Posts Tagged ‘Great Bloomers’

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Intro To Season

Review of Ohbijou's Beacons and giveaway

Photo By Jess BaumungJess BaumungThere’s many reasons to be thankful that Beacons, the sophomore effort from Toronto’s Ohbijou, has finally arrived. Twelve at least, but for me there’s also the fact that two and a half years after first discovering the act at the very first V Fest, it gives me something new to talk about as I’ve completely run out of things to say about them with respect to their debut record, Swift Feet For Troubling Times.

If Swift Feet was the aural equivalent of a walk through the woods on a crisp and silent Winter’s day, Casey Mecija’s voice and the band’s bedroom chamber-pop orchestrations keeping your head warm like the furry lining of a parka, then Beacons continues that walk through the city on the cusp of Spring. It’s not concerned with the bright lights and hustle and bustle of downtown, but the side streets where real life happens and a thousand individual stories unfold behind closed doors. And it’s these intimate tales that populate Mecija’s songs, impressionist in rendering yet exquisitely detailed and lifted up by a band that’s infinitely more confident this time out. Whereas Swift Feet was happy to keep things consistently cozy, Beacons embraces Ohbijou’s more extroverted side, which frequently bubbled up and over in their live show. Songs like “Make It Gold” and “Black Ice” build and swell to crescendos that might have been jarring on Swift Feet but feel not only natural, but necessary on Beacons – the sense of renewal and potential that permeates the album demands action. Sweeping, musical action.

If Beacons had come out on its original mid-April release date, it would have been a wonderful record for Spring. But the business of signing of record deals both at home and abroad necessitated its
delay – it was released in the UK last week via Bella Union and Last Gang is putting it out in Canada next Tuesday, June 16, and in the US on June 23 – so it will simply have to settle for being a wonderful record.

Ohbijou will play a hometown record release show at the Opera House on June 25, and courtesy of LiveNationa, Last Gang and the band, I’ve got three terrific prize packs to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show, a copy of the album on CD and an Ohbijou t-shirt. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to Ohbijou” in the subject line and your full name, mailing address and t-shirt size in the body. Contest open to local-type folk and will close at midnight, June 20. And if you can’t make the show for whatever reason, take heart – the band have announced that they will play an in-store at Soundscapes on June 17 at 7PM and Casey Mecija will play a set accompanied by Evening Hymns at the Whipper Snapper Gallery on June 20 at 9PM as part of NxNE.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Black Ice”
MySpace: Ohbijou

Also playing a just-announced in-store, Pink Mountaintops. They’ll warm up for their show at the Horseshoe the evening of June 14 in support of Outside Love with a short set at Sonic Boom at 3PM.

MP3: Pink Mountaintops – “Vampire”
MP3: Pink Mountaintops – “While We Were Dreaming”

NPR gets Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker to play a Tiny Desk Concert. I’m sorry, but that desk looks decidedly normal-sized, if not rather large.

The Seattle Times interviews Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs.

The recent revival of interest in the life and times of Royal City may center on the Royal City compilation of rarities due out June 23, but in the band’s former home base of southern Ontario, at least, that’s not the end of it. Exclaim has details on a pair of tribute shows dubbed “Burning Torch: A Tribute to Royal City” taking place at the Ebar in Guelph on June 24 and at the Tranzac in Toronto on June 26. Performers will include Gentleman Reg, The Wooden Sky’s Gavin Gardiner, Constantines side-project Woolly Leaves and former Royal City skinman Nathan Lawr.

MP3: Royal City – “Can’t You Hear Me Calling”
MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”

It’s not much secret I’m an unrepentant Anglophile (I was actually repentant for a few years in the early part of this century but I got over that) so it’s good that UK music blog The Line Of Best Fit is balancing out the cross-Atlantic karmic balance with their Canuckophilia, manifested in their new column Oh! Canada, where they gush about new Canadian talent from a British perspective, and they’re taking it one further but compiling all-Canadian downloadable mixes, the first of which also contains another Beacons track from Ohbijou.

Secret Sessions is a new series coming to the online music portal and they’ve just begun filming the first batch of episodes at The Audio Recording Academy in Toronto and will run through the Summer – upcoming tapings will feature Great Bloomers and Oh No Forest Fires, amongst others. Admission to the tapings is free, just RSVP via the information on their website.

