Archive for March, 2007

Monday, March 26th, 2007

CONTEST – Ponys/Black Lips @ Lee's Palace – March 29, 2007

Everyone wanted a pony as a kid, very few actually got one. Now if, as someone of legal drinking age, you still want a little horse to ride around the yard, to groom and to name “Blossom”, that’s your business, but if you’d rather get a dose of Chicagoan fuzzed-out psych rock with a 90s college rock vibe, then I can help you out. The Ponys will be at Lee’s Palace this Thursday evening with The Black Lips and Action Makes and courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got three pairs of passes to give away.

To enter, email me at contests AT with your full name in the body and “I want a Pony” in the subject line. Show’s coming up so this is a quick one – the contest will close at midnight, March 27 – that’s tonight.

I caught only a tiny bit of The Ponys’ set at Hot Freaks at SxSW but their live rock abilities were more than evident. Their new album Turn The Lights Out came out last week and they also just did a Daytrotter session and interview, so check those out if you need more convincing. The Black Lips are supposed to be nutso live, as well, so there’s that too. And the free. Can’t underestimate the value of free.

MP3: The Ponys – “Double Vision”
MP3: The Ponys – “Poser Psychotic”
Video: The Black Lips – “Boomerang” (MOV)
MySpace: The Ponys

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Young Garcon

Funny how things go in circles – that CMW showcase at the ‘Shoe a couple weeks ago had 3/5 of the same lineup as the NxNE show I saw at The Boat last June. And then, last Thursday at the ‘Shoe, I saw the last two bands from that bill, Born Ruffians and We’re Marching On.

I didn’t actually stick around for We’re Marching On (WAMO to their friends) at that show so this was my first time seeing the Guelph-born outfit, also their first gig in some seven months with singer/guitarist Tim Fagan having pulled a Jack Bauer and been somewhere in China during that time. I had gotten a copy of their EP Argh! Umph! Ahhh! in the big post-Sx mail call so I’d had some opportunity to get acquainted with their sound, which is a strange assemblage of garage-fi, ADD prog-pop built on a foundation of wickedly melodic keyboard riffs, dance-inducing drumming and colour-outside-the-lines arrangements. Vocally things test my yelp-tolerance levels at points but the songs are weird and interesting and hooky enough to make that a minor, subjective point.

But that’s the recording and this was the live show which everyone had described to me as being something that had to be experienced to be appreciated – lofty promises that weren’t quite fulfilled on this night. Not that they were bad by any means, but the rust from the time off was evident as they tried to ignite the onstage chemistry. There were moments where they did catch and I saw what people were talking about, but they weren’t sustained through the set. But like I said, the songs were still catchy if even more frenzied in structure and as they work through a short Southern Ontario tour, I don’t doubt they’ll be back in game shape when they play Toronto again on April 11 opening for Tokyo Police Club at the Mod Club.

Prior to that show at The Boat last June I got wind of a label bidding war over the Born Ruffians – my impressions at the time were that their energy and musicianship were really impressive, especially considering their tender ages, but the songwriting raw and while the potential as unmistakable, it seemed kind of soon for a shot at the (indie) big leagues. Well shows how much I know, they were signed to WARP and XL shortly thereafter and have been on a steady upward trajectory since. Interestingly, their performance on this evening wasn’t a whole lot different than the last time I saw them nine months ago – it was just better all around. They’re still hellaciously tight but what seemed like quirks last year are now proper eccentricities – everything’s more refined and focused and they sound a lot more comfortable and confident in what they’re doing. Their sound still isn’t directly up my particular alley – Luke Lalonde’s yodeling vocals are a taste I’ve not fully acquired yet – but I enjoyed their show more than I expected and am certainly curious as to what they’ll be up to next.

I Heart Music has a session the Ruffians did for KEXP available to download, their session for Spinner’s Interface is still online and they tell Chart that they hope to have their full-length debut out in the Fall.

Photos: Born Ruffians, We’re Marching On @ The Horseshoe – March 22, 2007
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Hedonistic Me”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “I’m Not One Of Those Girls”
MP3: We’re Marching On – “1800s”
MySpace: Born Ruffians

This week’s Take-Away Show? Arcade Fire in a freight elevator. Must not have been especially hygienic in there because the band just canceled the remainder of their European tour due to illness.

Fountains Of Wayne are at Lee’s Palace on June 10 (via For The Records). At this rate, NxNE weekend is going to be chock full before the even announce any NxNE events. Traffic And Weather is out April 3.

Interpol will release their third album on June 5.

Carl Newman talks to Billboard about the recipe of the new New Pornographers album – three parts Dan, three parts Neko, remaining parts Carl, simmer and serve sometime around late August. Neko-powered tour come Fall.

Pitchfork offers up some info on the new album from Spoon – no title yet, but a tracklist and a release date – July 10.

Voxtrot, the debut full-length from Voxtrot is out May 22 and the first MP3 is now available. They’re also at Sneaky Dee’s on June 8.

MP3: Voxtrot – “Kid Gloves”

Did you notice how I segued there back to Austin content? Crafty, no? Well as promised, I’ve finished processing all my SxSW photos – 46 galleries worth – available for your viewing pleasure.

