Monday, April 24th, 2006

All The Little Girls And Boys

Saturday night’s double bill of Vancouverites Young & Sexy and local boy Gentleman Reg was a near-repeat of the bill when last I saw Y&S in December ’03, though the middle band from that show, Hotel, was missing though not missed. That show was decidedly middling, which I attributed to the band having just flown in from the west coast that day and thus being discombobulated. This time, however, they were nearing the end of a Canadian tour in support of their third record Panic When You Find It that had them in southern Ontario for several days before hitting the Drake Underground in Toronto. So that excuse was right out.

And this time around, they were indeed better though I think I’m prepared to state definitively that Young & Sexy are, sadly, not an espcially good live act. They’re not bad, but I just don’t think they’ve got the charisma or presence to dazzle in a live context. It’s kind of a nebulous statement, I know, but there you go. But on to the positive – for most of the show, they sounded quite good with a set list drawing from all three records. Paul Pittman and Lucy Brain’s harmonies, thanks to their precise and slightly arch deliveries, sounded quite good and Colin McClean’s lead guitar gave the band’s decidedly proper pop sound a ragged edge though sometimes it sounded a little too far out to be completely complimentary. The only real misstep was the encore cover of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In The Sand” – while Brain’s vocals sounded excellent and gave their version a fresh new angle, the band sounded exceptionally sloppy and under-rehearsed on it, which they may very well have been. You could argue that some degree of slop is essential for Neil, but it just didn’t work quite right on this night.

Gentleman Reg had been playing opener for Young & Sexy on several of the southern Ontario dates, and though it’s been a couple years since I’ve seen him play a proper set of his own, he seems to get better and better every time. Maybe it’s the songcraft that’s gotten better, maybe it’s the live band, maybe it’s both, I dunno. But he seems to have found the right balance between delicate folkiness and uptempo, electrified pop with just the right amount of musclature – something perhaps Reg is aware of, given his choice in drum kit decorations. A shortish set, but good all around.

Photos here. I think there’s something weird about the lights at the Drake. They do strange things to skin tones. I also want to take the opportunity to talk about something Young & Sexy do very very well – make albums. Their first two records were sublime slices of chamber pop, with songs whose singalongability sometimes belied the complex writing and arrangements underneath. Their third album, Panic When You Find It, just came out a couple months ago and while it’s considerably less immediate than its predecessors, it’s beginning to reveal itself. Here’s a couple tracks from the new record and there’s samples from all three albums available on their website and MySpace.

MP3: Young And Sexy – “Conventional Lullabies”
MP3: Young And Sexy – “54”

The Luna documentary Tell Me Do You Miss Me will be released on DVD on June 20. Full Of Wishes has the next two parts in the band interview series, with axeman Sean Eden and chief songwriter Dean Wareham being next up to talk about the film. Nice to hear that Sean is getting a new band together and is planning to play out – his two singing/songwriting contributions to Rendezvous were definite highlights and I for one am eager to hear more of his compositions. FOW also has links to a couple reviews of the doc.

And speaking of tour films, The National are the subject of a three-part mini-documentary that Beggars has made available via iTunes. Only part one is up, but to get it – it’s free – go to the iTunes music store and search for “Beggars”. You’ll get a page for Beggarz but if you click past it (these aren’t the droids you’re looking for), you’ll see a link for the Beggars Videocast – that’s what you want.

Manchester Online conversates with Jenny Lewis, currently peddling Rabbit Fur Coat in the UK.

Dearly departed Delgados will release their complete BBC Peel Sessions, collected in the cleverly titled The Complete BBC Peel Sessions, on June 12. You can see the complete tracklist for the double-disc set here and listen to “Mauron Chanson” from the collection on the Chemikal Underground MySpace page.

Neil Young’s new record, Living With War, is looking like it’s going to have a early- to mid-May release, but according to Billboard, you’ll be able to hear it as a stream off of Neil’s website starting sometime this week. Blogcritics speculates at the shitstorm of criticism that will no doubt come flying from the right when the album comes out, even more than what’s already being flung and that’s not inconsiderable. Oh, and in keeping with the times, the album has a blog. Update: Pitchfork reports the stream will begin this Friday and be available for download sale on May 2.