And another new show coming to is City Sonic, a series dedicated to interviewing Toronto artists such as Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt, Sarah Slean and Sebastien Grainger about the rooms and venues in the city that shaped their careers. A preview of some of the episodes will be taking place at the Drake on June 17 as part of NxNE, along with performances from Woodhands, Lioness and The D’Urbervilles.

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

CONTEST – Great Bloomers @ The Horseshoe – May 2, 2009

Photo By David WaldmanDavid WaldmanI feel a fair bit peer pressure around Toronto youngsters Great Bloomers, on account of the fact that I have friends who really like them and friends who are working with them and yet the couple times I saw them like last Summer, I came away impressed with various facets of them – their impressive musicianship in particular – but overall, not as smitten as I thought I would be. Their promise was obvious, but I didn’t think it was as coalesced as it needed to be at that point.

And now, some time later, they’ve just released their debut album Speak Of Trouble and it demonstrates a band that’s made great strides since we last crossed paths. It’s impeccably recorded and performed – almost unsettlingly so for an outfit just getting started. Theirs are an impressively polished batch of songs led by Lowell Sostomi’s twangy voice but also incorporating Southern rock boogie and jangly guitar and piano pop hooks. If you’re looking for the sloppiness of youth, look elsewhere – and therein lies the heart of my reservations, which are the same as I’d have since day one. It’s all so polite. Which is certainly better than affected angst, but still. Oh well, I suppose there’s plenty of greater complaints one could have than a record sounding too good, right?

The Great Bloomers are celebrating their album’s release next Saturday at the Horseshoe, May 2, and courtesy of Maple Music, I’ve got three prize packs to give away consisting of a pair of passes to the show and a copy of the new record on CD. AND for those who can’t make it or simply reside elsewhere, two more copies of the CD to dispense. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to see Great Bloomers” in the subject line if you can go to the show and “I want the Great Bloomers CD” if you just want the disc. In either case, include your full name and mailing address in the body and get that to me by midnight, April 30.

There’s an interview with the band at The Cord and a video feature at The National Post.

MP3: Great Bloomers – “The Young Ones Slept”

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

The Canadian Music Week That Was And Will Be

A look ahead to Canadian Music Week/Fest

Photo by Ian WestIan WestCanadian Music Week – sorry, Canadian Musicfest, as the showcase component has now been renamed – is a tricky time for me, because as much as I’d like to take in as much of the shows on offer as possible, I need to be mindful of saving energy for the big show – SxSW – the following week. To this end, I tend to be very particular about what I choose to see during CMW/F, avoiding if I can bands I’ve seen or can easily see again. Ironically, this usually means I don’t see all that much Canadian music during Canadian Music Week.

One of the acts definitely circled on the schedule is Sunderland, UK outfit The Week That Was, whose main claim to fame is being the spinoff project from Field Music drummer Peter Brewis. My interest in this band surprises me a bit because though I tried, I was never able to get into Field Music. Their attempts to meld prog rock and folk just sounded too studied and wasn’t able to connect, but after seeing their self-titled debut show up on more than a few 2008 year-end lists, I decided to give the new band a shot and it was a wise choice. The Week That Was sheds those more rustic touches and more fully embrace the rock – the drums are thunderous – without abandoning Field Music’s quirky musical sensibilities. TWTW feels more like a band than a project, so it just figures that this North American jaunt is their swan song, at least for the foreseeable future – the Brewis brothers are getting Field Music out of mothballs. Here’s hoping they bring some of the looseness of The Week That Was back to the mothership.

The Week That Was have two shows in Toronto this week – one at 11PM on Thursday, March 12 at the Gladstone Hotel and another at 6:30PM at the Mod Club opening up for The Ting Tings. The former is part of eye‘s three-night throwdown at the Gladstone and as such, they’ve got an interview with the band. Update: And apparently The Ting Tings have taken offense with the non-reverential tone of Brewis’ interview and have booted The Week That Was off the bill for the Mod Club show. But they will still be kicking it Saturday night, now at the El Mocambo at 1AM.

MP3: The Week That Was – “Scratch The Surface”
MP3: The Week That Was – “Learn To Learn”
Video: The Week That Was – “Scratch The Surface”
Video: The Week That Was – “Learn To Learn”

For the curious, the rest of my CMF schedule looks a little like this:

Ketch Harbour Wolves (Thursday, March 12, 9PM @ The Silver Dollar) – Toronto combo whose debut EP impressed last year and whose follow-up (available for free download on their site) was I Heart Music’s co-album of the year for 2008. That’s no faint praise.

