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Posts Tagged ‘Jenny Omnichord’

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

CONTEST – Out Of This Spark 5th Anniversary Party – February 25, 2012

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangWho: Forest City Lovers, Snowblink, Snailhouse, Bocce, Kite Hill, Richard Laviolette, Octoberman, The Meek, Jenny Omnichord
What/Why: Local label Out Of This Spark is turning five years old in 2012, and they’re marking a half-decade of discovering, incubating and launching some of the area’s best new talent the way any good anniversary should – with family, friends and a tonne of great music. Details on the event over here.
When: Saturday, February 25, 2012
Where: The Tranzac in Toronto (19+)
Who else: What, the bands listed above aren’t enough for you? Come on.
How: Tickets for the show are $15 in advance but courtesy of Out Of This Spark, I’ve got a special prize pack to give away consisting not only of a pair of passes to the event, but a complete Out Of This Spark catalog on CD – that’s all ten albums listed here including the ones that are essentially out of print, like the first Friends In Bellwoods compilation that launched the label and the pre-Arts & Crafts reissue of Timber Timbre’s breakout self-titled album. Because you know the collector in you wants it. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to be Out Of This Spark” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, February 21.

MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Snowblink – “Ambergris”
MP3: Snailhouse – “I Never Woke Up”
MP3: Octoberman – “Thirty Reasons”

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Hot Tips

The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns and Jenny Omnichord at The Garrison in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you were at The Garrison on Friday night and felt a sense of deja vu, it was with good reason. Though the occasion was the third anniversary party for Toronto label Out Of This Spark, you might have also been at the second anniversary party a year ago at The Tranzac which featured 3/4 of the same performers in The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers and Jenny Omnichord, or maybe the Evening Hymns release show in December, or perhaps at the Summerworks show in August which showcased The D’Urbervilles and Forest City Lovers, both separately and together. Maybe you were at one of these shows. Maybe you were at all of them. I was, anyways, and so trying to write this one up without overtly repeating myself is a bit of a challenge. But here we go.

As with last year, Jenny Omnichord (née Mitchell) was batting leadoff, armed with a couple of her namesake electronic instruments and a brace of odd and entertaining songs and banter. Her stuff was unapologetically twee and childlike, but also with a distinct streak of black humour running through them. Not necessarily the sort of stuff I’d listen to on my own, but as a way to kick off an evening, you could do far worse.

Following her were Evening Hymns, who’d crafted one of my favourite records of last year in Spirit Guides and while many artists spend their careers trying to capture the energy of their live show on record, the challenge of Evening Hymns is how to recreate the scope and grandeur of the album on stage. They came close at the record release show, but that required something like a dozen players and liberal use of smoke machines. This time out, they were a compact five-piece unit less concerned with recreating the songs as they were recorded than rendering them as best they could with what they had, and by and large it worked. While it was clear there was still some gelling necessary before they’d be at their best, all the parts needed to do these songs justice were in place – if this is the unit to take Spirit Guides on the road and out into the world, then it’s in good hands.

Much of the appeal of Forest City Lovers is their understatedness, and the way their melodic folk-pop insinuates itself into your mind subtly, rather than jump all about in your face. That said, it’s been quite nice to see them becoming more engaging and extroverted with each show and release of new music without losing those qualities – in particular, the two sides of their recent “Phodilus and Tyto” 7″ don’t even clock in at seven minutes, but offer a very exciting look at where their third album, currently being recorded, could be heading. Goodness knows they were the highlights of their live set, and considering the selections from Haunting Moon Sinking and The Sun And The Wind were no slouches, that’s saying something. The new record is easily one of the local releases I’m most looking forward to this year.

Considering how quickly frontman John O’Reagan’s Diamond Rings electro-pop solo project has taken off, it would be understandable if he opted to shelve the rock keep the eyeshadow on all the time. But happily, the man can multitask and The D’Urbervilles are wrapping up work on a new record and a number of new tunes were showcased in their set. Each time I see them, I further appreciate how they manage to evoke New Wave-ish/dance-rock touchstones without sounding like every other New Wave-ish/dance rock acts. Their set was short, punchy and would have been a fine cap to the evening and a testament to the quality of talent on the label, but they weren’t quite done yet.

