Frank 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.