Thursday, February 16th, 2012
All Eyes On You
Veronica Falls, Brilliant Colors and Hands & Teeth at The Garrison in Toronto
Frank YangJust so we’re clear, I am not stalking Veronica Falls. It’s pure coincidence that I’ve seen the London-based band three times in the past year in three different countries – America, Canada, and Iceland – on two different continents. Really. Okay, it’s not as though I was running into them on the street while they were playing – their self-titled debut was one of my favourites of last year (and barely missed my year-end list) so when the opportunity to see them live has presented itself, I’ve taken it. And when a fourth chance came around as it did on Tuesday night at The Garrison, I also took that.
It also gave me the opportunity to see what local outfit Hands & Teeth were about, what with them garnering a fair bit of attention hereabouts for their just released their debut full-length Hunting Season. That the five-piece were talented and had no shortage of ideas was unquestionable but like many young bands with a surplus of talent and ideas, it felt like they hadn’t quite figured out how to manage it all. Their sound was a solid balance of pop and prog but came across as busy as it was catchy. Having four capable lead vocalists made for some exquisite harmonies but also made their overall personality hard to pin down. Similarly, the instrument swapping seemed showy and unnecessary; rather than trying so hard to demonstrate that they’re good, they’d be better off simply being good. Because despite all this, they clearly were.
No one should have had to be told that San Francisco’s Brilliant Colors were Veronica Falls’ labelmates on Slumberland; the quartet rather embodied the label’s aesthetic of scrappy, lo-fi American ’80s indie pop with a dash of New Zealand/Flying Nun thrown in for good measure. They had to fight through an inordinate number of sound issues for such a simple, straight-ahead band (two guitars, bass, drums, one vocal) but eventually got sorted enough to get through their set, which had decent energy if not a lot of charisma and included a cover of The Who’s “So Sad About Us” as well as material from their latest Again & Again. As familiar-sounding as their material was, it wasn’t the most memorable but if you had that vintage of indie pop in your veins, there was no way it wouldn’t resonate at least a little.
It was nice to considerably more people out to see Veronica Falls this time out than that gathered in the basement at Parts & Labour last October – even with it being Valentine’s Day – and the band were dressed for the occasion with guitarist/vocalists Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare and drummer Patrick Doyle all done up in matching red-and-white striped shirts; bassist Marion Herbain might have had the same on under her sweater, I couldn’t tell. Not that any of that really mattered, it was just a fun detail. What did matter was that they came to play, powering through their set of darkly-hued, C86-vintage pop with punk rock efficiency – the dozen-song set, which included a few new tunes, plus one-song encore of undetermined cover was over in just 35 minutes.
As with past performances, Doyle again reaffirmed his position as the band’s secret weapon keeping super-tight time with his stripped-down, mostly cymbal-less kit, all while contributing backing vocals but unlike past performances, Clifford and Hoare weren’t as tight as they typically were. It was actually a bit funny to hear their vocals completely out of sync for the opening verse of “Wedding Day”, though they got it together once Doyle came in with the beat – we’ll blame that on persistent stage sound issues. So while technically less than perfect, the band still seemed to have a good time – Clifford was dancier onstage than I’d seen her – and no one was complaining; we’ll still call it a pretty good Valentine’s Day.
Photos: Veronica Falls, Brilliant Colors, Hands & Teeth @ The Garrison – February 14, 2012
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
MP3: Brilliant Colors – “How Much Younger”
MP3: Brilliant Colors – “Value Lines”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Bad Feeling”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Beachy Head”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “‘Round Your Way”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “How Much Younger”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “Hey Dan”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “Highly Evolved”
Video: Brilliant Colors – “English Cities”
Stream: Hands & Teeth / Hunting Season
Video: Blood Orange – “Forget It”
I don’t know what Mulberry is, but they deserve props for getting Summer Camp and Big Deal to record videos of them covering Fleetwood Mac and The Jesus & Mary Chain, respectively, for some Valentine’s Day campaign.
Artrocker reports that The Futureheads’ next album will be completely a capella, entitled Rant and out April 2. It will consist of instrument-less reworkings of some of their songs and covers of others; I’m particularly keen to hear their cover of Richard Thompson’s “Beeswing”. But for now, we will have to settle for this stream of their new version of “Robot”.
The Cribs – now Johnny Marr-less again – have completed their fifth album and will release In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull on May 8. A download of the first single is up for grabs courtesy of Spin and they’ll be at Lee’s Palace on April 11 as part of a North American tour, tickets $17.50 in advance.
Norwegian electro disco virtuoso Lindstrøm has made a date at Wrongbar for May 26, tickets $15 in advance.
Stream: Frida Hyvönen – “Terribly Dark”