Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
Leave The Light On
Photo by Frank Yang
First thing I did when I got home on Monday night was hit up eMusic for Silkworm’s Firewater, which had just been recommended to me most emphatically, but as it turns out, I didn’t have enough downloads left so I grabbed the new Bottomless Pit EP Congress and put Firewater at the top of the queue for next month.
The context of this was that I’d been at Sneaky Dee’s and while as a longstanding Bedhead and The New Year fan, I’d obviously gone to see The Kadane Brothers play Toronto if not for the first time ever, then the first time in a damned long time, I was completely enthralled by their tourmates’ set. I had no history with Bottomless Pit or their previous incarnation as Silkworm, save for knowing about the senseless death of drummer Michael Dahlquist in 2005 that forced the dissolution of that band. But while I’d primed a bit with their debut album Hammer Of The Gods in the days preceding the show, I didn’t expect to be as amazed as I was.
From the moment they took the stage, via an instrumental segue at the end of the Kadane Brothers’ set that ranks amongst the most impressive things I’ve seen in recent memory, they had me riveted. Not so much for their onstage charisma – they’re mostly unremarkable-looking guys who just go about their business – but for the music they made. Melodic without being overtly pop and intense while remaining resolutely laid back, Bottomless Pit deliver “Indie rock” of the oldest school, with echoes of Built To Spill, Archers Of Loaf and Sonic Youth acquired not as influences, but contemporaries. The combination of Andy Cohen and Tim Midgett’s guitar and baritone guitar, respectively, made for a distinct and glorious sonic blend that I’m amazed isn’t utilized by more bands. Of course, it’s not just the gear – there’s also their respective virtuostic abilities on their instruments which made for some exhilarating six-string excursions. I know I’ve already used the word “enthralled” but it’s the most appropriate one I can think of.
As for the Kadane Brothers, the one-word summary would be “hypnotic”. Delivering exactly as advertised, Matt and Bubba Kadane explored the catalog of The New Year, including their forthcoming self-titled album due September 9, accompanied only on electric guitar but even without their three other bandmates, most everything sounded as full and mesmerizing as the recorded versions. What they were able to do with just the two electric guitars – and not even dueling guitars, often just some fingerpicking or sinewy lines played off of gently strummed power chords – was mesmerizing. The sort of thing that if you examine it too closely, makes no sense when you consider what you’re hearing, so it’s best to just close your eyes and listen. An unconventional but wholly satisfying first live Kadane experience, but I also say that with the knowledge that a proper New Year gig has already been booked for October 15 at Lee’s Palace.
Opening up the night was local pop outfit Great Bloomers, whom I’d seen and been left rather nonplussed by at NxNE. They made a decidedly better impression this time, having apparently decided to inject some more twang into their sound over the past month, but their shortcomings also became clearer to me. While obviously musically talented and with a knack for melody, they also lacked any real sense of… danger? Edginess? With a couple exceptions, their songs seemed overly restrained and polite. Maybe it’s just me, but bands that young should be looking to stir shit up. But on the plus side, since they are that young they’ve got plenty of time to develop a coke habit or two. NOTE: this blog does not condone or encourage the use of cocaine or other banned substances for the purpose of developing “rock” cred. But if you do it to be cool, then by all means.
There’s another short video teaser for the new New Year record and The Phoenix talks to New Year drummer Chris Brokaw, who wasn’t along for this tour (as he failed the “is your last name Kadane?” test) but should be behind the kit come October.
Photos: Bottomless Pit, The Kadane Brothers, Great Bloomers @ Sneaky Dee’s – July 14, 2008
MP3: Bottomless Pit – “Fish Eyes”
MP3: Bottomless Pit – “The Cardinal Movements”
MP3: The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
MP3: The New Year – “Sinking Ship”
Video: The New Year – “The End’s Not Near”
Video: The New Year – “Disease”
MySpace: Bottomless Pit
MySpace: The New Year
I got sent a taste of the next Fields record yesterday, which fits nicely with this recent NME piece about the band’s return to live performance after basically being sequestered away in the studio working on the follow-up to Everything Last Winter for most of this year. As such, they’d fallen a bit off my radar and I hadn’t heard about the departure of guitarist Jamie Putnam, which makes me curious how the new stuff will sound if frontman Nick Peill continues to stick with the acoustic guitar. If the first track is any indication, things are accordingly less rock-heavy and more synth-leaning. Of course, the second track is all anthemic guitar rock so… Either way, these tracks have sufficiently whetted my appetite for the new record. There’s some more new material in the form of demos, including that of the track below, streaming on their MySpace. The new album is due out sometime this year.
JAM talks to Gary Louris about working again with Mark Olsen on their first collaboration in over a decade, After The Flood, due out in September.