Monday, October 27, 2008

Wishing Well

Serendipitous news(given that I just wrote about Love Is All in my last post) over the weekend with several more Love Is All North American dates being announced including Dec 11 at the Horseshoe in Toronto and Dec 10 at La Sala Rossa in Montreal. Check out their MySpace. Check out the live video of the band on Fader TV featuring vocalist Josephine Olausson and what I believe is a new short haircut for her:

Video: Love Is All - live on Open Bar, Fader TV, NYC (Oct 16/08)

Thousand Islands Life spoke to Tony Dekker about the recording of the next Great Lake Swimmers album in some of the recognizable landmarks around the Thousand Islands including Dark Island’s Singer Castle and St. Brendan’s Church. They will also launch the premiere of their HD Concert Special on November 5th, which was filmed last September in Toronto at the Phoenix and will be showing at select Cineplex Odeon Theaters throughout Canada.

A new EP from The Last Shadow Puppets entitled "My Mistakes Were Made for You" is due out November 4 in the US but is available now digitally and includes live covers of Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book" and Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra favorite "Paris Summer"(featuring The Kills' Alison Mosshart). The Puppets will be making an appearance on Late Night With Conan O'Brien on October 29. [via Pitchfork]

In promotion of their newest LP "Receivers", out now in the US and due out in the UK on November 3, Parts and Labor are going on tour and stopping in Toronto for a show at Sneaky Dee's on November 21. [via Pitchfork]

Thanks to The Anti-Hit List for the heads up on the new Decemberists song "Valerie Plame" (streaming over at their MySpace) which is one of three singles the band will release before the end of the year as leading up to their next full-length, "Hazards of Love". The song's kinda borrowing actually.

The Smiths will not reunite, though initially the rumours got me excited.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Turn The Radio Off

Love Is AllDisappointing news of UK band The Long Blondes calling it a day. Too bad, it was way too short a run for them. On the other hand, fellow What's Your Rupture?-rostermates Swedish skronky popsters Love Is All are preparing for the release of their second album "A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night", out November 11. Definitely one of my favourite discoveries of the last few years. I'm sorry I wasn't on board with them in 2006 when their debut full-length "Nine Times That Same Song" came out, and especially given that I think they'd played live in Toronto at least twice that year, but ever since giving their debut a listen this past summer, it's probably been my most played album this year. Melodic, fun, sometimes spastic, but always a keen ear/pen for good songwriting. I love how they make me love the saxophone all over again. I see at their MySpace[in addition to a few songs off the album available for stream] that they've finally added a Canadian date to their tour itinerary [Vancouver @ Richards on November 24] and hopefully a Toronto date will be added soon. Update[Oct 25/08]: They're going to be at Horseshoe Tavern on December 11! Woohoo! [photo from Ground Control Touring]

Video: Love Is All - "Wishing Well On The Beach" (music video)

More Love Is All music videos and live videos here.

Disappointment seems to be the theme of the week, also with the news that the Deluxe Edition of the reissue of Pavement's "Brighten The Corners" has been pushed back to December 9/08. Shucks, the original November 18 release date was already feeling like an eternity. Just a reminder that for those of you in Toronto and vicinity, Soundscapes is an authorized retailer soliciting preorders for this release - so worth it as you get access to a web stream of the album,two bonus downloads available on October 21[ok, that was a few days ago] and November 4 via the Matador website, and the kicker,a free live vinyl LP and poster. If this fancies you, sign up here.

According to a little note on their MySpace, my favourite discovery of the 2008 NXNE festival, London, Ontario gyspy-folk specialists Olenka and The Autumn Lovers will be releasing their self-titled full-length as well as a new EP at the end of this month. There's a bunch of shows lined up over the next few months including a local date at The Press Club in Toronto on November 7. I think it's an early show. Also on the bill are Toronto acoustic guitar/drums duo Polyester Heart.

BlogTO conducted a Q & A with The Dears.

The Coast wind their way back home from the US for some local shows before heading to the UK. They'll be at Sneaky Dee's on December 6. They're doing a Daytrotter session on November 5.

The Octopus Project are at The Drake Hotel on October 28.

