Search Results - "M Ward, Oakley Hall Mod Club Toronto September 11, 2006"

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Poison Cup

Given the choice, I almost always prefer to see singer-songwriter types in a band setting. Properly and sympathetically arranged, I find extra instrumentation can only benefit good material and add an extra dynamic dimension to live performances. That said, I would cite M Ward as the exception to that rule. His solo show last February was so perfectly suited to the his repetoire at the time (he had just released Transistor Radio) that I couldn’t imagine a band adding anything that he was creating with his guitar, piano, harmonica, looper and voice.

But his latest record Post-War is a considerably more rollicking affair and for this tour, Ward was doing the full band thing including two drummers and a second guitarist. As befit such a powerful rhythm section, they practically galloped through the whole set, leaning heavily on the upbeat end of his repetoire. It’s hard to appreciate just how incredible a musician Ward is without watching him work – whether on acoustic, electric or Wurlitzer he was amazing and terrifying to behold. There’s a lot of focus on his timeless rasp of a voice, but even if he never opened his mouth and let his fingers do the talking, he’d be a legend in the making.

Seeing as how they powered through the main set, it was over (seemingly) very quickly but I felt almost as exhausted having watched it as the band must have been performig it. For the encore, Ward came out solo and acoustic and we got a taste of the wandering troubadour that dazzled at the El Mocambo last year. The band returned for a one-song second encore and that was it. As impressive as the show was, I have to say I preferred Ward solo – there was an intimacy to it that was missing this time out. I also prefer the older albums to the latest one, so that was surely part of it as well. But however Ward chooses to hit the road, he’s always something to see.

Openers were Brooklyn’s Oakley Hall who played a very similar set of psychedelic roadhouse country to the one that I saw in July when they opened for Calexico. The only difference was this time, I had one of their albums – Gypsum Strings – under my belt so I can say with some authority that they’re much better live than on record. The production on the studio product is much thinner and doesn’t capture the on-stage energy of the band. Still very enjoyable to watch as the six of them wreaked some havoc on their cramped stage setup and really a perfect fit for Ward’s audience.

Very small photo gallery this time – there was a strict “no camera” policy in effect and while I got official permission to shoot the first three songs, Ward waved me off after a song and a half and I’m lucky to have gotten what I did. It was fine with me – I shot 6 GB of photos over the weekend, a break suited me fine but I couldn’t help thinking he certainly didn’t mind me shooting him last time, as my photos on his MySpace gallery would attest. Merge has Ward’s recent performance on The Late Late Show Letterman YouTube-d.

Photos: M Ward @ The Mod Club – September 11, 2006
MP3: M Ward – “To Go Home”
MP3: M Ward – “Post-War”
Video: M Ward – “Chinese Translation” (YouTube)
Stream: M Ward / Post-War
MySpace: M Ward

The Macon Telegraph talks to Jason Isbell of the Drive-By Truckers, playing the Phoenix on October 18.

Will Johnson talks about Centro-Matic’s longevity to The Denver Post.

The Guardian plays name that tune with Yo La Tengo. I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass hit stores yesterday and the band hits the Phoenix October 2. So much hitting.

JAM reports that Bob Dylan is happy. Having the #1 record in America will do that for a fellow, I guess.

My Old Kentucky Blog has a couple of new demos from Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s up for grabs. The band is hoping to have their sophomore disc out in Spring of ’07 but in the meantime are hitting the road yet again, this time with The Elected. They say they hope to have a Canadian date on this jaunt to make up for their cancellation back in March, and judging from their itinerary so far, expect to see them here between October 31 and November 2 if they do make it across the border. But in the meantime, there’s a live studio video session thing at Rolling Stone.

The Boston Globe talks to Band Of Horses, who have a new video out:

Video: Band Of Horses – “The Great Salt Lake” (MOV)

Puddlegum reports that a posthumus Elliott Smith album of rare and unreleased materials will be coming out on March 17 of next year.

It’s not Archives but Neil Young has gone vault-digging back to 1970 for a new live album – Live At The Fillmore East – out October 24.

