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Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Valhalla Dancehall

British Sea Power and A Classic Education at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFor the first few years of their existence, the British Sea Power live experience had a reputation as something of a spectacle, thanks to their habit of decorating the stage with local foliage and then-keyboardist Eamon Hamilton’s on-stage shenanigans – both of which were in full effect the last time I saw them play a regular-type show in Toronto, way back in May 2005. Both times I’ve seen them since then – a SxSW day show and television taping – weren’t necessarily conducive to indulging in madness though since Hamilton’s departure in early 2006 the bedlam had been toned down somewhat anyways. So it’s a good thing that their records since then – 2008’s Do You Like Rock Music? and this year’s Valhalla Dancehall have easily been solid enough to warrant hearing live even if the band just stood stock still and played, though thankfully they did not.

Though I’d corresponded with A Classic Education frontman Jon Clancy for some years and despite Clancy being an Ontario ex-pat now based in Bologna, Italy, this was the first time they’d made it to Toronto. Probably on account of the fact that they’re based in Bologna, Italy. But I’d managed to see them a couple years ago at SxSW and was impressed with the scope of their musical vision, even if I didn’t think their grasp quite matched their reach yet. Interestingly, in the time since them they’ve seemingly adjusted course to point towards a simpler, more ’50s-influenced style of rock and while their scope still retains some of that grandness, mostly thanks to sophisticated little flourishes in the arrangements, but the delivery is more compact and streamlined and the net result actually suits them better. Interestingly, for as long as they’ve been around there’s still not been a full-length release – their last issue was the Hey There Stranger 12″ EP last year. Hopefully that gets rectified soon.

British Sea Power has certainly grown, both in size and maturity. To the former, multi-instrumentalist Phil Sumner and violinist Abi Fry are now apparently full-fledged band members and to the latter, well they simply don’t get up to the tricks they used to (see above). It’s as though their gawky acting act has transmuted into a sort of stateliness, and accordingly they’re not in any rush to get where they’re going – they know it’ll get there eventually. Which is why it’s sort of alright that the show, like the last couple I’d seen, seemed to start off a bit slowly despite opening with a couple of Valhalla‘s more hopped-up numbers, though the fact that Hamilton had lost his voice and couldn’t take lead on some of the songs as he normally did might have had something to do with it as well.

Still, by the time they hit the Valhalla-era non-album track “Zeus”, they were clearly warmed up. The epic-length track was played with extra vigor and from there on, the second half of the show came with loads more drive than the first – thanks, no doubt, to the inclusion of ragers such as “Spirit Of St. Louis”, “It Ended On An Oily Stage” and “Lights Out For Darker Skies”. The four-song encore brought some dynamics back into it, pairing the anthemic “Waving Flags” and “Carrion” with the more elegiac “The Great Skua” and “All In It”, but the real highlight came with the second encore which revived some of the old-school on-stage anarchy soundtracked by “Apologies To Insect Life”. Antics included but were not limited to Yan giving local “super-fan” Kayvon a ride on his shoulders before doing a reverse double stage dive into the crowd – I hope Kavon was warned of it beforehand – and Noble, who had apparently hit a critical point of inebriation, going for a crowd surf after the song had ended in order to get to the bar as quickly as possible. Okay, maybe British Sea Power haven’t matured that much. Thank goodness.

BBC America has an interview with Martin Noble and NYC Taper is sharing a recording of the New York stop on this tour.

Photos: British Sea Power, A Classic Education @ Lee’s Palace – March 24, 2011
MP3: British Sea Power – “Who’s In Control?”
MP3: British Sea Power – “Living Is So Easy”
MP3: British Sea Power – “Zeus”
MP3: British Sea Power – “Come Wander With Me”
MP3: British Sea Power – “Atom”
MP3: British Sea Power – “Please Stand Up”
MP3: A Classic Education – “Gone To Sea”
MP3: A Classic Education – “I Lost Time”
MP3: A Classic Education – “Toi”
MP3: A Classic Education – “Stay, Son”
Video: British Sea Power – “Who’s In Control”
Video: British Sea Power – “Living Is So Easy”
Video: British Sea Power – “Waving Flags”
Video: British Sea Power – “No Lucifer”
Video: British Sea Power – “Water Tower”
Video: British Sea Power – “Please Stand Up”
Video: British Sea Power – “It Ended On An Oily Stage”
Video: British Sea Power – “Childhood Memories”
Video: British Sea Power – “The Spirit Of St. Louis”
Video: British Sea Power – “Carrion”
Video: British Sea Power – “Remember Me”
Video: A Classic Education – “Gone To Sea”
Video: A Classic Education – “Toi”