Got my ticket to the Fucked Up/Final Fantasy/$100/Vivian Girls/Katie Stelmanis show next Thursday at Sneaky Dee's! If you want tickets, send an e-mail to Deets about the show over at Stille Post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Chemistry of Common Life

I've been experiencing a bit of new music exhaustion/indifference lately. I'm still paying my hard earned money to continue purchasing issues of Under The Radar, Magnet and The Big Takeover and the occassional Filter and based on those readings alone there's a multitude of artists I have neither the time nor patience to even check out. Other than a few select music blogs, my online music exploration has decreased significantly as of late, and in turn contributed to a lack of content on this site. For that I do apologize. I've been fairly selective in checking out new music lately and a band that's caught my ear are Vivian Girls, a female Brooklyn, NY three-piece specializing in punk-infused, minimalist, garage pop and have been compared to bands like The Aislers Set(yes!) and Shop Assistants(not too familiar with them though I've read about them numerous times and how they'd influenced many indiepop bands). I missed them the last time they came to Toronto for a show at Sneaky Dee's several months ago but they'll be back at the same venue on October 30 as one of the opening bands for Fucked Up - also playing that bill will be Final Fantasy, $100 and Katie Stelmanis and to get advance tickets[$12 each] you need to e-mail (after which you should be sent a PayPal invoice in order to complete the transaction). A stacked show indeed - I sent my e-mail today, and I hope I get a ticket.

Not to take the spotlight off hardcore band Fucked Up too much, but as you know this is part of their Fucked Up Weekend series of shows they are playing to celebrate the release of their new album "The Chemistry of Common Life" out through Matador Records on October 7. Check out Stille Post for the full Fucked Up concert series line up taking place at Sneaky Dee's from October 30 to NOvember 1 which also includes after-parties taking place each night at Rancho Relaxo. There's also apparently an all ages Fucked Up gig happening at The Wrong Bar on November 1 according to Beggars Group Canada.

It appears that expression "you snooze and you lose" has been ringing true lately with the Drive By Truckers/The Hold Steady show at the Phoenix on November 11 and the Iron & Wine/Blitzen Trapper show at the Phoenix on November 13 both having sold out already, according to Inland Empire Touring.

Just a reminder of a few venue/time changes - the Sharon Jones show at Kool Haus on October 28 has been moved to the Guvernment for the same night. The No Age show at Lee's Palace on November 21 will now start later the the previously scheduled early doors, with doors now at 9 pm. [via Soundscapes]

Pink Mountaintops, Nordic Nomadic and Castle Music are at The Drake Hotel On November 7.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"And Every Night Finds Us Rocking And Rolling On Waves Wild And Wide"

Okkervil River @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Oct 12, 2008)
Okkervil River @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Oct 12, 2008)

Co-headlining tours are an odd thing, as was the case of Okkervil River's previous gig at the Phoenix back in April which brought them to the city with Vancouver's The New Pornographers. You'd think that two acts capable of headlining the venue being on one bill should mathematically, if this could be quantified, be doublly entertaining. However, co-headlining tours inevitably means someone has to go on second last which was the case with Okkervil River last time. It wasn't that their last show was terrible but it did feel like they held back a bit either because of the shortened time slot or perhaps not wanting to upstage the The New Pornographers too much. In any case, it was not the ideal situation to experience Okkervil River.

On the other hand, Okkervil River's Canadian Thanksgiving weekend show last Sunday night was terrific fun. Apologies to openers Crooked Fingers who I missed yet again, this time because of Thanksgiving dinner festivities on my part. However, with precision timing I made it to the venue just before Okkervil River came on but as the first strains of 'Plus Ones' rang out I quickly found a sweet spot near the front at stage right to watch the show. With Will Sheff even wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving at one point, the night overall was one of a celebratory mood, with the energy and enthusiasm one could expect from a band on their best nights. The night was neatly divided between their last two efforts "The Stand Ins" and "The Stage Names" with a few from "Black Sheep Boy" and pulling out a couple of tracks from "Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See" for the encore" and with Will's gradual disrobement from suit jacket, to dress-shirt, to t-shirt it was apparent that the band was having fun as were the audience who handclapped and participated in group singalongs at times. Maintaining the momentum right up till the very end of the main set, the final four songs of the main set was nearly perfect with 'Lost Coastlines'("The Stand Ins"). 'Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe'("The Stage Names"), 'For Real'("Black Sheep Boy") and 'Unless It Kicks'("The Stage Names"). It felt like a headrush into total deliriousness. As such it wasn't a surprise that the encore was comparatively more tame, initiated with the achingly beautiful 'A Girl In Port'. Although I'd been critical with Will's what I'd perceived to be vocal affectations during their last show, this time around there was a heartfelt honesty in his voice.