As they did at the Summerworks show, the encore for the entire night brought Jenny Omnichord, Forest City Lovers and The D’Urbervilles out on stage together to perform one each of their songs in massive lineup-style. It wasn’t quite the prepared reimagining of the material as they’d done in August, but still good fun to see and hear regardless. And then they were done.

Narratives and Singing Lamb also have reviews of the show. Many of the performers are in action again over the next while – Forest City Lovers frontwoman Kat Burns is opening up solo-style for Asobi Seksu at the Drake on February 1, Evening Hymns are at the Music Gallery on February 10 as part of Wavelength 500 and The D’Urbervilles are opening up for Fucked Up at the Opera House on February 26.

Photos: The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns, Jenny Omnichord @ The Garrison – January 22, 2010
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Dragnet”
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Spin The Bottle”
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Hot Tips”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Scared Of Time”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Oh Humility” (live)
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Cedars”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Pirates”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Song For Morrie”
Video: Forest City Lovers – “Please, Don’t Go”
MySpace: The D’Urbervilles
MySpace: Forest City Lovers
MySpace: Evening Hymns

Speaking of Diamond Rings, the final seven copies of their split-7″ with PS I Love You – which with a “Best New Music” honorific for each of its sides may well be the best-reviewed piece of music in the history of Pitchfork, at least from a linear or temporal density perspective – are now up on eBay with new hand-screened arwtork and signed by the artists, and with proceeds of the auction going to Haitian relief efforts. Diamond Rings also has a couple of Canadian Musicfest showcases announced – March 11 at the Garrison and March 12 at The Silver Dollar – to go with their February 11 show at the Steam Whistle Roundhouse for Wavelength 500.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Facelove”

Pitchfork has details on the new album from Caribou, entitled Swim and due out April 20 – get the first MP3 in exchange for your email address.

Woodpigeon has paid tribute to the passing of Kate McGarrigle with a cover of what is probably their most famous song to those of a certain generation who grew up watching NFB shorts – “The Log Driver’s Waltz”. Woodpigeon plays the Drake Underground on February 11 and have an in-store at Soundscapes on February 14.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “The Log Driver’s Waltz” (live)

Celebrate the release of Basia Bulat’s new album Heart Of My Own today with a stunning performance of “The Shore” for Le Blogotheque’s Takeaway Shows, video sessions and interviews at Baeble Music’s Guest Apartment and interviews at The National Post, Canadian Press, Exclaim and Ca Va Cool.

Macleans has made available online the feature piece on Owen Pallett that came out of the multi-part interview posted at Radio Free Canuckistan last week. Pallett also plays cover boy of this month’s Exclaim, which I’ll link up when it goes up later today is live. He plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 8.

Southern Souls have posted a video session with The Balconies. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 10.

Kelowna.com talks to Joel Plaskett. He and the Thrush Hermit reunion are at Lee’s Palace on March 26 and 27.

Soundproof has an interview with Amy Millan, who is putting the solo thing on the back burner this year with both new Broken Social Scene and Stars records in the works.

Singing Lamb chats with Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija.

Those disappointed by the collateral damage from Fanfarlo’s canceled show last December will be pleased to know that the opener, Freelance Whales, will be joining the previously-announced Cymbals Eat Guitars tour and be at the El Mocambo on April 6. Express Night Out and The AV Club have features on the band, whose debut Weathervanes is getting a re-release on March 16.

And the best news of yesterday was that The National’s new album – previously rumoured to be entitled Shine but currently nameless – will be out in May and they’ll be on tour shortly thereafter with a Toronto date at Massey Hall on June 8. Massey Hall. This will be majestic. Ticket presale goes this morning at 10AM – your password is “bloodbuzz” – with tickets ranging in price from $32.50 to $53.50.

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

CONTEST – Out Of This Spark 3rd Anniversary Party @ The Garrison – January 22, 2010

Image via Out Of This SparkOut Of This SparkAnniversaries are those sorts of things that seem to keep coming around – every year or so, by my count – and so it is that just twelve months following their last “happy birthday to us” thrown down, Toronto label Out Of This Spark is doing it again. To mark their third anniversary, Out Of This Spark is commandeering The Garrison next Friday night, January 22, and putting on a show, Little Rascals-style.

