Monday, December 3rd, 2012
Mark Eitzel at The Rivoli in Toronto
Frank YangIt’s less accurate to say that Mark Eitzel was/is/ever shall be the frontman for American Music Club than it is to simply say Mark Eitzel is American Music Club. Over both of the band’s incarnations – their original run from 1982 to 1994 and the reunion from 2004 to 2009 – Eitzel released solo records whose songbooks intersected liberally with AMC but roamed more musically, most curiously on The Ugly American, which saw him arranging old songs for traditional Greek instruments, and Candy Ass, which took him electronic.
His latest Don’t Be A Stranger isn’t one of those sidebar releases, being both his first record for Merge and first since the book was formally closed on American Music Club for the second and probably final time. It also provided occasion for Eitzel’s first visit to Toronto since leading AMC through an excellent but lightly-attended show in Spring 2008. Despite Stranger being a fully-produced affair, Eitzel was touring light – just himself and a piano player, the same setup I saw him with during SXSW 2011.
Given that he was performing to his own, appreciative fans rather than drive-by hipster festival-goers, Eitzel was in a decidedly better mood than that show. Even though the dour dimension gave that performance a memorable intensity, it was nice to have him be able to show off his more jovial side instead with his humour thankfully stayed on the right side of the self-deprecating/self-loathing line. The set list was impressively career-spanning, offering four selections from the new record amongst old AMC favourites like show opener, “What Holds The World Together” off of San Francisco, and “Apology For An Accident” and “Hollywood 4-5-92″ from personal favourite Mercury, all dramatically rearranged for the cabaret show configuration but still just as powerful as in their rock band format, thanks in no small part to Eitzel’s massive and emotive vocals – the mic often seemed more stage prop than necessary sound reinforcement. He may have only gotten through a baker’s dozen worth of songs in the hour-fifteen show, but most were accompanied by anecdotes that offered illuminating insights into the song. It was amazing how many of Eitzel’s songs are actually literal rather than allegorical; aspiring songwriters could do far worse than to study his works to learn how to transform daily experiences into compelling lyrical works.
Eitzel had to take a mulligan on the encore after a monologue hilariously derailed things, but wrapped up strongly with “We All Have To Find Our Own Way Out” off of Stranger, and closing with “Chanel No. 5″, a song that’s so much an essential part of the AMC canon that I’m astonished it was only released as a b-side. Mark Eitzel doesn’t come through town very often – he’d do well to take the advice of this album’s title – but when he does, it’s always special.
Photos: Mark Eitzel @ The Rivoli – November 28, 2012
MP3: Mark Eitzel – “I Love You But You’re Dead”
MP3: American Music Club – “Only Love Can Set You Free”
MP3: American Music Club – “All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco”
Video: American Music Club – “All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco”
Video: American Music Club – “Rise”
Video: American Music Club – “Wish The World Away”
Video: American Music Club – “Electric Light”
Local Natives have released a video from their next album Hummingbird, due out January 29. They play The Opera House on March 28 and talk to NME about what it was like to make the record with Aaron Dessner of The National.
Video: Local Natives – “Breakers”
Ameri-Kiwi psych-rock outfit Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Los Angeles’ Foxygen are teaming up for a North American tour in support of their new albums – UMO’s II is out February 5 and Foxygen’s We Are The 21st Century Ambassarors Of Peace & Magic is out January 22. They’re at Wrongbar on March 4, tickets $13.50 in advance.
Jukebox The Ghost and Matt Pond are in town for a show at The Horseshoe on March 11. Jukebox released Safe Travels earlier this year and Pond has a new one in The Lives Inside The Lines Of Your Hand due out on February 15.
Low have announced details about their next album – The Invisible Way was produced by Jeff Tweedy and will be out on March 19. Check out the trailer below and inspect details – and also exchange your email for a live six-song set – over at Pitchfork.
Trailer: Low / The Invisible Way
Rolling Stone has premiered another James Franco-directed – and starring – video from R.E.M.’s final album Collapse Into Now, and if you prefer your Stipe & co a little more vintage, Slicing Up Eyeballs has video of a complete R.E.M. live show from Atlanta circa 1981 available to stream.