Monday, May 24th, 2010
Sleep On Fire
Holly Miranda and Braids at The El Mocambo in Toronto
Frank YangI’ve already document thoughts in this space about Holly Miranda on record – specifically her debut The Magician’s Private Library – and Holly Miranda live – specifically one of her day shows at SxSW – so I’m a bit short on lead-in thoughts to her show at the El Mocambo in Toronto this past Thursday; her second solo appearance but first headlining.
I do, however, have some thoughts on Montreal’s Braids, who were supporting her on a handful of dates and who have been getting some modest buzz; buzz which played a fairly large part in getting me off the fence about going to the show (on the side of going, if that wasn’t clear). And from the very limited samples they’ve posted on their MySpace – “Lemonade” and “Liver & Tan” – they certainly sound like they’d be worthy of note. Both are fine balancing acts between aural experimentation and pop smarts, where complex vocal and guitar arrangements still resolve into hooks and however far they meander, they don’t lose sight of the melody, and if these songs – which I believe bookended their set – were representative of everything in between, then I’d happily be adding my voice to the chorus of praise. Unfortunately, much of what else went on sounded like the above description but without the pop element – there was plenty of impressive musicianship and four-part vocal chorals, but little in the way of structure. It’s worth noting, however, that I am anything but a card-carrying member of the Dirty Bear Collective into which the Braids aesthetic seems to fall quite squarely, so it’s possible/probable that I just don’t like or get what they’re about. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that there was enough there that I found appealing that the rest of it felt like a disappointment.
There was no such disappointment from the headliner, though it helped that I had a good idea of what to expect. Miranda was touring as the same four-piece that had been in Austin in March, which meant that the leaner and punchier version of The Magician’s Private Library would be in effect. With a low-key but magnetic stage presence, Miranda appeared appreciative of the decent turnout on the eve of a long weekend but obviously preferred to let the music speak for her. Library did a good job of capturing the dreamier side of Miranda’s songs and vocals, but those familiar with her works beyond just the record know that she’s got a grittier, earthier aspect to her that’s just as potent if not more. This was particularly evident in her show-stopping cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and main set-closing new song that called for equal rights first with yearning vocals, and then a raging guitar break. If Library was intended to capture the feeling of being asleep and dreaming, then the new material seems very much wide awake – most certainly a good thing.
NOW and Faster Louder have interviews with Holly Miranda. Braids’ debut full-length will be entitled Native Speaker and is due out in the Fall. They’re currently on a Canadian tour that includes another Toronto date at The Piston on May 29 as part of this year’s Pitter Patter Music Fest.
Land Of Talk have announced their second full-length album will be entitled Cloak & Cipher and be released on August 24. Aux.tv talked to Liz Powell a little while ago about making the record with producer Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes.
With their new record Barbara due out June 15, We Are Scientists will be hitting the road this Summer including a date at the Horseshoe on July 19, advance tickets $15. TwentyFourBit has an interview with the band, who are also blogging over at The Guardian.
Much to the delight of people who hate Dave Matthews – which is to say everyone – The Felice Brothers have scheduled their own Toronto show for July 27 at the Horseshoe, following their June 1 date supporting DMB at the Molson Amphitheatre. Tickets for the show are $15. Simone Felice is also appearing solo at NXNE, with a show at the Great Hall on June 18.