On the bill will be The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns and Jenny Omnichord – and yes, three of the four played last year’s show. It’s not an expansive roster, folks. Both The D’Urbs and Forest City Lovers are readying new records for 2010, Evening Hymns are still celebrating the late 2009 of their wonderful Spirit Guides and Jenny Omnichord’s last release was 2008’s Charlotte Or Otis: Duets For Children, Their Parents, And Other People Too.

Tickets for the show are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, but consider this your personal engraved invitation – courtesy of Out Of This Spark, I’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show so if you’ve always dreamt of saying, “I’m on the list”, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I am out of this spark” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and get that in to me before midnight, January 20.

MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Hot Tips”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Scared Of Time”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

I Gotta Tell Ya Fellas, This Is Pretty Terrific

Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make The Man and The Balconies at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangPeople traditionally go to great lengths to avoid getting a lump of coal for Christmas but there’s something to be said for getting a big pile of rock for the holidays. And it was rock – and lots of it – on offer Saturday night at the Horseshoe for Jingle Bell Rock, an evening presented by promotions company Audio Blood Media and media partners aux.tv and Exclaim. The lineup featured four bands from the Audio Blood roster – Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make The Man and The Balconies. The opener and closer were personal live favourites so even though I didn’t know the middle acts at all, odds were pretty good that it’d be a great show.

I’d seen The Balconies a couple times since they moved to Toronto from Ottawa and began gigging their asses off, and they’ve yet to deliver anything but a cracking good set. As always, the power pop of their self-titled debut was lean and lethal and the trio had energy and charisma to spare, rewarding those who’d had the foresight to show up early with a terrific set. I was recently asked in a sort-of poll for a UK website what my Canuck tip for 2010 was – I went with The Balconies, calling them “an inevitability” (do I need quotes to quote myself?). This show was a reminder of why. Their next local gig is January 6 at Supermarket.

From there it was into the, “…and you are?” portion of the night. Clothes Make The Man were certainly keeping in the rock theme of the night, perhaps moreso than any of the others. You had to feel for frontman Ryan McLennan’s vocal cords, so throat-shredding and raw was his delivery but even so, was still able to carry a melody and even convey some gentleness when called for. Which, honestly, wasn’t that often – the quartet was here to be loud and heavy and just tuneful enough. Mission accomplished.

Make Your Exit had a decidedly different mandate, playing the role of sensitive, jam-friendly collective for the evening. Their set was all grand arrangements, emotive melodies and layered harmonies – enough to put most of those around me into a collective swoon but leaving me largely umoved. Certainly I was able to appreciate the musical ability on display, objectively, but any grab for the heartstrings missed the target. Hey, win some, lose some.

Oh No Forest Fires were, as the kids say, made of win and provided just the jolt of energy I needed to make it through the remainder of the night. Led by frontman and human superball Rajiv Thavanathan, their gleeful, ADD-addled prog-punk had the band bouncing around the stage as the blew through material from their debut mini-album The War On Geometry which, in the spirit of the season, they were offering for free to anyone who asked for a copy. Also festive was their set’s finale, which saw the Horseshoe stage being swarmed by most/all the other bands and those who put on the show for a madcap Christmas medley of “Silent Night” and “Feliz Navidad” that would have made Jose Feliciano proud… assuming he’s secretly a musical anarchist. A fitting cap to a holiday celebration the way they all ought to be – sweaty and ear-bleeding.

Photos: Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make The Man, The Balconies @ The Horseshoe – December 12, 2009
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “Robin The Boy Wonders”
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “It’s Not Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye”
MP3: Make Your Exit – “Through The Winter”
MP3: Clothes Make The Man – “Telescopes”
MP3: The Balconies – “Serious Bedtime”
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”
MP3: The Balconies – “Smells Like Secrets”
Video: Clothes Make The Man – “Privy”
Video: Clothes Make The Man – “Singles Only”
MySpace: Clothes Make The Man

Since this has started out as a sort of holiday post, now’s as good a time as any to round up some of the many, many, many seasonal musical giveaways that seems to be popular right now. Lucky Soul have gathered all the artists on their own Ruffa Lane label to give away a Christmas tune. They’ve themselves done a cover of Mud’s “Lonely This Christmas”, Montt Mardié has discoed up Wham!’s “Last Christmas” while Swedish glammers Napoleon and London folkies Grantura offer original compositions. Lucky Soul’s second album A Coming Of Age is currently on target for a March 2010 release.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Lonely This Christmas”
MP3: Montt Mardié featuring Le Sport & Mr Suitcase – “Last Christmas”
MP3: Napoleon featuring Ali Howard – “Midnight Train to Arhus”
MP3: Grantura – “Holly”