Clearly I’m being punished for going to Euro at the end of May. How else to explain the number of excellent tours coming through town while I’m away, which now include 2010 year-end listers Stornoway, who are bringing Beachcomber’s Windowsill back to North America and specifically the El Mocambo, where they dazzled last December, on May 24. Tickets $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Stornoway – “Zorbing”

But the one that really hurts is that Anna Calvi has made good on her promise to make up all the March dates cancelled because of her wrist injury, and the make-up date for Toronto will be May 27, also at the El Mocambo. Funny how I went from potentially seeing her a good number of times across CMW and SxSW to not at all… though it is some consolation that while she’s soundchecking a 10-minute walk from my apartment, I’ll be on the shores of the Mediterranean listening to Pulp. Under The Radar has full tour dates and tickets for the Toronto show are $12 in advance. Paste has an interview and Calvi has just released a new video.

MP3: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”
Video: Anna Calvi – “Blackout”

PJ Harvey has released a couple more videos from Let England Shake. Spinner has an interview with Polly Jean.

Video: PJ Harvey – “England”
Video: PJ Harvey – “The Colour Of The Earth”

It’s session time for Two Door Cinema Club as NPR has them visit The World Cafe and Daytrotter has a set available to download.

Daytrotter has also posted up a session with The Futureheads.

State talks to Rab Allan and Herald Scotland to James Allan of Glasvegas about their new record Euphoric Heartbreak, out next week.

Sons & Daughters have announced their new record Mirror, Mirror will be out on June 14, and based on the first MP3 made available, they’ve gotten as far as possible from the shiny glam of 2008’s This Gift. The Line Of Best Fit has details on the release.

MP3: Sons & Daughters – “Silver Spell”

The Guardian, Gigwise and Metro talk to Patrick Wolf about his new record Lupercalia, due out May 31.

Spin finds out the origins of The Joy Formidable’s name while The Asbury Park Press have an interview and NPR is streaming one of their SxSW sets. They are at The Horseshoe this coming Saturday night, April 2.

The Guardian has a feature piece on Adele, while NPR is streaming a World Cafe session. A couple people in the last few days have asked me how they might go about getting tickets to her May 18 show at the Kool Haus. It made me laugh. Update: And now who’s laughing? The show was just moved to the Air Canada Centre. It it’s a full arena setup, that’s like an eightfold increase in capacity. Even the theatre configuration is like two and a half times the Kool Haus.

Friendly Fires have confirmed a May 16 release date for their second album Pala; Ed Macfarlane speaks briefly to Purple Revolver about the writing process. They play The Phoenix on May 30.

Exclaim has an interview with Liam Gallagher of Beady Eye, who’ve managed to sell out their show at the Sound Academy on June 20. You know they’re not playing any Oasis material, right? No matter how much you plead? Okay, just checking.

DIY, Billboard and BBC talk to Elbow and learn that the band have plans for North American touring later this year (yes!) and collaborator Richard Hawley is currently in the studio working on a new record (yes!).

Brett Anderson of Suede tells NME that the reunited band is working on new material but that it won’t necessarily translate into new recordings.

Radiohead’s new record The King Of Limbs is now streaming in whole at Spinner. They will also be releasing a limited edition 12″ single for Record Store Day, April 16, featuring non-album tracks “Supercollider” and “The Butcher”.

Stream: Radiohead / The King Of Limbs

Clash checks in with Charles Watson of Slow Club about how work is progressing on the duo’s second album.

The Georgia Straight interviews Esben & The Witch.

Spinner talks to Reuben Wu and Clash to Mira Aroyo of Ladytron.

The Quietus profiles Cat’s Eyes, the new project from Faris Badwan of The Horrors and opera singer Rachel Zeffira. Their self-titled debut is due out April 25.

NPR interviews Lykke Li, who is at The Phoenix on May 22. A new track from Wounded Rhymes is available to download.

