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

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Darlin' Song

concert review: Magnolia Electric Co., The Watson Twins @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), October 5, 2007

The Watson Twins @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

Last Friday night Bloomington, Indiana's Magnolia Electric Co. returned to Lee's Palace in promotion of their release, the "Sojourner" boxset. Lead vocalist was newly sporting more length in his hair, a moustache and a cowboy hat with a red bandana around his neck and he looked positively like a cowboy. I had no idea that was him when he walked by me just before the set got underway. Since seeing the band for the first time live back in March 2006, I'm no further along becoming a bigger fan of their music. Their country/rootsy rock-isms are not unlike Neil Young and I'd figure that'd be more than enough of a draw but somehow the tunes weren't connecting with me.

On the other hand, openers Los Angeles The Watson Twins were positively beguiling, and not just because they were two tall cool drinks of water, for a matter of better phrase. With an EP "Southern Manners" under their belts which the gals and their band performed songs off plus an interesting set-closer in their cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" it was a good showcase for the gals beautiful vocals and harmonies. Having performed as backing vocalists for Jenny Lewis' country-pop solo project, the girls were adept at that sound("Southern Manners") as they were towards a radio-friendly adult-contemporary pop sound("Darlin' Song"). Great set.

Photos over at Flickr.

MySpace: Magnolia Electric Co.
MySpace: The Watson Twins

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Melody Day

concert review: Caribou, The Battleship, Ethel @ Rivoli (Toronto, Ontario), September 30, 2007

Caribou at Rivoli: photo by Michael Ligon

Last Sunday Caribou played a 'secret' sold-out show at the intimate Rivoli club as the precursor to the North American & UK tour that's set to hit full steam this month into next. I first saw Caribou live when they opened for Super Furry Animals at the Phoenix in 2005. As with that performance, I can't say I'm entirely converted. There's much to admire with Caribou's music - alternating swirling/sparkling guitars, psychedelic pop melodies, miasmic falsetto vocals, colourful electronica backing tracks, and tight drumwork. What I've heard of Caribou's newest album "Andorra" is quite good and really what I'd hope for during his show. I think Caribou succeeds mostly when he adheres to the less-is-more trajectory, that is when one musical component doesn't overshadow another. However, much of Caribou's set last week placed focus on the double drumkit set-up, especially emphasized during some of Caribou's instrumental tracks, whereby Caribou's Dan Snaith joins his drummer in a dual drumkit assault that while invigorating for a couple of tracks, to me became a little tiresome after a while. If I had to choose, I wish he'd leave those drum assaults to close out the set and or the encore. Drummer Brad Weber's drumming was fantastic on his own which I thought deserved special mention.

I only caught a few songs from openers The Battleship, Ethel, but in one word they were LOUD. They reminded me a little of Rick White's Elevator if that's your thing. Remember to bring your earplugs.

More of my photos from the show over at Flickr.

MySpace: Caribou
MySpace: The Battleship, Ethel

Before heading to the UK, Caribou, with openers Born Ruffians, return to Toronto for a show at The Opera House on November 10.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Concert Announcements

In advance of their sold out shows a Danforth Musica Hall on October 7 and 8, Tegan and Sara will be performing a late-night instore acoustic performance at Criminal Records in Toronto tomorrow(October 4 at 11 pm). Details over at Stille Post. Get in line early, if you want to get in. Note: Criminal Records will close at it's usual time of 8 pm tomorrow but will reopen for the instore shortly before 11 pm.

In addition to Voxtrot's show in Toronto at The Mod Club on October 9, I also see'll they'll be in Hamilton at Club Absinthe on October 8.

Openers for the Architecture in Helisinki show at The Opera House on October 18 will be Swedish electro-disco artists Lo-Fi-Fnk.

London, ON MC Shad will be at The Mod Club on October 24 for a CD release party in support of his new album "The Old Prince" which is released October 16. More dates over at his MySpace.

According to NOW and, Jimmy Eat World with openers Viva Voce will be at The Docks for an all-ages show on November 1, tickets $26.25. Note: Viva Voce's MySpace indicates they'll be at The Guvernment on November 1, although I'm thinking that's an error.

The Latin, trip-hop sounds of Federico Aubele return to Toronto - he'll be at The Courthouse on November 11.

The Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings show on November 13 has had a change of venue and will now take place at the Phoenix.

I'm expecting a Toronto date to be announced any time soon, but according to, Vancouver rockers Ladyhawk are scheduled to be in Hamilton, ON on November 17 at The Casbah.

Swedish crooner Sondre Lerche will be at Lee's Palace on November 22 for a 19 + show, likely in promotion of the soundtrack for the new comedy film "Dan In Real Life", for which Sondre provided the score for. Sondre writes about the experience over at his MySpace blog.

In support of his newest album "Ripe" which just came out in Canada recently, Ben Lee will be at The Mod Club on November 24 with openers Cary Brothers and Kate Voegele.

Recent Arts & Crafts signees Cardiff, UK's Los Campesinos! return to Toronto for a show at The Mod Club on December 5.

On the heels of his Polaris Music Prize win, Patrick Watson comes to The Mod Club for a show on December 14.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nuit Blanche

'Event Horizon' @ Nuit Blanche 2007: photo by Michael Ligon

So it was that I went it alone Saturday night to check out my first Nuit Blanche night in Toronto. I got downtown around 11:30 pm and as it went ended up staying until 6 am when I headed home. I primarily stayed in Zone's A & B(only sort of passing through Zone C when I headed home). A few of the highlights were: "Crowd" at Queen's Park(the surround sound installation was actually pretty cool if you stuck around long enough to listen to the different sound effects, clips, music, etc...), checking out "The Ghost Station" installation at Lower Bay Subway Station, "The Theatre of Ephemeral Music" concert at The Music Gallery(especially the collaboration between turntablists iNSiDEaMiND, pianist John Kameel Farah, and the experimental guitar sounds of Jonny Dovercourt), and the "What Will You Do?" installation at Queen and University, a video projection that (at least at the time I was there) presented the question "What Would You Do To Cool The Earth?" which then spectactors could text message responses(some serious, some funny) that would then appear on the screen. I didn't get photos of everything I attended unfortunately. I really liked the video short entitled "Magical World" which was screening at First Baptist Church on Huron St - at once touching and moving. I wished I caught more of Nuit Blanche - there was so much I would have loved to see. Despite the crowds, I'd do it all over in a heartbeat. Until next year. Oh, and thank God for comfortable shoes and caffeine.

Photos: Nuit Blanche 2007
Video: "The Theatre of Ephemeral Music" @ The Music Gallery

note: the video above(which I shot on my digital camera) is of the ceiling projection with music in the background performed live featuring turntablists iNSiDEaMiND, pianist John Kameel Farah and the experimental guitar sounds of Jonny Dovercourt)