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Saturday, May 7th, 2005

Lady Lustre

It was a bit of an Arts & Crafts love-in last night at the Poor Alex for what was essentially a coming-out party for the label’s newest signees, The Most Serene Republic. You couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a member of Broken Social or Stars, assuming you could find room to wind-up – the place was pretty packed.

For my part, I was as curious to see what these Milton-ites were about as I was to see any other act on bill. I found the one MP3 available on their website was equal parts compelling and confounding so I figured the live show would be more revealing. Impressions? They look like they’re barely out of highschool, but certainly seem to have all the right ingredients for Can-indie buzziness. Signed to a hip label? Check. Co-ed vocalists? Check. At least a half-dozen members? Check. Absurdly high-energy, spastic live show? Check.

Unfortunately, the band as really frickin’ loud and the sound was pretty dire so it wasn’t the best environment to pass judgement on their songwriting acumen. If I was to craft some sort of witty one-line description, however, it’d be something along the lines of The Dismemberment Plan informed by the Elephant 6 rather than the DC hardcore scene. There was no shortage of musical complexity onstage, odd time signatures and stop-start dynamics (all anchored by one of the most ridiculously good drummers I’ve seen in a long time – his genome must be mapped and his abilities made available to the masses) but I’m pretty sure there was enough pop sensibility to keep them from getting tagged as too arty/proggy. I was fairly impressed but will wait to see them open for British Sea Power in a couple weeks – hopefully with a better sound mix – before making any final declarations of awesomeness.

I’d seen Jon-Rae & The River’s drunken hillbilly soul revival a few times before and while entertaining, it’s never really grabbed me the way it has for others. I guess I like my alt-country a little more on the whisky-soaked and brooding side. But seeing as how they seem to crop up around town a fair bit, I’m sure they’ll get more chances to win me over in the future. Or not.

Amy Millan of Stars was the headliner on this evening, performing in the all-too rare solo format. I’d seen her doing her own stuff a couple times before, once with a band and once solo acoustic, but this time she mixed it up yet again playing solo electric. Feeling very low key and laid back, Amy played a short set of her own country-flavoured material, much of which pre-dated Stars, as well as a lovely reading of “Look Up” from her day job. The music was interspersed with stories from the road and tributes to her first music teacher who was in the audience. I was a little disappointed there was no mention of Honey From The Tombs, her completed solo record, and a little alarmed when she said she had no album and nothing to promote. Has it been shelved again? Stars-mate Evan Cranley joined her onstage for an encore playing trombone, and the show ended with her singing “Happy Birthday” to the Most Serene Republic keyboardist, and they all went off and had cake. We in the audience went home.

Photos here – there was none of the wonderful lighting love from Thursday night, sadly. Workable, but I was spoiled from the night before.

Still with the Arts & Crafts news, flagship act Broken Social Scene will be headlining a festival at Olympic Island in the Toronto Islands on June 26. So far it’s just them and Modest Mouse on the bill, but they promise many many more acts. And there’d damn well better be if they’re going to justify the $48.50 ticket price. This is a show I’d like to go to – the ferry docks are just straight down my street – but for that price they’d have to have, like God performing with the Funk Brothers and Joe Satriani on guitar. I’ll be watching to see how this bill shapes up and how much rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth there is from the indie kids about the cost of admission. Thanks to Tab for the info.

And finally, Low has cancelled their Spring tour due to health reasons. Obviously disappointed here, I’m digging The Great Destroyer and was really looking forward to seeing them, but mainly I hope that whatever the problems are get rectified quickly and everyone in and around the band is well.

np – Art Of Fighting / Wires

Friday, March 25th, 2005

First You Look So Strong, Then You Fade Away

File under very cool: A quite good quality version of the video for Ride’s “Vapour Trail”, circa 1990, courtesy of Creation-Records.com. This has found it’s way to the internet in advance of the forthcoming Ride DVD, details of which are still skimpy. BUT. As far as content goes, they at least have this one video. And if you have a basic understanding of how streaming .ram files work, you can have it too… hint hint.

Oh, and does anyone have the Divine Comedy cover of this song that they could, uh, leave lying around in my inbox for me to conveniently find? UPDATE: Mystical Beast has posted it! Thanks! Hmm, it’s a very straight cover. Kinda pub band-ish (save Neil Hannon’s vox). I definitely prefer the Trespassers William version.

The Feist invasion of America has begun. She played a couple of very impressive solo shows at SxSW parties (private ones, so as a member of the great unwashed, I can’t offer a first-hand account, but that’s what I heard), and Brooklynvegan reports back from a recent show in New York City with great praise (and pictures, of course), while Tofuhut offers up a frighteningly comprehensive career overview of the wonder that is Leslie Feist, including a goodly number of rare and live mp3s. It’s interesting that for her Canadian shows, she was dressed all in white and now for the US, it’s black. Maybe this is like some kinda freaky Jedi thing.

Salon’s Audiofile has an interview with Spoon’s Britt Daniel about Gimme Fiction, out May 10, and what he thinks about New York Spoon-a-likes Robbers On High Street.

Billboard has details of the the wonderfully named Paul Westerberg best-of comp, Besterberg, out May 17.

The new Longwave album seems to have been pushed back yet again. Look for There’s A Fire on June 28, if not later. Stupid RCA.

Another great show added to this year’s Over The Top FestAmy Millan, Jon-Rae & The River and The Most Serene Republic are at the Poor Alex on May 6. That’ll be three shows in three nights for me… Again…

Bad news good news for the Rilo Kiley show on May 19. The bad news is that it has been moved to the Opera House. The good news is that Nada Surf is opening.

And some ticket bitching – I went by Rotate to get a variety of tickets yesterday and unfortunately, they were sold out of Doves tix. Okay, a minor setback, but I’m willing to swing by Ticketmaster online – service charges for the last few shows have been sorta reasonable, so I figure a couple bucks extra won’t be so bad. Uh, try $12.25 on a $24 ticket. A $7.50 “service” charge? FUCK THAT SHIT. I am counting on Rotate getting another allottment soon, but if they don’t and I don’t go? No big deal, I’ll live. 50% markup. Shit, man.

A belated 24 recap: I dunno, watching 24 on a Thursday night? Just not the same. Know what would have ruled? If the chick who was shagging the pilot guy was MANDY. Oh well. Five – I figured why you thought this was a good episode as soon as you said it. What, does Chloe live next door to CTU or something? She was there in 10 minutes, if even. The look on Dina Araz’s face as Jack knifes himself? “This guy is badass”. Too bad he’s too dumb to come up with a good plan. That was a bad plan. A bad, bad plan.

Happy Good Friday. In the spirit of inclusiveness, I encourage everyone to nail the deity of their choice to a tree.

np – Sparklehorse / It’s A Wonderful Life