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Posts Tagged ‘Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers’

Monday, September 28th, 2009

It Feels So Good When I Stop

Joe Pernice and Kate Boothman at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe last time Joe Pernice took a Toronto stage, he promised that as a new resident of the city, he might find himself playing more gigs around town and that he’d see us soon.

That was over four years ago.

Being fair, Joe has hardly been idle in that time. He released another Pernice Brothers record in Live A Little, became a father and wrote his first novel It Feels So Good When I Stop, which was the occasion for him to again get up, guitar in hand, in front of an audience of his neighbours – literally, as the Dakota Tavern was stumbling distance from his west-end digs.

Opening up was Kate Boothman, a local who had accompanied Joe on a couple of the US dates of this brief tour. Her short set didn’t do much for me, her folkish compositions failing to take off mostly on account of her rather flat vocal phrasing. The one tune she did with Julie Fader on harmonies fared better, so perhaps she works better when fronting her band Sunbear – people who’d stick around would find out as she’d be playing a full-band set after Joe went on.

Seeing as how the occasion for the show was both the release of the book and Joe’s latest record – a soundtrack of sorts to the book comprised of covers of songs mentioned in the book – the evening was being billed as a combination performance/reading, a format which actually worked really well. The evening started with Pernice, looking not a little like a fitter Elvis Costello, reading a passage from the novel and though he’d thank us at the end for being patient with him for doing so, it was our pleasure – his dry delivery really gave the book (which I have but still haven’t read sorry sorry sorry) life and I, for one, found it wholly engaging. This was followed by a set of covers from the soundtrack record and another reading, all interspersed with Pernice’s razor-sharp and self-effacing wit. Though his songwriting persona is famously bummed out (or “exquisitely sad”, he is truly one funny guy.

The real gold came next, though, as Pernice followed up with a lengthy set of his own material. The solo acoustic configuration precluded a lot of the regular Pernice Brothers material, as rich and full band-arranged as those tend to be, so instead the Dakota was treated to a trove of riches from the other eddies of Pernice’s career – the Big Tobacco solo record, the Chappaquiddick Skyline one-off project and to close it out, a suite of Scud Mountain Boys tunes that reinforced just how wonderful and consistent Pernice’s songwriting has been for so long. All told, Pernice played for nearly two hours – remarkable considering that Pernice Brothers live tended towards shorter sets – filled with songs, stories and banter. And before leaving the stage, he once again mentioned that now that he’s a Torontonian, maybe he’d play some more gigs around town. Alone or with band, book it and we’ll be there Joe. Just don’t wait another four years to do so.

The Globe & Mail has a feature piece on Joe and his book with outtakes from the interview available over at Zoilus. NOW and The Los Angeles Times also have pieces on Pernice. Now that the promotional rounds for the book are about done, Pernice is getting back to work on the already-started next Pernice Brothers record. Look for that sometime in the new year.

Photos: Joe Pernice, Kate Boothman @ The Dakota Tavern – September 24, 2009
MP3: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “Somerville”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “Baby In Two”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “The Weakest Shade Of Blue”
Video: Pernice Brothers – “Working Girls”
MySpace: Pernice Brothers

Nick Cave is another musician whose recent foray into fiction – in his case his second novel The Death Of Bunny Munro – has been generating press. There’s conversations with Cave about the book at The Winnipeg Free Press, Time, CBC, The Toronto Star, The National Post and The Montreal Gazette, which also offers a full transcript of the interview. The Ampersand also got a musical endorsement for Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers.

The Times talks to Steve Earle, who is working on his first novel I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.

NPR talks to Fanfarlo about their literary inspirations (their name comes from Baudelaire) while Tourdates also has an interview with frontman Simon Balthazar and if you’ve still not heard it (shame!), Clash is streaming the album right now.

Stream: Fanfarlo / Reservoir

This Is Nottingham has an interview with Charlotte Hatherley, who has released a video for the second single from her third album New Worlds. It will be out October 20.

Video: Charlotte Hatherley – “Alexander”

The Dodos have a new video from Time To Die. Look for them at Lee’s Palace on October 17.

Video: The Dodos – “Fables”

The Rural Alberta Advantage stopped in at Minnesota Public Radio for a streaming session and gave an interview to Decider. They’re also in the new issue of Spin but that piece isn’t online yet. They play Lee’s Palace on November 4.

The first MP3 from El Perro Del Mar’s new album Love Is Not Pop, out October 20, is now available to download. There’s also an interview at the Buenos Aires Herald. She opens for Peter Bjorn & John at the Phoenix on November 11.

MP3: El Perro Del Mar – “Change Of Heart”

Daily Finance chats with Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance of Merge Records about their 20th anniversary as an independent music label. Babelgum is also hosting a whole slew of video footage from the XX Merge festival in Carrboro back in July.

