Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Change Of Heart
El Perro Del Mar and Taken By Trees at The Mod Club in Toronto
Frank YangThere’d been some underlying confusion surrounding Sunday night’s show at the Mod Club since it was announced. First it was El Perro Del Mar. Then it was El Perro Del Mar and Anna Ternheim. Then it was El Perro Del Mar, Taken By Trees and Anna Ternheim. Then it was El Perro Del Mar and Taken By Trees. Then it was Taken By Trees and El Perro Del Mar, on account of their alternating closer, co-headliner arrangement. An arrangement that got turned around somewhere mid-tour and so by the time it was all said and done, it was Taken By Trees opening and El Perro Del Mar closing. And about as much reason as one would ever need to be sure to arrive at the venue on time, though I’d like to think that anyone attending this show would have the good sense to want to see both acts regardless of order.
I’d always felt that the greatest strength of The Concretes was how Victoria Bergsman’s sleepy vocals contrasted with the big pop arrangements underneath. Since going solo as Taken By Trees, contrast has been exchanged for compliment, as the gently orchestrated folk accompaniments of her new project mesh perfectly with her voice. Open Field had very much the sort of pastoral aesthetic you’d expect a voice like Bergsman’s to wrap itself in, but she mixed that recipe up a bit on her latest record, East Of Eden, which sounds very much a product of being recorded in Pakistan without being overwhelmingly so.
Though still quite demure, Bergsman seemed in much better spirits than her last visit to Toronto on the final Concretes tour in May 2006 – she visited Montreal once circa Open Field but for whatever reason didn’t make the trip down the highway. Thanks to the backlighting and smoky incense haze, she appeared more silhouette than anything, but what you weren’t able to see was more than made up for by what you heard. With the help of a terrific backing band, she was able to forge the airy folk-pop of her debut with the eastern influences of her latest into a strong and distinctive sound, with a welcome emphasis on the rhythmic elements of her songs. In fact, I liked Taken By Trees considerably more live than on record; the extra oomph served her well. Now if only we could get her to allow some light on her face, we’d be cooking with gas.
Henceforth, I swear to no longer describe El Perro Del Mar as “sad”. Despite the persona that comes across on her records, the Sarah Assbring that danced onstage to “Let Me In” from her latest record Love Is Not Pop was no melancholic moper. Sharing a band with Taken By Trees meant that Assbring only needed to strap on the guitar for a few numbers and spent the rest dancing and generally putting on the sort of show that I would not have expected.
The set drew mainly from the new record, which to be fair, does expand El Perro Del Mar’s sound well beyond the ’50s doo-wop that underpinned her first two records. Live, her sound was transformed further as the shimmering guitarwork and solid, danceable basslines gave everything a distinctively ’80s 4AD-ish sheen that really suited her. And considering one of her set’s highlights was an unexpected cover of The xx’s “Shelter” – done faithfully yet still sounding every bit like El Perro Del Mar – perhaps that’s a direction she’ll be moving further in in the future. Either way, it does seem certain she’ll be moving. And swaying. And dancing.
Chicagoist has an interview with Victoria Bergsman and Pitchfork has some audience video of El Perro Del Mar’s xx cover from the New York show. Panic Manual, Chart, Exclaim and It’s Not The Band I Hate It’s Their Fans also have reviews of the Toronto show.
Photos: El Perro Del Mar, Taken By Trees @ The Mod Club – February 21, 2010
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart” (Rakamonie Remix)
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Glory To The World”
MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Anna”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Watch The Waves”
MP3: Taken By Trees – “Lost & Found”
Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”
Video: El Perro Del Mar – “Glory To The World”
Video: El Perro Del Mar – “God Knows (You Gotta Give To Get)”
Video: Taken By Trees – “My Boys”
Video: Taken By Trees – “Lost And Found”
MySpace: El Perro Del Mar
MySpace: Taken By Trees
Spinner talks to Serena-Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen about his distaste for music prizes and showcase festivals. Not that that’s stopping him from playing a showcase festival in Texas next month. Their new album S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor is out March 23 and they play The Great Hall on April 2.
Some other Norwegians coming to town – a-Ha will be at Massey Hall on May 11 as part of their farewell tour. I’ll have you know I listened to these guys a lot back in the day, and their first three records were pretty damn good. Much more than just “Take On Me”. Though that’s still a great tune. As is this one. Seriously thinking about going to this, though I don’t know if it’s quite how I want to spend my 35th birthday.
Lucky Soul are giving away the title track from their new album A Coming Of Age in exchange for your email – believe me, it’s a deal and a half. The album is out on April
5 19 and is, no word of lie or exaggeration, awesome.
Barely six months after bringing their orchestral Ocean Rain to Toronto, Echo & The Bunnymen will return on April 23 for a show at the Phoenix. Presumably the only strings in play this time will be the ones on their guitars.
Music Snobbery interviews The Joy Formidable, who are putting the finishing touches on their debut full-length album and starting to book some North American dates for May – just NYC and the Truck Festival so far, but fingers crossed.
Frightened Rabbit are gearing up for the March 9 release of The Winter Of Mixed Drinks with a second video for new single “Nothing Like You” and a full steam of the new album on their MySpace. Scott Hutchison also talks to Tour Dates UK. The band are at The Opera House on May 4.
Spinner reports that The Twilight Sad have replaced the low end supplied by recently departed bassist Craig Orzel. the new lineup will be in action for their upcoming North American tour which stops in at Lee’s Palace on May 26.