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Monday, June 6th, 2011

Wich Is Wich

Jonny and Apex Manor at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWhat’s in a name? If you were at The Drake Underground on Friday or Saturday nights, possibly a lot. Over those two nights the marquee outside the front doors read Jonny and Apex Manor, as the two acts were kicking off their North American tour with a two-night stand in Toronto, but had the top billing read Teenage Fanclub and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – as Jonny is the collaboration of those two bands’ Norman Blake and Euros Childs – then maybe there’d have been a little less elbow room for those who were in the know enough to show up.

The identity issue might have also applied to the support, as Apex Manor is the new band of Ross Flournoy, who used to front Los Angeles power pop outfit The Broken West, who once upon a time were called The Brokedown. Got that? Good. Though advance listings had stated that this show would feature Apex Manor as an acoustic duo – presumably Flournoy and bassist Brian Whelan, also from The Broken West – but when things got underway it was just Flournoy, his Martin acoustic and a brace of songs drawn mostly from Apex Manor’s debut The Year Of Magical Drinking. And though the stripped-down nature of the set necessarily diminished the “power” half of the equation, the “pop” of things was still very much in effect thanks to the sophisticated hookiness of the material. It was good to be reminded of how good a band The Broken West were – particularly when Flournoy busted out their song “Down In The Valley” – and satisfying to see that carried over into their new incarnation.

No one would accuse Jonny of being an overly serious side-project, but assuming that Childs and Blake – the former with a couple of keyboards to go with his acoustic guitar and the latter handling guitar, drum machine and laptop duties – would treat it as a joke would have been a mistake. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate; there were plenty of jokes as the duo bantered back and forth in a manner worthy of a seasoned stand-up duo, their ultimately aborted attempt to cover the Saxons’ “It Ain’t Right” was more comedy sketch than musical performance and there were running gags of a sort with Childs’ collapsing homemade keyboard stands and Blake’s orchestration of the drum machine, but with the talents on hand, even the silliest songs were immaculately executed.

Considering the Jonny album barely clocks in at 40 minutes, their set was considerably longer than you might have expected. Of course some of that was for the aforementioned between-song back-and-forth, but they also included a number of non-album songs and made what could have been a brief-ish affair not only feel like a full and proper set, but one that reinforced Jonny as its own entity, separate and distinct from the resumes of the two artists who made the band up. Not so much, however, that one of the biggest highlights of the show was the encore wherein each of them busted out a couple of the former/other bands’ tunes. Jonny was charming and all, but hearing “I Don’t Want Control Of You” and “Spanish Dance Troupe” was the guaranteed way to close the night on the highest possible note.

Photos: Jonny, Apex Manor @ The Drake Underground – June 4, 2011
MP3: Jonny – “Candyfloss”
MP3: Jonny – “Gloria”
MP3: Apex Manor – “Under The Gun”
Video: Jonny – “You Was Me”
Video: Jonny – “Candyfloss”
Video: Apex Manor – “My My Mind”
ZIP: Jonny / Free

With reunions must come reissues, and so Pitchfork reports that Pulp’s first three albums – It, Freaks and Separations – will be reissued with bonus material come August 8.

The Independent finds out Elbow frontman Guy Garvey’s secrets to staying grounded while The Sydney Morning Herald chats with guitarist Mark Potter.

Emmy The Great offers a guide to staying virtuous to Clash. Her new album Virtue is out next week.

Exclaim and Metro interview James Blake, in town at The Phoenix on September 30.

Gruff Rhys has released a new video from Hotel Shampoo, just in time to wrap up the North American tour that hits The Horseshoe on June 11.

Video: Gruff Rhys – “Honey All Over”

TapeDek gets The Vaccines to indulge in some old-school Britpop trash talk. The National Post also has a chat.

Clash interviews Ladytron, whose new album Gravity The Seducer arrives September 13.

Beatroute interviews The Raveonettes.

Billboard has got a live video session from Peter Bjorn & John, while Metro, The Province and OC Weekly have interviews. They play Lee’s Palace on September 2 and 3.

aux.tv talks to The Naked & Famous, in town at Lee’s Palace on August 9.

Austin’s Ume have finally announced details of their new long-player; The AV Club has all the details but the key information is that it will be called Phantoms, be released on August 30 and the band will be in town on June 15 at the Drake Underground as part of NXNE. This is not a song from the new record but a good reminder of why they’re a band worth getting excited about.

MP3: Ume – “The Conductor”

The War On Drugs, last seen hereabouts opening up for Destroyer back in April will be back on August 24 at a venue to be named in support of their new record Slave Ambient, out August 16. Pitchfork has full dates and check out the Springsteen-ish first MP3 below.

MP3: The War On Drugs – “Baby Missiles”

Peter Hook brings his new band the Light and their rather questionable re-production of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures to The Phoenix on September 24. “Atmosphere” isn’t from Unknown Pleasures but this video should give you an idea of how they’re doing it. The Spectator has an interview with Hook.

Video: Peter Hook & The Light featuring Rowetta – “Atmosphere”

Once again announcing a new show before their last one has actually happened yet, Foster The People will be at The Sound Academy on October 1, tickets $23.50. More immediately, they’re at The Mod Club on June 18 but that’s sold out.

MP3: Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”

Officially back from Europe/vacation, and let me tell you I am thrilled about it. THRILLED.

By : Frank Yang at 8:25 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post2 Responses.
  1. Bruce says:

    Thanks again for being a Jonny enabler. The Friday night show went much like the Saturday, if your review is any indication, although I’d hope that you got more than the 15-20 strong audience that we had! But clearly Norman and Euros didn’t let that deter them from delivering. The banter, false starts and keyboard-stand hijinks seemed to have been consistent over the two shows, as were the choice of Fanclub/Gorky’s covers at the end of the night. In addition to the Saxons’ tune we also got “Chords of Fame” by Phil Ochs from the Thirteen bonus tracks. An odd but enjoyable and delightfully intimate performance!

  2. tyler says:

    I think the ticket price might have deterred people (I know of a few!). I know the Drake is hip and all, but really…it WASN’T a Teenage Fanclub show, or even Gorky’s.