Monday, November 29th, 2010
The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangThursday night’s bill at The Horseshoe was both a repeat and an inversion of a show at The Garrison last October – that show was an introduction of sorts for the newly-buzzy Toronto folk outfit The Wilderness Of Manitoba and a final show for a while from London, Ontario’s Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, who were coming off an extended tour and were turning their attention towards a new album. Thirteen months later, The Wilderness had converted their buzz into some genuine success on the back of their debut album When You Left The Fire while Olenka and company just released their new record And Now We Sing, which I was most eager to get my hands on.
And all I’ll say about the record for the moment is that it’s really good, and that I will hopefully offer more thoughts on it in the future. It melds folk, country and pop with a touch of rock while sounding equally old world and new; not a description that necessarily makes it sound particularly unique, but Olenka Krakus’ distinctive, dusky voice goes a long way in establishing their personality. It was that voice that would carry her opening set this evening as she was playing without the Autumn Lovers and while members of The Wilderness sat in for a few numbers adding harmonies and atmosphere, I missed their string, horn and percussion contributions. That said, there was no denying that the solo configuration allowed the plaintiveness of her songs to come across even stronger and made for an affecting set of material new and old and including a cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen”.
Montreal’s Leif Vollebekk drew the middle spot on the evening’s dance card and in contrast to Olenka, the usually-solo performer opted to bring a rhythm section along for this performance. Stylistically, he owes more than a little to mid-’70s Dylan – a fact he acknowledged with a cover from Blood On The Tracks – what with his penchant for conversational melodies that seem almost ad-libbed. This fit well with his rather random on-stage persona, and so while what he did wasn’t especially original – the one left turn was a looped and layered version of Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues” that ended up sounding like Vollebekk’s own stuff – it was delivered with enough style to be entertaining.
If I have a complaint with Wilderness’ When You Left The Fire, it’s that it’s too successful at creating an immersive, consistent mood. If you’re are craving what they do, then their gentle, prettily drifting, harmony-laden folk can be like manna, but if you’re not in the mood then it doesn’t have quite enough to keep one’s interest. Happily, in a live setting they don’t try to recreate the campfire ambiance of the record, balancing out the ethereal with earthiness and offering enough added energy and dynamics to make the performance engaging, no matter what your mood. With most every member rotating through a selection of instruments throughout the show, they ran through an hour-long set of material from Fire and their debut EP/mini-album Hymns Of Love And Spirits that managed to rouse and sooth, though seemingly more the former for some of the more excitable of the couple hundred people in attendance. I didn’t get the same jolt out of the show as they did, but still appreciated seeing one of the city’s up and coming acts continuing to take considerable strides forward.
NOW has an interview with The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Ottawa XPress talks to Leif Vollebekk while CJLO has audio and video from a radio session featuring he and Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon and Southern Souls has posted a video session with Olenka recorded across the street from the ‘Shoe the night of the show.
Photos: The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk, Olenka & The Autumn Lovers @ The Horseshoe – November 25, 2010
MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”
MP3: Leif Vollebekk – “Northernmost Eva Maria”
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Odessa”
Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “November”
MySpace: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers
In advance of their two sold-out shows at Lee’s Palace in support of the re-release of Shakespeare My Butt… on December 3 and 4, The Lowest Of The Low will be playing an in-store across the street at Sonic Boom on December 4 at 3PM. CTV has an interview with frontmen Ron Hawkins and Steve Stanley while Chart recounts the band’s history and importance.
More details on that upcoming December 16 Memoryhouse show at the Twist Gallery, reported on a little while ago, have come out – they’ll be headlining an evening called “Wintergaze” which will feature a lineup of the city’s finest dream-pop purveyors. In addition to the Guelph duo, there will be sets from Foxes In Fiction, Volcano Playground, Ostrich Tuning and Heartbeat Hotel (introduced back in July). Tickets are $10 in advance. And incidentally, Memoryhouse just released a new video.
The Wolf Parade fansite has confirmed, via Dan Boeckner, that the rumours of Wolf Parade’s impending indefinite hiatus are true. Aside from a few live commitments next year, the band have no plans to reconvene or record a fourth album anytime soon. Fans will have to make do with one of their 4000 side projects, some of which they detail to Spinner.
The Toronto Star talks to Peter Moore about recording the Neil Young and Sadies cover of “This Wheel’s On Fire”, from the just-released Garth Hudson Presents A Canadian Celebration Of The Band.