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Friday, June 16th, 2006

Sunshine Snare Hits

So this Wednesday was the initial deadline for nominations for the Polaris Music Prize and I have a confession to make – I had a very shallow pool of qualifying records in my collection to pick from. Most of the Canadian stuff that most impressed me either didn’t make the definition of album (30 minutes or 8 tracks) or wasn’t released between June 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006 and what I did have seemed kind of obvious, which was a little disappointing (not the albums themselves, just that I couldn’t get creative with my picks). So I went on a little research mission over the past couple weeks trying to catch up on stuff that was homegrown and that I might have missed out on.

One artist whom I’ve liked what I’ve heard but have never really gotten around to really digging into is Calgarian Chad Van Gaalen. His debut album Infiniheart was a (very) small sample of hundreds of songs Van Gaalen had accumulated over the years and it definitely plays like it. Stylistically all over the map, it’s as mesmerizing as it is maddening for its eclecticism. Gentle folk tunes bump uglies with hooky pop moments, ambient instrumentals and bits that would have been symphonies if not for the absence of, well, symphonic instruments. It’s all tied together by Van Gaalen’s high, delicate voice that combined with the breadth of his musical ambition begs Sufjan Stevens comparisons – but not yet. Maybe when he starts writing concept albums for all ten provinces.

Spacelab reports that Van Gaalen will release his follow-up Skelliconnection on August 22 and while I hope there’s a higher level of production fit and finish to it. I would like to hear a more cohesive artistic statement from the fellow rather than, “here are some songs” but it sounds like he once again had a pool of songs to draw on hundreds deep so it could well be another stylistic grab bag.

And yeah, while SubPop re-released Infiniheart in August last year, well within the nomination period, it originally came out on Flemish Eye waaaaaay back in 2004 – a fact that I uncovered after I bought the album. So much for doing my homework. Here’s a sampling of tracks from here and there.

MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Clinically Dead”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Echo Train”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Somewhere I Know There’s Nothing”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Traffic”
Video: Chad Van Gaalen – “Clinically Dead” (MySpace)

So who did I end up voting for? After much hemming and hawing, I submitted the following list:

1. The New Pornographers / Twin Cinema
2. Broken Social Scene / Broken Social Scene
3. Destroyer / Destroyer’s Rubies
4. The Diableros / You Can’t Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts
5. My Dad Vs Yours / After Winter Must Come Spring

Like I said, kind of obvious, especially the first two. I would have LOVED to be able to get behind something more dark horse or left field, but I had to be honest about it and those are the eligible CanCon releases that got the most rotation in the past year. And I could have voted for Neil Young but I suspect that goes against the spirit of the prize.

Note to all up-and-coming bands – knock it off with the EPs! Or at the very least, make them 30 minutes long. If The Coast, The Airfields or Land Of Talk had managed to squeeze one more song or extended space-rock jam onto their recent releases, it’d have been a very different list, I tell you what. Come on guys – we’re talking a cash money prize! But, alas, such was not the case and so this is what went in to the powers that be. Not meant as a slight against any of the bands I did nominate – all fine records – but a little frustrating nonetheless. But on the plus side, I am planning on being that much more plugged into Canadian music for the upcoming year if for no other reason than to avoid another such embaressing situation. And to everyone who suggested it – Neko Case is not Canadian. Seems like it, sure, but she’s not.

And I note with some interest that My Dad Vs Yours have a show scheduled for July 15 at Lee’s Palace. Opening? Headlining? I do not know. But there you go.

While the new album won’t be out till January of next year, Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips have posted a track from their new album on their MySpace page, an Adam Green cover. And Tuesday is Luna day with the release of The Best Of Luna on CD, Lunafied in digital download format and Tell Me Do You Miss Me on DVD. For appetite-whetting purposes, Rhino has posted a clip of the DVD online – a complete performance of “Bewitched” from the farewell tour.

Video: Luna – “Bewitched” (MOV)

NOW profiles vibraphonic ensemble The Hylozoists who will be having a CD release party for La Fin Du Monde at the Horseshoe this Saturday night.

Ultra-recluse Texan legend Jandek is coming out of hiding to play a Toronto show on September 17 at… well, no one knows. But it’s happening – read here. I’ll be honest – I don’t know boo about Jandek except that his name is spoken in hushed, reverential tones and this is an event of some significance. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more about it as the date approaches.

Calexico discusses the politics of Garden Ruin with The Vancouver Sun and about growing the band’s sound with The San Francisco Chronicle and The Georgia Straight. Those attending the July 6 show at the Phoenix should note that Jason Collett appears to be off the bill and Oakley Hall are on.

Wheat’s Brendan Haney reflects on the major label experience for Loose Record and admits that, yeah, it was a bad idea. I TOLD YOU SO. It’s a shame he dismisses Per Second completely, the original Nude version was a perfectly solid record – but I already proved that. Comeback album Every Day I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One-Inch Square is out this Fall. Thanks very much to Mark for the interview link.

And dig it – Arrested Development Season 3 – on DVD August 29… just a week after Veronica Mars Season 2! No word of bonuses on either disc yet but I expect the AD to be chock full ‘o nuts. And I think I’m far too excited about the opportunity to watch television shows that I’ve already seen.

np – Wheat / Hope & Adams

By : Frank Yang at 8:43 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. sp says:

    I received an email about the jandek show this morning, saying it was at somewhere called The Centre of Gravity and that more details would be released later. I have no idea if that was someone being funny or if it is a real venue I’ve never heard of before.

  2. Frank says:

    a most curious thing when googling "centre of gravity toronto" yields a hit from "Torontoclown.com".

    But it appears this place is at 1300 Gerrard St East (@ Greenwood) and is a clown school? What?

  3. Damon says:

    I find the Chad VanGaalen album to be unlistenable for exactly the reasons you have listed and because some of the songs have these two-to-three minute outros that completely ruin the flow.

    But, having seen him twice now, he is very good live. He focuses on his alt.country songs.

  4. matthew says:

    I *think* the My Dads show is with Henri Faberge and Born Ruffians, but I don’t know for sure. Jose from the band did sound for me when I promoted the Ruffians’ first Ottawa show, and he said something about them doing a show trade, but I don’t know that for sure. I’ll try to remember to ask him the next time I see him, and let you know!

  5. Craig says:

    Hey – on list for smoosh/eels tonight – smoosh hit the stage at 7:00. sorry forgot to get back to you before.

  6. Chinaski says:

    The Centre of Gravity is a real place. It’s an old Vaudeville theatre in one of Toronto’s East Indian neighbourhoods. It’s the rehearsal/performance space for the Zero Gravity Circus, which is a group of acrobats, clowns, contortionists, tightrope walkers and other talented misfits. Houdini’s reportedly performed at the theatre way back when so if this rumour is true, Jandek would be in good company.