Monday, June 6th, 2011
Wich Is Wich
Jonny and Apex Manor at The Drake Underground in Toronto
Frank 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Officially back from Europe/vacation, and let me tell you I am thrilled about it. THRILLED.