Photos: Okkervil River @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Oct 12, 2008)

Thanks to Black Sheep Girl for posting a setlist.

Chromewaves has had his review of the show up for a while now. A new blog I haven't checked out before My Aimz Is True also has a review of the show.

Myspace: Okkervil River
Psst. My review of the Stereolab show at the Phoenix on October 8, 2008 is now up - see the previous blog post.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chemical Chords

concert review: Stereolab, Le Loup, Monade @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Toronto, Ontario), October 8, 2008

Laetitia Sadler of Stereolab @ Phoenix (October 8, 2008)
Laetitia Sadler of Stereolab @ Phoenix (October 8, 2008)

On the heels of a new album "Chemical Chords" Stereolab came back to Toronto for a show at the Phoenix for what's been a regular stop for them since the first time I saw them in 2004. It was the third time I've seen them live, the last time being in March 2006 and the previous time before that being in April 2004. It's entirely accurate that their live performance has for the most part not changed. Watching them perform live was/is like watching a band recording in a studio - there's a certain level of focused musicianship but on the downside a general lack of emotion. The one exception was vocalist Laetitia Sadler who exuded a subtle, sultry vibe, now and then shimmying and shaking or throwing off some playful hand movements. While the live performance isn't really their greatest strength, as with the previous shows I've seen, Stereolab did a good job keeping the show at least musically interesting by drawing up the setlist with old faves, interesting album tracks and decent but not excessive selection of songs off their recent album.

You could accuse Stereolab of having made the same album over and over for years although that would not be entirely accurate. The set list did include six songs from "Chemical Chords"(the best ones perhaps being 'Self Portrait with "Electric Brain"' and 'Chemical Chords') that for the most part had a lush, sunny vibe to them. Personal faves "Percolator" and "Cybele's Reverie", both off of arguably their best album "Emperor Tomato Ketchup", bookended the main set displaying a punchier(though still melodic) side of them. Old faves like the rockier 'French Disko' and 'Mountain', the sublimely metronomic 'La Boob Oscillator' and the sunny, danceable 'Ping Pong' were icing on the cake for the audience who were more than glad to hear the older material. And really nothing probably could top the noisy, crescendoing climax of their performance of 'Cybele's Reverie'. They lost me a little with the encore['The Emergency Kisses', 'Stomach Worm'] and a few songs in the main set but only because I wasn't as familiar with them, but with the catalague as broad as theirs it's a little understandeable if I haven't made it back to some of their albums as often as others.

In all fairness, I should mention the openers were good too. Laetitia's other band Monade opened up the night, and honestly, especially with Laetitia's vocals, they sound like a stripped down version of Stereolab, with subtle emphasis on instrumentation(guitar, melodies, bass, drums) and more focus on melody and vocals. Laetitia did have to humourously point out the audience that they were not Stereolab in order to prevent a premature audience exodus after their set, apparently something which may have happened to a certain extent when they performed in Montreal the night before. Washington DC's Le Loup were the second openers of the night. They were an interesting blend of folk-rock sensibilities(banjo, melodies), instrumental experimentalism(especially with the use of loop technology) and vocal interplay. Not at all what I'd expected given the other bands on the bill and the 'frenchness' of their band name, but an entertaining surprise nonetheless.

Photos: Stereolab, Le Loup, Monade @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (October 8, 2008)

More reviews of the show over at Eye Weekly and Allan's Music World.

