Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sam The Record Man

Sam The Record Man - downtown TorontoMaybe you have to be of a certain age to appreciate it, but I think the news of the flagship Sam The Record Man store closing down is a sad one. It was one of a select few destinations I'd always make time for when I was in my teen years in the late 80's, on those infrequent occasions I'd travel from the suburbs and venture downtown. I became much more acquainted with it in the 90's during and after my university years, and now I work in an office right down the street from it. I don't necessarily shop at Sam's exclusively - I purchase a few things here and there, and I try at least to hit it on New Release Tuesdays. I long ago accepted the chain's decline, especially when the chain Sam The Record Man's all closed for business. The news of the flagship store's now eminent closure is a shock but at this point I'm willing to accept it. If it can't compete well what can you do. Really, at this point there's no use in contemplating what strategies Sams could have followed to operate more competitively. If the store has to close, I'd like to at least see the Sam The Record Man sign remain as a Toronto landmark. With the monstrosity of a shopping complex that's presently under construction down the street from Sam The Record Man, I'd at least like to see the Sam The Record Man sign remain as a reminder of simpler times when it's blinking lights were the main attraction for bored suburban youth.

Gage the reaction over at Stille Post.

Monday, May 28, 2007


concert review: Feist w/ Gonzales @ Massey Hall (Toronto, Ontario), May 26, 2007

Feist at Massey Hall: photo by Michael Ligon

Conspirators Leslie Feist and Chilly Gonzales have come along way over the last several years. Their common link that I'm aware of is that in the past they both have collaborated with Peaches whose sleazy electro compositions are miles aways from what Feist and Gonzales perform musically these days. If Feist and Gonzales are mellower these days(dropping their first names in the process), its aesthetically speaking only. In Feist's case she's stepped up to the plate in terms of songwriting, releasing a stunner of a 2nd album "The Reminder" recently.

Wearing a white lab coat and white gloves with his dark hair slicked back, Gonzales hunched over his piano like a mad scientist as a piano-cam pointed towards the piano keys displayed to the large video screen at the back of the stage his vigourous finger movements. It was very much a vaudevillian performance that combined his playful piano playing with humourous banter. The somewhat academic topic of minor key vs. major key, for example, was demonstrated in a playful manner as "Happy Birthday" performed in a major key became somewhat more sinister(in an Addams Family sort of way) when he played it in a minor key. Making reference to Cancon rules, towards the end of the set he delved into a medley of Cancon classic hits, initially not recognizable, but soon took on a familiar air as the melodies of Bryan Adam's "Summer of '69", then Gowan's "A Criminal Mind" surfaced. As a precursor for what was to come, Gonzales finished that Cancon medley with a sparkling instrumental version of Feist's "One Evening". Gonzales read some past critic reviews(which were ridiculously negative) of some of his past work which he jokingly said was the reason he left Canada for Europe but after this performance I'm sure a lot more people left Massey Hall with his name on their minds. Update: Chartattack reviewed the May 25 show and I hadn't read it until AFTER I'd written my review(of Feist's May 26 show) - it's funny how we both came up with the same 'mad scientist' and vaudevillian descriptions regarding Gonzales' performance.

I'd never have thought that since 2004(at the time of her album "Let It Die") that Feist would go from playing venues like The Mod Club to almost selling out two shows at Toronto's Massey Hall in 2007. Of course, Feist's broader musical spectrum gives her wider appeal compared to say her indie rock compatriots in Broken Social Scene. If it feels she's mellowed, fortunately her songwriting is stronger than ever before. As much as I like her new album "The Reminder" and as much as her set had focused on it, my only disappointment with the show was that I'd wished more efforts were made on Feist and or her bandmates parts to drawn a more participatory element from the crowd. There were moments of extreme beauty during quieter moments like "So Sorry", "The Park"(with some introductory bird whistling from Feist), "Let It Die". Apart from the oligatory danceable "Sea Lion Woman" for which Feist practically made everyone get out of their seats for, I was surprised that there didn't seem to be much audience participation during such uptempo numbers like "1234", "My Moon, My Man", "I Feel It All", "Mushaboom". Maybe the crowd could have initiated their own spontaneous reactions, but if the majority isn't budging, a little coaxing from Feist I'm sure would have helped. It's not to say that the crowd wasn't enjoying themselves, if the raputurous crowd reaction after each song was any indication. Highlights of the evening for me included Feist's stark solo performance of "One Evening" as well her solo performance of "Now At Last" for which she brought on a friend to tap dance some percussive rhythms. Oh, and as Feist proved that night, every show needs a disco ball. Heavenly.

If you like, I recorded several songs from the show using my digital camera. I was too far to attempt to record any video but the audio came out somewhat listenable. I only got three songs("Now At Last", "The Water", "Intuition") and you can download them from the link below:

Audio: Feist - 3 songs - live at Massey Hall - May 26, 2007

MySpace: Feist

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Feel It All

The Toronto Sun and The Toronto Star have generally favourable reviews of Feist's first of two sold out shows at Massey Hall which happened yesterday evening. The second show's tonight which I'll be going to!

John Sakamoto's Anti-Hit List for May 26 includes a mashup of Feist Vs. Daft Punk, "My Moon Around The World" which you can download here.

A few videos from last night's show have made it up onto YouTube:

YouTube: Feist - "1234" (live at Massey Hall, Toronto - May 25, 2007)
YouTube: Feist - "Sea Lion Woman" (live at Massey Hall, Toronto - May 25, 2007)

And if you missed this previously, check this out. So, so, good:

YouTube: Feist - "I Feel It All" [live on Jimmy Kimmel Live - May 15, 2007]

Update: According to Emerge, there will be some tickets available at the door for tonight's Feist show at Massey Hall. Set times - Doors 7 pm, Gonzales at 8 pm, Feist at 9:10 pm.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Doors of Perception

Doors Open goes down this weekend in Toronto. I hope I make it out to this, if only to finally see the Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts. Although, I hear the lineups are killer.

On the US west coast, the Sasquatch Festival in Washington State goes down this weekend starting tonight[this afternoon on the west coast]tomorrow. Anyone know if there's going to be a live webcast?