MP3: Lykke Li – “Youth Knows No Pain”

Clash, Spin and DIY have features on Peter Bjorn & John, whose new record Gimme Some is out now and available to stream. They’re at Lee’s Palace on May 6.

Stream: Peter Bjorn & John / Gimme Some

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Good Evening

The Concretes and Hooray For Earth at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAfter a much-needed break from live music with a month spent watching television instead of bands, it was back out to the clubs on Monday night for the first gig of 2011, and it was one that as recently as a couple weeks ago I hadn’t planned on attending – The Concretes at The Horseshoe. From passing listens to the singles, I didn’t expect much of their latest WYWH but a proper sit-down with their second post-Victoria Bergsman album happily proved me wrong. And so I went.

Helping that decision along was the presence of New York’s Hooray For Earth as support. I’d meant to investigate their 2010 debut EP Momo further but never did, so seeing them live in advance of their full-length debut True Loves‘ release on May 3 seemed like a good way to make up for that. Unfortunately, and perhaps as a result of a traumatic border-crossing experience alluded to by singer Noel Heroux, the band didn’t seem to be at the top of their game, seeming distracted or even disinterested as they ran through their half-hour set. The quality of their songs – catchy New Waved numbers marked by big ’80s synths and (over)-effected vocals – was evident despite that, but the pep of their recorded sound was decided muted.

I was there the last the the sandwich board outside The ‘Shoe declared, “The Concretes” back in May 2006, but a half-decade one, it was a completely different band who took the stage. Singer Victoria Bergsman departed shortly after that show – that’s been well-documented – and rather than call it a day, drummer Lisa Milberg moved into the role of frontwoman but what was surprising was that Maria Erikson – guitarist, vocalist and co-founder of the band with Milberg and Bergsman – was not amongst the half-dozen Concretes who’d crossed the Atlantic. Or maybe not so surprising considering her credits on the new record amount to “backing vocals”. But either way, this was now Milberg’s show.

And as WYWH would dictate, it was a disco show, but without much dancing. Despite the dancefloor grooves and textures of the new record, it’s still a downbeat record and accordingly, a rather restrained performance. The live renderings were actually sped up some from the album version, perhaps to give them a little more zip or perhaps to help them sit alongside the older material better. Yes, they still did the older material – fair game considering Milberg co-wrote most of it – but what was more surprising than that it wasn’t verboten was how natural those songs still sounded without Bergsman’s distinctively sleepy vocals. And if you think about it, Milberg’s voice might have a different timbre from her former bandmate but it has a similar wounded quality about it that helps maintain the songs’ spirit.

With such disparate-sounding material rubbing elbows on the set list, the flow of the show was a little odd at times but the balance of new material and key singles from The Concretes and In Colour made for a solid batch of songs. And while it was hard to not recall the glorious rotating lead vocals from Bergsman, Milberg and Erikson the last time they played main set closer “Song For The Songs”, these new Concretes had already established their 2011 bona fides. And for that, bravo.

Photos: The Concretes, Hooray For Earth @ The Horseshoe – January 17, 2010
MP3: The Concretes – “All Day”
MP3: The Concretes – “Good Evening”
MP3: Hooray For Earth – “Surrounded By Your Friends”
Video: The Concretes – “Kids”
Video: The Concretes – “All Day”
Video: The Concretes – “Keep Yours”
Video: The Concretes – “Seems Fine”
Video: The Concretes – “Oh Boy”
Video: The Concretes – “Chosen One”
Video: The Concretes – “On The Radio”
Video: The Concretes – “Say Something New”
Video: The Concretes – “You Can’t Hurry Love”
Video: The Concretes – “Warm Night”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Surrounded By Your Friends”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Form”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Rolling/Nectarine”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Get Home”
Myspace: The Concretes
Myspace: Hooray For Earth

Lykke Li has released a new video from her forthcoming record Wounded Rhymes, out on March 1 – BBC has an interview with her about the new record. She will be at The Phoenix on May 22.

Video: Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers”

Also straight outta Sweden with a new vid are Peter Bjorn & John – it’s the first sample of their forthcoming Gimme Some, due out March 29, which you can also download over here. They have a talk with Spinner about the new record.