Oh, Merge! reports that the release of Portastatic’s new album Be Still Please on October 10 with a digital-only EP called Sour Shores, available online at the usual outlets this week. Mac offers more details on the Portastatic blog. Intersesting that while Portastatic is confirmed to play Pop Montreal in October, there’s no Toronto date. They were just here a few months ago but usually when an act bothers to cross the border, they maximize their time in Canada. Oh well.

np – Shearwater / The Dissolving Room

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Unified Field

Rob Dickinson has a new solo acoustic record, Live And Alone, which he will be shilling whilst on tour opening for The Church over the next month. But for those of us not on the itinerary, fear not – he’ll be selling it online after the tour’s done. As a teaser, he’s made the track of Catherine Wheel’s “Heal” available to stream off his MySpace. There’s also an interview and some live studio performances available over at

The Church are supporting the release of their umpteenth record Uninvited, Like The Clouds, which is an anthemic, stately and glistening thing. There’s not a lot of what you’d call fire or real urgency in the proceedings but the richness in Steve Kilbey’s voice, the textures of Marty Wilson-Piper’s and Peter Koppes’ guitars and general atmosphere of the record happily make up for it. They’re a band that seems oblivious to fashion, content to soldier on and turning what by rights should sound dated into something instead timeless. There’s something to be said for consistency.

You may (or may not) remember The Church from their one 1988 hit “Under The Milky Way”, which is probably as unfair as saying you may remember Rob Dickinson from Catherine Wheel’s one 1995 hit “Waydown”, but you know that’s how some of their shows are being billed… no justice I tells ya.

MP3: The Church – “Unified Field”
Video: The Church – “Under The Milky Way” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Church

Oklahoma’s Evangelicals tells Chart about the importance of always looking on the bright side of life. They are in town opening for Serena Maneesh and Film School on September 13 at Lee’s Palace.

Richard Edwards of Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s explains to Harp the appeal of Wes Anderson, from whose work the band drew inspiration for their horribly unwieldy name.

Oakley Hall’s Patrick Sullivan talks about the band’s influences to Harp. Oakley Hall are at the Mod Club September 11 with M Ward.

Tunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio tells The Independent how David Bowie came to appear on their new album, Return To Cookie Mountain, out in North America September 12. Via Largehearted Boy.

Camera Obscura frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell talks to Rolling Stone about the success of their new album Let’s Get Out Of This Country.

Tapes’N’Tapes tells NOW and The Toronto Star that they thank blogs for the success of their album The Loon. They play the Phoenix with The Futureheads next Wednesday.

And also in town next Wednesday – Mission Of Burma at the Horseshoe. eye talks to Clint Conley.

Not feeling especially inspired to write today. If you couldn’t tell.

np – Billy Bragg / Talking To The Taxman About Poetry

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

Letter To Bowie Knife

Three months after its release, it’s probably safe to say that reaction to Calexico’s latest Garden Ruin has been somewhat muted compared to their usualy lofty standards. I, for the record, am not severly disappointed nor especially overwhelmed by it. But considering that in the past, part of the magic of their legendarily excellent live shows has been how effectively the band recreates the sun-bleached desert vistas of their recorded works, I did wonder how their more pop/singer-songwriter studio turn would translate on stage.

In short, same but different. If you were to draw a line down the stylistic halfway point between Garden Ruin and Feast Of Wire, you’d have an idea of what Calexico live, 2006 is like. The older material seemed leaner and more compact while the newer material got an infusion of the mariachi soul via horns and slide guitar that was kept on the back burner on Garden Ruin. I wonder, if the recorded arrangements had been more like the live ones, if the critical response to the album would have been more positive? But that’s neither here nor there – Calexico on this night were tight and taut with their typically excellent musicianship and striking a perfect balance between fire and restraint. They used the encore to cut extra-loose, inviting openers Oakley Hall as well as local talent Dallas Good of The Sadies and Jason Collett, who had originally been slated to open, to come out and join them for a couple numbers including a rousing cover of Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”.

