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Posts Tagged ‘Light Fires’

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Young Canadian Mothers

Owen Pallett, Basia Bulat, Bry Webb and more gather for the Newman Boys Benefit

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFriday nights usually find Torontonians spoilt for entertainment options and tonight will be no exception, but if you’re at all unsure of what to do with your evening then consider heading down to Lee’s Palace. It’s hosting a benefit concert for three young Oakville boys whom, following a tragic series of events, were orphaned in January of this year and in addition to all the emotional devastation, were left in a dire financial situation.

Their uncle, however, was a founding member of The Hidden Cameras and has deep connections to the Guelph and Toronto music communities and has organized a benefit show at Lee’s that will feature performances from some of the best this city has to offer, including Owen Pallett, Basia Bulat, Sandro Perri, Bry Webb, Jim Guthrie, Nathan Lawr, Andre Ethier, Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija and Light Fires.

Tickets for the show are $15 in advance and at the door, and proceeds will go to both a trust fund for the boys and Halton Women’s Place. Specifics can be found at the Facebook event and there are feature pieces on the benefit at The Grid and CBC Music. And if you can’t make it and still want to help out, donations can be made at Newman Boys Trust Fund. There’s not really any more worthy cause than this.

MP3: Owen Pallett – “A Man With No Ankles”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”
MP3: Bry Webb – “Rivers Of Gold”

Saturday is Record Store Day and, while you’ve already been briefed on the day-long in-store festival at the Annex location of Sonic Boom, but that’s not the only place you can enjoy some live music on whilst getting your shopping on – Soundscapes will be hosting Toronto’s next great power-pop hopes The Elwins at 7PM. They’ll surely have copies of their debut And I Thank You for sale – they just debuted a new video from it – but in the spirit of the occasion they’ll also have a limited-edition handmade CD containing a new remix and their cover of Beyonce’s “Countdown”, which will also be available to download free via their Bandcamp.

Video: The Elwins – “Are You Flying With A Different Bird?”

While on the topic of Record Store Day, one of the more sought-after releases is sure to be the Feistadon release – that’s Feist/Mastadon covering each other on either side of a split-7″ – and if you’re not lucky enough to get your hands on one you can at least hear it via stream.

Stream: Feist – “Black Tongue” (Mastadon cover)
Stream: Mastadon – “A Commotion”

The split-7″ between Toronto’s METZ and Fresh Snow is probably one of the more limited releases out there tomorrow – it’s only available at Sonic Boom. METZ contribute a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Pig” and Fresh Snow’s new track continues to establish them as one of the city’s new bands to watch, building on a rock-steady Krautrock foundation with horns and pretty, interesting things. They’re playing a Sonic Boom in-store tomorrow at 6 and are at The Boat on May 9. Both sides of the release are up for stream.

Stream: METZ – “Pig” (Sparklehorse cover)
Stream: Fresh Snow – “BMX-Based Tactics”

And oh, if you’re planning on spending oodles of money on vinyl and are going to listen to them on a turntable you bought at Urban Outfitters… read this New York Times piece on turntables and set a little money aside to save up for a Rega. You’re welcome. There’s also chats with some of Toronto’s record stores about RSD at Plaid and across the pond, The Stool Pigeon has an interview with Martin Mills, head of the Beggars group of independent labels (Matador/4AD/XL) about the annual event.

NOW and Post City talk to Plants & Animals, who are at Sonic Boom tomorrow afternoon before their show at Lee’s Palace that night, and then will be at NXNE in June and are allegedly going to on the bill with Sam Roberts at Echo Beach on July 26. All of which is to say that if you are a Plants & Animals fan, you have no excuse whatsoever for not seeing them play. Unless you’re just lazy. Can’t argue with that.

The Chronicle-Herald talks to Rose Cousins, in town at The Rivoli on May 3.

Exclaim and Spinner chat with Patrick Watson while aux.tv points to a mini-documentary on the making of his latest album Adventures In Your Own Backyard. He plays The Music Hall on May 29.

Spinner collects some more details on the new Metric album Synthetica, due June 12.

Dan Mangan is the subject of a just-released short documentary film. He plays a free show at Pecault Square on the afternoon of June 16 for LuminaTO.

