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Posts Tagged ‘Breezes’

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Telling The Hour

An incredibly selective guide to Canadian Musicfest 2013, featuring Mount Moriah

Photo By Andrew SynowiezAndrew SynowiezKnow what week it is? It’s Canadian Music Week, which means it’s also Canadian Musicfest, which means it’s the week where all the Toronto clubs filled up with acts from near and far and folks who would normally be out and about with a fistful of tickets guaranteeing admission were now brandishing wristbands that they hoped would get them into the clubs and prove to be the mathematically superior value that they hoped.

And if those equations included trying to get into the shows of advertised headliners Rihanna or Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, that’s unfortunate – only a handful of VIP passes are being allowed into those, so basically no average punters – but for those willing to do the club-hopping and take a flyer on some unknown quantities, they can still pay off handsomely. So to that end, here’s some suggestions of things to see over the next week; some will be familiar, others not, hailing from near and far.

It’s kind of a shame that in 2013, being described as “rootsy” means your wardrobe could belong to an “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” cosplayer because while the sounds North Carolina’s Mount Moriah make are deeply steeped in folk and country traditions, their just-released full-length debut Miracle Temple is unapologetically modern-sounding. Lead singer Heather McEntire’s voice can twang like Dolly or sigh like Emmylou, but you can also hear her punk-rock bonafides from her time in Bellafea, and the twistingly melodic guitar lines put down by Jenks Miller make no effort to hide his tenure in psych-metalers Horseback. Hurtin’ songs that can still kick like a mule.

Wednesday, March 20, 11PM @ The Drake Underground

MP3: Mount Moriah – “Younger Days”
Video: Mount Moriah – “Bright Light”

Cincinnati trio The Seedy Seeds were a fun time at NXNE 2012 and clearly, they enjoyed the Toronto festival circuit as well as they’re bringing their fun and danceable (but not dance) indie-pop back to town.

Tuesday, March 19, 9:30PM @ The El Mocambo (upstairs)
Wednesday, March 20, 10PM @ Annex Live

Video: The Seedy Seeds – “Telephone The Constrictor”

Before you get too excited, this is NOT the local debut of the Nick McCabe/Simon Jones project that rose from the ashes of the last Verve reunion… but The Black Ships, who hail from just outside of Albany, New York, do a pretty convincing job with their ’80s UK post-punk-influenced sound.

Tuesday, March 19, 1AM @ Rancho Relaxo

Stream: The Black Ships – “Bangalor”

The Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES has been getting more than its share of buzz – including here – but their set merits re-mentioning if just to remind you to get to the Mod Club early because it’s-a gonna fill up.

Wednesday, March 20, 10PM @ The Mod Club

MP3: CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share”

Dancey, metal-distorted, keyboard-driven, Krautrock from Reykjavik, with a sense of humour – with an elevator pitch like that, how could you now want to catch Apparat Organ Quartet? Their 2012 album Pólýfónía just got a domestic release last week – do let them cave your head in with sound as a hello.

Wednesday, March 20, 12AM @ The Garrison
Saturday, March 23, 6:45PM @ The Hoxton

Video: Apparat Organ Quartet – “123 Forever”

Montreal’s Breezes put on a solid set of harmony-laden guitar-pop at last year’s CMF, and now they’re back with their self-titled debut finished and out so if you’re planning on camping out at the Horseshoe all night as many often do, why not show up early enough to hear some of it.

Thursday, March 21, 8:39PM @ The Horseshoe

Video: The Breezes – “Cross The USA”

Yeah, another Irish-German art-rock duo formed in Paris, but Kool Thing’s blend of beats, guitars, and sexy Euro attitude stands out from the pack. They’ve got enough shows this week that you’d probably have to make the effort to miss them and you really probably shouldn’t.

Thursday, March 21, 8:45PM @ The Drake Underground
Saturday, March 23, TBA @ The Great Hall
Sunday, March 24, 8PM @ The Garrison

Video: Kool Thing – “PLAN.LIFE.GO”
Video: Kool Thing – “Light Games”

I by no means endorse random Twitter messages as a way to get peoples’ ears, but Amanda Merdzan gets a rare pass because the tune she linked – which I listened to in a rare moment of indulgence – was quite lovely. So see her if you can – she’s coming all the way from Australia to play for you! – but if you’re a band, don’t start @-ing me. The odds of this happening again are minuscule.

Thursday, March 21, 9:45PM @ The Church Of The Holy Trinity
Friday, March 23, 11PM @ The Central

Video: Amanda Merdzan – “Afraid”

Prince Edward Islanders Two Hours Traffic are hardly an unknown quantity, but their latest Foolish Blood is proof that lineup shuffles haven’t affected their ability to write classically-styled jangle-pop, but they may be getting even better and more sophisticated at it.