Video: Peter Bjorn & John – “Breaker Breaker”

There were a crapload of show announcements yesterday… and a crapload today. Starting with Suuns, who’ll be playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on January 29 at 4PM. As always, it’s a free show but food bank donations are encouraged.

MP3: Suuns – “Up Past The Nursery”

Ty Segall will be anchoring the Wrongbar lineup for Canadian Musicfest on the Saturday night, March 12.

MP3: Ty Segall – “Girlfriend”

I would have thought that they’d be playing bigger rooms by now, but that just means that Warpaint’s show at Wrongbar on March 26 – which they packed last August well before their debut The Fool came out and got all those rave reviews – will be that much more of a hot ticket. You’ve been warned. Full tour dates up at Beggars USA and support for the show will be Australia’s PVT.

MP3: Warpaint – “Undertow”
MP3: PVT – “Quick Mile”

After a too-long absence – I’m not counting their set opening for Gogol Bordello last Spring because a) it was at The Sound Academy and b) I couldn’t go – DeVotchKa are coming back to town. Their last headlining show was way back in June 2006, so that they’ll bring their new record 100 Lovers to the Mod Club on March 30 is welcome news indeed; tickets $19 in advance.

MP3: DeVotchKa – “Along The Way”

Luke Temple’s Here We Go Magic have made a date at the El Mocambo for April 2, tickets $13.50. Their last record Pigeons came out last Summer.

MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Casual”
MP3: Here We Go Magic – “Collector”

I don’t know if John Darnielle thought Toronto wouldn’t notice that The Mountain Goats skipped us over entirely whilst touring their last record The Life Of The World To Come, but it’s good to know we won’t be slighted when All Eternals Deck comes out on March 29 – they’ll be here just five days later, April 3, with Megafaun in tow, for a show at the Opera Hosue – tickets $17.50 in advance. Pitchfork has a chat with Darnielle about the new album and there’s a campaign to get The Mountain Goats on Law & Order: SVU so obviously you should go and get behind that.

MP3: The Mountain Goats – “Tyler Lambert’s Grave”

Following an extensive North American tour, Kingston’s PS I Love You will play an almost-hometown show at The Garrison on April 7.

MP3: PS I Love You – “Get Over”

And looking waaaaay ahead, Keren Ann will follow up the March 22 release of her new record 101 with Summer dates that include an appearance at the Drake Underground on June 28, tickets $16.50. She’s just released a video from said record.

Video: Keren Ann – “My Name Is Trouble”

Aquarium Drunkard, Artinfo, The Fader and Prefix talk to Dan Bejar of Destroyer, whose new record Kaputt is out next week but streaming right now at Hype Machine. Destroyer plays Lee’s Palace on March 31.

Stream: Destroyer / Kaputt

The Line Of Best Fit and The AV Club interview Jenny Conlee and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, respectively. The Polaroid portfolio which was a part of deluxe editions of The King Is Dead is available to peruse at New York Magazine with commentary from photographer Autumn de Wilde. Further, the band’s hometown show in Portland will be webcast tonight on NPR starting at 3PM EST. The Decemberists are at The Sound Academy on February 1.

And the only relevance that the Coachella lineup has to my life is the fact that Elbow and Suede are on this continent in April…

Thursday, June 8th, 2006

I've Been Here Before

Not quite done with the shoegaze theme yet. Released in the Fall of last year, Club AC30’s Never Lose That Feeling tribute comp was far better than I had any right to expect. Featuring new artists who fell under the “shoegaze” stylistic banner covering tracks by their forebears, I reviewed it last October so in the interests of not repeating myself, I’ll just direct you back there. But this Fall will bring the second volume in the series, and AC30 has just released the tracklisting.

While the first edition featured a respectably varied number of different artists being covered, from major artists to more minor ones, the sequel sticks mainly to the big guns. There’s three from Catherine Wheel, three from My Bloody Valentine, a pair of Ride covers and a couple of the Drop Nineteens, and amongst the rest are Spiritualized, Slowdive, Lush, the usual suspects.

