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Posts Tagged ‘Dilly Dally’

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Drain

Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, and Dilly Dally at The Silver Dollar in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA glance at the sandwich board outside the Silver Dollar on Saturday night would shown a bill of bands with largely vague and generic names, yet if one were to have stepped inside and takn in the bill, they’d have found the appellations remarkably descriptive and appropriate.

I’d seen locals Dilly Dally a few years ago at Halifax Pop Explosion 2010, and despite the rough edges – or maybe because of them – I liked what I heard and was happy to have the opportunity to check in with them again, what with their not having especially blown up in the interim. What had transpired between then and now, however, was a dialing down of the early ’00s garage rock snottiness in favour of a heavier, jerkier Pixies-esque sound and songwriting style. So while still rather on the nose with their influences, their material was definitely more distinctive and, should a record finally emerge, it should be interesting and an aural salve for anyone who feared sullenly tuneful indifference was a thing of the past.

I don’t know if Toronto really had a former great shoegazing hope amongst all the bands operating, but they’ve certainly got a next one in Breeze. Looking and sounding the part of the first wave of the genre – Jazzmasters, check; shaggy curly hair and striped shirts, check – their songs were simply structured, unfailingly melodic, and struck the right balance of soft, dreamy vocals and churning guitars that wisely saved their really noisy moments for the instrumental breaks. There wasn’t any specific aspect of them that marked them as burgeoning superstars but as a unit they were really strong on fundamentals, their drummer as solid as he wasn’t flashy. Signed to local label Hand Drawn Dracula, they’ve only got a couple singles out at the moment but a debut album is forthcoming and for fans of the genre, worth keep an eye out for.

Philadelphia’s Nothing were the front half of the touring bill that was anchoring this show, and though I hadn’t heard them before, their name was a pretty good indicator of where they were coming from. While you could technically argue they were in keeping with the shoegazing theme of the evening, they were less about having sound wash over you than hit you like a brickbat. Though punishingly loud, they avoided sonic incoherence and if you paid close attention, were fundamentally tuneful under it all – a trait which became clearer the few times they turned the distortion down. I’m kind of amazed how different they sound on their last release, the Downward Years To Come 12″ EP, which is much more classically shoegaze in conceit and execution. Though as it turned out, that Jekyll and Hyde phenomenon wasn’t isolated to them.

The first sign that this Whirr set might not be what I was expecting was that as Nothing tore down and they set up, the grinding feedback that closed the former’s performance continued to reverberate through the club until they began playing. The second was that there was no sign of singers Alexandra Morte, who appeared on their Pipe Dreams and Distressor albums, or Kristina Esfandiari who appeared on this year’s Around mini-LP. Considering the female vocals are a huge part of the band on record – their being the softness that buttresses against the band’s waves of sound – it was a pretty big absence. Not that they’d have necessarily been heard anyways, since the guitars and drums were so loud that the vocals were rendered completely inaudible. Seriously, they could have been lip-synching or singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and you wouldn’t have known; given this, that Nothing’s singer jumped on stage to sing one song was kind of hilarious.

This is not to suggest the show lacked presence or impact; Whirr had a physicality onstage not often seen at shows of this ilk, with all five moving as though jerked by marionette strings or being impacted by the notes they were playing, but given that their ability to capture on record that My Bloody Valentine-esque dichotomy of sonic brutality and aural beauty is a huge part of the band’s appeal, that they’d choose not to indulge that at all was rather frustrating. An guitar line would occasionally surface that gave some indication of what song it was they were playing, but the live renditions were so far removed from the recordings – if the album versions were watercolours, live they were huge swathes of jet-black paint – that experiencing the show on anything but a purely visceral level was largely futile. And while that approach was satisfying in its way, it also got tedious after a while. I found it curious that the band would go through the trouble of writing, recording, releasing, and touring these songs only to opt to bludgeon them to death every night, but I suppose that’s their prerogative. I do hope, however, that some of the people who were impressed enough to buy records after their set take them home, put them on, and are confused by all the actual songs.

The Aquarian has a short interview with Whirr.

Photos: Whirr, Nothing, Breeze, Dilly Dally @ The Silver Dollar – August 17, 2013
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Helen Hunt”
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Pretty Pretty Pictures”
Stream: Whirr – “Drain”
Stream: Whirr – “Swoon”
Stream: Nothing / Downward Years To Come
Stream: Breeze – “Paradise (In a While)”
Stream: Breeze – “Repent”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Tip Toes”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Green”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Killing Time”
Stream: Dilly Dally – “Candy Mountain”

Grantland, The AV Club, and The Fly talk to Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, whose new album I Hate Music is out this week.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has the low-down on the players replacing the missing Replacements at Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson’s side at Riot Fest at Garrison Commons on August 25.

