In the meantime, you can listen to Ted performing a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Keep on Pushing". Ted Leo and The Pharmacists are at The Mod Club on May 2.

Pitchfork reports that the new Feist album "The Reminder" will be released on April 23 worldwide, and on May 1 in Canada and the US.

I'm selfishly disappointed with the 2007 Juno Award nominees for "Alternative Album Of The Year", not that any of them are bad albums, and I'm sure some of them are quite good at least from I've read. However, save for a song here or there, I haven't actually listened to any of these albums. I'm behind the curve for sure. One thing that confuses me is the disparity between the nominees for the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards "Alternative Album Of The Year", the only overlap between the two being the Malajube album:

  • "Skelliconnection" - Chad VanGaalen [Outside]

  • "Sometimes" - City and Colour [Universal]

  • "Return To The Sea" - Islands [EMI]

  • "Trompe-l'Oeil" - Malajube [Outside]

  • "Not Saying/Just Saying" - Shout Out Out Out Out [Warner]

  • Concert Announcements:

    Feb 27/07 - Holy Fuck @ The Music Gallery [#]
    Mar 01/07 - Andrew Rodriguez @ The Drake Hotel [#]
    Mar 07/07 - Cry Rumble, The Airfields, Jewelry Rat @ Sneaky Dee's [+]
    Mar 08/07 - Harry And The Potters, Brent Randall & His Pinecones, Germans [Over The Top Fest Launch Party] @ Tranzac [!]
    Mar 09/07 - Public Enemy [part of CMW] @ The Docks [\]
    Mar 23/07 - Great Lake Swimmers, Basia Bulat @ Pepper Jack's[Hamilton, ON] [~]
    Mar 27/07 - The Long Winters @ El Mocambo [*]
    Apr 07/07 - Fox Jaws, The Acorn, Vulcan Dub Squad @ The Church[Brampton, ON] [:]
    Apr 12/07 - Fox Jaws, The Acorn @ The Drake Hotel [:]
    Apr 14/07 - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Elvis Perkins In Dearland @ Kool Haus [&]
    May 03-06/07 - Over The Top Fest featuring Meligrove Band, Clipd Beaks, Ecstatic Sunshine, Mount Eerie, Matt And Kim, Peter And The Wolf, Japanther, Explorers Club, Julie Doiron, The Hylozoists, more TBA @ various venues [!]
    May 11/07 - Norah Jones, M Ward @ Massey Hall [*]
    May 24/07 - Frog Eyes @ Sneaky Dee's [%]
    Jun 28/07 - Cesaria Evora, Seu Jorge @ Massey Hall [^]

    + - The Airfields @ MySpace
    ~ - Basia Bulat @ MySpace
    \ - CMW
    : - Fox Jaws @ MySpace
    ! - chartattack
    * - CANOE -- JAM! Music Concert Listings
    # - Outside Music
    & - Pitchfork
    ^ - The Windish Agency
    % - Kork

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Sweet, Sweet, Sweet, Sweet, Fire In The Street

    concert review: The New Pornographers (part of WinterCity) @ Nathan Phillips Square(Toronto, Ontario), February 3, 2007

    The New Pornographers @ Nathan Phillips Square: photo by Michael Ligon

    I'm so hardcore. It may have been -14 degrees Celsius weather[colder with a wind chill] this past Saturday night, but it didn't stop me from checking out The New Pornographers who were playing a free show down at Nathan Phillips Square as part of WinterCity. Poor Carl Newman that his propane heater onstage kept on going out on him. Continually mentioning how cold it was, in jest Carl said he thought he was going to die, even directing a quip to keyboardist Kathyrn Calder to not let him fall asleep. Ha ha. In another moment, Carl and Blair were speaking about how Toronto was so cold and that it was going through a reverse global warming. At one point between songs, Carl had to tune his guitar and blurted out "Fuck" only to jokingly explain that he said "Funk", which prompted the band into an impromptu instrumental version of Parliament's "Give Up The Funk". Kathyrn Calder looked so cute in her mouse-ears toque as she grabbed a tambourine and started to dance to the groove. Such were the moments that kept the crowd going through an hour plus set in the bitter cold, though I must say the body heat from the crowd and a little bit of dancing/moving kept things somewhat comfortable. They performed most of the tunes that I could have hoped for including "Use It", "Sing Me Spanish Techno", "Mass Romantic", "Miss Teen Wordpower", "The Bleeding Heart Show", "From Blown Speakers"(during the encore), and what for me was the highlight of the show, a stirring rendition of "Streets of Fire"(complete with singalong from the crowd). Kudos to the band for braving the cold and performing a great set.