Dean & Britta are giving away both sides of their 2008 Christmas single, a cover of Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” and “(S)He’s Coming Home” by The Wailers. And as an early Christmas gift to longtime fans, The Line Of Best Fit reports that all three Galaxie 500 albums will be reissued on March 22 of next year by Domino Records in deluxe CD format, each album featuring a bonus disc previously released by Rykodisc on its own, and on heavy 180-gram vinyl. More immediately gratifying these interviews with Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips at Ladygunn.

Anni Rossi is offering a special gift to those who sign up to her mailing list; Future Sounds reports said gift is an EP of Christmas tunes, one of which is “Silver Bells”.

MP3: Anni Rossi – “Silver Bells”

Jason Lytle is celebrating the holidays by giving away a free EP at his Bandcamp site.

Ear Farm has curated a terrific album of holiday tunes featuring artists such as Asobi Seksu, Sharon Van Etten and Julie Doiron, and is selling it for a paltry $5 with all proceeds going to benefit the Association to Benefit Children.

Looking past Christmas – as in the day after – the Drake Hotel has released the lineup for their annual “What’s In The Box?” Boxing Week concert series. As always, cover is $5 and some of the performers helping make sure those of us still working through the last week of December are bleary-eyed and unproductive are The D’Urbervilles, By Divine Right, Pick A Piper and many more.

Also hosting a series of shows that week with a food drive angle is The Garrison – specifics are still forthcoming but a list of some of the bands participating has gone up over at Stille Post.

Toronto label Out Of This Spark will make the end of the holidays and return to the humdrum of the working week a little more bearable on January 22 when they hold their third anniversary bash at the Garrison. The bill will feature The D’Urbervilles, Forest City Lovers, Evening Hymns and Jenny Omnichord – a lot like this year’s lineup.

Looking a little further ahead, New York synth-pop duo Phantogram will be at the Drake on February 20, tickets $10. Their debut full-length Eyelid Movies will be out on February 9 of next year.

MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

The Morning Benders will return to the Drake Underground, where they played in February, on April 14 as part of a North American tour in support of their new album Big Echo, out March 9. Tickets for the show are $11.50.

MP3: The Morning Benders – “Waiting For A War”

Yeasayer, who are directing all their website traffic to the one specially set up for their new single “Ambling Alp”, will be at Lee’s Palace on May 1 in support of their new album Odd Blood, out February 9. Tickets $18. There’s an interview with singer Chris Keating at BBC Radio 1.

MP3: Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”
Video: Yeasayer – “Ambling Alp”

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Out Of This Spark

Forest City Lovers, The D'Urbervilles, Jenny Omnichord at The Tranzac in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAny sort of preamble for Saturday night’s Out Of This Spark second anniversary party at the Tranzac was covered in Friday’s post, so let’s just dive right into the post-mortem.

Leading off was Jenny Omnichord (neé Mitchell), accurately named for her weapon of choice. And while it may seem a bit novelty at first, the Omnichord is actually a very versatile instrument, ably providing accompaniment for Mitchell’s quirky songs. It’s no stretch that her latest album Charlotte or Otis : Duets for Children, Their Parents and Other People Too is a children’s record – the aesthetic isn’t too different from her work for grown-ups. A cute and compact set highlighted by entertaining road stories and a duet with her dad.

I’d expected The D’Urbervilles to be closing things out, both because of their profile relative to their labelmates, and their general rock action-ness, but they were instead on second. Every time I see them perform I’m reminded of how potent a live act they can be, all danceable, tightly-wound new wave/anthem-rock energy, but I also find my initial opinion of their full-length debut We Are The Hunters reinforced. They’re one thing, one intangible thing, away from being amazing. One song – hell, one moment in a song – that makes everything fall into place, and considering their excellent closing cover of Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You”, maybe what they need is the right British producer. But whatever it is, I hope they find it soon. Because when they do, it will be epic.