Aversion says that indiepop sister duo Smoosh are bringing along sister Maia[I didn't know they had another sister] to play bass on their upcoming tour. Smoosh open for The Pipettes on June 1 at Lee's Palace although I'm not sure if Maia will be there that day since Aversion isn't listing that date on their website.

Toronto artist Esthero comes to The Mod Club on June 6 for a stripped down acoustic performance with just her on vocals and the accompaniement of two guitars. Tickets $24.50 at Ticketmaster, Play de Record, Soundscapes & Rotate This. 19+, doors at 8 pm and show at 9 pm[via Stille Post].

Slint tickets for the show on Monday July 16 at the Phoenix are now on sale. They'll set you back $21.50 plus service/convenience fees.

The Under Byen fansite(see News item May 22, 2007) points out that the band have modified their upcoming tour dates slightly from the list that Paper Bag Records had originally announced and unfortunately they've cancelled a few shows. Unfortunately it looks like the July 12 Toronto date at Lee's Palace has been cancelled because it doesn't appear on the band's MySpace. Damn.

Muse w/ openers Cold War Kids will be at Arrow Hall in Mississauga on August 1 according to CANOE -- Jam!.

Berlin duo Stereo Total return to Toronto on August 28 for a show at Lee's Palace. Tickets $13.50 onsale now at Rotate This, and I'm assuming other outlets.

Finally, the following message is posted atop the Horseshoe Tavern's concert listings page:
"Hats off to JOHN BERRY, a music-industry and artist-friendly, local contractor, who’s overseeing $25,000 worth of RENOVATIONS to the exterior and interior of the H-Shoe Tavern. The live room stage and floors have been re-carpeted, and the famous black n white dance floor n re-tiled. Every piece of heritage pine n oak has been stripped, fixed, and re-stained giving the venue a surreal 1940’s era feel."

I haven't been to the Horseshoe since March 12 when I saw My Latest Novel, so'll be curious to see what the 'Shoe looks like now. Unless, the message above is an old message, much of the renovations had been done by March and I just didn't notice. I've been known not to pay attention to details. It's a bad habit that I'm working on.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Almost Crimes

Given the Broken Social Scene ladies(Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, Amy Millan) recent solo forays/successes, NOW's Sarah Liss profiles each member(plus hired gun Lisa Lobsinger) as if they were part of a Lou Pearlman-style prefab pop band(who Sarah fantasizes would be called 'Almost Crimes'). It'd be funny/cool if the ladies read this and make this a reality. Feist plays Massey Hall this Friday and Saturday nights - I don't think either of them are sold out. They're both sold out. Can't wait for the show on Saturday.

Cover story for the current issue of NOW goes to Montreal's Land Of Talk, with the weekly's Sarah Liss speaking to LoT frontwoman bandleader Liz Powell. Land of Talk open for Merge Record's The Rosebuds this coming Monday May 28 at Horseshoe Tavern - tickets $10.50 in advance.

Lady Sovereign is at The Social in Toronto on Wednesday May 30. Tickets $15 at Play De Record and Rotate This[via Stille Post].Note, this is an after party show as Lady Sovereign's opening for Gwen Stefani at Air Canada Centre earlier that evening.

According to Republic of Safety's MySpace, they'll be opening for Portland, Oregon's The Blow at Horseshoe Tavern on July 8. Before that, RoS play Stones Place in Toronto this Saturday then Reverb on June 8 as part of NXNE. For Guelph, London[ON], and Montreal dates check their MySpace.

Toronto's The Parkas return in June to promote their new album "Put Your Head In The Lion's Mouth" which is out June 19 through Calgary's Saved By Radio & Saved By Vinyl. They play an NXNE set at Dakota Tavern on June 7 at 11 pm, a matinee NXNE set at Global Village Backpackers Hostel the following day, and then a proper CD release show at Horseshoe Tavern on July 27. I saw them in March 2006 during Canadian Music Week at Healey's and they put on a great no-frills, rock n' roll set that never lost track of a good pop melody. Their bassist could teach a course on humourous banter. Check out some tracks over at their MySpace including a few new songs from the new album. Ps. The photo associated with the song "Margaret Atwood" posted at their MySpace is actually a photo I took of the band at Healey's last year.

The Lemonheads were last in Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace in December 2006 - it was a great show that included many of their most familiar tunes plus a few of the new songs sprinkled throughout. Evan and the band return to Lee's for a show on June 20[via NOW and confirmed at the band's MySpace]. Tickets $23.50.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How Can It Feel, This Wrong

Pitchfork reports that the reclusive Portishead will make their first full-on live appearance in nearly 10 years at the end of the year. The band will curate the 2007 edition of All Tomorrow's Parties' The Nightmare Before Christmas which takes place December 7-9, 2007 at Butlins Holiday Centre in Minehead, England. Part of the message posted at their website reads as follows, "We have always loved the All Tomorrow's Parties set up and we're happy our first shows will be there". My money is on Portishead appearing at next year's Coachella.

Pitchfork interviews Andrew Bird.

Until video pops up either on YouTube or the CBS website of Jesus and Mary Chain's performance of new song "All Things Must Pass" which they performed yesterday evening on Late Show With David Letterman, I'll leave you with video of the band's previous appearance on the Letterman show sometime in 1999(?), circa "Honey's Dead". Update: Letterman performance from a few days ago is now below:

YouTube: Jesus and Mary Chain - "All Things Must Pass" (live on Late Show With David Letterman - May 21,2007)
YouTube: Jesus and Mary Chain - "Far Gone And Out" (live on The David Letterman Show - 1999?)

Also aaron_C has some screen shots from JAMC's Letterman performance yesterday.

Brooklyn Heathen has a review of Frog Eyes' recent performance Union Hall in NYC recently. Plus she has a video clip from the show of Frog Eyes performing "Reform the Countryside". Expect a similar dose of pop eccentricity when Frog Eyes(along with Victoria, BC's Himalayan Bear, and Toronto's Jewish Legend) plays Sneaky Dee's this Thursday May 24.

