Archive for November, 2006

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Sunday Cleaning – Volume 57

Shotgun & Jaybird / Trying To Get Somewhere (Sappy)

Fun non-fact: The too-cute picture book bio for Shotgun & Jaybird claims the band gets their axe chops from many hours of playing Guitar Hero. Not that Trying To Get Somewhere is replete with guitar shredding, far from it – the latest from this Haligonian Sackvillian quartet, now boasting ex-Eric’s Trip and formerly Broken Girl Julie Doiron amongst their number, is decidedly rudimentary from a musical sense, but in a charming and heavy-handed Neil Young sort of way. And if you find that charming, you’ll probably enjoy the off-key, back porch warbling as well. Quintessentially Canadian in its own sort of way. They’re in town at Lee’s Palace opening for The Constantines on Friday.

MP3: Shotgun & Jaybird – “Two And Two Is Four”
MP3: Shotgun & Jaybird – “Come Back Slowly”
MP3: Shotgun & Jaybird – “Lovers Of The World Be On Time Tonight”
MySpace: Shotgun & Jaybird

Snowden / Anti-Anti (Jade Tree)

Strange thing about Atlanta’s Snowden – over the course of their full-length debut Anti-Anti, they crib from any number of indie and alt.rock influences from the past twenty years and yet none of them seem adequate or substantial enough to be good points of reference. But if you think this uncategorizability makes them especially fresh or unique, you’ll likely be disappointed – they end up sounding like fairly rote mid-aughts indie rock for the effort. By trying to blend so much into a single sound, they end up sort of like a music equivalent of V8 – looking and tasting like none of the ingredients on the label, but certainly not unpleasant for the fact and probably good for you. If I had to toss out some descriptors, however, I might say Interpol remixed for the dance floor, with the angst turned down, the groove turned up and the monotone vocals left exactly the same. There’s certainly more to them than this indicates, but if Snowden are V8 then Interpol would be the tomatoes. They’re at the Horseshoe this Friday with !Forward Russia!.

MP3: Snowden – “Anti-Anti”
MySpace: Snowden

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

CONTEST – The Constantines @ Lee's Palace – December 1, 2006

Nothing rings in the holiday season like some loud, sweaty Can-rock so with that in mind, courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got three pairs of passes to see Toronto’s Constantines at Lee’s Palace next week on December 1, with Toronto’s Lullabye Arkestra and Haligonians Sackvillians Shotgun & Jaybird as support.

To enter, email me at with “I want to see The Constantines” in the subject line and your full name in the email body. Then just sit back, cross your fingers and check your mail the morning of November 28 – the contest closes at midnight the night before and you’ll then find out if you’re one of the lucky winners or not.

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Congrats to Stuart, Cameron and Jeff who’ve won the passes.

MP3: The Constantines – “Soon Enough”
MP3: The Constantines – “Love In Fear”
Video: The Constantines – “Working Full-Time” (MOV)
MySpace: The Constantines

Saturday, November 25th, 2006


I’ve written about Toronto’s The Coast a number of times in the past so after seeing them perform a CD re-release show at the UKULA store a couple weeks ago, I opted to go a different route for the accompanying post. Namely, instead of a review (they were as good as they always are and I don’t have that many different ways of saying so), I contacted guitarist Ian Fosbery for a casual IM interview about some of the recent developments in Coast-land, namely their signing a deal with Aporia Records and the rerelease of their self-titled debut EP.

You can read the full, barely-edited text of the conversation after the jump – only a couple of irrelevant cul-de-sacs and emoticons were removed. This blog is now and will remain a smiley-free zone. But besides discussing The Coast, we talk about men’s fragrances, Jack White and favoured albums and live shows of the year.

Photos: The Coast @ UKULA Store – November 9, 2006
MP3: The Coast – “Circles”
MP3: The Coast – “The Lines Are Cut”
eCard: The Coast
MySpace: The Coast

Friday, November 24th, 2006

(Still) The Greatest

“If I’m ever ambivalent about seeing Cat Power live again, it’ll only be because I don’t know how she could top this performance.” – me, on September 6, 2006, on whether or not I’d ever take the chance of seeing Cat Power live again.

When I wrote that, I really didn’t expect to have to make that decision again just two months later, but Ms Marshall was coming back to town – this time with the Memphis Rhythm Band – and I had to roll the dice again, and by the end of Wednesday night”s show, I was feeling like I should have been buying a lottery ticket. In addition to bringing the 10-piece band with her, she was booked into the much larger Phoenix ensuring that we wouldn’t be getting a repeat of intimate vibe of her September solo Lee’s Palace shows again, but as it turns out that was okay – in fact, comparisons to those performances were mostly inapplicable. While those sets saw a delicate singer-songwriter getting up-close and personal with her audience, this show opened and closed with a radiant Southern soul singer in full diva mode.

