Tuesday, March 16th, 2010
Canadian Musicfest 2010 Day Three
The Brother Kite and Kill The Lights at Canadian Musicfest
Frank YangThe Saturday night of Canadian Musicfest featured a considerable shift in musical gears, starting out with the gentle, harp-led orchestrations of Joanna Newsom at the Phoenix – not a CMF show and which will be written up tomorrow – and ending with some big, loud guitar rock at Rancho Relaxo. Who says I don’t have varied tastes?
An expedient streetcar and longer-than-expected set meant that I was able to catch a couple songs from Montreal’s Kill The Lights. It almost seems wrong to say I’d seen them before, as June 2006 seems like a lifetime ago and the band has undergone changes in the interim, most notably losing co-lead singer Steph Hanna sometime in the past few years (I haven’t been keeping up). That said, Kill The Lights circa 2010 didn’t sound too different from what I remembered; their collective music collection clearly overlapped with mine in and around the drone-rock/shoegazer end of things, but they took their influences in a decidedly more extroverted if somewhat anonymous direction. Spending some time with last year’s Fog Area revealed more nuance than was particularly detectable live – they like it loud – and some more personality. The best moments sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with a more electronic sheen and a bit more jump in their step; the rest is just kind of forgettable.
I’d seen Providence, Rhode Island’s The Brother Kite in Austin, New York City and Montreal but never Toronto, even though I was the one who put together the show for their last visit here back in Fall of 2007 (I was still at Pop Montreal when they played Tiger Bar). It’s not that I was following them around, necessarily, it’s simply that our paths crossed at various festivals and why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to see the band who put out one of my favourite records of the past decade in 2006’s Waiting For The Time To Be Right any chance I got? But that they were here again and playing just down the street from home was extra sweet. No airfare required!
Not surprisingly, their set drew a fair bit from their new record Isolation, wholly in the can but still in search a loving home to release it into the world. Though the new material takes a leaner, more spacious approach than the Ride-meets-Beach Boys lushness that made Time such a joy, it’s still immediate and wonderful – what does it say about a band that they can step away from a winning formula and still impress almost as much? It was great to hear new material from them and the contrast it provided to the older material, with its soaring guitars and melodies, made the familiar songs sound even more majestic. It remains a crime that a band this good remains so unknown and underappreciated, but I did take some satisfaction as looking at some of the impressed faces around the room and knowing that they were at least now that much better-known and appreciated.
A few tracks from Isolation (as well as their other two albums) are available to stream at their website.
Spinner, Owl & Bear and SxSW profile Slow Club, one of my must-see acts for SxSW this week. They’re playing Eastbound & Found on Thursday at 3:15PM (and other days/places but let them plug their own shows).
The Guardian profiles Laura Marling, whose new album I Speak Because I Can is streaming in its entirety over at The Times, a week before its March 23 UK release and three weeks before it comes out in North America on April 6.
The Futureheads’ new album The Chaos will be getting a North American release on June 1.
Nota bene: Florence & The Machine’s April 10 show at the Phoenix has been moved to the Kool Haus. Original tickets still valid for the new venue and 1000 or so more tickets are now available.
Rock rules at the Mod Club on April 28 as Band Of Skulls and The Whigs roll into town. The Whigs released their new record In The Dark today; stream it over at Spinner, who also have an interview with Band Of Skulls.
And what, you may ask, could possibly prompt me to miss Frightened Rabbit’s second Toronto show in a row? Well, the fact that Welsh trio The Joy Formidable, one of my top new discoveries of the past year or so, will be playing at the Horseshoe that same evening – May 4 – as part of Nu Music Nites (read: free). Now I love me some Frightened Rabbit, but I’ll be seeing them this week at SxSW and they will be back. I would like to believe that the world will discover how excellent The Joy Formidable are and they, too, will be touring the world regularly but… just in case, I’m going to this show. And if you’re not at Frabbits, you should too. The Alternate Side has an interview and video session with the band. Their debut mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning is due for a North American release in March or April and their as-yet untitled first full-length is due out in June.