Preceding their show at The Mod Club on May 25, Joseph Arthur & The Lonely Astronauts will perform an instore at Sam The Record Man(Yonge St.) earlier in the day at 5 pm.

New Zealand's The Veils with openers Chapel Hill, NC's The Comas arrive at the El Mocambo for a show on June 14[via Pollstar]

There'll be a double shot of Montreal at Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto on Saturday June 23 when Montag's electro-pop and Miracle Fortress' Pet Sounds infiltrate the premises. I was little surprised to see the new Miracle Fortress album at Future Shop today; I listened to some tracks at the Miracle Fortress MySpace and track 4, "Maybe Lately" of the album has particularly caught my ear - it's like a collision between Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, and The Flaming Lips. Awesome.

To make up for their cancelled set at Lee's Palace[they were scheduled to open for Electrelane] from this past May 18, Portland, Oregon's The Blow will come back to Toronto on July 8 for a show at Horseshoe Tavern[via Stille Post].

If you're willing to make the drive to Buffalo, NY, the city's Lafayette Square is hosting free concerts every Thursday during the summer, some of the highlights being(and note, none of the following bands are currently scheduled to come to Toronto):

Jun 07 - Son Volt
Jun 21 - Violent Femmes w/ Mobile
Jul 05 - The Sam Roberts Band w/ Grace Potter and The Nocturnals
Jul 26 - Old 97's w/ Yonder Mountain String Band
Aug 16 - Soul Asylum w/ The Alternate Routes

Full Lafayette Square summer concerts schedule here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Victoria Was My Queen

Music news for this Victoria Day:

Vinny Favale, CBS Vice-President of Late Night Programming for Late Show with David Letterman, and huge Elvis Costello fan, has a great interview with the man himself(Elvis, that is). Watch the video. It's sort of funny what he(Elvis) says about blogs/bloggers:
"...'blog' might be the ugliest word in the English language...I think the only word uglier than that is the word to describe the people who write on them..."

Taking over Ohbijou's cancelled opening slot for Hawksley Workman at Harbourfront Centre on June 4 will be The Stills.

I swear I thought I heard a Jenn Grant song in the background of a recent Ford television commercial. Or someone that sounded a lot like her. Can anyone confirm this? Jenn plays C'est What on June 9 as part of NXNE then Horseshoe Tavern on June 15 with A Northern Chorus, Tanya Davis, and Bellewoods. Guelph and Hamilton dates on June 13 & 14 respectively. Check out her MySpace for all her tour dates.

A handful of dates have popped up for pop eccentrics Ween. I haven't listened to them in a long time, although I admit I am only vaguely familiar with them. No Toronto date but they do stop in Montreal for a show at Metropolis on June 9 or if you're in for a road trip will be in Albany, NY at The Palace Theater on July 12 and Rochester, NY at Water Street Music Hall on July 13. I was always loved their song "Freedom of '76". Check out an early clip of the band performing the song on The Jane Pratt Show in 1993:

YouTube: Ween - "Freedom of '76" [live on The Jane Pratt Show (1993)]
YouTube: Ween - "Freedom of '76" (music video)

Via Highroad Touring, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians come to Toronto for a show at The Mod Club Theatre on July 12, doors 7:30 pm. According to Rolling Stone back in March, it's been 12 to 14 years since she's toured. My Bloody Valentine, I have hope for you yet. Well not really. Update: I stand corrected. I should have looked closer; that Rolling Stone link was from March 2004...Edie Brickell did come to Toronto that year. And sure to please some, influential(so I've read) 90's indie rock band Slint come to Toronto for a show at Phoenix on July 16.

Boston radio station WBUR spoke with Michael and Margo Timmins of The Cowboy Junkies. They also performed a few songs live. Listen to the interview and live session over at NPR[via Largehearted Boy]. The band is scheduled for a Toronto show at Courthouse on July 3, although ticket info still TBA.

Brooklyn's Joan Wasser AKA Joan as Policewoman is at the Horseshoe Tavern on July 28[via Billions]. Not familiar with her solo material but I really liked her violin playing when she was part of 90's alt-rock band The Dambuilders.

Dancing In The Moonlight has Feist's recent live session on BBC Radio 1(broadcast May 14, 2007) for download[mp3]. Two songs, "So Sorry", "Limit To Your Love".

Junkmedia spoke with EBTG's Tracey Thorn who recently released her second solo album(after many, many years) entitled "Out Of The Woods". She does mention Feist as one of the artists she's currently enjoying.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mistaken For Strangers

The National on MTV's 'Human Giant' (May 19, 2007)

We don't get MTV's Human Giant on Cable here in Canada(well at least I don't) but some will be happy to know that the show has been renewed for a second season. The show took over MTV for 24 hours over the weekend attempting to muster enough viewer support for it and they won. Either that or it was an elaborate hoax to get MTV more publicity. Whatever. Highlights from the 24 hour event can be see over at the show's website[unfortunately, only viewable within the US]. Below are a few performances from The National that have made it onto YouTube:

YouTube: The National - "Mistaken For Strangers" (live on MTV's Human Giant - May 19, 2007)
YouTube: The National - "Apartment Story" (live on MTV's Human Giant - May 19, 2007)

The National's new album "Boxer" is out May 22, 2007. Check out a few songs("Fake Empire", "Mistaken For Strangers") from the album over at their MySpace. They start their North American tour on May 28 with a 5-night hometown stint at Bowery Ballroom in New York City. They're in Toronto on June 5 for a show at The Opera House, with openers on Shapes and Sizes. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

May Two Four

First long weekend before summer officially starts, and a beautiful day as well, and here I am blogging. Therefore I'll keep this brief:

Before they trek westward this summer for some summer festivals and shows, The Meligrove Band will be on MTV Live on May 24 for an interview and live performance. The show airs at 6 pm but the interview and performance segment usually airs closer to 7 pm. Email for free tickets.

