Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Happy As Can Be
Cut Off Your Hands and Boys Who Say No at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank 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.
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.
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.
King Khan & The Shrines will release What Is?! on April 21 and play the Phoenix on May 12.
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.
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”.
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:
Stream: Neil Young / Fork In The Road