But there are a few curveballs in the lineup that promise to keep things extra-interesting. Britta Phillips of American ‘gazers The Belltower and more recently of Luna covers “How You Satisfy Me”, originally by Spectrum, AKA Pete Kember of Spacemen 3 while Paula Kelley, formerly of Drop Nineteens offers a lovely chamber-pop version of Ride’s “Vapour Trail”. But extra cool is the fact that the Lush cover of “Sunbathing” from Gala is done by Sing-Sing, the new band featuring Emma Anderson… ex- of Lush. Four tracks from the new comp are streaming on Club AC30’s MySpace and you can hear Piney Gir’s Bossa Nova-ish cover of Catherine Wheel’s “I Want To Touch You” at her MySpace.

More shoegaze covers – Are You Familiar also has some rare Chapterhouse MP3s including Beatles and Spacemen 3 covers. And I mentioned Greg’s “History Of Shoegaze” series a few months back – while it’s still not complete, the first five entries are excellent reading (and listening). Check it out – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

I’ve also re-upped some or all, I’m not sure, of my relevant past MP3s of the week. I’m only leaving them up temporarily so get them while they’re hot. Full info on the tracks here – use ye olde browser search command to find the track you’re looking for.

MP3: Mira – “When You Sleep”
MP3: Trespassers William – “Vapour Trail”
MP3: Buffalo Tom – “Cupid Come”
MP3: Mogwai – “Honey”
MP3: B Fleischmann & Ms John Soda – “Here She Comes”

Credits/links – My Bloody Valentine by Mira (MySpace), Ride by Trespassers William (MySpace), My Bloody Valentine by Buffalo Tom (MySpace), Spacemen 3 by Mogwai (MySpace), Slowdive by B Fleischmann & Ms John Soda (Myspace & MySpace).

And because I have never really, given Lush enough ink in these pages and YouTube makes it SO easy to be lazy:

Video: Lush – “Sweetness & Light” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “Nothing Natural” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “De-Luxe” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “De-Luxe” – alternate version (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “For Love” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “Superblast” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “Hypocrite” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “Ladykillers” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “Single Girl” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “500 (Shake Baby Shake)” (YouTube)
Video: Lush – “500 (Shake Baby Shake)” – UK version (YouTube)

And also topical – ex-Velocity Girl Sarah Shannon will release her second solo album this Fall on Minty Fresh. No idea if it will continue in the Bacharach-pop style of her self-titled debut of a few years ago, but I’m just pleased she’s still making music. As for her bandmates, I accidentally tracked them down last year.

Dave Gedge of The Wedding Present complains to Belfast Today about kids these days and their music and Event Guide also sits down for a chat. The Weddoes’ Search For Paradise comp came out a couple weeks ago – not as strong as Take Fountain, where the a-sides originated, nor even the Cinerama b-sides comps, but still worthy.

Billboard reports that Doves are holed up somewhere in the English countryside working on album #4. Expect it to be influenced by cattle.

Exclaim! rounds up the sordid history of Primal Scream. Riot City Blues is out now.

The Toronto Sun, eye and NOW preview Television’s NxNE show at the Phoenix tomorrow night. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Seattle’s The Stranger also talk to Tom, but not about NxNE. I’m pretty sure they don’t care. I may have an extra ticket for tomorrow night’s show which I’m more interested in seeing go to good use than getting fully reimbursed for. If you want it, email me.

Couple new show announcements – The Late BP Helium, alumnus of Elf Power and Of Montreal, will be at The Boat on June 28, cover $8, while the next night (June 29 for the chronologically impaired) sees The Organ at The Drake Underground, $13.

np – Josh Ritter / The Animal Years

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

Everyone Says It's On

…So starting next Wednesday, NxNE officially descends upon the city and we will be inundated with bands from (mostly) near but some from very far all hoping to… well, to be honest, I’m not sure what they’re hoping for. To become beloved by Canadians, I guess.

Though we’ve got the acronym and the stylish lower-case “x”, this ain’t SxSW – not by a long shot. Locals don’t even refer to it as “North by” (actually what many locals call it is far less flattering, but that’s another topic). But as easy as it is to be cynical about NxNE, the fact is is that there really is a fair bit of excitement amongst a lot of people for the fest. Seeing people club-hopping, lining up for shows or otherwise just taking it all in is really quite heartening. Of course, those warm fuzzies are offset by bands travelling halfway around the world to play to an empty delicatessan with a 2×4-on-cinder-blocks stage, but that’s rock’n’roll for ya.