MySpace: Monade
MySpace: Le Loup
MySpace: Stereolab

Saturday, October 11, 2008


concert review: Wire, The Two Koreas @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), October 7, 2008

Colin Newman of Wire @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael LigonWhen a band like post-punk legends Wire 1) step on the reunion bandwagon [although as I understand they never really disbanded] and 2) and who's tour actually makes it to your hometown(or within an accessible distance) part of my wanting to go, even if I'm only vaguely familiar with their music, is to get a history lesson of sorts. Wire are one of those bands who I was too young to have even known about in their heyday(late 70's). As with some or even many of you, my first awareness of the band came during the 90's when Brit band Elastica were accused by Wire (and apparently resulting in an out-of-court settlement although no compensation according to Wikipedia) that they'd lifted snippets of a few of their songs and put it into theirs, notably Elastica's 'Line Up' having a chorus similar to Wire's 'I Am The Fly' and Elastica's 'Connection' taking the guitar riff from Wire's 'Three Girl Rhumba' - alas both of those Wire songs didn't make it into their setlist at Lee's Palace the other night.

Keeping consistent to the post-punk theme of the night, Toronto's own proponents of the late 70's post-punk period, The Two Koreas opened the night, working their most recent vinyl/digital-only release "Sessions" EP. I do admire The Two Koreas influences (The Fall, Wire, Pavement, etc...) and they do maintain the urgency of their sound with chugging basslines, angular guitarwork and energetic vocals and drums. Perhaps, their sound being too keen on their influences plus vocalist Stuart Berman's perpetual Mark E. Smith-ish sing-speak feels, well - insert criticsm here. In the end, it was probably as appropriate a warm-up for Wire as could be. Local band who cite headliners as one of their musical influences and actually get to open up for them - how cool is that?

I was fortunate to get a snapshot of Wire's setlist - I'm not sure how close they stayed to it although I can tell you there were three encores as the photo of the setlist implies. Doing the math, it seems the band devoted much of the set to post-'79 material which is a surprise [although understandably they played a chunk from their most recent album "Object 47"] since as I've read their heyday was between 77-79(with their albums "Pink Flag", "Chairs Missing" and "154" from which they'd only devoted about 6 songs to the 20-song plus set). Founding members Colin Newman (vocals), Graham Lewis (bass), Robert Gotobed (drums) and touring member Margaret Fiedler McGinnis (guitar) showed that what they lacked in musical prowess [although not terrible by any means, and considerably more skillful than on the minimalist post-punk of "Pink Flag", which I picked up this past summer] they made up in sheer enthusiasm. There was no sequential arrangement in song selection, insteading the band choosing to hop-scotch through their catalogue from their early minimalist post-punk days to their later melodic yet muscular indie rock and back again. With a mix of aging alternative/punk fans and younger-in-the-know music fans comprising the audience, there was no half-assed effort on our part to call back the band for each encore and the band graciously did oblige. History lesson aside Wire displayed a vitality that bands half their age are sometimes desperately in need of. Yes, vocalist Colin Newman looks somewhat like your bespectacled school principal in a t-shirt but when he furiously strummed his guitar and half-pogoed around the stage it made me wish I'd seen them in their heyday.

Photos: Wire, The Two Koreas @ Lee's Palace (October 7, 2008)

MySpace: The Two Koreas
MySpace: Wire

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nuit Blanche 2008

"Into The Blue" @ Nuit Blanche, Toronto, Ontario (October 4, 2008)
'Into The Blue' @ Nuit Blanche: photo by Michael Ligon

I've had my photos from last weekend's Nuit Blanche up at my Flickr for a bit now, but I thought I'd link up to them through a blog post as well since my blog posts have been kind of sparse lately. Short story goes that I wasn't as impressed with my experience compared to last year but still there were a lot of interesting things to see if you took the time and patience to really absorb it all in. I wished that I made it to Zone C though. My teenage nephew came out with me although the coolest thing he might have seen all night was the Mobile Rave going down St George St at midnight (although technically, I don't think that was actually an official Nuit Blanche event).

