Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
Find A Way
Photo by Frank Yang
Two words you hate to use when talking about Smoosh are “novelty” and “adorable”. But it can’t be helped, and it shouldn’t always be interpreted as a negative. And if it’s taken as such, then the fact that when all is said and done, they’re a pretty terrific pop band no matter how novel their set-up or how old they are is all the more impressive.
They were in town at the end of last week wrapping up a tour in support of Tokyo Police Club and found the time to squeeze in an in-store performance at Sonic Boom to a smallish crowd. I’d been impressed when I first saw them in 2006 opening for Eels and now, a couple years later and decidedly more road-tested, they played with a good deal more confidence though I’m sure the store’s rec room vibe also helped put them at ease. Drummer Chloe is even more of an accomplished drummer now, and she was no slouch before, and keyboardist/singer Asya’s vocals are reaping the benefits of the adult lung capacity I mentioned last time I say them. And if there was a risk of them outgrowing the “pre-teen sister act” angle, they’ve addressed that with the addition of youngest sister Maia, all of ten years old, on bass. When was the last time you saw a band member skip on stage? Too adorable.
The performance encouraged me to revisit their last record, 2006’s Free To Stay. It’s a terrific little pop gem that’s youthfully exuberanct without being childish, yet casts an unexpectedly wistful and minor-key shadow and has a musical and melodic sophistication that’d be impressive for an artist of any age. They’re due to release their third record sometime this year and while it’s always interesting to see how artists mature from record to record, that’s even more so the case for them.
Wireless Bollinger, JAM and MTV talk to Death Cab For Cuties Nick Harmer, Chris Walla and Ben Gibbard, respectively, about Narrow Stairs, set for release next Tuesday. No one wants to talk to Jason McGerr. Poor drummers. They’re at Olympic Island on June 7.
Hot on the heels of the announcement of a new Radio Dept EP in Freddie & The Trojan Horse, due June 4, comes the official word on album number three, from which the single is taken – Clinging To A Scheme will be released on September 10. So very excited.
Also good news in the new release department – thanks to A Good Day For Airplay for tipping me that Gemma Hayes will release her third album The Hollow Of Morning in Ireland and the UK next week. I don’t expect there’ll be any sort of North American release for this one, so it’s just as well I’ll be in Dublin in a couple weeks and can pick up a copy that way. Where The Lions Weep has an interview with Ms Hayes about where she’s at these days.
A few more show announcements of note – though just here in February, Nina Nastasia returns for a show at the Drake on June 20, this time accompanied by her collaborator on You Follow Me, Jim White of The Dirty Three. Tickets are $15.
Calexico are back on July 6 for a show at the much-smaller-than-their-usual-digs Mod Club, tickets $22.50, full Summer tour dates here. Presumably there’s a new record in the works – Garden Ruin was two years ago.
The Swell Season, riding their Oscar win, will return to town for a show at Massey Hall on September 20 accompanied by Bill Callahan. Full tour dates at Pitchfork, tickets for the Toronto show will run from $25.50 to $39.50 plus attendant fees.
And if you happen by the El Mocambo Friday night and see a massive lineup of people, those are the people who got Queens Of The Stone Age tickets. And if this is the first you’re hearing about it, you’re too late.