The National Post has a nice little feature on Canadian sportscasting legend and inveterate music fan – that IS him you see at all those gigs around town – Dave Hodge.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

SxSW 2009 Day Four

Camera Obscura, The Grates and Peelander Z and more at SxSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangA much-needed sleep-in, however slight, threw me off schedule before evening awakening on the final day of SxSW, so I hoofed it to the Mohawk and day two of Hot Freaks without so much as a coffee – a decision that would prove to be very… unwise by that evening. But in the meantime, I had the boost provided by another day of great music and a fresh pair of socks to get me going.

Greeting the early birds at noon were Austin trio Harlem, who seemed to treat the Mohawk patio stage like their own personal garage/rehearsal space – that’s meant in a positive way. Their music was charmingly rough around the edges but eminently hooky and their stage demeanor was that of a group of friends just goofing around and having a good time. There are certainly worse ways to start a day.

I then fled the high noon sun for the cooler climes of the Mohawk’s inside stage, where Brooklyn’s Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers were getting started. I was unfamiliar with them but they were spoken highly of by a few friends so I had a boo. A quartet led by a tiny girl with a harmonium and huge voice, they weren’t nearly as odd as first glances might imply, specializing in raw and wrenching blues-ish tunes… led by harmonium. Charismatic and compelling, and the chorus of voices people speaking highly of her/them is almost certain to keep growing.

Heading back out into the sunlight, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me because I had assumed, for whatever reason, that Jason Lytle – with the number of shows he was booked to do this week – would be working in a solo acoustic context. But no, the former Grandaddy frontman was doing the full band thing and it’s a good thing, because I don’t think his songs would have been nearly as impressive with just voice and guitar. It’s also evident that Lytle isn’t necessarily interested in distancing himself from his old band because, honestly, the new stuff sounds like the old stuff and he even closed out with – I think, correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t revisited Grandaddy in years – “He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot”, which was just beautiful.

Over at Club DeVille, it was then time for Australian fun-meisters The Grates. I was personally quite excited to finally be seeing them – their manic live shows were already legendary – but the venue was only moderately full for them. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, as frontwoman Patience Hodgson bounded all around the stage and rest of the venue delivering tunes from their debut Gravity Won’t Get You High as well as new record Teeth Lost, Hearts Won – released last year in Australia and in negotiations for a North American release this year – like a aerobics instructor hepped up on pixie sticks. But the extra space really came in handy for their almost set-closer, when Hodgson whipped out a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon and began whipping it around and then – THEN – was joined, out of nowhere, by another rhythmic gymnast, ribbons a-flying, running around her. I doubt there was any sort of proper routine planned but for sheer, out of nowhere never seen that before ridiculous fun, The Grates won the day.

Back at the Mohawk, Portland’s Viva Voce – who were supposed to play the very first Hot Freaks but cancelled to go on tour with some outfit called The Shins – were making up for the delay with a set of guitar-driven rock that you could equally preface with “prog-” or “pop-“. Brutally loud and breahtakingly delicate, it was a fine showcase for Anita Robinson’s impressive guitar chops – to say nothing of her fine voice – without becoming over-indulgent. I only caught half their set on account of being spun around by The Grates but what I did see reminded me that I liked their last record Get Yr Blood Sucked Out and should be keeping an eye/ear out for their new album Rose City when it’s released on May 26.

My default answer for “what was the best thing you saw at SxSW” last year was Peelander-Z, not because they were any great shakes musically – they’re not – but because of the sheer spectacle of their show. Outrageous Power Ranger-esque costumes, stage climbing expeditions and general over-the-top antics ensured a memorable show whether you actually liked it or not. So naturally we had them back a second year in a row, but with the caveat that they had to keep within the allotted time limit. And I think that was the second most impressive thing about their show – I was familiar with their routine, mostly unchanged from 2008, but they somehow managed to cram everything in – the human bowling, the audience band recruitment, the crowd surfing journey to the top of the Mohawk tent – without running a minute over. The first most impressive thing was seeing Peelander Red climb onto the rafters of the stage canopy and hang upside-down, holding on only by his legs, while still playing his bass. And I’m really glad he was able to hang on because he was directly above me and if he’d fallen, I’d probably be dead as well. Not that I escaped their set fully unscathed – at one point Peelander Green broke a drumstick and whipped it into the audience, nailing me square in the face and hand. But the crowd loved it.

Trying to follow such an act is no easy feat, so it’s probably just as well that Camera Obscura don’t go in for on-stage shenanigans – just wonderful pop songs, perfectly suited to basking in the warmth of the setting sun. Though visibly worn from the activities of their week, the band capped off their SxSW and our Hot Freaks showcase for the year with a compact set of their very best material from 2006’s Let’s Get Out Of This Country and the forthcoming My Maudlin Career, out April 21. Highlights were their new single “French Navy”, the still-brilliant “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken” and wall-of-noise – who ever thought that phrase would be used in conjunction with Camera Obscura – “Razzle Dazzle Rose”. Pure bliss for the SxSW twee-pop contingent, and another triumphant Hot Freaks for the history books.

