Monday, September 24th, 2007

La Da Da

I’ve been singing the praises of Basia Bulat for almost a whole year now so seeing her play to two packed shows at the Music Gallery on Saturday (well the late show was packed, I’m assuming the early was as well) to mark the Canadian release of her debut album Oh, My Darling was an immensely satisfying experience.

The venue, which functions as St. George the Martyr Church when not hosting events, was a decidedly more formal setting than the cozy bars and festival stages where I was used to seeing Bulat and her band but even dressed up for the occasion, there was no repressing their giddiness on stage – even when they were trying to be proper and serious in thanking everyone for coming, there was always the hint that any of them would break out into a grin at any moment. Such was the tone of the night.

But it fit perfectly. Bulat’s ensemble craft chamber pop with the curtains and windows thrown open and sunshine pouring in – it’s the sound of rejoicing. Taking advantage of the church acoustics with the best vocal harmonies and string arrangements I’ve heard from them, Bulat and her band ran through pretty much every song in their repertoire and filled out the encore with covers of The Strokes and Sam Cooke. Two more disparate artists you’d be hard pressed to find but Bulat made them sound like a perfectly matched pair. A splendid evening to celebrate the emergence of a fine new talent.

A mention should also be given to Wayne Petti, who just as he did in opening for Patrick Wolf back in May, demonstrated a keen understanding of the role of warm-up act. He was warm and engaging and kept his set short, yet impressed enough in the space given to make me want to revisit his work with Cuff The Duke, whose new album Sidelines Of The City is out October 23. They’ve got an in-store at Criminal Records that same day and then a proper show at the Mod Club on November 29.

And I should note that the new track that appears on the domestic version of Oh, My Darling is “The Night”, a rollicking piano-led piece that’s been a highlight of their recent live shows. Instead of being tacked onto the end, it’s dropped right in the middle of the running order and you know what? It works. Well.

Update: eye also has a review of Saturday night’s show.

Photos: Basia Bulat, Wayne Petti @ The Music Gallery – September 22, 2007
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Snakes & Ladders”
MP3: Wayne Petti – “Moment By Moment”
MySpace: Basia Bulat

So tonight’s big to-do is the awarding of the second annual Polaris Music Prize. If Ms Bulat’s record had gotten a domestic release at the same time as the European back in May, she’d have been eligible though only by a couple of weeks and almost certainly not long enough to beguile enough jurors to make the shortlist – but now with a September release, she’s eligible for next year’s prize and I’m certainly expecting her to make my list.

But back to this year. Reuters has a piece on the real-world effects that making the shortlist has had for some of the nominees and The Globe & Mail looks at how all the nominees have fared with critics abroad. BrooklynVegan has analyzed the nominees and offers their prediction for who’ll walk away with the giant cheque (though if they’re correct, she’ll have to accept by proxy). Also not attending will be Arcade Fire, who will be in Seattle. Richard Reed Perry talked to that town’s Post-Intelligencer. Update: Radio Free Canuckistan offers up their predictions for tonight.

But six of the ten nominees will certainly be in attendance tonight – they’re performing. Of them, The New Pollution has a feature on Miracle Fortress, The Georgia Straight talks to The Besnard Lakes and QRO has a Q&A with Patrick Watson.

And looking now to bands who were eligible this year but didn’t make the cut, Great Lake Swimmers will play an in-store at Criminal Records on Thursday, September 27 at 7PM in advance of their show at the Phoenix on this coming Saturday. And Sloan have released a first video from Never Hear The End Of It. They’ve got a gig in town on November 25, venue still to be announced.

Video: Sloan – “I’ve Gotta Try” (YouTube)

And some activity from artists who’ll have records eligible for next year’s prize – The Sadies, whose swirlingly psychedelic New Seasons was out domestically last week and in the US next week, have a couple gigs scheduled for early November – on the 2nd at the Horseshoe Lee’s Palace and then on the 3rd at Lee’s Palace the Horseshoe.

