Monday, December 17th, 2007
In hindsight, its kind of laughable that I was so torn about where to spend last Thursday night because, as it turned out (and with all respect to the Vampire Weekend-ers, who I’m sure were also lovely), ye olde Rancho Relaxo and the last Two-Way Monologues showcase for the year was the absolute best place to be. The lineup, featuring Amos The Transparent, Oh No Forest Fires and The Craft Economy, wasn’t necessarily one that looks impressive or rings many bells at first glance but come back in a year and run it up the flagpole – I bet a whole lot more people will be saluting.
The Craft Economy kicked things off with their illuminated bar graph t-shirts, co-ed frontpersons and breakneck New Wave/twee-pop/post-punk hybrid, they radiated relentless fun and came across as maybe the coolest Summer camp counselors you never had. The whole of their debut EP All In C is available to download from their website and as peppy as the recordings are, they barely capture the energy of the band live. Their next show is January 9 at The Boat, it’s recommended you be there.
The name of Oh No Forest Fires may stick with you at first by virtue of it being a really terrible band name, but after you hear them, you’ll remember them because they’re a rather amazingly good band. They’re a relatively new outfit but comprised of veterans, with members drawn from local acts like Five Blank Pages, The Most Serene Republic and Fox Jaws and if that sounds like a recipe for a fractured neighbourly setting (synonyms ahem), wait till you hear them. With glorious, guitar-driven anthems that make prog-pop seem like the most natural thing in the world and an energetic live show that the stage couldn’t contain (though the tiny Rancho stage can’t contain an awful lot), ONFF were one of the most impressive new things I’ve seen in a long time. That their four-song EP is as good as it is and is still just a demo is both exciting and frightening. I’m keeping a very close eye (and ear) on these guys. They’re playing the Gladstone on January 10 and, again, it’s recommended you be there.
Which leaves headliners Amos The Transparent, whom I’d seen before and whose album Everything I’ve Forgotten To Forget I have and have been enjoying, so you’d think they’d be the most known quantity to me. As it turned out, not so much. At Pop Montreal they were legion, a many-headed beast of guitars and drums and keys, adding eloquent bombast to Everything‘s already grand arrangements but on this night, there were only four of them and they took a more conventional tactic for making an impression – volume, alcohol and rock. And it’s a testament to both the writing and the players that songs that seemed made for widescreen presentation translated so well in a smaller format. The melodic melancholy that rests at the core of Amos’ sound remained intact but was delivered with an extra visceralness that may have previously been hidden behind the layers of sound. Remarkably though, for all the rawness of the set the crucial little details of the record – the keyboard flourishes, the vocal harmonies – were still there and if there was extra angst in the air you wouldn’t have known it from frontman Jonathan Chandler’s cheery disposition. Or maybe that was just the drink. Either way, they capped off as a stellar night of music that could go down as one of this bills you look at in a couple years and think, “man – imagine seeing those bands in a tiny club”. It could happen. It certainly should.
Photos: Amos The Transparent, Oh No Forest Fires, The Craft Economy @ Rancho Relaxo – December 13, 2007
MP3: Amos The Transparent – “Title Track”
MP3: Amos The Transparent – “After All That Its Come To This”
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “We Fit Our Charm”
MP3: The Craft Economy – “Drag-On”
MP3: The Craft Economy – “The Crash, The Wagon, The Dying Horses”
MySpace: Amos The Transparent
MySpace: The Craft Economy
For The Records has a couple of the acts for this year’s free shows at Nathan Phillips Square as part of the WinterCity Festival – Tokyo Police Club on January 26 and The Weakerthans on February 2. Hopefully next year will be warmer than last year – I bloody well froze my ass of seeing Sloan.
Neu! speaks to an unnamed member of British Sea Power about their new album Do You Like Rock Music?, out February 12. They’ll be visiting our fair continent thereabouts as well – dates still to be announced but they will be at Noise Pop in San Francisco around the last weekend of February, so look for more dates around then. There’s also a preview track from the new album kicking around. Sounds like BSP has made up their minds how they feel about rock music… they like it.
Whilst putting up this week’s MP3 of the week featuring Charlotte Hatherley, I was pleased to see that another video from The Deep Blue has been released – and for one of my favourite tracks from the record, no less. Not crazy for the hairdo, Charlotte. Gotta say.
It’s big gun time in year-end list-land. Pitchfork has their top 100 songs of the year and PopMatters their top 60 records of 2007. Neither, thankfully, is milking them by posting a portion of the list every day. And I spent a better part of the weekend tabulating Reader’s Poll results and the outcome is very interesting… and by very interesting, I mean almost exactly what I expected.
Trailer: The Dark Knight