Video: In The Car With Dan Mangan

Hidden Cameras fans wondering why the band’s recently-announced itinerary of eastern Canada dates didn’t include a hometown show in Toronto now have their answer – the band will be playing a free show at Harbourfront Centre on Canada Day, July 1. I remember seeing them on that same stage for the Indie Unlimited festival back in August 2006. And now I feel terribly old.

MP3: The Hidden Cameras = “In The NA”
MP3: The Hidden Cameras – “Walk On”

The big fest announcement hereabouts this week was NXNE, but Guelph’s Hillside Festival also let the world know who would be gathering on the shores of Guelph Lake from July 27 to 29 – Bry Webb, Cold Specks, Kathleen Edwards, Great Lake Swimmers, Memoryhouse, Chad VanGaalen and more.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Grimes and The List has an interview.

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”

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Iron And Ore

Ohbijou invite you to meet their metal

Photo By Laurie Kang & Hannah HurLaurie Kang & Hannah HurThere’s a temptation to wish that the title of Ohbijou’s third album offered a hint to the contents within, that the Toronto six-piece had discovered their inner headbanger and when Metal Meets was released on September 27, it would come in packaging adorned with pentagrams and flames. But not only would this hypothetical record probably not be very good – let’s be honest – it would also mean that the world would be down one almost certainly lovely collection of orchestral pop.

A preview of the new Jace Lasek-produced record was made available a couple of weeks ago and it certainly sounds like they’ve stayed the course laid out by their 2006 debut Swift Feet For Troubling Times and its 2009 follow-up Beacons, anchored by Casey Mecija’s sweet vocals and songwriting but allowing the sonics supporting them to grow and evolve. With its echoing electric guitar riff, “Niagara” would have sounded out of place on Swift Feet but as the first taste of the follow-up to Beacons, it makes perfect sense.

And as their sound gets bigger, so too do the rooms in which they’ll be playing. A set of eastern Canadian dates have been announced and the hometown date on September 30 finds them playing the gorgeous environs of Trinity-St. Paul’s – a milestone, to say the least. Tickets for the show are $20 and go on sale tomorrow at 10AM.

Ohbijou are also releasing a series of video trailers for the new record; at present there are two. Note the lack of three-finger devil salutes.

MP3: Ohbijou – “Niagara”

Light Fires, the electro-pop duo of which Ohbijou drummer James Bunton is half and Gentleman Reg’s Reg Vermue in the guise of Regina Gentlelady is the other have released a video for their debut single, available digitally and on 7″ as of today.

Video: Light Fires – “Ten Feet Tall”

I appear to have missed a couple instalments of the Bruce Peninsula Fire Sale, but that’s okay because they go with the just-released one to form an impressive collection of performances captured by Southern Souls, wherein the band’s members each cover a song by an artist they personally know. It’s also the first look at who is part of Bruce Peninsula this time around, with a number of new faces in the mix. Their second album Open Flames is due out in September and they play the Lower Ossington Theatre on August 11 as part of Summerworks.

Chart talks to Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre.

The Quietus interviews saxophonist and Polaris shortlister Colin Stetson, who has a show at The Drake Underground on August 26. He’ll also release a 10″ EP entitled Those Who Didn’t Run on October 4.

The Wilderness Of Manitoba have released a new video from When You Left The Fire, done live-style.

Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”

Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk has a chat with The Vancouver Sun while frontman Damian Abraham has words with The Riverfront Times. Fucked Up play the Air Canada Centre

The Georgia Straight talks to Kathryn Calder, whose second solo album should be released sometime this Fall.

Dan Mangan discusses his forthcoming new record Oh Fortune with Spinner. The album is out September 27 and a cross-Canada tour has been announced; he’ll be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.

MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”

tUnE-yArDs brings her much-feted second album WHOKILL back to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on September 24.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Off Ramp Up Ahead

This Record Store Day, buy some records and see a bunch of bands for free

Photo via sistermusic.casistermusic.caNext Saturday, April 16, is Record Store Day and no matter what your feelings on the event itself and its attempts to convince you that you really need those songs you already have on a coloured 7″, you can’t argue with some of the perks. Specifically, the fact that many of the local retail establishments around town like to entice you into their stores with the promise of free live music.

