Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
A Mountain Is A Mouth
Bruce Peninsula, Alex Lukashevsky and Snowblink at the Polish Combatants Hall in Toronto
Frank YangIf there’s an advantage to writing about the same band for the third time in the span of a month, it’s that rather than try and lay down some background, I can just point you here and here and voila – you’re up to speed. If there’s a disadvantage, it’s completely running out of things to say. But I’ll soldier on.
Sunday night was the long-awaited album release party for Bruce Peninsula’s debut A Mountain Is A Mouth and there was simply no better place to be than the Polish Combatants Hall, and that includes in front of a television watching the Academy Awards (though Hugh Jackman’s opening song and dance number was pretty awesome). The hall was decorated with all manner of fake foliage, giving the environs a sort of nature-themed senior prom feel, and filled rows of chairs to accommodate the sold-out house. Indeed, there was an unmistakable sense of occasion in the air.
Considering many of the Bruce Peninsulans do duty in other bands, it wasn’t surprising that one of them would be tapped to open things up – this time, it was recent addition Daniela Gesundheit and her band Snowblink. Although an almost completely unknown quantity to myself and everyone I asked, after seeing them play there’s little chance anyone will soon forget who they are. By means of instruments both conventional and not – I don’t know the last time I saw someone play glasses onstage – she and her shifting lineup of musical compatriots put on a performance that transformed the stage setup into nothing less than an enchanted, fairy tale forest. More descriptively, they crafted ethereal folk-pop that reminded of St Vincent with a dash of Feist, but were entirely their own thing. Utterly beguiling.
This gave middle act Alex Lukashevsky, he of Deep Dark United and writer of the songs on Final Fantasy’s recent Plays To Please EP, a tough act to follow and at least as far as showing me something I’d never seen before, he succeeded. Lukashevsky himself didn’t do anything especially unusual, delivering rough-hewn folk-blues songs via acoustic guitar, but with his two bandmates providing almost orchestral accompaniment with just jazz vocal lines, they took on a theatrical aspect that was certainly unique. I don’t know that I’d find Lukashevsky’s unadorned solo work all that compelling, but definitely enjoyed the live performance.
There’s not a lot I can say about Bruce Peninsula live that I haven’t said before. This show wasn’t necessarily a better performance than any of the others I’ve seen them give – this is not a slight, as all their shows have been pretty incredible – but as mentioned earlier, the context of the night made it extra special. It was a celebration of friends and family, of fans gained by fervent word of mouth, of a band with a sound that manages to be fresh and distinctive while also feeling as old as the earth itself and of a record that implausibly manages to capture it. And with all that going around, it’s no surprise that the band was extra boisterous as they hollered like wild men and sang like angels through pretty much their entire repertoire, welcoming back departed members to join in one more time and filling their spectral songs with joy and life. A remarkable evening.
NPR is currently streaming the whole of Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone for the week leading up to its release next Tuesday. Her show in Amsterdam this past Sunday was supposed to be streamed live on FabChannel but had to be cancelled due to illness. It’ll be made up this Summer. Neko plays two sold-out shows at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.
Stream: Neko Case / Middle Cyclone
The little digital music store that could – Zunior.com – is celebrating its fifth anniversary as the finest online shop for Canadian music this year, and are celebrating with a party. Thick Specs has details on the show which will take over the Tranzac on June 27 and feature performances from Forest City Lovers and The Violet Archers, among many others. Tickets are $10 and on sale now at Zunior (duh) and advance purchases come with an MP3 compilation of rarities from the artists playing the show. And if you didn’t know, they offer free weekly MP3 mixes via the widget dealie over there on the right. Go get. And check out some recent interviews with Forest City Lovers at The Charlatan and The Silhouette.
People will be digging out their threadbare Pretty Hate Machine and Ritual de lo Habitual t-shirts and pretending it’s 1990 again when the Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction tour rolls (creaks?) into the Molson Amphitheare on June 23. Full dates at The Music Slut.