One act that’s coming to town from afar and is somewhat surprisngly generating approximately zero hype is Jason Falkner. Something of a pop legend in certain circles, Falkner cut his teeth with such acts as The Three O’Clock, Jellyfish and The Grays (with uber-producer Jon Brion) before striking out on his own. He’s since achieved no small amount of success as a solo artist and producer (Brendan Benson, Magnet) as well as a sideman to the stars (Beck, Air). Falkner’s thing is pure, classic ultra-melodic West Coast pop and while his records tend to be densely produced, he’s up here all by his lonesome for the 9PM slot at the NOW showcase at the Reverb. If you’re curious, go early – there’s some more heavily-hyped acts later on the bill and the club is almost certain to be full.

Check some of his stuff out at MySpace or thanks to his SxSW 2005 profile.

MP3: Jason Falkner – “Lost Myself”

Since I’ll be making some effort to at least half-assedly cover NxNE this year, I’ve done a little digging through the lineups looking for possible shows to hit and I figured I’d share my findings with y’all. Some of these are artists I’ve seen or heard before, others are sort of random picks from the NxNE sched based on some MySpace clips or whatever. Sorry I didn’t have the energy to write more than a short descriptive blurb for each of them but if you have the time, I encourage you to at least click through to their MySpace and sample stream a song. That’s pretty much what I did… for almost every performer… Note to bands who submitted too-clever, non-descriptive one-paragraph bios? You’re helping no one, especially not yourselves. NOW has assembled an guide to the fest (which they also sponsor) but considering they make their recommendations based on groups of similarly-themed band names, take em with some salt.

Thursday, June 8
Nathan Asher & The Infantry (Raleigh, NC) @ Healey’s, 9PM (MySpace) – Tense, verbose indie.
MP3: Nathan Asher & The Infantry – “Turn Up The Faders”

As The Poets Affirm (Ottawa, ON) @ The Savannah, 9PM (MySpace) – Instrumental post-rockingness.
MP3: As The Poets Affirm – “A Lie Told Before Breakfast”

City Field (Halifax, NS/Toronto, ON) @ The Silver Dollar, 9PM (MySpace) – Eclectic pop.
MP3: City Field – “Linda’s Hair”

Land Of Talk (Montreal, PQ) @ The Boat, 10PM (MySpace) – Brooklynvegan-approved indie.
MP3: Land Of Talk – “Breaxxbaxx”

Kill The Lights (Toronto, ON) @ The Boat, 11PM (MySpace) – Kinda Cure-ish, but not derivative.
MP3: Kill The Lights – “Orestes”

Mission To The Sea (Dallas, TX) @ The Savannah, 12AM (MySpace) – Latin-tinged folk.
MP3: Mission To The Sea – “Red Light”

Frontier Index (Toronto, ON) @ Healey’s, 12AM (MySpace) – Cosmic twang.
MP3: Frontier Index – “Someday”

Fjord Rowboat (Toronto, ON) @ Crowbar, 1AM (MySpace) – Good ‘ol shoegaze.
MP3: Fjord Rowboat – “Paragon”

Friday, June 9
Lullaby Baxter (Montreal, PQ) @ The Drake Underground, 10PM (MySpace) – Gallic torchy loungy.
MP3: Lullaby Baxter – “Rattled Little Clam”

Royal Wood (Toronto, ON) @ The Art Bar, 10PM (MySpace) – Great pipes, opened for My Morning Jacket.
MP3: Royal Wood – “Weigh Me Down”

The Besnard Lakes (Montreal, PQ) @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM (MySpace) – Spacey and kinda creepy.
MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “You’ve Got To Want To Be A Star”

Mike Doughty (New York, NY) @ Lee’s Palace, 12AM (MySpace) – Dude from Soul Coughing.
MP3: Mike Doughty – “Bottom Of A Well”

Any Millan (Toronto, ON) @ The Reverb, 12AM (MySpace) – NOW”s easy, breezy, beautiful cover girl.
MP3: Amy Millan – “Skinny Boy” (ZIP)

Novillero (Winnipeg, MB) @ The El Mocambo, 12AM (MySpace) – Keyboard pop from the ‘Peg.
MP3: Novillero – “The Hypothesist”