So far, Sonic Boom has the biggest lineup, running from day through night and pretty impressive. There’s no one quite the stature of Sloan, as they had last year, but there’s both Canadian indie rock veterans with pedigree and rookies with promise on offer this year. Things will shake down as follows:

1PM – Modern Superstitions
2PM – Teenanger
3PM – Bidniband (ex-Rheostatic Dave Bidni)
4PM – Light Fires (Gentleman Reg and Ohbijou’s James Bunton)
5PM – Ben Gunning (former Local Rabbit)
6PM – Sister (two-thirds of Scott Pilgrim-inspiring Plumtree)
8PM – Zeus
9PM – The Wooden Sky

MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding In The Night For Us”
MP3: Zeus – “Marching Through Your Head”
MP3: Sister – “Orion”
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

Further downtown at Criminal Records, you’ve got a 7PM acoustic set from The Grey Kingdom, aka the solo project from Attack In Black’s Spencer Burton. They’ll also be the only ones with the vinyl edition of his debut album Eulogy Of Her And Her And Her, so if that’s your bag then that’s the place to be. And even if it’s not, the rather exhaustive list of RSD exclusives that they’ve ordered – and usually get at least some if not a lot of – should be enough to entice you.

If memory serves, both Kops and Sunrise had bands in last year – no word yet if they’ll do so again this year, but I’ll update if they do.

And not associated with Record Store Day but definitely worth your time and costing you exactly zero dollars will be The Sadies at The Toronto Reference Library as part of their Make Some Noise series – there’s no advance tickets, so show up before doors at 7:30PM on April 16 – the show starts at 8 – and enjoy. The Toronto Public Library has a chat with drummer Mike Belitsky.

MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”

Ron Sexsmith will play an acoustic in-store set at Sonic Boom on April 21 at 6PM in advance of his sold-out show at Lee’s Palace that evening.

Video: Ron Sexsmith – “Late Bloomer” (live)

This one’s half-free – Cults’ show at Lee’s Palace on the Friday night of NXNE will be standard ticket/wristband/badge admission, but they’ll also be on whatever bill gets put together for the free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square the next day, June 18 – perfect if you’d rather, you know, go outside. Their self-titled debut will be out on June 7.

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

Twin Shadow is also coming to town for NXNE – he and his band are at Lee’s on June 18 – but that one will cost you unless you’ve got a wristband or badge and feel like walking into the shows just by flashing it is close enough to free for you.

MP3: Twin Shadow – “Castles In The Snow”

Back to the gratis but on a completely different scale is the opening event for this year’s Toronto Jazz Festival – which will feature the legendary (and that’s putting it mildly) Aretha Franklin at Metro Hall on June 24, showtime 8:30. Aretha. For free. PEOPLE.

Video: Aretha Franklin – “Respect” (live)

And on Canada Day, given that there doesn’t seem to be a Harbourfront Centre show for the first time in years, your best bet will be Shad – also at Metro Hall – starting at 5:30PM. Too early in the day for fireworks so we’ll have to settle for some freestyling.

MP3: Shad – “Rose Garden”

And finally, one you’ll have to pay for but should be worth it: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have added a bunch of tour dates through the Summer in support of new album Belong and their itinerary brings them back to Toronto for the first time since September 2009 – they’ll be at The Opera House on August 2. Blurt has an interview with frontman Kip Berman.

Video: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Heart In Your Heartbreak”

The Head & The Heart have released a new MP# from their self-titled debut which should be on every one of your shopping lists for Record Store Day (when it’s released).

MP3: The Head & The Heart – “Lost In My Mind”

Blurt is streaming the whole of The Submarines’ new record Love Notes/Letter Bombs. They play The Horseshoe April 22.

Stream: The Submarines / Love Notes/Letter Bombs

TV On The Radio is streaming the whole of their new record Nine Types Of Light at The Guardian. The album is out next Tuesday and they’re at The Sound Academy on April 18. Interview has an interview. Fancy that.

Stream: TV On The Radio / Nine Types Of Light