Sunday, October 3rd, 2004

Hold On Magnolia

It was an eclectic-ish bill at the Horseshoe last night centred around The Magnolia Electric Co’s first Toronto show in something like seven years (that’s what I overheard, anyway). Mainman Jason Molina has a cultish sort of following that I don’t quite understand, but the club was quite packed early on with the faithful.

Starting things off was Jon-Rae Fletcher & The River, who trade in what I have henceforth dubbed ‘spaz-country’. This label goes beyond just looks, though Fletcher would certainly qualify in that department, but musically as well. While not the most polished or professional of performers (dude, tune your guitar BEFORE you start the song) The six-piece band played druken, goofy country-western music, all stomping and shouting and generally carrying on. It was pretty entertaining, but I couldn’t help get the feeling that the performers were in on a joke that the audience wasn’t.

Sea Snakes just released their debut record Clear As Day, The Darkets Tools on Guelph’s ultra-hip Three Gut Records and wouldn’t be a bad bet for one of the next breakthrough acts out of Toronto. Their deal is intricate, melodic and jazzy post-rock with high, keening vocals. Make no mistake – these boys can play, the intertwining guitarwork and intricate drums were mesmerizing, but I found the songs a little lacking. Maybe I’m too hardwired for pop hooks but nothing of their set really stuck with me, it was more like waves of lovely ambience that washed over me while they played but left nothing behind. Perhaps I’d have to hear the record to properly appreciate it.

When this was initially announced months ago, I had the idea that it would be a solo show for some reason. I was completely wrong as the current incarnation of the Magnolia Electric Co is six members strong. I can’t comment on how much of the set material was from the forthcoming Magnolia Electric Co album and how much was old Songs: Ohia material (I only have the Songs: Ohia Magnolia Electric Co album… yeah, don’t get me started) but juding from the polite response some numbers got and the enthusiastic response others did, I think he mixed it pretty well. The best adjective I can use to describe the MEC’s blend of psychadelic-country-blues-rock is ‘polished’. Everything just sounded so smooth, not least of all Molina’s clear voice. For an act that gets compared to Neil Young so much, I don’t think you could get much more opposite from Crazy Horse’s sonic chaos than Molina & co. They did let loose a little more in the encore (as well as putting on some paper animal masks – yeah, I dunno), but on the whole the hour-and-a-half set was a study in fine, professional songcraft and musicianship.

And I maintain that the Horseshoe is one tough room to shoot photos in. Even when it seems lit up, it’s actually dark, or so my camera would seem to believe. Check them out here.

The Boston Globe profiles tap-tacular Tilly & The Wall, opening for Rilo Kiley on their current tour, which includes a stop at the Horseshoe tonight. From LHB.

There is now a trailer for Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean’s Mirrormask. Gaiman says the music isn’t actually from the film (thank goodness) and there’s no sense of the narrative, but the visuals are quite neat.

So in addition to being on the CBC Radio 3 website playlist, as I mentioned yesterday, Lake Holiday also made the RADIO playlist. That’s right, at around 3:50 AM last night, we made our national radio debut with “American Summer”, sandwiched between tracks by local heroes From Fiction and The Hidden Cameras. That’s just keen, I must say, though no, I didn’t stay up to listen. I’ve heard the song before and I don’t actually have a radio.

FYI – tomorrow’s post will probably be a little late. I’ve got the day off and I’m a-gonna use it. To sleep, I mean.

np – Teenage Fanclub / Thirteen

By : Frank Yang at 12:34 pm
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Garry says:

    The Sea Snakes record is a little more filling than the live show. Still, glad you enjoyed them.

    Congrats on making the RADIO 3 playlist. Looking forward to the next show (and using YOUR camera to take shots). Huzzah!

  2. ross says:

    Grand Prix is my favourite Teenage Fanclub album. It seemed to be when their creative powers and sense of melody really coalesced into a satisfying package with no fillers or dud tracks.

    What’s yours?

  3. Frank says:

    ross – that’s a tough call. Grand Prix is a better album, but Thirteen has some great great songs on it. It just kind of loses its way about halfway through. You could assemble a killer side A off of it, though.

    Songs From Northern Britain is a favourite when I’m feeling like something a little more refined.

  4. ross says:

    yep, Songs from Northern Britain is a cracker too, though after that the band lost their way a bit, i think.

    Was fortunate enough to see them live when they were at their peak. A gig in Aberdeen with DJ Shadow, James Lavelle and Radiohead.

    That was a good night.

  5. ned says:

    thanks for the photos- i passed the link onto the songsohia mailing list… any word on whether they had the live 2xlp for sale yet?

  6. Frank says:

    ross – I saw them open for Radiohead back in 97 I think, and sadly they were very ill-suited for the venue. It sounded crap and I couldn’t see anything. Their show a few years ago touring for Howdy! was amazing though – it was like a greatest hits package and the sound was amazing. Their harmonies frighten me they’re so tight.

    Ned – I think they had the double live album, I’d only seen the artwork once before so I couldn’t be certain but I think it was there.

  7. Shoma says:

    Eep … it’s a little late to respond to this post, isn’t it? But here goes. The double live album wasn’t available at the show, apparently they’re still working on it, putting the finishing touches and whatnot. It won’t be available on tour until maybe next week. There’s a good chance that you can get it through Secretly Canadian well before the in-store release date.

    Hope the info helps.

    P.S. I’d get my hands on "Didn’t It Rain" if I wanted to hear some more Songs: Ohia (no pressure, though). And Frank, I think I was standing next to you, I wasn’t 100% sure, but the shots of the show makes it pretty clear now.

  8. Frank says:

    I stand corrected.

    PS – retroactive hello to Shoma.

  9. Shoma says:

    um … "Hi Frank." I’m so pathetically shy that this scenario will likely repeat itself.

    I’m glad you had a good time at the show. I didn’t know casual Molina fans existed ;)