The Coast (Toronto, ON) @ The El Mocambo, 1AM (MySpace) – Anglo-inspired shimmer pop.
MP3: The Coast – “The Lines Are Cut”

Saturday, June 10
Paper Moon (Winnipeg, MB) @ Healey’s, 9PM (MySpace) – Sublime girl-pop.
MP3: Paper Moon – “String Of Blinking Lights”

Pedestrian (Toronto, ON) @ The Black Bull 10PM (MySpace) – Unknown quantity with Intriguing MySpace samples.
MP3: Pedestrian – “GrasStains”

Doris Day (Barrie, ON) @ Holy Joe’s 11PM (MySpace) – Highly regarded by people who know.
MP3: Doris Day – “Quarantine Girl”

Jo Mango (Glasgow, Scotland) @ The Drake Hotel 12 AM (MySpace) – Beautiful folky music.
* No MP3s but Jo Mango also plays Dundas Square at 1PM on the 10th.

Aberdeen City (Boston, MA) @ Lee’s Palace, 1AM (MySpace) – Beantown alt rock.
MP3: Aberdeen City – “God Is Gonna Get Sick Of Me”

Also note there’s a series of “bonus” shows featuring bigger local and out-of-town names that are mostly ticket-only, but will admit a limited number of NxNE wristbands and badges. These shows are Be Your Own Pet at the Mod Club on June 7 (75 wristbands), the June 10 Hawksley Workman show at Massey Hall (60 wristbands) and Amy Millan show at the Mod Club (50 wristbands) and on Sunday June 11, Tilly & The Wall at the Mod Club (75 wristbands) and Pink Mountaintops at the Horseshoe (75 wristbands). Also note that the Television show at the Phoenix June 9 is also very limited wristband/badge, so if you’re dead set on going (as I am) get a ticket (as I have).

There’s also some good non- (or anti-) NxNE shows going on next weekend, mainly at Sneaky Dee’s. On June 8 catch Great Lake Swimmers, Mean Red Spiders and friends while on June 9, the venue hosts The Diableros and The Paper Cranes, amongst others. Your silly wristband is no good here.

And another “looks like it should be a NxNE show but isn’t”, courtesy of Paper Bag Recordscontroller.controller, Magneta Lane, Uncut, Cities In Dust and Tokyo Police Club will play two shows at the Mod Club on the 9th – one an all-ages matinee and one a licensed evening show, each $15. Hey, that’s a Friday. What are the kids doing at a rock show on a school day?

Finally, Zoilus talks about the just-announced Polaris Music Prize, which is intended to be a Mercury Prize for Canadian artists. One $20,000 prize for “Best Canadian Album”. Like Carl, I’m honoured to have been asked to be on the jury for selecting the winner, so all you prospective nominees? Start sending the bribes now. I like how the name of the prize is quintessentially Canadian – reflecting our national inability to not remind others (or ourselves) that we are, indeed, in the north. And cold. And snowy. It’s quaint, isn’t it? Anyways, expect to hear more about this over the next week. Update: JAM! has more info on the Polaris prize.

And that’s it for today. Gawd.

np – The Flaming Lips / At War With The Mystics

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Sunshine Snare Hits

So this Wednesday was the initial deadline for nominations for the Polaris Music Prize and I have a confession to make – I had a very shallow pool of qualifying records in my collection to pick from. Most of the Canadian stuff that most impressed me either didn’t make the definition of album (30 minutes or 8 tracks) or wasn’t released between June 1, 2005 and May 31, 2006 and what I did have seemed kind of obvious, which was a little disappointing (not the albums themselves, just that I couldn’t get creative with my picks). So I went on a little research mission over the past couple weeks trying to catch up on stuff that was homegrown and that I might have missed out on.

One artist whom I’ve liked what I’ve heard but have never really gotten around to really digging into is Calgarian Chad Van Gaalen. His debut album Infiniheart was a (very) small sample of hundreds of songs Van Gaalen had accumulated over the years and it definitely plays like it. Stylistically all over the map, it’s as mesmerizing as it is maddening for its eclecticism. Gentle folk tunes bump uglies with hooky pop moments, ambient instrumentals and bits that would have been symphonies if not for the absence of, well, symphonic instruments. It’s all tied together by Van Gaalen’s high, delicate voice that combined with the breadth of his musical ambition begs Sufjan Stevens comparisons – but not yet. Maybe when he starts writing concept albums for all ten provinces.