I had to double-check to verify that the last time I’d seen Forest City Lovers live was fully a year and a half ago at Hillside – it certainly hadn’t seemed that long! But it was, and that meant that I’d not seen them since the release of their lovely album Haunting Moon Sinking last year, and that’s just not right. But it is, sadly, kind of appropriate for as much as they’re one of the finer bands Toronto has to offer, they’re also probably one of the most overlooked. A consequence, perhaps, of the characteristics that are also their greatest strengths – their subtlety and understatedness. Their folk-pop sound is definitely spare, almost skeletal at times, but every part that is there implies a richness that probably wouldn’t sound quite as wonderful if it were actually fleshed out – their sketches say more than some peoples’ oil paintings.

This show, however, sadly wasn’t a masterpiece. Now no one’s ever going to mistake The Tranzac’s acoustics for those of Massey Hall, but the sound for the Forest City Lovers’ set was exceptionally poor, with vocals being buried and the guitar and violin far too loud. While I realize that standing right up front isn’t exactly standing in the sonic sweet spot, I’ve done it enough to know how things can and should sound from that vantage point, and this wasn’t it. And it seemed it wasn’t just the house sound that was amiss – it was evident the band was having trouble hearing themselves on stage as at points tempos drifted, glances were exchanged and things simply didn’t sound as tight as they should have. It’s really to the band’s credit that they were able to mitigate these problems and still deliver an enjoyable show, even if I couldn’t really hear the words to “Orphans” (though that’s okay because I know them anyways). Perhaps things will be better when they again play the Tranzac on February 6 opening for Geoff Berner. Perhaps.

I did not stick around for final act Timber Timbre. You’d have thought that an act with a brand new album would feel like playing something – anything- from it, but instead Timber Timbre chose to play with old hi-fit equipment and guitar pedals in conducting a sonic experiment in white noise in pitch blackness. Maybe the whole thing busted out in a technicolour rock opera the minute I left, but I suspect not. I would hope they don’t pull the same thing at their Soundscapes in-store tomorrow evening Thursday. It’s not going to sell many records.

Photos: Forest City Lovers, The D’Urbervilles, Jenny Omnichord @ The Tranzac – January 10, 2009
MP3: The D’Urbervilles – “Hot Tips”
Videos: Forest City Lovers – “Pirates”
Videos: Forest City Lovers – “Please, Don’t Go”
MySpace: Forest City Lovers

Speaking of Soundscapes in-stores, Bruce Peninsula will be following up the February 3 release of A Mountain Is A Mouth with just one of those on February 4 at 6PM. So add that to their January 31 at the Horseshoe and February 22 album release party at the Polish Combatants Hall. And if you don’t want to take my word that this outfit is worthy of your attention, how about the BBC? Yeah, people will listen to anything delivered in a posh English accent.

Bell Orchestre will release their second album As Seen Through Windows on March 10 via Arts & Crafts.

PitchforkTV has a session with AC Newman, whose Get Guilty is out next week and who plays Lee’s Palace on March 11.

Pitchfork is offering a download of the title track from Bon Iver’s new EP Blood Bank, out next Tuesday. And you can stream the whole thing at their MySpace.

MP3: Bon Iver – “Blood Bank”

Mates Of State and Black Kids. What are two of the most unlikely bands to hit the road together, and yet are? The indie-pop veterans with kids and the indie-pop upstarts who are kids will hit the road together this April and stop in at the Phoenix – a decidedly bigger room than either would play on their own – on April 10. The Mates are still promoting last year’s Re-Arrange Us and Black Kids are continuing to try and prove their debut Partie Traumatic is worth more than a pug.

MP3: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
Video: Mates Of State – “Get Better”
Video: Mates Of State – “My Only Offer”
Video: Black Kids – “Hurricane Jane”
Video: Black Kids – “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You”
Video: Black Kids – “Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)”

Those looking forward to standing in crossed-arm, stony-faced judgment of “2009 next big thing” candidates Passion Pit will have to wait just a little bit longer. For reasons unknown, their January 24 show at the Horseshoe has been postponed until April 3. Refunds available at point of purchase or if the new date works for you, just hang onto your ticket. And work on your scowl. They’re currently band of the week over at Paste. Update: Gig is now at Lee’s Palace.