A few days ago I mentioned singer/songwriter Jade McNelis and I get the feeling she's going to get a lot of press in the near future(and deservedly so). ChartAttack gives the upcoming press machine a headstart. Upcoming Toronto dates include:

May 29 @ Tranzac w/Chad VanGaalen
Jun 07 @ Rivoli (NXNE)
Jun 22 @ Horseshoe Tavern w/The Besnard Lakes and In-Flight Safety

Ninja Tune's The Cinematic Orchestra will be at Harbourfront Centre on July 6[as part of the Beats, Breaks and Culture festival] according to their booking agent The Windish Agency.

The Windish Agency(and Matador Records) both indicate that the full lineup at Lee's Palace on July 18 will be Deerhunter, The Ponys and Jay Reatard.

I haven't actually heard either They Shoot Horses, Don't They? or Shapes and Sizes yet but I keep on seeing their names in print. I get the impression they could be worth checking out. Local promoter Eric Warner is bringing the bands to town for a show at Sneaky Dee's on July 21[via Stille Post].

Stereogum points to a recent performance of Ted Leo on MTV's Human Giant. Unfortunately, anyone outside of the US won't be able to view it. However, you can see a clip from the show of Ted Leo performing "Coleen" over at YouTube(courtesy of izzymeckler). Take that MTV.

That's all for now - enjoy the long weekend. [and for those of you who aren't aware of the holiday[Victoria Day] I'm speaking of, go to Wikipedia].

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I was such a fan of the disco-post-punk of defunct Toronto band controller.controller especially their live show circa their "History" EP. They were one of the highlights of 2004's Pop Montreal for me. However, by the release of their debut(and only) album "X Amounts" in 2005, my fandom had waned a bit only because the songs on their debut album didn't quite live up to my expectations(although a few songs on it were killer). News of their breakup in 2006 came as a disappointment, but which soon passed. Recently, I came across news that Ronnie and Jeff of controller.controller and Vanessa from Toronto's No Dynamics have formed a new band called Lioness. There aren't any audio samples yet over at their MySpace, but their MySpace description illustrates their music as "Drum & Bass / Disco House / Experimental"(and we all know how accurate those MySpace music descriptions can be). I'm not sure how accurate a description of Lioness' music that is but if you're willing to take a gamble(and I might), Lioness have a few shows coming up:

30 May 2007 - The Casbah [Hamilton, Ontario]
02 Jun 2007 - The Ford Plant [Brantford, Ontario]
05 Jun 2007 - Call the Office [London, Ontario]
29 Jun 2007 - Tiger Bar [Toronto, Ontario]

Tickets go on sale tomorrow at Rotate This and Soundscapes for an early, all-ages Voxtrot/Favourite Sons/Au Revoir Simone show for Sneaky Dee's on June 8[via Stille Post]. Doors for the early show open at 6 pm with the show starting at 6:30 pm. I'll be going to the late show.

Minnesota Public Radio has the audio of a recent live session and interview with Au Revoir Simone. I didn't know their band name was a reference from The Pee Wee Herman Show.

On closer glance of the Toronto Jazz Festival schedule, I saw that San Franciscan turntablist Mike Relm will be at The Mod Club on June 22. Tickets $12. I think he played Canadian Music Week last year; I didn't see him but I remember his name. Check out his MySpace for a few samples of his wares - "Relm and Josie" mixes an '80's(?) tune with hip hop to a delirious effect.

WYNC's Soundcheck has a the audio of a recent interview with Sloan's Chris Murphy and Jay Ferguson as well as a stripped down live session performance of their song "Fading Into Obscurity". Here is a photo of Chris and Jay at WYNC's studio.

World Cafe has a recent live session from multi-instrumentalist, pop songsmith Andrew Bird[via Largehearted Boy].

I like Feist 's recent live performance["I Feel It All"] on a bus a little better than The Long Blondes' Kate and Dorian's performance["Once And Never Again"/"Giddy Stratospheres"] in an elevator but I'm looking forward to both artists' upcoming shows equally[YouTube links via Pitchfork]:

YouTube: Feist - "I Feel It All" [live on Jimmy Kimmel Live - May 15, 2007]
YouTube: The Long Blondes - "Once And Never Again" / "Giddy Stratospheres" [live on "(Behind) Closed Doors"]

Update: The Magic Numbers come to Lee's Palace on August 29, in support of their most recent album "Those The Brokes". I'll have to give the album another few listens, but it didn't quite grab me as much as their first album.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

2007 NXNE Schedule and Other Music News

Big news of the day(other than The Arcade Fire show at Massey Hall tonight which I didn't have tickets for) is that the NXNE schedule is now up. The haters will say the lineup sucks but there's some interesting choices available if you're willing to explore new sounds. I mean what's the use of just seeing the bands you already know, that have already played around town countless times.

That said, I see Ohbijou(according to their MySpace) will be playing the NXNE Sirius Canada/CBC Radio Showcase at the Horseshoe on June 9. Unfortunately, they're no longer listed as opening for Hawksley Workman for his free show at Harbourfront Centre on June 4. Aww phooey.

The NXNE show case at Horseshoe Tavern on June 7 will feature a interesting/terrific lineup of band's including Austin's Future Clouds & Radar at 9 pm, Nashville's Cage The Elephant at 10 pm, Los Angeles' Seawolf at 11 pm, 90's alt-rock stalwarts Buffalo Tom at midnight and Toronto's The Old Soul at 1 am[via].

The Ladytron DJ tour(featuring Mira & Reuben of the band) will definitely be at The Drake Hotel on May 19. Gig poster over at Stille Post.

Toronto pop songsmiths, The Airfields have a rough mix of new song "The Long Way Home" streaming over at their MySpace. They play Rancho Relaxo this Friday May 18, then the Silver Dollar on June 21.

Congrats to Toronto's The Golden Dogs for getting signed to Yep Roc in the US. Story over at Chart Attack. They're at Lee's Palace on May 25.

Outside Music lists Seattle pop sister-duo Smoosh as playing Lee's Palace on June 1. They open for The Pipettes. Hmmm, odd combination.

If country and roots is your thing, Toronto's Rizdales have a whack of shows in Toronto and vicinity coming up: June 2 & July 7 at Graffiti's Bar and Grill, CD release show at Cadillac Lounge on August 17, Wards Island Jamboree on August 26, then backing the legendary Wanda Jackson at Cadillac Lounge on October 19 and 20. All tourdates over at their MySpace.