    Here are my photos from the show.

    I found some live video clips from the show on YouTube. Check 'em out:

    YouTube: The New Pornographers - Sing Me Spanish Techno (4:11)
    YouTube: The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show (1:59)
    YouTube: The New Pornographers - Give Up The Funk (0:31)
    YouTube: The New Pornographers - Streets of Fire (1:17)
    YouTube: The New Pornographers - Testament To Youth In Verse (2:37)
    YouTube: The New Pornographers - From Blown Speakers (2:39)

    MySpace: The New Pornographers

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    I Love My Jean

    concert review: Camera Obscura, The Essex Green @ The Opera House(Toronto, Ontario), January 31, 2007

    Camera Obscura @ The Opera House: photo by Michael LigonThis past Wednesday, the Merge Records double-bill of Scotland's Camera Obscura and Brookyln's The Essex Green made it's way to our fair city for a show at The Opera House. My initial selfish disappointment upon hearing news that the show was moved from the cozier Lee's Palace to the larger Opera House soon turned to appreciation. If anyone deserves success, it couldn't have happened to a nicer band than Camera Obscura. Any concerns I had whether they could make a successful jump from their show at the cozy Horseshoe Tavern in July 2006 to the larger The Opera House this time around were soon put to rest. I know it's still early in the year but I wouldn't be surprised at the end of the year if this show makes my fave concerts of the year list.

    Starting off the night promptly at their 9:15 pm scheduled set start time was Brooklyn's The Essex Green. Their 60-ish folk-pop 1999 Kindercore debut "Everything is Green" was my only reference point. Unfortunately, they didn't play anything off of their debut release but rather they'd focused on material from their last few releases including their most recent Merge Records release, "The Cannibal Sea". Man, was I pleased with what I heard from the band during their set, definitely improved by the onstage energy exuded by the band. With lead vocals alternating between keyboardists/flutist Sasha Bell and guitarist Christopher Ziter, the band performed a sprite set of pop music, approaching a level of power-pop akin to say Fountains of Wayne, and at times a twangier sound(attributed mostly to guitarist's Jeff Baron's meaty guitar lines) that reminded me of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Rounding out the sound were cute-as-a-button Julia Rydholm's energetic basslines and the spectacularly fluid drumming of Tim Barnes. Not much in the way of banter, except for Julia's brief account of her first childhood visit to Canada and her excitement of staying at the Marriot, then Sasha saying something along the lines that Julia would be using the jacuzzi when they get back to their hotel. Wakka, wakka.

    Musically, I'd say that Camera Obscura were as on top of their game as they were last year at the Horseshoe Tavern. The difference was that I think acoustics of The Opera House brought out the lushness of the material off of "Let's Get Out Of This Country" that you just couldn't get within the smaller confines of the Horseshoe Tavern. The band chose to start off the first half of the show with mostly mellower material but when the triple attack of "If Looks Could Kill", "Let's Get Out Of This Country" and "Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken" finally came it was exhilirating. The band still doesn't have that much of a rockin' stage presence but I've come to accept that. But what they do have is charm, humour and even a sense of playfulness. It was fun to watch their trumpeteer jump up to the drumkit during one song and tap the cymbal as the drummer continued to play. Towards the end of the set, the band begun a hand-clap that got most of the audience joining in as the band jumped into a rendition of "I Need All The Friends I Can Get". Kudos to members of The Essex Green for restarting the handclapping and getting the audience back into it. After they'd performed "I Love My Jean", which the guitarist had explained contained lyrics based on the writings of Scottish poet Robbie Burns, I'd caught an additional quip from the guitarist I hadn't initially heard clearly because of his accent. But when I'd thought harder about what he'd said, I think he said that Robbie Burns died of Syphillis. Maybe you had to be there, but the comedic timing was priceless.

    Here are some photos from the show I took.

    YouTube: Camera Obscura - "Suspended From Class" (live at The Opera House - January 31, 2007)
    MySpace: Camera Obscura
    MySpace: The Essex Green

    More reviews/photos over at chartattack, Chromewaves, Torontoist, Gigs and Discs, and It's Not The Band I Hate....