Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Found Love In A Graveyard
Veronica Falls, Army Girls and Persian Rugs at The Shop at Parts & Labour in Toronto
Frank YangIf you have a look over the last couple weeks of posts, you may notice that I’ve been to a number of shows lately; certainly the busiest stretch in some months. So when I say that to get me out of the house for a late Sunday night show on the other side of town would require something pretty dang special, I mean it. Fortunately or unfortunately, I’m not sure which, The Shop at Parts & Labour was hosting just that.
I’d have probably gone if it was just Veronica Falls on the bill. Their debut album, also called Veronica Falls, has been in very heavy rotation hereabouts since its release a couple of weeks ago. Now I knew from seeing them at SXSW that I would like the record – by blending the lyrical and musical darkness of The Velvet Underground with the irresistible melodicism of ’60s girl-group pop and C86 charm, how could I not? – but the sheer addictiveness of the record still took me by surprise. The songwriting is top-notch, the performances scrappy in all the right places but still boast note-perfect harmonies from Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare and runs the exact right length to want to hit repeat on as soon as it ends. If you’re in a certain mood, it’s just about a perfect record. So yeah, when I heard they had added their own show to an off-day whilst on tour in support of The Drums, I pretty much had to be there, school nights be damned.
So yes, the headliners were the draw but the local support was more than gravy. Okay, I didn’t know who Persian Rugs were at first, but when they got up to play and were revealed to be three-fifths of The Airfields – whom I can only assume are either defunct or deeply in mothballs right now – then I figured I knew what I should expect. And yes, the songs led by guitarist Ian Jackson didn’t fall far from the jangly indie-pop sound that made The Airfields a treat, even though he wasn’t the principal songwriter, but it was keyboardist Kaye Hamilton’s songs that really made you take notice. More classically-styled pop and certainly less specific in influence, her songs had sophistication and verve and while the band is clearly still finding its voice, it could well be one worth hearing in the near future.
That’s approximately what I’ve been saying about Carmen Elle over the last few years based on shows in 2006 and last year, and if that sounds like a long time for an artist to develop, note that at that first show she was just 17 and already clearly prodigiously talented. Now, at 22 and fronting the two-piece Army Girls, she’s arrived. On both their debut EP Close To The Bone and live, Army Girls impressed with a lean and incisive guitar-and-drum attack that showcased Elle’s balance of attitude and tunefulness. What I’m most reminded of is the earliest incarnations of Land Of Talk and their urgent, aching rawness and folks, that’s a great thing. Already so assured in what they’re doing, I’m sure the day will come wherein their recipe calls for more – more production, more players, more whatever – and what ensues will probably be wonderful. But for now, just getting started, let us enjoy the moment of being on the cusp of great things and hope they don’t grow up too too fast.
Not that emerging fully-formed on your debut is a bad thing; see my earlier notes on Veronica Falls’ debut album. That degree of polish extended to their live show and even though the basement of Parts & Labour is decidedly less fancy than the stages they’d been playing with The Drums, they still sounded great, taking the opportunity to stretch out beyond their standard opening set and throwing in some new songs and a cover of Roky Erickson’s “Starry Eyes”. It took a few songs to get the mix right but they performed with the perfect balance of cool aloofness and earnest appreciation for the few dozen people who’d come out. It certainly wasn’t enough to fill the place, but was still enough to justify the show and many in attendance had copies of the LP in hand, so there was also that. One hopes that the response on this tour is strong enough to encourage a return, headlining tour because if it doesn’t, well the issue is clearly with us because it’s certainly not with them. They’re simply grand.
Photos: Veronica Falls, Army Girls @ The Shop at Parts & Labour – October 2, 2011
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
MP3: Persian Rugs – “Always All”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Bad Feeling”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Beachy Head”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Stream: Army Girls / Close To The Bone
The first video from Florence & The Machine’s forthcoming Ceremonials is now out. The album will be released on November 1.
It’s release day for Feist’s new record Metals! Hence the full slate of features at The Toronto Star, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Winnipeg Free Press, Toronto Sun, and The Wall Street Journal. She’s at Massey Hall on December 1.
It looks like the complete, first video from Coeur de Pirate’s forthcoming Blonde is out. The record itself comes out November 8 and she plays The Mod Club on November 11.
Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Adieu”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Niagara”
The Line Of Best Fit has posted their eighteenth “Oh! Canada” download compilation for you to download, share and enjoy. So go download, share and enjoy.
And finally, all the whining about the Bon Iver show at The Sound Academy in August – even though it was completely and utterly sold out – appears to have paid off because everyone’s favourite sensitive autotuned falsetto has scheduled a return engagement for December 6 in the infinitely more appropriate environs of Massey Hall. Tickets are $44.50 to $49.50 plus fees and the presale begins on Wednesday at 10AM; hit up collectiveconcerts.com at 10PM tonight for the link and password, and if you strike out on getting seats, the public onsale is Saturday morning.