The Festival on Bloor comes to the intersection of Bloor and Brunswick on June 10 with a whole afternoon's worth of music featuring many Toronto local bands and artists. Full lineup over at Stille Post.

Dischord Records' The Evens(featuring Ian Mackaye of Fugazi) come to Toronto for a show at Whippersnapper Gallery on June 13. [via Stille Post].

Hey it's free and it's relatively close to me, so I might check this out - Joel Plaskett Emergency play the Burlington Sound Of Music Festival on Saturday June 16 at 8pm.

Violent Femmes tourdates over at Brooklyn Vegan - no date in Toronto, but they'll be Buffalo, NY on June 21 for a show at Lafayette Square - I think it's a free show too.

Elvis Perkins In Dearland have been added to the Hillside Festival lineup and will perform on July 29 according to Beggars Group Canada.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco comes to Toronto on July 29 to play Wakestock at Toronto Islands.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Secret Someones

concert review: Laura Veirs And Saltbreakers, Karl Blau, Jade McNelis @ El Mocambo(Toronto, Ontario), May 12, 2007

Laura Veirs(with Saltbreakers) @ El Mocambo: photo by Michael Ligon

It was a disappointing turnout to what was otherwise a fine set of intelligent pop music by Portland's Laura Veirs and her backing band Saltbreakers at the El Mocambo this past Saturday night. It's been about a year and half since she performed in Toronto when she opened for Sufjan Stevens at Trinity St Paul Church. My impression that night a year and half ago(especially standing near the merch table after the show) was that she gained a lot of new fans, myself included. It's a bit surprising that the El Mocambo was nowhere near capacity(maybe 40-50 people) for Laura's return appearance to Toronto. Thankfully, the crowd on hand was appreciative and did the courteous thing by approaching the stage for Laura Veir's set, making her feel quite at home.

According to Laura, her and and her band never paid much attention to what they wore on stage but this time, they wore the snazziest outfits I've seen in a long time. Laura's dress was adorned with stars, flowers, and guitars while her band Saltbreakers[Tucker Martine (percussion) Steve Moore (piano, organs), Karl Blau (bass, guitar, vocals)] wore suits similarly adorned with various things like trees, moths, and nautical objects. Drummer/producer Tucker Martine's suit jackets with it's various nautical objects adorned especially reflected the nautical-themed album cover of Laura's most recent album "Saltbreakers" (Nonesuch). Ingratiating herself to the audience, Laura asked if anyone in the audience knew Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers who she and the band toured with(bassist Karl further saying that he was a sweetheart), and also asked the audience if anyone had read "Fugitive Pieces" written by one of her favourite authors Toronto author/poet Anne Michaels. Anyone going to this extent to extend herself to the audience might come off insincere but Laura was quite the opposite. Totally charming.

Overall, it was a set of polite-sounding, intelligent pop music. Laura's vocals, not overly feminine but still vulnerable sounding, was easily best the best instrument to carry her song's melodies. The band instrumentation was competent but at times felt somewhat lacking. I can't quite pinpoint what it was - or maybe I can; it could have been the bass from the second floor vibrating down through the ceiling to our floor. It was somewhat of a distraction and even Laura joked about it, at one point contemplating whether their next song should be a louder one or one of their quieter numbers. Unfortunately, I couldn't grab a set list fast enough but I did recognize Laura perform several familiar numbers like "Galaxies", "Secret Someones"!, "Pink Light", "Don't Lose Yourself", and "Rialto"(complete with handclaps!). A lovely, intimate show that could have benefited more from a stronger turnout(shame on you, Toronto).

Preceding Laura's set was her bassist Karl Blau who performed as a one-man-band using a looping station to loop human beat box sounds and other vocal effects, as well as guitar arrangements, as a backdrop to his own vocals and guitar/bass guitar playing. Starting his set with a folkier tune, Karl progressed to tunes with almost funky, even reggae, overtones, and as such he reminded at times of Beck. Quite possibly, the most amazing display of a looping station I've ever seen. The crowd was a little sparser for Karl's set than Laura's but a little prompting from Karl got the crowd to approach closer to the stage. The music's not necessarily my cup of tea but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Had I known Montreal's(by-way-of-Florida-and-Taiwan) Jade McNelis was the first opener of the night my friend and I would have made an effort to show up earlier. I get many MySpace links sent to my e-mail and many I don't check out or I'm not impressed with but Jade's MySpace is one of the few I've taken notice of. Her vocals are awesome - they sound a little like Emily Haines in my opinion - and the music's an exemplary blend of melody, piano, guitar, bass, and drums. I can't believe she's only 20 yrs old. Chris Seligman of Stars produced her debut EP "All The Fables". Unfortunately, my friend and I missed her set. She may have only played solo because I think I recall only seeing a keyboard set up onstage before Karl's set. I may possibly try to take in her 11:10 pm scheduled set at the Horseshoe Tavern tomorrow night which is no cover, part of Edge 102.1's Nu Music Nite.

My photos from the show to come soon.

MySpace: Jade McNelis
MySpace: Karl Blau
MySpace: Laura Veirs
The Smudge of Ashen Fluff graciously provides mp3's of Feist's recent live session on KCRW broadcast on May 10, 2007.

Vancouver's You Say Party! We Say Die! make their way eastward starting towards the end of the month, stopping in Toronto for a show an NXNE show at Horseshoe Tavern on June 9. Tour dates over at their MySpace.

Aversion has a Q&A with Mary Timony, whose newest disc "The Shapes We Make" (Kill Rock Stars) came out on May 8. No upcoming Toronto date unfortunately, but she'll be in Buffalo, NY at Mohawk Place on June 12 if you're inclined to make the drive.

The Hidden Cameras play an all-ages, early gig at Phoenix on June 15 - you already knew that. Before they head off to Europe for the summer festival circuit, according to their MySpace their only other Canadian gig for now will be on June 16 at Dublin Street United Church in Guelph - openers are Nathan Lawr & the Minotaurs, Doors 7:30 - Show 8:00 - tickets $15 adv/ $18 door which will be available at Daydream Nation and Ground Floor Music in Guelph. Hopefully they'll make it back for the Hillside Festival in Guelph at the end of July.