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The Sweetest Thing

Hot Freaks at SxSW 2009… revealed!

Photo By Donald MilneDonald MilneThe first one went over like gangbusters, and the second one was even better… so why wouldn’t we do it all again for 2009? Yes’m, I’m once again very proud to be able to announce – along with fellow music blog compatriots Aquarium Drunkard, Gorilla Vs Bear, Largehearted Boy, My Old Kentucky Blog and You Ain’t No Picasso – the lineup for Hot Freaks 2009, taking place during SxSW at the Mohawk and Club DeVille in Austin, Texas on March 20 and 21. Two days, three stages, 32 acts.

It’s taken a little longer than usual to get things together this year, but it’s been worth the wait. I mean, we’ve had some pretty impressive Hot Freaks alumnus over the last couple years – St Vincent, Shearwater, The Polyphonic Spree, Grizzly Bear, Land Of Talk, Jens Lekman, Lykke Li, The Acorn and British Sea Power to name just a few – but I will hold this Hot Freaks lineup up against any of the others we’ve pulled together in the past. But don’t just take my word for it – have a look:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Club DeVille (Insound Stage)
12:30 PM Obits / MySpace / MP3: “Pine On”
1:30 PM Handsome Furs / MySpace / MP3: “I’m Confused”
2:30 PM American Analog Set / MySpace
3:30 PM The Thermals / MySpace / MP3: “Now We Can See”
4:30 PM The Hold Steady / MySpace

The Mohawk Patio
12:00 PM The Wrens / MySpace / MP3: “Everyone Choose Sides”
1:00 PM Bishop Allen / MySpace / MP3: “Dimmer”
2:00 PM The Henry Clay People / MySpace / MP3: “Something In The Water”
3:00 PM Port O’Brien / MySpace / MP3: “I Woke Up Today”
4:00 PM The Rosebuds / MySpace / MP3: “Life Like”
5:00 PM Delta Spirit / MySpace / MP3: “People C’Mon”

The Mohawk Inside
12:30 PM The Rural Alberta Advantage / MySpace / MP3: “Don’t Haunt This Place”
1:30 PM We Have Band / MySpace / MP3: “Hear It In The Cans”
2:30 PM These United States / MySpace / MP3: “Honor Amongst Thieves”
3:30 PM Alela Diane / MySpace / MP3: “White As Diamonds”
4:30 PM Richard Swift / Richard Swift / MP3: “Lady Luck”

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Club DeVille
12:30 PM Real Estate / MySpace / MP3: “Black Lake”
1:30 PM Girls / MySpace / MP3: “Lust For Life”
2:30 PM The Grates / MySpace / MP3: “Burn Bridges”
3:30 PM Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains / MySpace / MP3: “American Names”
4:30 PM Jeremy Jay / MySpace / MP3: “Beautiful Rebel”

The Mohawk Patio
12:00 PM Harlem / MySpace
1:00 PM Jason Lytle / MySpace / MP3: “Birds Encouraged Him” (live)
2:00 PM Vivian Girls / MySpace / MP3: “Where Do You Run To?”
3:00 PM Viva Voce / MySpace / MP3: “Drown Them Out”
4:00 PM Peelander-Z / MySpace / MP3: “Ninja-High Schooool”
5:00 PM Camera Obscura / MySpace / MP3: “My Maudlin Career”

The Mohawk Inside
12:30 PM Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers / MySpace / MP3: “Filthy & Free”
1:30 PM Roadside Graves / MySpace
2:30 PM Mason Proper / MySpace / MP3: “Fog”
3:30 PM Lemonade / MySpace / MP3: “Big Weekend”
4:30 PM Amazing Baby / MySpace / MP3: “Bayonets”

The Wrens are kicking things off at noon. The Rural Alberta Advantage will still be riding high on opening up for Grizzly Bear the night before. The American Analog Set – reunited and reactivated for this show only! – are playing The Golden Band in its entirety. The Hold Steady will be holding court on the Insound stage. Alela Diane will mesmerize. The Grates will be bouncing off the walls. Jason Lytle will unveil his post-Grandaddy works. Peelander-Z will do… what Peelander Z does. And Camera Obscura will close things out by showcasing their forthcoming album My Maudlin Career. This, my friends, is what we call bliss.

And thanks go out to our main sponsors GOOM Radio and Lala.com, who are offering 75 free songs for signups. Please respondez s’il vous plait – admission is free, PBRs are $1. Awesome is guaranteed. And sorry, this is a 21+ event – the drinks will be flowing.

Add all our shows to your sched.org calendar. You DO have one, right?

MP3: Guided By Voices – “Hot Freaks”