I was far too excited to see Rob Lowe back on The West Wing last night. I’m surprised that he didn’t return last week for Leo’s funeral, but he’ll be around through the end of the series’ run on May 14.

np – Calexico / Garden Ruin

By : Frank Yang at 8:52 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Matt says:

    just curious, how busy was the show? i got to the drake at about 1120 and there was a real decent lineup to get into the lounge. So one of the bouncers outside gave me a hard time to get in and ultimatly told me it was sold out.. shitty..

  2. Frank says:

    unless they make a rule of underselling the Drake Underground, it was not sold out. Healthy crowd but you certainly had room up front to move around. The show was over by midnight, though, so you wouldn’t have gotten your money’s worth. If that helps.

  3. Frank says:

    And those Drake Lounge people were just starting to show up en masse when we were leaving. What a contrast in worlds. Morlocks. Eloi.

  4. suckingalemon says:

    i saw young and sexy in brantford (they made that joke about brantford because noone was there unfortunatly), as well as the drake show and i have to agree with you, there is something lacking live but it’s not bad and they do make wonderful albums.

    also the drake – not great lighting at all. id prefer no lighting to theirs since at least that way nothing mess’s up in a flash shot.
    also one thing ill never understand is the number of people sitting in groups with their backs turned, why pay money to do that? you could go to a bar.

    also, your photos came out quite nicely.


  5. Matt says:

    i figured that much (w/ missing part of their set) but after being in all day studying i was happy just get some air. although i doubt i needed to go that far up queens street to get air.

  6. Brad says:

    I saw them touring on their first album, it was a fantastic show. Great stage presence and banter – provided by their keyboard player at the time (Ted, who is now with Destroyer). I left the Drake show three songs in, was quite bored with it.

  7. Frank says:

    yeah, the photos turned out okay, but noisier than I usually get at ISO800 for some reason. The Drake’s lighting somehow manages to eliminate all contrast from the performers, it’s quite remarkable.

  8. mike says:

    Even though the consensus is that Y & S put on less than stellar live shows(something that I’m sure they’re trying to work out the bugs), I’m still disappointed I missed ALL of their southern Ontario shows; couldn’t go to the Toronto show(had already promised to bring my nephew to see the new animated flick ‘The Wild’) and the rain all weekend turned me off on driving to Hamilton to catch their show there. Maybe next time.

  9. WI says:

    I went to the gig as a non-fan of Y&S, figuring I’d get my eight bucks worth of Gentleman Reg. Reg was altogether worth it, and I’m not sold on Y&S at all. Some of the uptempo stuff and boy-girl harmonies were fine, but when they followed one dirgeful song with the introduction "Now we’re going to slow things right down", I took my leave.

    And yeah, it was a weird scene when I headed back upstairs – like a crazy yuppie prom had broken out.

    Thanks for the pictures.

  10. Gary says:

    You know the Y&S live show is poor when the DJ has to ask the audience to clap so they can come out and do an encore. (As happened!)

    They’re definitely communing some sort of "west coast"-specific sound though. Having not heard them before, they came across as a less-exciting hybrid of The New Pornographers and P:Ano. Maybe at Torontonians, we just don’t "get" it.

  11. elva says:

    wow, i really wasn’t expecting all the y&s negativity. having been my first time seeing them since sneaking into their nxne showcase four years ago, i can say that i was extremely happy with their show last night. sure they don’t have the "charisma" of other more experienced bands, but i thought the songs were executed beautifully. paul and lucy make an incredible pair. i am in love with the new album now more than ever.

    the dj had to ask the audience to clap because the crowd was less than attentive the whole night. caught the drake bug perhaps?

  12. thomaus says:

    "crowd less than attentive" = "The Toronto Sound." For a smallish crowd, they sure made a lot of racket. Yak, yak, yak. So what if Y&S was a tad boring, they did travel all the way from Vancouver. Keep it down folks. Toronto used to be known as a polite city, wasn’t it?

    Anyway, who was on Lucy’s pink button. Gabe Kaplan?

  13. BC says:

    Burton Cummings, of course.