Brooklynites Bishop Allen will be at Lee's Palace on June 28. Tickets $10, onsale on May 17.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Upcoming Shows

There's a lot of shows coming up to look forward to. I won't be going to(nor am I necessarily interested in) every one of these but it's nice to have options:

To follow-up on my post from last Tuesday, the MySpace Secret Show with Billy Talent has been confirmed to take place at The Mod Club on May 14 with openeres Uncut - it's free, and all you need to do is line up. It's first-come, first-serve. Otherwise if you can't make it or don't get in, you can go to the MySpace Secret Show website on the day of the show to watch the streaming broadcast.

As Chromewaves mentioned[and also verified by promoters Emerge], the Fields show that had originally been scheduled for Amp'd Studio on May 14 has been moved to The Drake Underground.

A little confusion but Ladytron's Reuben Wu and Mira Aroyo's DJ tour scheduled to come to Toronto on May 19 is either at Spin Gallery or The Drake Hotel depending on whether you believe promoter The Windish Agency or Ladytron's MySpace.

Toronto pop softies The Bicycles have a whack of shows coming up according to their MySpace. They're at Sneaky Dee's with The Old Soul on May 31. Next, they(along with Laura Barrett) perform as part of the Bloor Street Festival on June 10. They open for Japan's The Moist Towelettes and Toronto's Sunriser at Lee's Palace on June 26. They end off June on the 30th with a show at Tranzac, but billed as The Unicycles which will feature members of the band performing solo. A few more scattered Ontario dates can be seen over at their MySpace.

Toronto's Republic of Safety posted yesterday in a MySpace post that they're coming out of hibernation with a lot of shows planned for the future. Their first scheduled show is May 25 at Stones Place - $8 will get you in.

An interesting show is coming up at The Boat on May 30 with, Ohbijou's Casey Mecija along with Gentleman Reg, Paul Aucoin ( of Hylozoists) and Laura Barrett performing in a song circle - all in support of The New Pollution. [via Ohbijou's MySpace]

East-coast folkie Jill Barber plays an instore at Chapters(John and Richmond St) in Toronto on June 2 around 7 pm according to her MySpace. She's at The Mod Club on June 1.

A Northern Chorus' MySpace is listing an upcoming show at Horseshoe Tavern on June 15 with Jenn Grant. ANC's somewhat a strange addition to the bill since according to Jenn Grant's MySpace the lineup is a more of singer-songwriter evening with Jenn, fellow east coaster Tanya Davis, and Toronto's Royal Wood.

Not that I care one way or another, but what's the deal with Maroon 5 playing Lee's Palace on June 15. Tickets are $40.00 - that makes sense. Didn't Maroon 5 last play Air Canada Centre?

Mix 99.9 FM's Steve Anthony interviewed Feist. Hit up the radio station link to listen to the interview.

And as long as we're mentioning radio stations that I don't ever listen to, The New Country 95.3 website has details of its annual Canada Day Jam coming up at Sunnyside Park on July 1 - the lineup will include The Road Hammers, Aaron Pritchett, Corb Lund, Jason Blaine and Prairie Oyster. Not entirely my thing(and don't get me wrong, I like some country), but Corb Lund was a hoot when I saw him open for Neko Case at Harbourfront Centre a few years ago.

According to their MySpace, Toronto's The Russian Futurists will be back home to take part in the Beats, Breaks, and Culture festival at Harbourfront on July 7 with fellow Upper Class Recordings artist Cadence Weapon.

Way into the future, promoter The Windish Agency lists Ninja Tunes' The Cinematic Orchestra at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on September 23 and Toronto's Do Make Say Think at the same venue on October 20. Funny that the promoter's website doesn't list an exact date yet for The Cinematic Orchestra's scheduled appearance for the upcoming Beats, Breaks, and Culture festival at Harbourfront Centre which takes place between July 6-8. And just to back track to Do Make Say Think, the Harboufront Centre World Routes 2007 webpage now lists Do Make Say Think as part of the Beats, Breaks and Culture festival NOT as part of the Canada Day festivities as I and others had originally said.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Upcoming NXNE Highlights

NXNE held a media schmooze yesterday evening announcing some of the highlights of the upcoming NXNE festival. You can read the NXNE 2007 Press Kit. The final schedule hasn't been confirmed yet but some of the highlights to expect include:

June 6
- NXNE kickoff at Nathan Phillips Square from 5-7 pm will feature artists Dr. Draw and Shad K.

June 7
- Director Don Letts will have a gala opening at Royal Cinema of his new documentary "Rock It To Rio"(about Franz Ferdinand's sold-out headline shows in Chile, Brazil and Argentina).

- BBC Radio DJ Bob Harris will host a showcase at Lee's Palace which will feature some of his favourite Canadian performers including Kathleen Edwards, Melissa McClelland, Luke Doucet, Oh Susanna and a very special guest.

- The Soundtrack of Our Lives @ Healey's Roadhouse
- MySpace showcase @ The Boat
- Chart Magazine @ The Drake Hotel

June 8
- Now Magazine showcase @ Reverb
- Australian night @ Rancho Relaxo
- Yep Roc showcase @ Lee's Palace

June 9
- Indie Music Market at Dundas Square featuring a free afternoon concert with Toronto punk legends The Diodes, C'Mon and more

- The Soundtrack of Our Lives @ Healey's Roadhouse
- Pop Montreal Night @ The Drake Hotel
- Exclaim Magazine showcase @ The Boat

This year's NXNE seems like it's filling in quite nicely. I'm looking forward to the final schedule and lineup. I am glad that it looks like I'll have at least a few opportunites to see The Soundtrack of Our Lives. I wonder how strict they are about media accreditation only being for media; I guess one way to find out is to send an application in for media accreditation(for this music blog) and wait and see if I piss anyone off.

