Monday, January 26th, 2009
Receivers, Beth In Battle Mode at the Velvet Underground in Toronto
Frank YangGuilt and courteousness can be powerful motivators. Even moreso than self-preservation, which is why it was that rather than stay home Saturday night, safe and warm, I set out into the frigid, frigid cold to the Velvet Underground to catch a couple of bands who’d been politely and persistently inviting me out to their gigs for a while now – Receivers, visiting from Montreal, and locals Beth In Battle Mode. Of course it helped that I’d liked what I’d heard of both acts and had intended to catch either or both at some point – so why not both at once?
What I’d heard of BIBM past had made me associate them with New Wave power pop, thanks in no small part to their big keyboard sounds and devotion to the art of the hook, but live there was an extra oomph to the delivery that you couldn’t hide behind a skinny tie. In particular, singer/guitarist Ed Maher’s pipes are a lot more powerful than I’d expected, more reminiscent of a ’70s arena rock delivery with a touch of white boy funk-soul, though the transistor-y distortion of the venue’s PA certainly kept things honest and suitably lo-fi. A short set, but definitely sweet. The trio have just finished work on their second album Hot Science and aim to have it out in mid-March.
Receivers aspire to a noble end – to blend the noir-ish atmosphere of ’60s film soundtracks with concise and evocative pop song structures. It’s harder to do well than one might think, but I think Receivers are just about getting it. As with Beth In Battle Mode, the recorded samples I’d heard before the show painted an accurate and yet incomplete picture of the band. Emilie Marzinotto is a much more expressive singer live, though I suspect there’s still more upside to be tapped and the rest of the band was also more dynamic and ragged – in a good way – than on their debut Consider The Ravens. Most tellingly and probably importantly, the songs they introduced as new ones were easily the most immediate and impressive in their set.
I saw much promise in both acts, certainly worth leaving the house for (that is NOT faint praise, FYI) and even the venue – generally known as Toronto’s goth bar and now title-bearer for worst club lighting in the city as far as I’m concerned – left a favourable impression if for no other reason than starting off their club night, just as I was leaving, with The Chameleons’ “Up The Down Escalator”. If this is what goth kids are listening to, then hell – get me some mascara.
I don’t actually mean that.
Receivers will be back in town mid-March for CMW and BIBM will be having a CD release party for the new album around the same time.
Photos: Receivers, Beth In Battle Mode @ The Velvet Underground – January 24, 2009
MP3: Receivers – “Changing Of The Guard”
MP3: Receivers – “Matinee”
MP3: Receivers – “Petrograd”
MySpace: Beth In Battle Mode
Seriously, it’s an awesome song. Check it.
And because it’s an appropriate segue, there’s been a new communique from Joe Pernice, dispatched from somewhere in Toronto’s west end. In it (you can read it on the Pernice Brothers site), he mentions that his first novel It Feels So Good When I Stop is complete and will be released in September, and that there’s not one but two Joe Pernice albums in the works. The first is a set of covers intended as a soundtrack of sorts for the book, the second is of originals and entitled Murphy Bed, set to come out sometime this year. Though he refers to it as a Joe Pernice record, many of the players of Pernice Brothers – including Bob, the actual other Pernice Brother – appear on it so maybe it’ll carry the oh-so-slightly more marketable band name on release. Who knows. All I do know is that Joe has been living in Toronto for over four years now, and hasn’t done a show of any sort here since July 2005. Would it kill you to throw your new home a bone, Joe? Geez. Oh, and the segue I mentioned above? This Pernice Brothers cover of the aforementioned Chameleons song which I posted as Cover Of The Week waaaaay back in 2004. But which I still love.
Cuff The Duke will play a free show at the Natrel Ice Rink down at Harbourfront this Saturday night, January 31, as part of CBC Radio 3’s live broadcast that evening. On the plus side, free show. On the down side, the waterfront is NOT really the place you want to be at night in the dead of Winter. Just saying.