MP3: Ketch Harbour Wolves – “Words”
MP3: Ketch Harbour Wolves – “Leaves”

6 Day Riot (Thursday, March 12, 10PM @ Rancho Relaxo) – The highlight of NxNE 2008, this London outfit is returning to Canada to win over Toronto once again and preview material from their forthcoming second album Have A Plan, targeted for a June release. They’re also playing at 1AM on Saturday, March 14, at Bread & Circus.

The Week That Was (Thursday, March 12, 11PM @ The Gladstone) – see above

Little Scream (Friday, March 13, 8PM @ The Silver Dollar) – One-woman Montreal act who made an impression opening up for Land Of Talk back in January. And still no website of any kind.

An Horse (Friday, March 13, 9PM @ The Tranzac) – Australian guitar-and-drums duo whose debut Rearrange Beds is set for release on March 17. Scrappy and catchy, they could be good. Actually, make that “should”. Hell, I’ll even commit to “will”. The Badger Herald has an interview and Filter has more North American tour dates, they they got a little “!”-happy, only the March 24-27 dates are with Wintersleep. An Horse are also appearing on Letterman the evening of the 11th.

MP3: An Horse – “Postcards”

The Darling DeMaes (Friday, March 13, 10PM @ The Silver Dollar) – Alternately folky and noirish, this Montreal band were initially a random selection so that I didn’t end up going home at 10PM on a Friday evening (not that I would have minded that) but I’m now actually quite interested to see/hear them and find out which side of them shows up. Their EP is up for grabs for free on their website.

MP3: The Darling DeMaes – “With A Magnifying Glass”
MP3: The Darling DeMaes – “A Day In Her Life”

We See Lights (Saturday, March 14, 8PM @ Bread & Circus) – They’re Scottish, and let’s be honest – all things being equal that’s probably enough to get me out to see you. There’s also a lot of them and have that sort of earnest folky cacophonous thing going on. They’re also playing on Thursday night at 9PM at Rancho Relaxo.

MySpace: We See Lights

Sofia Talvik (Saturday, March 14, 9PM @ Bread & Circus) – Swedish artist who recorded a duet with Bernard Butler before he became producer to the stars. Her fourth album Jonestown has its share of standard singer-songwriter fare, but also enough standout material to merit attention.

MP3: Sofia Talvik – “My James Dean”
Video: Sofia Talvik – “It’s Just Love” (with Bernard Butler)

The Morning After Girls (Saturday, March 14, 10PM @ The Tranzac) – Australian drone-rockers who didn’t impress too much with their first record compiling early EPs, but the new stuff from their forthcoming album Alone, due in May, sounds a lot more dynamic and interesting. Grab a download at RCRDLBL.

Video: The Morning After Girls – “Shadows Evolve”

The Assistants (Saturday, March 14, 11PM @ Neutral) – It’s jangly, homegrown power-pop. Can you go wrong? I certainly hope not.

MP3: The Assistants – “Fiction”

Obviously what I plan to see is not all that I endorse. Here’s some randomness with other bands playing the festival and worth your time:

eye talks to Angela Desveaux, who’s playing the Gladstone on Thursday at 10PM.

I Heart Music has uploaded a session from late last year with Jenn Grant. She’s at the Reverb at midnight on Saturday night.

Handsome Furs, who are the reason you won’t get into the Horseshoe anytime past 9PM let alone just before their midnight set Friday evening, have a new video from Face Control, which is out this week. Chart talks to Dan Boeckner about the new record (and again), which is currently streamable.

Video: Handsome Furs – “I’m Confused”
Stream: Handsome Furs / Face Control

Radio Free Canuckistan, Xtra and Chart have interviews with Gentleman Reg, who helps anchor the Thursday night lineup at the Horseshoe with an 11PM set.

The Toronto Star talks to Malajube, closing out the Sirius Satellite Radio showcase at the El Mocambo on Thursday night at midnight.

And while it’s not technically a CMW/F show, it’s certainly in the spirit of and features bands participating in – I speak of a matinee show on the Saturday, March 14 at the Trash Palace (converted theatre near Bathurst and King W) featuring The Rural Alberta Advantage, Dinosaur Bones, Great Bloomers and Peachcake. It’s an all-ages gig, starts at 2, over by 5 and admission is $6. And your fancy-pants CMF wristband won’t count for jack.