On an NXNE-related note the Sonic Unyon Records MySpace indicates that they'll have a showcase at Sneaky Dee's on June 7 featuring The Wooden Stars, A Northern Chorus, The Ghost Is Dancing, Camouflage Nights and Rebekah Higgs.
In other news, Orch-pop softies Ohbijou will be at Harbourfront Centre for a free show on June 4[via Stille Post].

Pitchfork reports on The Fiery Furnaces short upcoming tour which brings them to Toronto for a show at Horseshoe Tavern on June 25.

Tranzac will be hosting a slew of local acts(Rock Plaza Central, Laura Barrett, among others) on June 30[via Stille Post].

Upcoming shows at The Silver Dollar - Toronto's The Airfields are there June 21 while Vancouver popsters The Awkward Stage are scheduled for a show on July 28.

Thanks to Chromewaves for pointing the way towards Sessions who currently have featured a session(episode #902) that Feist recorded for them. I believe this is the session that she and her bandmates recorded at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga in December 2006. The performance of "So Sorry" is spectacular.

Also, Feist and her bandmates appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno yesterday night and performed a nice version of "1234":

YouTube: Feist - "1234" (live on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno - May 8, 2007)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sense of Humour

Daniel Johnston @ MTV Live

My only point of references for Daniel Johnston prior to this year were Yo La Tengo's cover of "Speeding Motorcycle", Daniel's contributions to the soundtrack of the 1995 film Kids, and some vague recollections that back in the early 90's Kurt Cobain mentioned him in an interview. Until recently he'd been off my radar, but then I heard he was booked for Toronto's own indie music festival Over The Top Fest. I subsequently watched quite a bit of the 1995 documentary on him, The Devil and Daniel Johnston, and found it really interesting. Both Daniel himself and his music have a quirky, child-like, simple quality to it on the surface but underneath it Daniel and his music are much more complex. His music encompasses an amateur quality in its performance(at least when Daniel performs solo) perhaps but listen to some of the melodies or watch some of Daniel's chord changes and you can see how truly gifted Daniel is. Daniel was interviewed and performed on MTV Live yesterday(May 7, 2007). I particularly enjoyed his song "Sense of Humour" which was really beautiful. Check out the video links below(sorry, only Canadians will be able to view this):

Video: Daniel Johnston - interview (live on MTV Live - May 7, 2007)
Video: Daniel Johnston - "Mean Girls Give Pleasure" (live on MTV Live - May 7, 2007)
Video: Daniel Johnston - "Sense of Humour" (live on MTV Live - May 7, 2007)
BlogTO reports that MySpace Secret Shows is coming to Canada. It officially launches May 14 with a free show by Billy Talent, somewhere. Keep checking the MySpace Secret Shows page for details about the location which will eventually be posted. Please note, that these are first come first serve events. Hope there's some cool shows booked in the future.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives are at Silver Dollar on June 8.[via Stille Post] This night is already stacked with shows from Voxtrot(Sneaky Dee's), Dinosaur Jr.(Phoenix), and Junior Boys(The Mod Club). What to do.

On closer glance of the NXNE big band list I noticed that Toronto punk legends The Diodes are booked for the festival. The band's Myspace indicates that they'll play an afternoon show at Dundas Square on June 9 with a performance that night at Sneaky Dee's. This MySpace post from today says it'll be the FULL 1977 first album lineup.

Screw Spider-Man 3. I only found out yesterday that there was a sequel made to 28 Days Later entitled 28 Weeks Later which is coming out this Friday. I loved the first film. Watch the trailer for the new film. ps. Just joking about Spider-Man 3 - I still want to see it, despite all the reviews I've heard. Update: I'm likely going to see Spider-Man 3 tonight(if it's not sold out). Also, 28 Days Later is on City TV at 9 pm tonight. Highly recommended.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bomb Repeat Bomb

concert review: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists @ The Mod Club(Toronto, Ontario), May 2, 2007

Ted Leo @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael LigonI went to the Ted Leo and The Pharmacists show last Wednesday(May 2, 2007). I missed first openers Tusks(from Toronto), and caught only a few songs of young Melbourne, Australian trio Love of Diagrams' wiry post-punk but Ted Leo and The Pharmacists' set alone made it an enjoyable evening. The last few times I've seen Ted Leo/Rx it's been as a trio but this time around they were joined by James Canty(of French Toast, Make-Up, Nation of Ulysees) on guitar. The addition of a second guitar resulted in even more blistering versions of songs like "Sons of Cain", "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?", and "Bomb Repeat Bomb". The set list was a good mix of Ted's last four albums("Living For The Living", "Shake The Sheets", "Hearts of Oak", and "The Tyranny of Distance") and included new song "Old Souls Know" plus a few cover songs(The Pogues' "Dirty Old Town" and Chumbawamba's "Rappaport's Testament: I Never Gave Up") during the encore. I've seen Ted Leo live several times and his banter's sort of hit and miss, but this night he had a few zingers - the city of Hamilton, ON got bit twice(poor Hamiltonians, but it was mostly in jest). Ted also said he didn't like the Raptors(but then he said he wasn't necessarily a fan of his hometown New Jersey Nets either, so it's all fair). Eye Weekly and Chartattack reviewed the show so go read their reviews for more specifics accounts on the show. I'm just too lazy at the moment - let's just say, Ted was sweating buckets so you know he was giving it his all. By the way, I've found a new use for my digital camera - I recorded short video clips of each song in the set to help me compile the set list afterwards. I won't bother posting the video clips since they're crappy at best, but the set list is below(and as accurate as I could make it out):

Set List
The Sons of Cain / Dial Up / Me and Mia / Army Bound / Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone? / Old Souls Know / Coleen / The High Party / Annunciation Day - Born on Christmas Day / Bomb Repeat Bomb / Counting Down The Hours / Hearts of Oak / Little Dawn / Bottle of Buckie / Unwanted Things / Biomusicology

Dirty Old Town / Timourous Me / Walking To Do / Rappaport's Testament: I Never Gave Up (Chumbawamba cover)

MySpace: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists
Upcoming confirmed shows at Harbourfront Centre - Hawksley Workman will play a free show on June 4, Toronto's Do Make Say Think will be there on Canada Day(along with the previously announced, Final Fantasy), and Ninja Tune's The Cinematic Orchestra will perform as part of the Beats, Breaks and Culture festival sometime between July 6 and 8(my guess is that they'll headline on July 7 which is a Saturday night).

