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Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Happy As Can Be

Cut Off Your Hands and Boys Who Say No at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI don’t know what their official show count at SxSW was, but I think I managed to miss Cut Off Your Hands play no less than ten times in four days. This actually took some effort. And it wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to see them – you may recall I quite liked their debut You And I despite its more derivative qualities – but knowing that they’d be in Toronto just a week later, it was hard to justify missing another band who perhaps didn’t have T.O. in their travel plans to see one that was. And while I still think that was the smart thing to do, after their blistering set at the Horseshoe on Monday night, I can’t but help feeling a twinge of regret that I’ll have to wait who knows how long to see them again.

I’d missed most of the first band in the evening, an instrumental post-rock outfit called Siberia, but was there in plenty of time for the middle act, a local outfit with the somewhat unfortunate name of Boys Who Say No – unfortunate because it’s a bad name and they were quite a good band. I’d describe them as being a little bit folk and a little bit punk, but would never call them folk-punk. They had impressive chops channeled into creating a Maritime-ish good times party vibe that initially made me want to dismiss them – I like my music serious and profound, thank you very much – but by set’s end I was won over.

No such convincing was needed for Cut Off Your Hands. New Zealand’s first most popular post-punk-pop quartet came out firing on all cylinders, frontman Nick Johnston pogoing all over the stage, and didn’t let up for a moment of their compact but exhausting 40-minute set. Whereas the album took pains to include some gentler moments and show off the band’s sensitive side, live they were all about being turned up to 10 and staying at 10 until their tanks ran down to zero. And even though the record crackles with no small amount of energy, I was quite (and pleasantly) surprised by just how utterly gleeful and manic their performance was, particularly since they were able to execute the songs so perfectly and Johnston was able to avoid causing himself serious physical harm. Slower songs were made fast and fast songs made breakneck, but there was no compromising quality for energy, and that’s a hell of a thing to pull off. Excellence.

eye has both an interview with the band and a glowing show review while Chart also enjoyed themselves, just not quite as much.

Photos: Cut Off Your Hands, Boys Who Say No @ The Horseshoe – March 30, 2009
MP3: Cut Off Your Hands – “Turn Cold”
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Expectations” (version 1)
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Expectations” (version 2)
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Expectations” (version 3)
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “Oh Girl”
Video: Cut Off Your Hands – “You And I”
MySpace: Cut Off Your Hands

Cut Off Your Hands had been touring North America with Ra Ra Riot, but peeled off on their own for a few Canadian dates but will meet back up with them in New York City. Ra Ra Riot are here on Sunday opening up for Death Cab at the Sound Academy – they gave an interview to The National Post.

Scots 1990s, whose latest album Kicks was also helmed by Cut Off Your Hands producer Bernard Butler, have just announced a North American tour which brings them to the Horseshoe on June 3.

MP3: 1990s – “The Box”
Video: 1990s – “Animate”

Some samples from upcoming releases of note, starting with Superchunk! The first new ‘Chunk material in forever will be out on April 7 in the form of the Leaves In The Gutter EP and 20% of it sounds like this.

MP3: Superchunk – “Misfits & Mistakes”

Also out that day is the SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: THE COVERS! compilation, from which you can hear the ‘Chunk being covered by Les Savy Fav.

MP3: Les Savy Fav – “Precision Auto”

King Khan & The Shrines will release What Is?! on April 21 and play the Phoenix on May 12.

MP3: King Khan & The Shrines – “Land Of The Freak”

John Vanderslice will release his first album for new label Dead Oceans on May 19 in Romanian Names, and one of the songs sounds like this. The Hartford Courant and Express Night Out talk to the ‘Slice about his new record.

MP3: John Vanderslice – “Fetal Horses”

The Rumble Strips won’t release their second album Welcome To The Walk Alone until June 8 in the UK, but they’re sharing the first single from it, entitled “London”.

MP3: The Rumble Strips – “London”

Exclaim and Muzzle Of Bees have interviews with Hutch Harris of The Thermals. Their new album Now We Can See is out next Tuesday and they play The Horseshoe on May 3. Here’s another track from the record:

MP3: The Thermals – “When We Were Alive”

Blurt and The Dallas Observer talk to Tony Dekker of Great Lake Swimmers. They play the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 25.

Neil Young is streaming Fork In The Road on his MySpace in advance of its release next Tuesday.

Stream: Neil Young / Fork In The Road

Wireless Bollinger, Flagstaff Live and CMT talk to Justin Townes Earle, who plays the Horseshoe on April 22.

Bishop Allen’s Justin Rice talks inspiration with Spinner.

By : Frank Yang at 8:20 am
Category: Concert Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post7 Responses.
  1. Greg says:

    What about your review of The Soft Pack and Friendly Fires? Not concerned about White Lies due to them being trash.

  2. Frank Yang says:

    haha – that’s tomorrow. Am running a day behind cause of stuff piling up.

  3. Greg says:

    I see you got the quick trigger finger responding…. you must not be that busy hahaha

  4. Total Tunage says:

    Awesometastic- i missed the rumblestrip release, thanks!!

  5. David says:

    Nick Johnston reminded me of Kevin Barnes on stage, minus the over-the-top theatre props. They could really do amazing things at somewhere like The Mod Club.

  6. Patrick says:

    Another new Neil video on MySpace too

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.showvids&friendID=24111697&n=24111697&MyToken=aef61de7-5b5b-4802-ae2c-c2177c22c819

    Cough Up The Bucks

  7. Patanoia says:

    OK, there’s “homage” and there’s “blatant rip-off”, and that Cut Off Your Hands song “Turn Cold” proves them to be the Carlos Mencia of indie pop.