Spacelab reports that Van Gaalen will release his follow-up Skelliconnection on August 22 and while I hope there’s a higher level of production fit and finish to it. I would like to hear a more cohesive artistic statement from the fellow rather than, “here are some songs” but it sounds like he once again had a pool of songs to draw on hundreds deep so it could well be another stylistic grab bag.

And yeah, while SubPop re-released Infiniheart in August last year, well within the nomination period, it originally came out on Flemish Eye waaaaaay back in 2004 – a fact that I uncovered after I bought the album. So much for doing my homework. Here’s a sampling of tracks from here and there.

MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Clinically Dead”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Echo Train”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Somewhere I Know There’s Nothing”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Traffic”
Video: Chad Van Gaalen – “Clinically Dead” (MySpace)

So who did I end up voting for? After much hemming and hawing, I submitted the following list:

1. The New Pornographers / Twin Cinema
2. Broken Social Scene / Broken Social Scene
3. Destroyer / Destroyer’s Rubies
4. The Diableros / You Can’t Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts
5. My Dad Vs Yours / After Winter Must Come Spring

Like I said, kind of obvious, especially the first two. I would have LOVED to be able to get behind something more dark horse or left field, but I had to be honest about it and those are the eligible CanCon releases that got the most rotation in the past year. And I could have voted for Neil Young but I suspect that goes against the spirit of the prize.

Note to all up-and-coming bands – knock it off with the EPs! Or at the very least, make them 30 minutes long. If The Coast, The Airfields or Land Of Talk had managed to squeeze one more song or extended space-rock jam onto their recent releases, it’d have been a very different list, I tell you what. Come on guys – we’re talking a cash money prize! But, alas, such was not the case and so this is what went in to the powers that be. Not meant as a slight against any of the bands I did nominate – all fine records – but a little frustrating nonetheless. But on the plus side, I am planning on being that much more plugged into Canadian music for the upcoming year if for no other reason than to avoid another such embaressing situation. And to everyone who suggested it – Neko Case is not Canadian. Seems like it, sure, but she’s not.

And I note with some interest that My Dad Vs Yours have a show scheduled for July 15 at Lee’s Palace. Opening? Headlining? I do not know. But there you go.

While the new album won’t be out till January of next year, Dean Wareham & Britta Phillips have posted a track from their new album on their MySpace page, an Adam Green cover. And Tuesday is Luna day with the release of The Best Of Luna on CD, Lunafied in digital download format and Tell Me Do You Miss Me on DVD. For appetite-whetting purposes, Rhino has posted a clip of the DVD online – a complete performance of “Bewitched” from the farewell tour.

Video: Luna – “Bewitched” (MOV)

NOW profiles vibraphonic ensemble The Hylozoists who will be having a CD release party for La Fin Du Monde at the Horseshoe this Saturday night.

Ultra-recluse Texan legend Jandek is coming out of hiding to play a Toronto show on September 17 at… well, no one knows. But it’s happening – read here. I’ll be honest – I don’t know boo about Jandek except that his name is spoken in hushed, reverential tones and this is an event of some significance. I’m sure I’ll be hearing more about it as the date approaches.

Calexico discusses the politics of Garden Ruin with The Vancouver Sun and about growing the band’s sound with The San Francisco Chronicle and The Georgia Straight. Those attending the July 6 show at the Phoenix should note that Jason Collett appears to be off the bill and Oakley Hall are on.

Wheat’s Brendan Haney reflects on the major label experience for Loose Record and admits that, yeah, it was a bad idea. I TOLD YOU SO. It’s a shame he dismisses Per Second completely, the original Nude version was a perfectly solid record – but I already proved that. Comeback album Every Day I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One-Inch Square is out this Fall. Thanks very much to Mark for the interview link.

And dig it – Arrested Development Season 3 – on DVD August 29… just a week after Veronica Mars Season 2! No word of bonuses on either disc yet but I expect the AD to be chock full ‘o nuts. And I think I’m far too excited about the opportunity to watch television shows that I’ve already seen.

np – Wheat / Hope & Adams