Australian outfit Radio Birdman (apparently legendary in their home country) will be touring North America in June and July and will make a stop for a show in Toronto at Lee's Palace on July 6.

Victoria, BC's Immaculate Machine make their return towards the east coast starting at the end of July and will be in Toronto for a show at Horseshoe Tavern on August 1.

Thanks to A Quiet Revolution for pointing me towards video of Jenn Grant performing on Halifax live show Pop In Sessions. Her debut album "Orchestra For The Moon" comes out on May 15 and Jenn will be back in Toronto for a show at Horseshoe Tavern(with Royal Wood and Tanya Davis) on June 15.

Head over to The Musebox to submit an entry to win tickets to Dinosaur Jr.'s upcoming show in Toronto at Phoenix Concert Theatre on June 8. Check out the CBS website for the band's live performace of new song "Almost Ready" on Late Show With David Letterman.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sea Lion Woman

FeistI can hardly contain myself when it comes to Feist's new album "The Reminder" which came out officially in Canada this past Tuesday. I've been listening to the album since last weekend(when I bought it from Rotate This who had it prior to the release date) and it's the first album of 2007 that's bowled me over. When Feist's "Let It Die" came out in 2004, it was a breath of fresh air with Feist's shimmering vocals and the music's meticulously arranged jazzy pop instrumentation. It was an album of originals and covers, the singles(eg. "One Evening", "Inside And Out", "Mushaboom", "Gatekeeper") which were downright outstanding, but other songs were merely just ok in my opinion. Where the "Let It Die" material really excelled was in a live setting. I've always been disappointed with the meticulousness of the production on the album. Live, the songs were much looser, less anchored to technical proficiency and the imperfections in my opinion were what made the songs shine. Listen to Feist sing and play guitar on a live rendition of her cover of Ron Sexsmith's "Secret Heart" and I can guarantee it will slay the album version any day.

Recently Feist has bestowed on her fans her follow-up album "The Reminder". Where "Let It Die" meandered in terms of memorable pop melodies, the melodies on "The Reminder" are much more assured. The songs are given room to breathe also with looser performances and less clausterphobic production, resulting in a sound that more closely emulates her live sound and vibe. Songs range from playful pop romps like "1234"(complete with handclaps and horn arrangements) and "My Moon, My Man"(with it's simple, yet effective piano bass melody), the acoustic, demo-sounding "The Park"(which sounds like it was recorded outside with what sounds like birds chirping in the background), the soulful melancholy of lead-off track of "So Sorry", the effervescent pop of "Past In Present", the soul-meets-Bacharach pop of "Limit To Your Love", and the torchy "The Water". Resurrected from The Red Demos, the intimate spareness of "Intuition" is so, so lovely. One cover song appears on the album, Nina Simone's "Sea Lion Woman" - I haven't heard the original but Feist's take is an interesting vocal, percussive experiment. I would continue to gush, but I'm sure you get the picture.
There's a torrent over at Dimeadozen of a recording(lossless format) of Feist's recent show in Schillertheater, Berlin, GER on April 23, 2007. Includes many of the new songs.

Thanks to Brooklyn Heathen for pointing me to the direction of The London Paper who have a video interview with Leslie which also includes clips of an outdoor performance.

Leslie's been doing some local promo and she appeared on MTV Live and MuchMusic's MuchOnDemand yesterday(March 2, 2007). Both appearances have already been archived on the respective websites, but I've linked them below for convenience(sorry, but I think only internet users from Canadian internet providers will be the only ones able to view the clips):

Video: Feist - "Sea Lion" (live on MTV Live - May 2, 2007)
Video: Feist - interview clip (live on MTV Live - May 2, 2007)
Video: Feist - "1234" (live on MTV Live - May 2, 2007)
Video: Feist - "Honey, Honey" (live on MTV Live - May 2, 2007)
Video: Feist - Interview (part 1/3) (live on MuchOnDemand - May 2, 2007)
Video: Feist - Interview (part 2/3) (live on MuchOnDemand - May 2, 2007)
Video: Feist - Interview (part 3/3) (live on MuchOnDemand - May 2, 2007)

MySpace: Feist

Feist will be performing in Toronto for two shows at Massey Hall on May 25 and 26(I'm going on the 26th) but before that she will be appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on May 8(my b'day!).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Flagpole Sitta

Flagpole Sitta Lip Dub

My office never does anything like this. Kudos for them resurrecting a great tune[Harvey Danger's "Flagpole Sitta"] but a surprising song choice given that they all look young enough that they were probably still in high school when that song came out in '98.

According to Outside Music, The Hidden Cameras return to Toronto for a show at Phoenix on June 15.

Cowboy Junkies finally have a Toronto tourdate listed on their website - they'll be in Toronto at Courthouse(57 Adelaide St.) on July 3, apparently as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Ticket info TBA.

Land of Talk were recently featured in a Spinner Interface. Chromewaves also went to the trouble of converting LoT's recent WOXY session to mp3. Thanks.

There's quite an in-depth article on the wonderful Ms. Jenn Grant in the most recent issue of The Coast. Her debut album "Orchestra For The Moon" will be released through The Heavy Blinkers's Jason MacIsaac's new label Paris 1919 Sound Recordings on May 15.

Old news but Jesus and Mary Chain recently performed their first reunion show at Glass House in Pomona, CA, prior to their Coachella gig. Watch the band performing "Just Like Honey" with Giant Drag's Annie Hardy on background vocals. [via Pitchfork].

In my effort to look for a video clip of Dinosaur Jr.'s appearance on Late Show with David Letterman yesterday, I found out that the CBS website has been archiving many of the show's recent music performances. Awesome. The Dinosaur Jr appearance isn't archived yet, but hopefully in the near future it will be. Update: Letterman performance now up on YouTube[via comment over at Chromewaves].