Thursday, March 21, 12AM @ Lee’s Palace

Video: Two Hours Traffic – “Amour Than Amis”

Sóley Stefánsdóttir – Sóley for short, purveyor of haunting electro-folk, and also a member of Seabear – is part of the miniature Icelandic invasion taking place this CMW and possibly part of the advance team, having opened up for Of Monsters & Men at the Kool Haus last November.

Thursday, March 21, 6:30-8PM @ Moog Audio
Friday, March 22, 10PM @ The Drake Underground
Saturday, March 23, 8:15PM @ The Hoxton

Video: Sóley – “Pretty Face”

One of the up-and-coming voices of the London folk scene, Lucy Rose will draw the honour of being the sole international act on the sure-to-be-jammed, Besnard Lakes-headlined Friday night Lee’s Palace lineup. Her debut Like I Used To came out last Fall.

Friday, March 22, 10:30PM @ Lee’s Palace

Video: Lucy Rose – “Shiver”

If memory serves, Sweden’s This Is Head were supposed to play Canadian Musicfest last year, but were one of the many acts to cancel at the last minute. Unlike many of those no-shows, however, they’ve made the effort to come back and share their danceable electro-sonic ideas with you before releasing their new record The Album ID later this Spring.

Thursday, March 21, 6:30-8PM @ Moog Audio
Friday, March 22, 11PM @ The Garrison
Saturday, March 23, 10PM @ Annex Live

Video: This Is Head – “A-B Version”

London quartet Savages entered 2013 as one of the most talked-about new acts thanks to their razor-wire post-punk sound and ferocious live shows, and if you’re the sort to want bragging rights about having seen big bands when they’re still playing small rooms, either of their CMF showcases should be circled in your calendar.

Friday, March 22, 11:10PM @ The Horseshoe
Saturday, March 23, 12AM @ Lee’s Palace

Stream: Savages – “Flying To Berlin”

Rising Toronto-based New Wave revivalists Decades caught my ear out of nowhere earlier this year, so maybe check them out and see if I’m onto something or not before their self-titled debut arrives on April 30.

Saturday, March 23, 9PM @ Lee’s Palace

Video: Decades – “Tonight Again”

Beams are a shiny-new, Toronto-based outfit who are still so green, they’ve but a couple of songs by which to judge them but considering their multi-part harmonies and country-rock instrumentation are as potent on their original compositions as on a Portishead cover, there’s no reason to not believe they’ve got plenty more goodness up their sleeves.

Saturday, March 23, 9PM @ The Silver Dollar

Stream: Beams – “Be My Brother”

Gotta say, after writing a lot of blurbs about artists who work in various subgenres of rock, it’s kind of nice to be able to describe Toronto’s Lost Babies as simply “rock” – dirty guitars, sexy/snarly vocals, and a goodly dollop of attitude.

Saturday, March 23, 11:30PM @ The Shop Under Parts & Labour

Stream: The Lost Babies – “Wasps”

You might think that dance-pop from Germany would be of the stoic, metronomic, Kraftwerk-ian variety but Hamburg duo BOY – who are in fact two girls OH MY GOD I GET IT – are as hand-clappy, swingingly fun as… Germans? Like an Icona Pop you wouldn’t be afraid to take home to the parents or get locked in a room with.

Saturday, March 23, 11PM @ The El Mocambo (upstairs)
Sunday, March 24, 10PM @ The Dakota Tavern

Video: BOY – “Little Numbers”

Have done duty in Shapes & Sizes and Think About Life, Montreal’s Caila Thompson-Hannant is now getting her synth-pop/R&B-funk on as Mozart’s Sister. Comparisons to Grimes are entirely justified, but that doesn’t make it any less catchy – and this comes from someone who really didn’t like Shapes & Sizes.

Saturday, March 23, 1AM @ The Comfort Zone

MP3: Mozart’s Sister – “Single Status”

And if you want to know who’s playing Sonic Boom for their annual CMF in-store fest, check out the Facebook page. I can’t be bothered to type anymore.

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Canadian Musicfest 2012 Day Three

Housse de Racket, The Weather Station, Big Scary and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangNeither of Toronto’s club-level music festivals do especially well at recreating the day show culture of the likes of SXSWNXNE obviously has the edge in this department on account of being in the Summer and not the trailing edge of Winter, but that’s not stopping Canadian Musicfest from trying, at least a little. Case in point, the Aussie BBQ that took over both floors of the El Mocambo on Saturday afternoon and offering a second (or third or fourth) showcase for many of the acts in town from Down Under. And while the “barbecue” end of things could stand with some improvement – somehow I don’t think that slightly undercooked sausages wrapped in a piece of white bread is how they do things in Canberra – the musical component did just fine.

