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Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Wandering Eyes

I was very happy to see that the schedule for this year’s Hillside Festival went up yesterday. Seeing as how it’s taking place in just two weeks out in Guelph, there are logistical issues to be sorted out – namely getting there and back – and knowing when to show up is certainly a big part of that.

I’m actually kind of pleased that there’s not too much enticing happening on Friday night – hearing Chumbawumba play “Tubthumbing” on acoustic guitars isn’t as appealing as you might think – as it means that I’m not going to be fighting traffic to get out of the city on Friday afternoon. Instead, I can start fresh on Saturday morning, though even then the first must-see for me, Forest City Lovers, doesn’t go on till 5PM. That’s just of the acts I know, though – I’ll surely spend the earlier part of the day wandering between the stages and workshops just checking things out, soaking it in. Also on tap for Saturday, which is obviously the “rock” night, is The Besnard Lakes at 7, Dragonette at 8, Emily Haines at 9 and Shout Out Out Out Out at 10.

Sunday will get started early with Angela Desveaux, pictured above standing on a hillside, at 2PM. I’ve been meaning to check the Montreal singer-songwriter out for some time, her far too young to sound so old country having garnered favourable comparisons to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch, but she doesn’t seem to play around here very often. I actually just missed her last Summer during the indieUnlimited festival – I heard the PA announce that she was going on at one of the side stages just as I was heading home to have a nap. Won’t be making that mistake again. I’ll have to miss highly-regarded Maritime power-poppers Two Hours Traffic to catch her set, but will make that up this week as they’re playing a free show at the Horseshoe on Tuesday. eye has an interview.

After Ms Desvaux, we’ve got Elvis Perkins at 4, locals The D’Urbervilles at 5 and Basia Bulat at 7. At 8, it’s a toss-up between Welsh outfit Los Campesinos! and Ohbijou, though I’ll probably opt for the latter since the former will be doing a free show at the Horseshoe on August 7. Then to wrap up, most of the fest will probably make a beeline for the mainstage to see headliner Ani DiFranco, on at 9:20. I suspect that Alejandro Escovedo was also supposed to be on at this time, but since he sadly had to cancel a few weeks back, they’ve now got Born Ruffians on at 10PM as an Ani alternative. Of course, staggered as those sets are, there’s no reason I can’t see both.

For years, I’ve been hearing about how terrific Hillside is and have never been for whatever reason. Now that I can sort of visualize who and what I’ll be seeing, I’m getting pretty excited about the experience. It’ll also be nice to go somewhere that’s not completely paved over for a while. I think there’s a word for that… oh yeah. Nature?

Anyway, you can make yourself useful by checking out a sampling of tracks from some of the artists mentioned above.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Scared Of Time”
MP3: Shout Out Out Out Out – “Dude You Feel Electrical”
MP3: Angela Desveaux – “Heartbeat”
MP3: Elvis Perkins – “While You Were Sleeping”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Snakes & Ladders”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Misty Eyes”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Hedonistic Me”

And while Hillside is the best-known Summer festival in Guelph, it’s not the only one. Okay, technically Dog Day Afternoon (no relation to the Metric-headlined festival last year) happens in Elmira, but without getting into a semantic discussion of the geopolitical boundaries in Wellington county, we’ll just say “outside Guelph”. Taking place August 19 and now in its ninth year, it’s a one-day event on a farm that’s apparently so laid back, it makes Hillside look uptight. The perennial headliners are The Sadies, who’ll surely be previewing their forthcoming album New Seasons (out September 18) and this year, they’ll be joined by We’re Marching On, Shannon Lyon, The Bruce Peninsula, Tacoma Hellfarm Tragedy, Gurf Morlix and The Acorn. It’s a very small to-do but if you’re interested in attending, tickets are $25 and can be ordered in advance via the MySpace or by emailing dogdayafternoon@bust.com. Rock/Paper/Pixels was in attendance last year and called it magical. And dusty.

Speaking of The Acorn, I’ve got an mp3 from their forthcoming full-length Glory Hope Mountain, out September 25. The record is based on the life of head Acorn Rolf Klausener’s mother in Honduras and is a bit of an unexpected direction for a band whose two previous EPs sounded I called “quintessentially Canadian pop”. But hey, if it sounds good – and it does – I’m not going to argue. Chart has some album details and Pitchfork has some thoughts on the song.

MP3: The Acorn – “Flood Pt 1”

Stars talk to Billboard about trying to capture the energy of their live show on their new record In Our Bedroom After The War, out physically on September 25 but available through most every online outlet right now.

Patrick Krief, better known as guitarist for The Dears, will be playing a solo show on August 30 at the Rivoli in support of his EP Take It Or Leave which will be released on August 28. A full-length album is slated for early next year.

eye reports that the Toronto Public Library’s concert series, launched last year in conjunction with their Local Music Series collection, will continue again this November. Huzzah.

NOW considers this year’s Polaris nominees and decides they stink.