Photos: SxSW XXI – March 14-17, 2007 @ Austin TX

np – The National / Boxer

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

CONTEST – Birdmonster @ The Horseshoe – March 28, 2007

I’ve been assured by the folks in San Francisco’s Birdmonster, who were foiled in their last attempt to come to Canada back in September, that this time their paperwork is all in order and they will indeed be at the Horseshoe on Wednesday, March 28, to make their T.O. debut.

Accompanying them on this evening will be Mason Proper from Detroit and Toronto’s The Coast and The Visit. If that seems like a lot of bands, it is, but all of them seem quite certain that they’re playing that night so I’ll let them sort it out. My job is just to get you there. Courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got five pairs of passes to give away for this show. Since notice is short, I’m going to take the names of the first five people to email me at contests AT for my winners. So if you’re bored and cruising the internet on a Sunday afternoon, it’s all about to pay off for you. Passes all gone! Congrats to Dmitri, Erik, Matt, Moira and Marc.

MP3: Birdmonster – “Cause You Can”
MP3: Birdmonster – “Skeleton Suit”
MP3: Mason Proper – “My My (Bad Fruit)”
MP3: Mason Proper – “Miss Marylou Carreau”
MP3: The Coast – “Circles”
MP3: The Coast – “The Lines Are Cut”
MySpace: Birdmonster
MySpace: The Coast
MySpace: Mason Proper
MySpace: The Visit

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

Smile And Wave

I usually try to enforce a show-going moratorium for at least a week or so after SxSW, just to get my head back together, but this year it lasted but 72 hours. The draw was Maria Taylor and Basia Bulat and despite being medicated to a degree far more suitable for seeing Spiritualized (got me a Texas-sized cold, y’all!), I was off to the ‘Shoe on Wednesday night.

When I saw her at the Drake back in January, I described Basia Bulat’s music as “springtime smiling” – a bit of a throwaway metaphor at the time but now rather prescient. This show came on the evening of the Spring Equinox and watching Bulat and her band perform was like watching one of those time-lapse films of Winter thawing and Spring blooming. The rich, effervescent orchestral pop of her forthcoming debut Oh, My Darling sounded wonderful and Bulat was an effortlessly charming frontwoman (even if she doesn’t seem to realize it). It was also nice to hear their cover of The Strokes’ “Someday” live, sounding much more fully-realized than the off-the-cuff version on her MySpace. The album is due out in May in Europe but there’s still no domestic release confirmed – I got an advance copy of it last night and it sounds as good as the live show would have you hope. Labels should be fighting each other in the street to put this thing out. I don’t understand the world, sometimes.

If Basia Bulat’s set was like a time-lapse film, then Maria Taylor took everything down to slow motion. Whatever project she’s been in, from the power-popping Little Red Rocket through the electronic-y Azure Ray to her recent solo material – including her latest Lynn Teeter Flower – has been defined by her sad, sleepy and lovely vocals. And while it makes for great headphone listening, it’s not an aesthetic that necessarily translates into a compelling live show – which Taylor appears to appreciate. To that end, she was touring with a six-piece band (including her brother and sister) and featuring three guitars – which sort of goes without saying considering they’re from Alabama. Though the more muscular backline definitely helped give her material the extra oomph it needed to translate live but not at the expense of the delicacy and intimacy of the songs. The balance struck was actually good, I thought, and the lound jam of “Song Beneath The Song”, was a good finale – even when the random guy from the audience leapt onstage to an open mic to continue singing the outro. The look of incredulousness on Taylor’s face was priceless and at least he was in key.

Photos: Maria Taylor, Basia Bulat @ The Horseshoe – March 21, 2007
MP3: Maria Taylor – “A Good Start”
MP3: Maria Taylor – “Lost Time”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Snakes & Ladders”
MySpace: Basia Bulat

The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and View discuss Ongiara, the new Great Lake Swimmers record, with Tony Dekker. It’s in stores next Tuesday.

The AV Club has a sit-down with Colin Meloy of The Decemberists.

The Clientele and Beach House will make the El Mocambo a very sleepy place to be on June 4, tickets $22.50 in advance. And the lounge-poppy Postmarks are in town April 21 for a show at the Amp’d Studio, and no, I don’t know what it is. But you can apparently get free tickets here (not for the Postmarks gig yet, but others).

This weekend is the sold-out double-shot of Explosions In The Sky at the Opera House. Chart, JAM!, The Express and New City Chicago talk to the band while Filter gets them to offer a tour of their hometown of Austin, TX – info that may have been useful a week ago but now? Not so much. And NPR has their recent show in DC available to stream or download from their site.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007


Courtesy of the good folks at Beggars, an exclusive sneak peek at not only another track from The National’s new album Boxer but also the A Skin, A Night documentary film being assembled by unofficial band videographer Vincent Moon.

And it’s also my first YouTube embed, but that’s probably not so interesting to you. But this should be – the first official MP3:

MP3: The National – “Fake Empire”

If this doesn’t get you excited for the new album, you’re dead. The record is out May 22 and they’re at the Opera House on June 5 with Shapes & Sizes.