I got there in time to see Husky, a foursome from Melbourne who had the fortune of arriving to the festival on the back of having just signed a deal with Sub Pop – the legendary Seattle label would be giving their debut album Forever So a North American debut on July 12. And though they don’t hail from the Pacific northwest, it’s not hard to see the outfit – named not for the dog or their size but for frontman Husky Gawenda – fitting in just fine with the more plaid-clad portion of the label’s roster. They take the ’60s beard-folk sound into ’70s, incorporating jazz, prog, and classical elements alongside their rich, three-part harmonies. Expect some Fleet Foxes references when the album comes out, for though Gawenda’s voice doesn’t soar like Robin Pecknold’s – it’s more of a warm blanket – the parallels are there.

Photos: Husky @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
MP3: Husky – “The Woods”
Video: Husky – “The Woods”
Video: Husky – “Dark Sea”

Playing immediately after and upstairs was Teeth & Tongue, whom from press photos I’d assume were at least a duo but was in fact just transplanted New Zealander Jess Cornelius, her keyboard, and a bushel of electronically-crafted pop. The backing tracks were well-arranged to make things sound full without crossing the line into karaoke territory, and Cornelius kept the attention on her with a big voice that was impressive without being showy. Moody and just a bit shy of goth-y, I imagine Teeth & Tongue excel in a full band setup but still did quite well on her own.

Photos: Teeth & Tongue @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
Video: Teeth & Tongue – “Unfamiliar Skirts”
Video: Teeth & Tongue – “Sad Sun”
Stream: Teeth & Tongue / Tambourine

Next up were Perth’s Voltaire Twins, who may have been siblings – at least professionally, Jaymes and Tegan share the Voltaire surname – but were most definitely not identical twins; they couldn’t look less alike with her a pixie-like blonde and he a Michael Cera lookalike. But superficial nitpicking aside, they put on a fun and energetic set of electro-pop heavy on synths, percussion and hooks. The songwriting felt a bit shallow but this wasn’t sit, stare into your drink and ruminate music – it was bounce around tuneage and in that department, the band led by example – even when Jaymes lost power to his setup for half of the last song, he didn’t miss a step.

Photos: Voltaire Twins @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
MP3: Voltaire Twins – “Animalia”
Video: Voltaire Twins – “Animalia”

I think a lot of people have pre-conceived notions about how a two-piece, guitar/drums band will sound – blame The White Stripes, I think – but Melbourne’s Big Scary refused to fulfill those stereotypes. Rather than bombast, they focused on tightly-arranged vocals and instrumentation with Tom Iansek moving from guitar to keys and Jo Syme holding down the kit and both singing rather soulfully. Their songs were earnest and full and covered territory from moody ballads through bluesy – but not blues – rockers.

Photos: Big Scary @ The El Mocambo – March 24, 2012
MP3: Big Scary – “Autumn”
Video: Big Scary – “Leaving Home”
Video: Big Scary – “Gladiator”
Video: Big Scary – “Mix Tape”
Video: Big Scary – “Tuesday Is Rent Day”
Stream: Big Scary / MixTape

At this point it was nice – and necessary – to take a little break from the live music, but the proverbial second wind arrived just in time to carry me down to Parkdale to see The Weather Station at The Drake Underground. I knew Tamara Lindeman as one of the newer members of Bruce Peninsula but also knew that her second solo album All Of It Was Mine was getting as much praise (if not more) than that band. And rightly so; though it’s a simple recording, it’s also intricately detailed both literally and metaphorically and the arrangements may be spare but they’re also meticulously considered. Both on record and on stage, where Lindeman played guitar or banjo and was accompanied only by lap steel, a couple backing singers and drums for a couple songs, it’s evident there’s tremendous depth to the songs and the space left around them just afforded a better view and when they ended suddenly, as they sometimes did, it’s because they said what they needed to and nothing more. A remarkable set and a remarkable record. Pitchfork has an interview with Lindeman, who plays The Mod Club on April 13 in support of Bahamas.