Mandatory show announcement portion of the post – O’Death is at the El Mocambo on August 18, YACHT, Vampire Weekend and The Dirty Projectors at Sneaky Dee’s on August 25, Earl Greyhound is playing day two of V Fest, The Kaiser Chiefs, Datarock and White Rabbits are at the Carlu September 26 and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists are back at the Mod Club on October 7. He’s also got an October 5 show at Main Hall in Montreal as part of Pop Montreal, for those of you who are interested in piecing together the lineup for that fest. Like You Ain’t No Picasso, who’s got a laundry list of some of the bigger names confirmed for le pop du Montreal.

Harp introduces and NOW, Cleveland Scene, The Montreal Gazette and eye interview St Vincent, in town at the Horseshoe tomorrow night with Scout Niblett.

Pitchfork gets some details from Nellie McKay about her forthcoming record Obligatory Villagers, out September 25.

WOXY has posted a video interview they conducted with The National during Bonnaroo last month. The National are at The Phoenix on October 8.

The AV Club breaks down Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga with Britt Daniel of Spoon, from the title to the artwork to the copy protection on advance copies. Now that’s a thorough review.

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Young Garcon

Funny how things go in circles – that CMW showcase at the ‘Shoe a couple weeks ago had 3/5 of the same lineup as the NxNE show I saw at The Boat last June. And then, last Thursday at the ‘Shoe, I saw the last two bands from that bill, Born Ruffians and We’re Marching On.

I didn’t actually stick around for We’re Marching On (WAMO to their friends) at that show so this was my first time seeing the Guelph-born outfit, also their first gig in some seven months with singer/guitarist Tim Fagan having pulled a Jack Bauer and been somewhere in China during that time. I had gotten a copy of their EP Argh! Umph! Ahhh! in the big post-Sx mail call so I’d had some opportunity to get acquainted with their sound, which is a strange assemblage of garage-fi, ADD prog-pop built on a foundation of wickedly melodic keyboard riffs, dance-inducing drumming and colour-outside-the-lines arrangements. Vocally things test my yelp-tolerance levels at points but the songs are weird and interesting and hooky enough to make that a minor, subjective point.

But that’s the recording and this was the live show which everyone had described to me as being something that had to be experienced to be appreciated – lofty promises that weren’t quite fulfilled on this night. Not that they were bad by any means, but the rust from the time off was evident as they tried to ignite the onstage chemistry. There were moments where they did catch and I saw what people were talking about, but they weren’t sustained through the set. But like I said, the songs were still catchy if even more frenzied in structure and as they work through a short Southern Ontario tour, I don’t doubt they’ll be back in game shape when they play Toronto again on April 11 opening for Tokyo Police Club at the Mod Club.

Prior to that show at The Boat last June I got wind of a label bidding war over the Born Ruffians – my impressions at the time were that their energy and musicianship were really impressive, especially considering their tender ages, but the songwriting raw and while the potential as unmistakable, it seemed kind of soon for a shot at the (indie) big leagues. Well shows how much I know, they were signed to WARP and XL shortly thereafter and have been on a steady upward trajectory since. Interestingly, their performance on this evening wasn’t a whole lot different than the last time I saw them nine months ago – it was just better all around. They’re still hellaciously tight but what seemed like quirks last year are now proper eccentricities – everything’s more refined and focused and they sound a lot more comfortable and confident in what they’re doing. Their sound still isn’t directly up my particular alley – Luke Lalonde’s yodeling vocals are a taste I’ve not fully acquired yet – but I enjoyed their show more than I expected and am certainly curious as to what they’ll be up to next.

I Heart Music has a session the Ruffians did for KEXP available to download, their session for Spinner’s Interface is still online and they tell Chart that they hope to have their full-length debut out in the Fall.

Photos: Born Ruffians, We’re Marching On @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2007
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Hedonistic Me”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “I’m Not One Of Those Girls”
MP3: We’re Marching On – “1800s”
MySpace: Born Ruffians

This week’s Take-Away Show? Arcade Fire in a freight elevator. Must not have been especially hygienic in there because the band just canceled the remainder of their European tour due to illness.

Fountains Of Wayne are at Lee’s Palace on June 10 (via For The Records). At this rate, NxNE weekend is going to be chock full before the even announce any NxNE events. Traffic And Weather is out April 3.

Interpol will release their third album on June 5.

Carl Newman talks to Billboard about the recipe of the new New Pornographers album – three parts Dan, three parts Neko, remaining parts Carl, simmer and serve sometime around late August. Neko-powered tour come Fall.

Pitchfork offers up some info on the new album from Spoon – no title yet, but a tracklist and a release date – July 10.

Voxtrot, the debut full-length from Voxtrot is out May 22 and the first MP3 is now available. They’re also at Sneaky Dee’s on June 8.

MP3: Voxtrot – “Kid Gloves”

Did you notice how I segued there back to Austin content? Crafty, no? Well as promised, I’ve finished processing all my SxSW photos – 46 galleries worth – available for your viewing pleasure.

Photos: SxSW XXI – March 14-17, 2007 @ Austin TX

np – The National / Boxer