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Monday, June 18th, 2012

NXNE 2012 Day One

Porcelain Raft, Army Girls, Eternal Summers, and more at NXNE

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangLast week turned out to be a pretty spectacular week – weather-wise – for a festival. Good thing that Toronto had one. Or four. At least three. In any case, I was focused on NXNE; anything else going on in the city were just obstacles to be navigated around – literally. The relatively lighter Wednesday night of the programme meant that there’d be less need for club-hopping, though, and one could ease themselves into the festival grind gently.

“I’m 23 and I’m scared shitless”. That’s how Carmen Elle, the guitar-slinging/lyric-singing half of Army Girls introduced their set at Supermarket, and you were just going to have to take her word for it because if you were looking for some evidence of those frayed nerves in their performance, they were nowhere to be found. As much as I go on about this band, I actually hadn’t seen them live since last October, and as good as I thought they were then the heavy playing and touring they’ve done since then – they just finished up a North American tour with PS I Love You – has made them even better. Exceptionally tight with a side of jam, Elle performed with poise and verve, the only thing better than seeing them live again was hearing all the new material in the set. Only two songs from their Close To The Bone EP made it into the set – and were highlights, sure – but the new material arguably demonstrated more songwriting range without sacrificing any of the punch. But the best takeaway on the night was Elle’s declaration that they were planning to release not one but two albums this year; I’ve heard such ambitions from other artists before and will believe it when I see it, but for as long as I’ve been saying that Army Girls have what it takes to be as big as they want to be, it seems like they finally want it. Look out.

Photos: Army Girls @ Supermarket – June 13, 2012
MP3: Army Girls – “T W I C E”
Stream: Army Girls / Close To The Bone

The next and last stop of the night was The Drake Underground where the lineup guaranteed plenty of buzz, if not quality. First up was Virginia’s Eternal Summers whom you could be forgiven for assuming was a hazy post-chillwave outfit, but who in fact were a decidedly loud, faintly angry, garage-bred power trio specializing in what you might reference as surf-gazey, sonically youthful noise. And while I hate myself a little for writing the previous sentence, I’m sticking with it. They weren’t necessarily the most charismatic performers, but it certainly sounded good. Their new record Correct Behavior isn’t out until July 24, but that still leaves plenty of Summer – if not an eternal amount – for it to enjoyably soundtrack.

The Singing Lamb and We Love DC have interviews with the band.

Photos: Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Eternal Summers – “Millions”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Wonder”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Millions”
Video: Eternal Summers – “Safe At Home”

The first thing I noticed about Montreal’s Mac DeMarco was that they exceeded the Surgeon General’s recommended allowance of baseball caps in a band; three of four is just unacceptable. Musically they were fine; their smooth, yacht/lounge rock was hard to actively dislike and with a SXSW-calibre schedule for the week ahead – this was the first of something like 10 shows – and claiming fatigue from the trip into town, some laying back and clearly uncharacteristic sloppiness was allowable, but it was certainly easy to not dig the overt bro-ness of the band. Belching into the mic? Yeah, no.

Toro has an interview with DeMarco.

Photos: Mac DeMarco @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue Jeans”
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “I’m A Man”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “Only You”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “Exercising With My Demons”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “European Vegas”
Video: Mac DeMarco – “She’s All I Really Need”

Given the number of influences and styles name-dropped in reference to Italian-in-New York Mauro Remiddi’s Porcelain Raft and his debut Strange Weekend, I would have expected something decidedly more experimental but the live two-piece – Remmidi and a drummer/multi-instrumentalist – were much more about big, crescendo-friendly dance pop with a distinct European accent, which was also cool. Their songs may have been built on a base of samples and loops but they were defined by the guitars, drums, keys and vox – all pretty conventional and also pretty pretty. Engaging at first, the set seemed to lose form somewhat as it progressed, but that may have just been me taking their song “Put Me To Sleep” a little too close to heart. After their set, I checked out. It was going to be a long weekend.

Photos: Porcelain Raft @ The Drake Underground – June 13, 2012
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
MP3: Porcelain Raft – “Put Me To Sleep”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Put Me To Sleep”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Tip Of Your Tongue”
Video: Porcelain Raft – “Drifting In And Out”

Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon, whose Cyrk garnered glowing reviews on its release earlier this year, will be releasing a second album from those same session entitled Cyrk II on August 20 and accompany it with a North American tour – she’ll be at The Rivoli on September 18.

MP3: Cate Le Bon – “Puts Me To Work”
Video: Cate Le Bon – “Puts Me To Work”

The long-rumoured David Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration is not only real, it has a name – Love This Giant; a website – LoveThisGiant.com; a first MP3 – “Who”; and a tour – look for them at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on September 20.

MP3: David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Who”

Morrissey may be sticking to his guns on not playing Canada until we stop eating any meat and wearing leather, but you have to see his just-announced US tour as throwing southern Ontario a bit of a – if you excuse the metaphor – bone. He’ll wave to us from the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls on October 19; you might say that as he continues to ignore us, this is as close as he’ll get. Maybe make a road trip of it, hit the Anchor Bar for some wings.

Video: Morrissey – “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”

A track from Metric’s new album Synthetica is available to download.

MP3: Metric – “Artificial Nocturne”

Also now yours to take home – the first single from Grizzly Bear’s still-untitled forthcoming album. It’s out September 18 and they’re at Massey Hall on September 26.

MP3: Grizzly Bear – “Sleeping Ute”

Sympathies to the friends and family of Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, who died in the stage collapse on Saturday and best wishes to those injured.

And further sympathies to the friends and family of former American Music Club/Sun Kil Moon drummer Tim Mooney, who passed away on the weekend. There’s remembrances from his bandleaders Mark Eitzel and Mark Kozelek, and donations to his family can be made via PayPal.

By : Frank Yang at 8:29 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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