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Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Highway Flowers

The joke about drummers suggesting, “hey – let’s do one of MY songs!” is about as old as they come, despite the fact that the track record of drummers gone frontmen isn’t really all that bad. But luckily for Tim O’Reagan, he’d proved his songwriting ability long ago with his contributions to the Jayhawks catalog, which were usually album highlights for me. So with that band on permanent hiatus, there were no raised eyebrows when he released his self-titled solo debut last month which he was in town to promote.

Accompanying him on this tour was Greg Laswell, whose Through Toledo I reviewed and enjoyed last month. One of the great strengths of the album was the rich production but I’d heard that Laswell was doing this tour on his own so I had expected an opportunity to see how well the songs stood up in solo performance. As it turns out, he was actually touring with a band but had to leave them behind at the border to babysit merch that wasn’t going to be coming into Canada.

So for this show, he enlisted a couple members of O’Reagan’s band to back him – Jim Boquist (formerly of Son Volt) on bass and O’Reagan himself on drums. If you need pinch hitters, you could certainly do a hell of a lot worse. Anyway, Laswell sounded really good in working the melancholic piano ballad vibe, particularly on his cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” which was turned into a lounge-y lament, with only a touch of irony. Can’t help wondering what he’d have sounded like in full band form, though.

Not surprisingly, O’Reagan’s new stuff sounds very much in the vein of the later Jayhawks material – laid back pop tunes with a distinct twang to it. Thoroughly pleasant listening though I didn’t find any of the newer material was as strong as his Jayhawks material. Happily, both “Tampa To Tulsa” and “Bottomless Cup” were performed – the latter is one of my all-time favourite ‘Hawks tunes. But as a set, mixed in with a few Can-Con-approved covers and a couple of Boquist-sung tunes (O’Reagan’s tunes or his own? I don’t know), it was a thoroughly solid and enjoyable night of heartfelt countrified singer-songwriter-ness. Just the thing to ease me out of my (brief) post-Lollapalooza live music moratorium.

O’Reagan and band will be back in town on October 16 opening for Mojave 3 at the Mod Club. Pittsburgh Live has an interview with Laswell.

Photos: Tim O’Reagan and Greg Laswell @ The Horseshoe, Toronto – August 15, 2006
Stream: Tim O’Reagan – “These Things” (ASX)
MP3: Greg Laswell – “Sing, Theresa Says”
Video: Greg Laswell – “Sing, Theresa Says” (MOV)
MySpace: Tim O’Reagan
MySpace: Greg Laswell

And O’Reagan’s former bandleader, Gary Louris, just gave jayhawksfanpage.com an update of all his current musical activities – the man is certainly keeping busy, that’s for sure. There’s an audio interview with some of Golden Smog about making Another Fine Day, which they will be touring for but not up here, alas.

M Ward’s Post-War may have been pushed back a week till August 29, but you can hear it now via the modern marvel of streaming technology. Ward is at the Mod Club on September 11.

Stream: M Ward / Post-War

Prefix talks to a former member of Grandaddy who isn’t Jason Lytle – drummer Aaron Burtch.

An addendum to Tuesday’s Hidden Cameras post – they’re holding a CD release party at The Beaver (1192 Queen St W) next Tuesday, the day of release for AWOO. No performance but the band will be playing DJ and auditioning go-go dancers for their triumphant August 26 show at Harbourfront. Could that be you in the balaclava? Only one way to find out. AND, there’s a couple promo MP3s now available. Dig it, yo.

MP3: The Hidden Cameras – “AWOO”
MP3: The Hidden Cameras – “Death Of A Tune”

Paste declares Shearwater their band of the week. They’re at Lee’s Palace on September 12.

Chart and eye talk comedy with Eugene Mirman. He’s doing stand-up at the Horseshoe tonight. Should be funny. It BETTER be funny because otherwise it’s just, you know, awkward. HEY LOOK, A VIDEO CLIP:

Video: Eugene Mirman – “Sexpert” (MOV)

Matador responds to the Interpol signing to Capitol Records reports. Sort of. Not really.

Did anyone get an Insound newsletter yesterday? The one week I actually want to order something and it doesn’t show up. Figures.

And BrooklynVegan has the first salvo of confirmed bands for this year’s Pop Montreal, taking place October 4-8. Certainly some interesting names on the list – Joanna Newsom, Under Byen, Portastatic and Land Of Talk to name a few. I will actually be attending this year – not just because I haven’t been to nearly enough music festivals this year, but because I will be a panelist at the Future Of Music Policy Summit taking place at McGill University, taking place in conjunction with Pop Montreal. My panel will be called “The New Deciders: Metafilters, Blogs, Podcasts” and I’m glad it’s not happening for another two months because I’m going to need that time to come up with some informed opinions. “The internet is not a dump truck!”

np – The Mendoza Line / Fortune

By : Frank Yang at 9:02 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. John says:

    You’re right about O’Reagan proving his songwriting chops, but he did so long before the Jayhawks. His band the Leatherwoods, a Kansas/Minneapolis-based duo with songwriter Todd Newman, put out a fantastic record in the mid- to late-90s, "Topeka Oratorio." It was on a now-defunct subsidiary of Twin/Tone, Medium Cool Records. Info here: http://www.tt.net/mcool/pro

    Most of the stuff on this Paul Westerberg-produced gem are by Newman (who has a few decent solo discs of his own), but O’Reagan chips in a few beauties, too.

  2. John says:

    Correction: Westerberg didn’t produce. He played on some tracks, credited as "Pablo Louseorama."

  3. tyrone says:

    Obviously, the internet is a series of tubes!

  4. toni says:

    i heard david byrne will be a panelist this year too.
    can anyone attend these? are they free?

    popmontreal is always a great week. never fails to dissapoint.

  5. kathryn says:

    "Metafilters, Blogs, Podcasts"? What a strange name. Shouldn’t that be "Communities, Blogs, Podcasts"? \

    Mirman is indeed very funny but I vastly prefer his live stuff to the video clips.

  6. Joe says:

    "…a couple of Boquist-sung tunes (O’Reagan’s tunes or his own? I don’t know)"

    I think O’Reagan introduced one of the songs Boquist sung as a Gene Clark song, and it sounded familiar, but I don’t recall the name of it.

  7. max says:

    ah, thanks so much for the m ward stream, didn’t know it was up

  8. Amy says:

    Noticed you were reading the Persepolis books. I picked them up a couple weeks ago and was blown away. Incredible story, brilliant illustration style.

  9. Nilina says:

    The line up announcement for Pop Montreal has done me wonders-I discovered Poni Hoax.