Neko Case has made her new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You available to stream a full two weeks ahead of its September 3 release via NPR.

Stream: Neko Case / The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

USA Today has premiered the next performance video from Okkervil River’s forthcoming The Silver Gymnasium, this one of which finds Will Sheff playing in the titular gymnasium of his old grade school. The record comes out September 3 and they play The Phoenix on September 28.

Video: Okkervil River – “Lido Pier Suicide Car” (live in the Silver Gymnasium)

Consequence Of Sound have a stream of another track from the new of Montreal album lousy with sylvianbriar, out October 8.

Stream: of Montreal – “She Ain’t Speakin’ Now”

Matablog has details on Lee Ranaldo’s new solo record; credited to Lee Ranaldo & The Dust, Last Night On Earth will be out on October 8 and you can stream the first track from it below. This offers some context to Ranaldo’s previously-announced date at The Horseshoe on October 11.

Stream: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust – “Lecce, Leaving”

Magnet spends some (a lot) of time with Josh Tillman of Father John Misty. You can do the same when he plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre solo on October 15.

Pitchfork has a new sort-of performance video from Fiona Apple and Blake Mills, whose co-tour comes to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 17.

We Talk You Die interviews new Midlake frontman Eric Pulido about their new record Antiphon, coming November 5.

The Alternate Side has a session and interview with Yo La Tengo.

KCRW is streaming an acoustic studio session with The National.

NPR welcomes Mikal Cronin for a World Cafe session; Spoonfed also has an interview.

MTV Hive and Glamour talk to Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee.

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Halifax Pop Explosion 2010 Day Four

It Kills, Great Lake Swimmers, Milks & Rectangles and more at Halifax Pop Explosion

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI guess the final day of coverage is as good a time as any to talk about some of the non-Pop Explosion aspects of my visit to Halifax, which was my first-ever visit to the east coast and first trip within Canada in over three years. Though to be honest, I didn’t do a whole lot that wasn’t HPX-related – some wandering around downtown Halifax, which seemed to be in a particularly epic state of construction and/or renovation, the previously mentioned fast/walkabout to Point Pleasant, and most enjoyably a visit to the exceedingly photogenic but also incredibly cold and windy Peggys Cove, which had the added bonus of some picturesque Autumn foliage on the drive out.

Still, the best parts of the trip were thanks to the festival and conference, where I got to participate in a panel on blogging (natch) with You Ain’t No Picasso, Hero Hill and The Line Of Best Fit (and apologies to anyone who misinterpreted when I said, “the first songs you write will be terrible, and the next ones will also be terrible but less so” – I was trying to be encouraging! They’ll get better!) and just generally got to hang out with peeps old and new; Halifax offers many great places for lounging about, waiting for the… leisurely wait staff.

And of course there was the music. I’d gone relatively light on shows through the first few days so Saturday was the day to make it up some – and a good start was a matinee performance by Great Lake Swimmers. I hadn’t seen the band play since Spring 2007, by which point they’d already graduated to playing churches and halls that complimented their gorgeous, ghostly folk – pretty much the polar opposite from the dark and (pleasantly) grubby Seahorse Tavern. And as lovely as the performances in those more stately venues are, there was something really exciting about seeing them in relatively rougher and tumbler (?) environs – they ran through their set with more jump and flourish than I think I’ve ever seen them with and having a great time of it. Seeing as how a tour of churches and the like would be a special outing for most bands, I propose that the Great Lake Swimmers cross Canada while playing the seediest clubs possible. By the time they hit the coast, they’ll be downright metal.

Photos: Great Lake Swimmers @ The Seahorse Tavern – October 23, 2010
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “I Am A Part Of A Large Family”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “River’s Edge”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Stealing Tomorrow”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Still”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Back Stage With The Modern Dancers”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “To Leave It All Behind”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Bodies & Minds”
MySpace: Great Lake Swimmers

The evening programme kicked off at Hero Hill’s showcase at the cozy Company House and locals It Kills. Of all the bands’ MySpaces I cruised in advance of the festival, theirs caught my attention the most and buoyed by Radio Free Canuckistan’s glowing review of their self-titled debut, it was one of the few immovable shows on my schedule. Describing them is no easy task; the four-piece of guitar, cello, drums and piano certainly incorporated elements of Godspeed, Kronos and Explosions into their baroque take on orchestral post-rock, but rather than the build-and-release typical of the style, they instead meditate on the moment like a suspended breath. Add on top of that choral harmonies that may or may not be wordless – it could be hard to tell in the mix – and you had something that had familiar touchstones but still sounded unlike anything I’d heard before. Recommended? Yeah.

