Monday, November 27th, 2006
Of all the 2006 Polaris Music Prize finalists, you could argue that Montreal’s Malajube received the most net gains from the exposure. Sure, Final Fantasy took home the big cheque but Malajube saw their profile and audience grow exponentially outside of Francophone circles because of the nod.
And so it was that two months after they played a brief but impressive performance at the Polaris ceremony, the band returned to Toronto on Saturday night for a well-packed show at Lee’s Palace. I missed first openers Bocce but did see middle act Five Blank Pages for the first time since last May and while they’re still purveyors of earnest and jangly indie pop, their songcraft seems to improved considerably in the interim and they’re a more interesting live show as well.
While the strength of attendance was certainly a triumph, Malajube was once again struck by some bad luck on visiting Hogtown. At the Polaris show, their set was limited to but a single song as singer Julien Mineau was barely upright due to illness and this time, it was guitarist/keyboardist Renaud Bastien who was apparently felled by some bad street meat and was only able to play a handful of songs before surrendering to his gastronomical distress and leaving the stage. Not that you could blame him – the boy looked BAD.
But down a man, the remaining Malajubes compensated nicely by turning their own energy levels up to 11 and turning in a hyperactive and wonderfully destructive set – as manic and madcap as the band are on Trompe-L’oeil , they’re even moreso onstage. And just as not having any working knowledge of the French language doesn’t prevent you from appreciating the gloriously dense pop songcraft of the album, it sure as hell doesn’t keep you from getting whipped into a frenzy live (but apparently understanding the lyrics takes you to yet another level, if their pogoing Francophone fans were any indication). But as fast and fiercely as their fanbase is growing amongst us Anglos and as much as I respect their decision to sing in their native tongue (a choice they talk to The National Post about) I am very curious to see if and when the language barrier becomes a glass ceiling for them. Luckily for them, Telecaster smashing translates no matter what language you speak.
Photos: Malajube, Five Blank Pages @ Lee’s Palace – November 25, 2006
MP3: Malajube – “Montréal -40°C”
MP3: Malajube – “Le Metronome”
MP3: Malajube – “La Monogamie”
MP3: Five Blank Pages – “A Point Of Reference”
MP3: Five Blank Pages – “Richie T”
Video: Malajube – “Pâte Filo” (MOV)
Video: Malajube – “Montréal -40°C” (MOV)
Video: Malajube – “Fille à plumes” (MOV)
MySpace: Five Blank Pages
You may (or may not) recall back in February that The New York Times ran a magazine feature about Broken Social Scene, Arts & Crafts, The Blocks Recording Club and the Toronto “scene” in general (you can read the article registration-free at the author’s website). Well nine months later, Chris Stroffolino – one of The Big Takeover‘s blogger/columnists – has crafted a response to the piece, which is interesting because he’s not from Toronto and has no personal connection or even knowledge of the principals involved. Instead, he says he is drawn into an “emotional intrigue of Chekhovian drama”. Well.
The Guardian investigates the resurgence of “gypsy” influences in independent music.
So I went to see Casino Royale this weekend and thought it was really excellent – far and away the best Bond in recent memory and that’s not even taking into account the low standard the recent films have set (not a Brosnan fan). Some complain but I like the low-tech, sociopath Bond – especially when the action sequences are as spectacular as the ones in this film – the construction site chase was simply unbelievable. Mark me down as wholly in favour of Daniel Craig and the series reboot. Not so much of Chris Cornell doing the theme song. Ugh.