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Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Hard Feelings


Photo by Dustin Rabin

So, a couple confessions that could well see me exiled from the Greater Toronto Area… One, I have never seen The Constantines’ legendary live show before. I almost tried once, but there was a storm or something, or it was cold. Two, I’ve never listened to a Constantines album before their latest, Kensington Heights, which has been out in Canada for a couple weeks but only gets its US releast today. Whew. It actually feels good to get that off my chest.

There’s no particular reason our paths haven’t crossed until now – it’s not like I wasn’t aware of them, living in Toronto it’s not really possible to not be aware of the local heroes (though I believe a couple members have now moved away from the city) and I’ve heard a few of the side projects – Steve Lambke’s Baby Eagle, Will Kidman’s Woolly Leaves and even their Neil Young cover incarnation as Horsey Craze – but never the Cons proper.

And so now, with the acquaintance made, what have I been missing out on? In a word, rock. Intense, impassioned rock that I’m pretty sure made my speakers sweat. Bry Webb’s vocals are usually described in degrees of Springsteen, and that’s apt, but I also hear no small amount of Greg Dulli in there as well albeit a bit less greasy. The Cons are incredibly tight, rhythmically unrelenting and propulsive, and the keyboards riff as hard as the guitars, but what impresses me the most is that even though this is the first album of theirs I’ve heard, I can hear the band’s consistency. They know what they do, they do it well and as such don’t sound like they feel they’ve anything to prove. Don’t interpret that as my saying they sound complacent – no, instead they sound utterly confident.

The band are currently on the road and hit the Phoenix in Toronto on May 1. I’m going to have to wait at least until their appearance at the first day of V Fest to experience them live but courtesy of Against The Grain, you can be at the Phoenix on Thursday to give the Cons a hometown welcome. I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away and if you want them, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see The Constantines” in the subject line and your full name in the body before midnight, tonight.

And cruising the media circuit, check out Constantine interviews at QRO, Exclaim!, JAM, The London Free Press and Express.

MP3: The Constantines – “Hard Feelings”
Video: The Constantines – “Hard Feelings”
MySpace: The Constantines

So NXNE is still about a month and a half away and while there’s no whiff of an official lineup or schedule announcement yet, some of the bigger names in town the weekend of June 12 through 14 have been trickling out. You already know about These New Puritans and French Kicks at the Reverb and The Young Knives at the Horseshoe on the 12th as well as Swervedriver and The Besnard Lakes at Lee’s on the 13th, but you can now add in Beastie Boys affiliate Money Mark to the Horseshoe lineup on the 12th, Lemonhead alone Evan Dando at the ‘Shoe on the 13th (hopefully he doesn’t cancel the way he did most of his SxSW shows) and on the 14th at Lee’s Palace… Redd Kross. The only record of theirs I know is Phaseshifter, but it’s a plum. A madcap, power-glam popping, sugar-blasting plum.

Video: Redd Kross – “Jimmy’s Fantasy”

And if you’re of an age and demographic that the Redd Kross announcement gets you excited, may I point you to this Aversion piece about a three-disc tribute to The Posies… though I gotta say – the only two names I recognize on that track listing are, um, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer.

Back to show announcements – that Frog Eyes and Evangelicals gig at the Horseshoe on June 23 just got infinitely more interesting with the addition of Shearwater to the bill – this triple bill will hit a half-dozen east coast stops. Now this was supposed to be Shearwater’s first headlining tour in support of Rook, out June 3, but I’m not sure how the billing for this show will end up shaking out. I just want to see Shearwater play a full, non-opening/non-festival set which, for all the times I’ve seen them, I’ve never experienced. But if you want to see one of those as well, remember they’re still here in a couple weeks on May 11 opening for Clinic at Lee’s Palace.

Ohbijou have a date at Harbourfront Centre on June 28 – presumably a Canada Day festivity of some sort? The band will also be making their New York City debut next week with shows at the Knitting Factory on the 8th and Union Hall on the 9th – Noo Yawkers, go say hello – and hope to have a new album ready for the Fall.

And looking way ahead, October 1 will bring the inimitable Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to the Kool Haus as part of a tour in support of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, thus far the best-reviewed record of the year. The List hangs out with Cave, asks some questions.

MP3: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Bring It On”
MP3: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!”

PitchforkTV invites Okkervil River to play a song on their New York City rooftop. Okkervil obliges.

Video: Okkervil River – “Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe” (live in NYC)

Exclaim talks to Chloe from Smoosh, in town this Friday, opening the first of two nights at the Opera House for Tokyo Police Club and also playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on Friday, May 2, starting at 6PM 7PM.

And finally, Death Cab For Cutie previewed some of their new album Narrow Stairs, out May 13, in a Daytrotter session alongside some older songs. There’s also a new video from the album and they’ll be in town on June 7 headlining the mini-festival on Olympic Island alongside Stars. The Chicago Tribune and Seattle Times chat with the band.

Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “I Will Possess Your Heart”

By : Frank Yang at 8:32 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Karl says:

    Oh, you need to look into some more Redd Kross. Third Eye is a little more pop than Phaseshifter, but still twisted pop in a Hoodoo Gurus sorta vein. Go back further to get back to a glammier sound (albeit with muddier sound, usually). The Desperate Teenage Lovedolls cuts are fab, esp. their cover of the Silver Platters’ (a/k/a the Brady Bunch’s)"Sunshine day."

  2. Melody says:

    Haha Frank, it’s ok. I’ve never listened to the Constantines either and I’ve lived in toronto for my whole life. I’ve seen them live once, but I barely remember it as I was mainly there to see Jason Collett.

    Thanks for the Ohbijou news!

  3. jonzey says:

    woo-hoo! RK at Lee’s!! Thanks for breakin’ the news Frank!

    p.s. "Neurotica" is the best Redd Kross album and likely my favourite from the 80’s, period.

  4. Quinn says:

    You should pick up a "Shine a Light"… it’s sort of the ‘consensus’ Cons record.