Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Intro To Season
Review of Ohbijou's Beacons and giveaway
Jess BaumungThere’s many reasons to be thankful that Beacons, the sophomore effort from Toronto’s Ohbijou, has finally arrived. Twelve at least, but for me there’s also the fact that two and a half years after first discovering the act at the very first V Fest, it gives me something new to talk about as I’ve completely run out of things to say about them with respect to their debut record, Swift Feet For Troubling Times.
If Swift Feet was the aural equivalent of a walk through the woods on a crisp and silent Winter’s day, Casey Mecija’s voice and the band’s bedroom chamber-pop orchestrations keeping your head warm like the furry lining of a parka, then Beacons continues that walk through the city on the cusp of Spring. It’s not concerned with the bright lights and hustle and bustle of downtown, but the side streets where real life happens and a thousand individual stories unfold behind closed doors. And it’s these intimate tales that populate Mecija’s songs, impressionist in rendering yet exquisitely detailed and lifted up by a band that’s infinitely more confident this time out. Whereas Swift Feet was happy to keep things consistently cozy, Beacons embraces Ohbijou’s more extroverted side, which frequently bubbled up and over in their live show. Songs like “Make It Gold” and “Black Ice” build and swell to crescendos that might have been jarring on Swift Feet but feel not only natural, but necessary on Beacons – the sense of renewal and potential that permeates the album demands action. Sweeping, musical action.
If Beacons had come out on its original mid-April release date, it would have been a wonderful record for Spring. But the business of signing of record deals both at home and abroad necessitated its
delay – it was released in the UK last week via Bella Union and Last Gang is putting it out in Canada next Tuesday, June 16, and in the US on June 23 – so it will simply have to settle for being a wonderful record.
Ohbijou will play a hometown record release show at the Opera House on June 25, and courtesy of LiveNationa, Last Gang and the band, I’ve got three terrific prize packs to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show, a copy of the album on CD and an Ohbijou t-shirt. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to Ohbijou” in the subject line and your full name, mailing address and t-shirt size in the body. Contest open to local-type folk and will close at midnight, June 20. And if you can’t make the show for whatever reason, take heart – the band have announced that they will play an in-store at Soundscapes on June 17 at 7PM and Casey Mecija will play a set accompanied by Evening Hymns at the Whipper Snapper Gallery on June 20 at 9PM as part of NxNE.
The recent revival of interest in the life and times of Royal City may center on the Royal City compilation of rarities due out June 23, but in the band’s former home base of southern Ontario, at least, that’s not the end of it. Exclaim has details on a pair of tribute shows dubbed “Burning Torch: A Tribute to Royal City” taking place at the Ebar in Guelph on June 24 and at the Tranzac in Toronto on June 26. Performers will include Gentleman Reg, The Wooden Sky’s Gavin Gardiner, Constantines side-project Woolly Leaves and former Royal City skinman Nathan Lawr.
It’s not much secret I’m an unrepentant Anglophile (I was actually repentant for a few years in the early part of this century but I got over that) so it’s good that UK music blog The Line Of Best Fit is balancing out the cross-Atlantic karmic balance with their Canuckophilia, manifested in their new column Oh! Canada, where they gush about new Canadian talent from a British perspective, and they’re taking it one further but compiling all-Canadian downloadable mixes, the first of which also contains another Beacons track from Ohbijou.
Secret Sessions is a new series coming to the online music portal aux.tv and they’ve just begun filming the first batch of episodes at The Audio Recording Academy in Toronto and will run through the Summer – upcoming tapings will feature Great Bloomers and Oh No Forest Fires, amongst others. Admission to the tapings is free, just RSVP via the information on their website.
And another new show coming to aux.tv is City Sonic, a series dedicated to interviewing Toronto artists such as Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt, Sarah Slean and Sebastien Grainger about the rooms and venues in the city that shaped their careers. A preview of some of the episodes will be taking place at the Drake on June 17 as part of NxNE, along with performances from Woodhands, Lioness and The D’Urbervilles.