Photos: Nuit Blanche in Toronto (October 4, 2008)

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's For You

concert review: The Wedding Present, Dirty On Purpose @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), October 3, 2008

David Gedge of The Wedding Present @ Lee's Palace (October 3, 2008)
David Gedge of The Wedding Present @ Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

The Wedding Present stopped in Toronto last Friday night for what's now become a regular visit from David Gedge and company, their third visit to this fair city since 2005. As with the two preceding shows, both also at Lee's Palace, Weddoes fans are a loyal bunch and came in respectable numbers even though this time it was an early show. As perhaps the UK equivalent to Guided By Voices, The Wedding Present have continued to churn out consecutive albums of ragged guitar pop nuggets for a loyal (sometimes rabid) group of fans, though with each succeeding album they never seem to rise above their cult status. But like Mr. Pollard, you get the impression that Mr. Gedge doesn't give a shit.

NYC's Dirty On Purpose had the unfortunate duty of playing an early opening set to a nearly empty room. From a music standpoint, they build upon The Wedding Present formula of guitars and melodies but do it from a noisier, shoegazey perspective. While I thought they had done an admirable job, perhaps better than most current bands in the same genre, memories of the recent My Bloody Valentine show in Toronto muted my perceptions a bit of Dirty On Purpose's merits. Yes they are good, but playing to a nearly empty room, disappointing to me just for the lack of energy in the room, was likely/obviously disappointing to the band also even if they took it in stride. A member of the band did refer to this visit as part of their annual visit to Toronto, although as Chromewaves says, the band likely meant that this visit was part of their annual visit to Toronto playing nearly empty rooms. I can only guess people didn't bother showing up for the band's 8:15 pm start time because they didn't feel like it because there was a respectable number of people onhand when The Wedding Present took the stage.

With a catalogue as vast as there's it's a wonder how Gedge picks the setlist[which was this for this show]. A barrage of requests were furled to Gedge several times during the set almost from a respectable point after the start of the set and he jokingly said bassist Terry de Castro painstakingly put together the night's set list so unfortunatley they couldn't play any requests. As if trying to achieve some sort of equitable representation, the set list obviously gave greater representation to the most recent album "El Rey" and touted as their best "Seamonsters" but then like a patchwork quilt, went on to include songs spanning their career including song or two from "Take Fountain", "Bizarro", "Tommy", "Hit Parade", "Saturnalia", "Mini", and "George Best" plus song "You Turn Me On" from Gedge's other band Cinerama. The setlist could have been countless possible configurations and it's obvious they're going to leave something out. They left out "Watusi" entirely but that was my only disappointment. Overall, it was a no frills set of pop songs and the Toronto audience's warm reception.

It's Gedge's everyman approachability that's really charming, and not just because he comes off as the most non-celebrity rock star onstage, but for a person who's been making music for over 20 years it's cool to see him still manning the merch table and making himself available to fans for a chat or autograph after the show.

Photos: The Wedding Present, Dirty On Purpose @ Lee's Palace (October 3, 2008)

MySpace: Dirty On Purpose
MySpace: The Wedding Present

Saturday, October 04, 2008

White Nights

A few openers names for upcoming shows have been surfacing - Shawn Hewitt and The World Provider will open for The Dears at The Music Gallery on October 9 and October 10 RESPECTIVELY. The Two Koreas keep it post-punk when they open for Wire at Lee's Palace on October7.

The Bicycles return to the radar with a new album on November 4 and a CD release show at Lee's Palace on November 8(for which they promise "an awesome line-up of local talent"). Info from BlogTo who also have a brief interview with the band's Matt Beckett conducted this past week at Pop Montreal.

Sondre Lerche is at The Mod Club on November 14.

CSS return to Toronto for a show at The Opera House on December 15.

So sorry for the sparse postings but I've been busy with things/life/doing stuff lately - went to my cousin's wedding, checked out Word on the Street(photos - ok only 2, but one is of Ohbjiou at the Eye Weekly Music Stage), had some mindless(but entertaining) fun seeing "Eagle Eye" with a friend this past Monday, getting my My Bloody Valentine concert review (previous blog post) finally up this past week, hanging out with some workmates after work a few days ago and checking out The Wedding Present and Dirty On Purpose at Lee's Palace yesterday night.

Tonight, Nuit Blanche (although with all the Nuit Blanche Stille Post threads currently plus my recollection of the chaos of last year[especially around Bloor & University], I'm feeling a little overwhelmed about it at the moment.)