Photos: The Weather Station @ The Drake Underground – March 24, 2012
MP3: The Weather Station – “Everything I Saw”

It was then down the street to Wrongbar for the last venue of the night and the festival. First up was Montreal five-piece The Breezes, who were a last-minute addition to the fest when Iceland’s Bloodgroup pulled out. My understanding is that the band have been somewhat… chameleonic in their musical stylings in the past, but it seems that they’ve settled – for the moment at least – on a classic guitar pop template for their sound. With their three lead vocalists, comparisons to Teenage Fanclub came to mind but are offered only with the caveat that The Breezes bring a little more swing to things and aren’t as brilliant as those Scots but that’s not really a slight – who is? They were genial performers despite the slim crowd in the early going, and really got most interesting towards the end of their set with some of their noisier or more experimental tendencies began to bleed into their songs. If they decide to shift gears again, that might be one way to go.

Photos: The Breezes @ Wrongbar – March 24, 2012
MP3: The Breezes – “Promethean Eyes”
Video: The Breezes – “Oceans”
Video: The Breezes – “Count To Eleven”

Having known Reg Vermue for some years and seen Gentleman Reg countless times, adjusting to his new identity as Regina Theegentlelady in Light Fires, his/her new project with Ohbijou’s James Bunton, has taken a little time. But that’s also because it’s taken a little time for it to coalesce from concept to execution and based on this show, it might be just about there. Though Reg/Regina’s vocals are still as distinctive as ever, their disco-ish electro is a far cry from the guitar-pop of Gentleman Reg and oh yeah, seeing him/her pulling off some fairly elaborate and aerobic dance routines to go with the songs – though climbing on top of two wobbly barstools to sing would not have topped my list of smart things to do – was also new. There’s only been a single released but an album is in the works, and if you’re waiting for more Gentleman Reg material, it might be a while – Light Fires would seem to be the priority right now.

Photos: Light Fires @ Wrongbar – March 24, 2012
Video: Light Fires – “Ten Feet Tall”

And finishing things off in grand fashion were Parisian duo Housse de Racket. Their elevator pitch would sound something like, “Phoenix meets The Strokes” and while that’s not wrong – their second album Alesia certainly has some of that eminently danceable guitar/synth-pop with that distinctive Gallic sheen to it – it wouldn’t have done the intensity of their live show justice. Pierre Leroux had synths at the ready but spent most of the show attending to – or abusing – his Telecaster while co-conspirator Victor le Masne dazzled with his heavy, yet nimble drumming. Not dancing was not an option, and while the room wasn’t nearly full – if this show had taken place outside a festival or if they’d been rightfully identified as one of the must-sees of the week rather than be overlooked, I wager at it’d have been at least 50% better attended – those there took advantage of the extra space to bust a move or two; you couldn’t not. With plenty of French charm, they worked the room like it was a much bigger crowd and by set’s end, having built up a real head of steam, were damn near heroic-sounding; a grand and dazzling end to the festival. The Georgia Straight has an interview with the band.

Photos: Housse de Racket @ Wrongbar – March 24, 2012
MP3: Housse de Racket – “Roman”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Chateau”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Roman”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Oh Yeah!”
Video: Housse de Racket – “Synthétiseur”
Video: Housse de Racket – “1-2-3-4”

And before I collapse into the weekend, which I need to do – writing up festivals is arguably more tiring than actually attending them – there’s some show announcements you should really know about.

Sweden’s We Are Serenades used to be called just Serenades but presumably they ran into some legal troubles on that front. In any case, it’s still Adam Olenius of Shout Out Louds and Markus Krunegard and their rather Euro-pop debut Criminal Heaven gets a North American release on April 17. In support, they’re putting together a North American tour and will be at The Garrison on May 14. They were one of the bands I wanted to but failed to see at SXSW, so I may try and hit this one up.

MP3: We Are Serenades – “Birds”
MP3: We Are Serenades – “Oceans”
Video: We Are Serenades – “Oceans”

One of the show announcements I’ve been waiting for all year is finally here. As Eric Bachmann promised last Summer, the Archers Of Loaf reunion is coming to Toronto on June 16 at The Phoenix as part of NXNE. Tickets are $24.50 in advance and go on sale today. Yeah I know you’ve bought Radiohead tickets. Your loss.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “What Did You Expect”
MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Wrong”

Nashville’s JEFF The Brotherhood – just here in February – are coming back for a show at Wrongbar on June 23, tickets $13 in advance.

Video: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Whatever I Want”

And I never listened to Swedish hardcore punks Refused back when they were still around – almost the definition of not my thing – but apparently they were big enough that their reunion tour can support not one but two nights at The Sound Academy, with OFF! – themselves sporting impressive punk credentials – as support. Those dates are July 22 and 23 and tickets are $35.99 in advance.

MP3: OFF! – “King Kong Brigade”
Video: Refused – “New Noise”