The band came out got into a deep instrumental groove for the first 10 minutes or so before finally breaking into the opening of “The Greatest”, Cat Power strolling onstage to huge applause. Hearing the songs from The Greatest played with the full band, as rich and gorgeous as they were meant to be, was pretty special. Mostly free from playing guitar for the first portion of the show, Marshall moved through a variety of interesting and singularly Cat-like dance moves while singing, obviously having a wonderful time being up there. And how good was her band? Guitarist Teeny Hodges, who was so visibly under the influence of something that he needed a roadie to help him get his guitar on and who ill-advisedly tried to make “Where Is My Love” a duet with Chan still managed to get up to the mic and lead the band through a number without missing a note while Marshall departed momentarily. Now that’s a pro.

They then cleared the stage while Marshall returned for the solo folksinger portion of the show, working her way through some older material solo on piano or guitar, very much the way she did in September. And while she had kept it together quite impressively to this point, she did become agitated about the sound onstage and aborted one song as a result despite it sounding fantastic out in the room. She would matter-of-factly explain that her nerves were on account of it being almost her time of the month and her inability to get action while on tour (at which point you could hear a thousand people resisting the urge to offer to help her out with that). Thankfully, that was the extent of her neuroses getting the better of her and the remainder of the solo set was wonderful though not as great as the Lee’s show (though I may just be saying that because I was there and maybe you weren’t).

The Memphis Rhythm Band then rejoined her for one hell of a finale – whereas they’d been a super-tight soul band before, they were now rocking out (though soulfully). Possibly the highlight of the night was their version of “Cross Bones Style”, which was simply revelatory. I hope that a good recording of that from this tour shows up soon. They followed this with the chorus-less arrangement of “Satisfaction”, a take on Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” which was far superior to the original in my estimation and a scorching “Love & Communication” to close things out. The Rhythm Band took their bows and left the stage, leaving Chan to play a couple more songs alone on piano before she too bid the adoring audience a prolonged goodbye.

Say what you will about Cat Power, but I can’t think of another performer that is as guileless and emotionally sincere onstage as her – when she talks to her fans, it’s not rehearsed banter, she’s actually trying to have a conversation with everyone there and when she’s up there and smiling, you know she means it. The affection between her and her musicians was also very tangible, their relationship seeming more akin to family than just singer and band. It’s enormously cliche to say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but watching Cat Power perform, knowing what she’s been through, you really have no choice but to agree. If you’d told in January that I would not only see Cat Power live twice before 2006 was over but that both shows would rank very highly in the best I’d see this year, I’d have surely thought you loco. But indeed, here we are and I am indeed saying that. Likewise, I came into this year only a casual fan and I leave a wholly won-over devotee.

And everyone should read this Spin interview with Chan – she talks in-depth about her breakdown and recovery, her fears of playing live, making The Greatest and her future plans – look for another covers record out next Summer, a new album already entitled The Sun in 2008 and for her to anchor “Weekend Update” on Saturday Night Live next Fall. Yes, she still seems to be on that. Commercial Appeal and The News & Observer also cover similar ground. And don’t forget that her Monday night show from DC is available to stream at NPR.

Photos: Cat Power & The Memphis Rhythm Band @ The Phoenix – November 22, 2006
MP3: Cat Power – “The Greatest”
Video: Cat Power – “Living Proof” (YouTube)
Video: Cat Power – “Lived In Bars” (YouTube)
MySpace: Cat Power

The New Pollution talks to Under Byen violinist Nils Grondahl.

Chart demands to know why Yo La Tengo are not afraid of them and will beat their ass. Ira Kaplan refuses to explain.

The Guardian examines what it calls “The Pitchfork Effect” in regards to the influence music websites hold over today’s music fans. PopMatters, Stylus and Drowned In Sound are also discussed.

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

CONTEST – Transmission Festival @ The Roundhouse, Vancouver – December 1 & 2

Not to be all muscling in on Quinn’s turf, but I’ve got a contest that should be of interest to readers out in turbidity central, aka Vancouver. The Transmission Festival is an industry shindig going down in Lotusland next week and the part that will be of interest to you folks is the industry-only showcase happening on December 1 and 2. Performing will be:

Small Sins
Hawksley Workman
My Latest Novel
Coral Egan
Amy Milan
Mr. Hudson & the Library
DJ Champion
Jets Overhead
Hell On Wheels
The Little Ones
Luke Doucet
Fleet Foxes
Super 700

As you can see, they’ve assembled a very deep and international lineup of talent who will be playing over the two nights, trying to impress a gaggle of coked-up music execs… and you! Even though it’s an invite-only soiree, I’ve got a pair of passes to both nights for some lucky Vancouverite (or person willing to be a Vancouverite for a weekend) to help them forget about their rain and water quality issues.

To enter, email me at with “I want to go to Transmission” in the subject line and your full name in the body. This contest has to happen fast, so it’ll run till midnight on November 26 and then, no more. Though to better your odds, From Blown Speakers also has a pair of passes to give away though his contest wraps up tomorrow.

But that’s not your only opportunity to catch some of these bands – the festival will be holding a block party on the 2nd at the Vancouver Art Gallery at the Georgia Street Plaza and will be free to everyone, rain or shine. My money is on rain. But performing at this will be Hawksley Workman & The Wolves, K’Naan, DJ Champion, Mr Hudson & The Library, My Latest Novel, Hell On Wheels and Yuca. You can get information on this here and at their MySpace. Yes, even parties have MySpace pages now.

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to Mark for winning the passes.