Photos: It Kills @ The Company House – October 23, 2010
MP3: It Kills – “Jump Kid”

It was then down the street to the Paragon Theatre for Toronto’s Dilly Dally. I hadn’t heard of them before but they were pretty appealing in their punky (though not especially punk) rock, which came liberally drenched in grease and snot, but also with a dollop of melody and attitude. About midway through their set frontwoman Katie Monks mentioned her brother’s band would be playing later that night, and something snapped into place – you could hear some of the same record collection DNA that informs Tokyo Police Club’s sound in Dilly Dally’s, but while rougher, the latter is potentially more interesting. Their set lasted barely 30 minutes and exhausted their entire repertoire, but it was more than enough to impress. They have a couple of Toronto shows coming up – The Tranzac tomorrow night, October 27, and The Garage on November 5.

Photos: Dilly Dally @ The Paragon Theatre – October 23, 2010
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Helen Hunt”
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Pretty Pretty Pictures”

The lack of anywhere else to be at 10PM kept me at the Paragon for Calgary’s Ghostkeeper, even though their self-titled debut had failed to impress me the way it had those who got it onto this year’s Polaris long list. Happily, I found them more enjoyable live as their brand of abrupt, deconstructed blues and pop was prone to outbursts of rocking out and was softened up by some nice boy-girl vocals. Even so, about midway through their set I noticed on Twitter that someone said the venue was at capacity and, being the generous soul I am, I decided to let someone else have my spot.

Photos: Ghostkeeper @ The Paragon Theatre – October 23, 2010
MP3: Ghostkeeper – “Like Moose Do”
MP3: Ghostkeeper – “By Morning”
Video: Ghostkeeper – “Haunted”

After a visit to Pizza Corner for my first donair and one of the messiest dining experiences of my life, it was to the Foggy Goggle for the last stop of the night and the festival. Prince Edward Island’s Milks & Rectangles wasn’t the reason I went there, initially, but quickly into their set they became just about the highlight of the night. I would be surprised if any reviews of the band failed to mention Franz Ferdinand, and the comparison is an apt one – though they may not cut as dapper a figure as the Scots, they do mine much of the same New Wave/post-punk dance rock landscape and do it really well. That’s not all they’ve got in their arsenal, though – they also had a knack for half-anthemic (no fist pumping) singalongs and quirky art-rock, but most importantly, they knew that if you got the girls in the audience dancing, you’d already won. And having apparently brought an entire party with them from PEI, the girls were definitely dancing. It was a loud, sweaty and irresistible set that deserved – and got – an encore. Their last two EPs – Dirty Gold and Troubleshooters – are available to download for free and while neither quite captures the tightness and excellence of the live show, they do affirm that this is a band that could do great things.

Photos: Milks & Rectangles @ The Foggy Goggle – October 23, 2010
MP3: Milks & Rectangles – “Gold Teeth / Diamond Ring”
MP3: Milks & Rectangles – “Wink And A Gun (The Jury’s Hung)”
MySpace: Milks & Rectangles

And to wrap it all up, Gramercy Riffs. Now I had thought that, hailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland, that they’d have a flotilla of fans out to support them but as it turns out, they now call Toronto and Montreal home and this was, apparently, their first time playing Halifax. Needless to say, the big, rowdy throw-down I expected didn’t quite happen but considering how… boisterous their appearance at NXNE got and how it didn’t quite feature the band at their best, maybe that was a good thing. Because though this performance was a few degrees more subdued than that one, it was also less ramshackle and put the focus on the band’s proper strengths – namely their two excellent frontpersons in Mara Pellerin and Lee Hanlon (even though Pellerin’s vocals were poorly mixed for much of the show). Their different yet complimentary deliveries elevate Gramercy Riffs and their debut It’s Heartbreak above many others who’d seek to make adjectiveless pop-rock. A performance level somewhere between this one and the NXNE one would have been ideal, but still a good time and a good wrap to the fest.

Photos: Gramercy Riffs @ The Foggy Goggle – October 23, 2010
MP3: Gramercy Riffs – “Call Me”
MySpace: Gramercy Riffs

Many thanks to the folks at HPX and in Halifax in general for a great trip. Less thanks to the security staff at Stanfield International airport, who take whole Maritime friendliness a touch too far in stopping to chat with everyone who passes through their metal detector. I barely made it onto my flight and that included a 10-minute boarding delay. But anyways.

Under The Radar has details on the new album from The DearsDegeneration Street will be out February 15 of next year and the first single, “Omega Dog”, is available now for $0.99.

I don’t know if all the names will fit on the sandwich board outside, but a worthy bill hits the Horseshoe on November 25 with The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”
MP3: Leif Vollebekk – “Northernmost Eva Maria”
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Eggshells”

There’s interviews with Diamond Rings over at aux.tv, Macleans, Spinner, Exclaim and Interview. Special Affections is out now and the record release show goes tonight at the Garrison.