Monday, March 26th, 2007
Funny how things go in circles – that CMW showcase at the ‘Shoe a couple weeks ago had 3/5 of the same lineup as the NxNE show I saw at The Boat last June. And then, last Thursday at the ‘Shoe, I saw the last two bands from that bill, Born Ruffians and We’re Marching On.
I didn’t actually stick around for We’re Marching On (WAMO to their friends) at that show so this was my first time seeing the Guelph-born outfit, also their first gig in some seven months with singer/guitarist Tim Fagan having pulled a Jack Bauer and been somewhere in China during that time. I had gotten a copy of their EP Argh! Umph! Ahhh! in the big post-Sx mail call so I’d had some opportunity to get acquainted with their sound, which is a strange assemblage of garage-fi, ADD prog-pop built on a foundation of wickedly melodic keyboard riffs, dance-inducing drumming and colour-outside-the-lines arrangements. Vocally things test my yelp-tolerance levels at points but the songs are weird and interesting and hooky enough to make that a minor, subjective point.
But that’s the recording and this was the live show which everyone had described to me as being something that had to be experienced to be appreciated – lofty promises that weren’t quite fulfilled on this night. Not that they were bad by any means, but the rust from the time off was evident as they tried to ignite the onstage chemistry. There were moments where they did catch and I saw what people were talking about, but they weren’t sustained through the set. But like I said, the songs were still catchy if even more frenzied in structure and as they work through a short Southern Ontario tour, I don’t doubt they’ll be back in game shape when they play Toronto again on April 11 opening for Tokyo Police Club at the Mod Club.
Prior to that show at The Boat last June I got wind of a label bidding war over the Born Ruffians – my impressions at the time were that their energy and musicianship were really impressive, especially considering their tender ages, but the songwriting raw and while the potential as unmistakable, it seemed kind of soon for a shot at the (indie) big leagues. Well shows how much I know, they were signed to WARP and XL shortly thereafter and have been on a steady upward trajectory since. Interestingly, their performance on this evening wasn’t a whole lot different than the last time I saw them nine months ago – it was just better all around. They’re still hellaciously tight but what seemed like quirks last year are now proper eccentricities – everything’s more refined and focused and they sound a lot more comfortable and confident in what they’re doing. Their sound still isn’t directly up my particular alley – Luke Lalonde’s yodeling vocals are a taste I’ve not fully acquired yet – but I enjoyed their show more than I expected and am certainly curious as to what they’ll be up to next.
I Heart Music has a session the Ruffians did for KEXP available to download, their session for Spinner’s Interface is still online and they tell Chart that they hope to have their full-length debut out in the Fall.
Photos: Born Ruffians, We’re Marching On @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2007
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Hedonistic Me”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “I’m Not One Of Those Girls”
MP3: We’re Marching On – “1800s”
MySpace: Born Ruffians
Fountains Of Wayne are at Lee’s Palace on June 10 (via For The Records). At this rate, NxNE weekend is going to be chock full before the even announce any NxNE events. Traffic And Weather is out April 3.
Interpol will release their third album on June 5.
Carl Newman talks to Billboard about the recipe of the new New Pornographers album – three parts Dan, three parts Neko, remaining parts Carl, simmer and serve sometime around late August. Neko-powered tour come Fall.
Voxtrot, the debut full-length from Voxtrot is out May 22 and the first MP3 is now available. They’re also at Sneaky Dee’s on June 8.
Did you notice how I segued there back to Austin content? Crafty, no? Well as promised, I’ve finished processing all my SxSW photos – 46 galleries worth – available for your viewing pleasure.
np – The National / Boxer