Frank YangI’m sure some would look at the last full day/night of a music festival as an opportunity to go hard or go home, I took NXNE’s Saturday schedule as an opportunity to go small and go (relatively) local. I’d kept a pretty conservative schedule through the festival this far, after all, why stop now?
I started out at Supermarket in Kensington to see Vancouver’s Data Romance. I wasn’t really familiar with them before stumbling across their stuff in the NXNE listings, and liking what I heard, gave them a shot. And indeed, armed with a healthy array of drum pads, synths, and laptops, duo Ajay Bhattacharyya and Amy Kirkpatrick, put on a very likeable set of electro-pop drawn from their debut album Other, the former playing electronic drums live to keep things organic and the latter adorably charismatic, her voice expressive without being excessively showy. They specialized in soulful, synthy ballads that would feel like part of the zeitgeist had it come out of the UK right now, but coming from western Canada, sounds rather unique. Accessible, interesting, and well-crafted, Data Romance could and should find a broad audience.
Photos: Data Romance @ Supermarket – June 15, 2013
MP3: Data Romance – “Spark”
Video: Data Romance – “Can’t Keep Your Mind Off”
Video: Data Romance – “The Deep”
Video: Data Romance – “She’s Been High”
Next it was to the Creatures Creating studio space – or more accurately, the tinfoil and lightshow-adorned basement of the studio space – where Toronto music and arts institution Wavelength was holding the final night of their NXNE showcases and previewing their upcoming Roadshow tour which would send three Toronto bands on the road to do their thing across Ontario and Quebec over the next couple weekends. The first of these, Most People, comprised just two people and a whole lot of musical gear of the guitar, bass, percussion, and electronic persuasion which they alternated between tag team-style while building sound-on-sound pop songs that seemed to fold in on themselves but straightened themselves out when needed, being sure to leave the hooks exposed. While their yelpy vocal stylings weren’t to my taste and the songs could stand to be more concise, there’s no denying they were fun to watch. And I’m not just saying that because they’re the only band I’ve ever seen with the same guitar amp as I have. Solidarity!
Photos: Most People @ Creatures Creating – June 15, 2013
Stream: Most People / Most People
I’d seen local jazz-noir collective Del Bel a couple times last year, but never with as lean a lineup as they had on this night – just five pieces, though I would imagine the logistics of getting any larger a group than that together and able to tour would be nigh on impossible. Even stripped down, though, they were able to both do the dark, evocative sounds of their debut Oneiric justice and give them a fresh angle that suited the boozecan feel of the room. Some new material from their forthcoming second album was also showcased, and affirmed that they’re still one of the most interesting and promising new acts bubbling under in Toronto.
Photos: Del Bel @ Creatures Creating – June 15, 2013
MP3: Del Bel with Bry Webb – “No Cure For Loneliness”
I feel as though I should offer a disclaimer about Fresh Snow – I used to be in a band with guitarist Brad Davis and have been friends for many years – but even without the personal angle, I would be excited to be writing about the band. What started as an interesting Krautrock-jam project has become a genuinely exciting psych-rock experience that exists at intersection of calculated and cacophonous. They can shift from Godspeed to Kraftwerk to Mogwai within the same song, and then segue to eminently danceable synth-led disco a few minutes later with some pleasantly woozy violin lines offering a decidedly human counterpoint to the mechanical rhythms driving things. And they might also blow the power in the venue a couple times, but nothing worthwhile comes without some cost. Their debut album i is due out in late July.
Photos: Fresh Snow @ Creatures Creating – June 15, 2013
Video: Fresh Snow – “Saturation Complete”
And that was my NXNE for 2013. Not nearly as intense as past years, but just about the right pace to keep me interested and alive. Trust me on that last point.
Unsurprisingly, with this year’s festival in the books, some of the buzzier bands who had undersized showcases have already announced bigger/proper shows for the not-too-distant future. Braids spin-off Blue Hawaii will be at Wrongbar on July 28 in support of their debut Untogether, released earlier this year and from which they’ve just released a new video.
MP3: Blue Hawaii – “In Two II”
Video: Blue Hawaii – “Reaction II”
And Majical Cloudz, who by all accounts was pretty intense in their showcases, continue to promote their debut Impersonator with a show at Wrongbar on September 17, tickets $12. The Toronto Star has an interview with frontman Devon Welsh.
MP3: Majical Cloudz – “Bugs Don’t Buzz”
The ALL CAPS! music festival has decided that five is enough and that this year’s edition, taking place at Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands across August 10 and 11, will be the final one. And who better to send it off with a fitting party than Rich Aucoin, who will headline the Sunday night alongside Brooklyn’s The Blow – closing out Saturday – and a lineup that also includes catl, Shotgun Jimmie, Elfin Saddle, and more, not to mention a whole lot of other arty stuff. A very limited number of camping passes go on sale June 25 for $52 early bird and $69 lollygagger, and festival passes where you have to go home for $24 going up to $30. Single-day tickets are $17 in advance.
MP3: Rich Aucoin – “It”
MP3: The Blow – “Hock It”
With a new double-album in Drifters/Love Is The Devil just out, Taiwan-born Montreal-based no-fi rockabilly act Dirty Beaches has announced Fall tour that hits The Garrison on September 11, tickets $13 in advance. Exclaim and Stereogum talk to Alex Zhang-Hungtai – he who is Dirty Beaches – about his latest opus.
Video: Dirty Beaches – “Casino Lisboa”
Interview, DIY, and Noisey talk to Katie Stelmanis of Austra, whose new record Olympia came out this week. They play The Phoenix on September 27.
Dears frontman Murray Lightburn has release the first MP3 and video from his forthcoming solo album Mass:Light; contrary to what I reported last month, the album itself has no announced release date yet.
MP3: Murray A. Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”
Video: Murray A. Lightburn – “Motherfuckers”
Beatroute has an interview with Toronto’s July Talk.
The Besnard Lakes talk to Beatroute.
The Georgia Straight and Beatroute check in with Yamantaka//Sonic Titan.