It’s lucky that Calexico were so good on this night, because Oakley Hall set the bar pretty damn high with their opening set. I wrote them up earlier this week but wasn’t prepared for the sheer ass-kickingness of their set. Merging old-time country raucousness with mind-bending psychedelia and somehow coming out of it sounding timeless, Oakley Hall impressed not just me, but a goodly portion of the audience as well. If you’re going to see M Ward at the Mod Club on September 11, do yourself a favour and show up early enough to catch Oakley Hall – you won’t regret it.

Calexico favoured a very dark, projection-heavy stage show so good photos were a bit tougher to get. But hey, all in the name of ambience, right? Also, The Montreal Mirror talks to native son Joey Burns about Garden Ruin and some audio/video that I’ve linked many times before. Complain to someone else.

MP3: Calexico – “Cruel”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Lazy Susan”
Video: Calexico – “Cruel” (MOV)
MySpace: Calexico
MySpace: Oakley Hall

Billboard reports that after more touring through the Summer and Fall, Broken Social Scene will be going away for a while.

Punknews reports that Ted Leo is calling out Elton John as a racist – check out the July 5 entry. Soccer really brings out the worst in everyone, doesn’t it? Via Clicky Click.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River posted a terrific essay to his band’s message board about his deep ambievalence about file-sharing and why you won’t hear much new material during their Fall tour. I thought it was a wonderful piece, especially the parts about the internet being like the library of Babel. There are many (many) days when I long for the time when every new album purchase was treated like a sacred event. That said, you’ll have to pry my iPod out of my cold, dead hands.

My Morning Jacket’s Patrick Hallahan talks to Billboard about covering The Band at Levon Helm’s studio.

Prefix reports that the debut full-length from Chicago power-soul trio Catfish Haven, Tell Me, will be out September 12.

PopMatters offers some tips on how to educate those people who say they love every kind of music except country. You know, savages.

np – Early Day Miners / Offshore

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

Second Guessing

Toronto concert-goers would do well to get acquainted with Oakley Hall as they’ll be passing through town not once but twice in the next few months as support for such notable shows as Calexico at the Phoenix on Thursday and M Ward at the Mod Club on September 11.

Initially formed by ex-Oneida member Pat Sullivan, Oakley Hall hail from Brooklyn but sound about as un-stereotypically New York as you can get. They draw heavily on traditional country forms and arrangements but add a healthy dose of indie rock intensity and psychedelic-fuzz guitar. You know, the sort of thing that once upon a time might have been called (whispers) “”. But I don’t think people use that term anymore, so I’ll just say that Oakley Hall will appeal greatly to folks who might have once come out and said they listened to (whispers) “”. But be prepared for an emphasis on the “country” half of the equation. You wouldn’t think it’d be necessary, but some people like only a very specific amount of twang in their tunes. True story.

Oakley Hall have released not one but two new full-lengths in 2006 – Second Guessing back in February and Gypsum Strings last month – so they’ll have plenty of material to choose from on their upcoming tours. They’ve got a reputation as a scorching live act so I’ll be able to report back on the truth of that later this week. In the meantime, check out some of their recorded output – the first one comes from Gypsum Strings, the other three from Second Guessing.

MP3: Oakley Hall – “Lazy Susan”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Landlord”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Eyes, Lock & Steel”
MP3: Oakley Hall – “Light Of My Love”
MySpace: Oakley Hall

Amusement Parks On Fire will release their second album Out Of The Angeles in the UK next Monday and from the sounds of the new tracks on their MySpace page, they may have gotten over their My Bloody Valentine-wannabe phase just a little, which is probably a good thing. No word on a North American release of the album yet.

AZNightBuzz talks to Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell. Via Largehearted Boy.

Largehearted Boy also has his best-of 2006 so far list up, covering not just music but literature as well. Pitchfork offers up suggestions of great music you might have overlooked (so far) this year.

The New York Daily News talks to Voxtrot (whose EPs are on that PF list) about their recent signing to Play Louder, and I’ve got my photos from their Friday night show in Brooklyn – along with TV On The Radio and Matt Pond PA – processed and uploaded for you viewing pleasure. Not the best set of pics I’ve ever taken but considering I was shooting from dozens of rows back with a 300mm lens in the dark, not too bad.

Still recovering from NYC. In case you were wondering.

np – The Grates / Gravity Won’t Get You High