AOL Music Canada features Stars, whose In Our Bedroom After The War is supposed to be out on Tuesday in old-school vinyl and plastic forms, but I can’t find any online retailers who seem especially interested in selling anything but the digital format that’s been available since July. Interesting. They’ve got a three-night stand at the Phoenix on November 26, 27 and 28.

And Neil Young added a third date to his Massey Hall residency that same week but that show, November 29, sold out as soon as it was announced as well. I managed to get tickets for the front row of the gallery for the Monday night and am as giddy as a little girl about it. Chrome Dreams II is out October 16 but if I understand the promotion correctly, all ticketholders get a free copy of the new album. Which makes that $100 a ticket price just a little easier to bear. Juuuust a little.

John K Samson explains to Chart it took The Weakerthans so long to record and release Reunion Tour, out Tuesday. They’re at the Phoenix on November 8.

The Acorn, another short-odds favourite for next year’s Polaris list, are streaming the whole of their new album Glory Hope Mountain on MySpace right now. It’s out tomorrow and they’re at the Horseshoe November 24.

Stream: The Acorn / Glory Hope Mountain

Carl Newman talks to Chart about the socially broken nature of The New Pornographers lineup, though the whole gang will be in attendance when they play The Phoenix on October 21.

Chart (again) gets the low-down on the sophomore effort from The Diableros, whose debut You Can’t Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts was on my short list for the 2006 Polaris Prize. Aren’t Ready For The Country is out October 16 and they play a CD release show at the Horseshoe on October 26.

And finally, The AV Club has put together a wholly uncomprehensive yet surprisingly thorough primer to the Canadian indie rock scene.

Back tomorrow with more Can-Con and dispatches from the Polaris gala. In the meantime, grok the finalists and offer your predictions for who walks away with the $20,000. Me, I think Feist should win but would be astonished if she did – instead, I’d like to see Miracle Fortress take it home. Either way, if you’re so inclined you can follow along at home as the ceremony will be broadcast live on the CBC Radio 3 Sirius satellite station, so to the six of you with Sirius radio, tune in!

By : Frank Yang at 8:36 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post15 Responses.
  1. alan says:

    i think your little bit about the Sadies got cut off or something, it doesn’t really make sense.

    The Acorn are playing a free in-store at Sounds Unlikely in Ottawa tonight, if there are other readers from up here.

    I’d like to see Besnard Lakes win tonight but I don’t see it happening. The Feist record is just too good.

  2. Frank says:

    thanks, forgot to close a quote AND a tag. Chaos ensued.

  3. Dan says:

    Feist or Arcade Fire for polaris. Not that either of them need the money, but god damn if both aren’t amazing albums.

  4. Mike says:

    I’m among the people who are not happy with this year’s nominees.

    What’ more, the noms for the inaugeral year featured ONLY albums released the previous year, while this year’s allows for albums also released this year.

    That’s a little annoying, since there were more than enough from last year that could have filled it in.

  5. Frank says:

    the nomination period for last year’s award and this years were the same – June 1 of the previous year to May 31 of the current year. That albums from the first half of the period were selected last year versus albums from the second half of this year is just how the chips fell.

  6. Mel says:

    As much as I enjoy the Feist and Arcade Fire albums, I’d like to see Miracle Fortress win. Honestly, I don’t care who wins because all the albums are good to me. I agree, the nominees could’ve been better, but they do have some pretty phenomenal ones included.

    By the way, Basia on Saturday night was amazing. Thanks Frank for putting me on the guestlist for the early show! It wasn’t completely packed, but it was a fairly good turn out. Wayne Petti was a lot of fun to watch and he was very endearing. Basia has an incredibly bright future ahead of her.

  7. Scott says:

    Rooting for Besnard Lakes or Junior Boys – expecting Feist (though I seem to be the last person on the planet not on side with her sound… must figure out my deficiencies)… we’ll see…

  8. Mel says:

    I understand if you’re not on Feist’s side. I personally adore her, but I can see (and have been told) why she may not be loved by people. And I’m not particularly on her side for the Polaris Prize. I don’t think she needs the money at all and to me, she doesn’t have THE best album. Especially compared to some of the other people nominated. Although if the Polaris existed when Let it Die came out, I’d be completely rooting for her to win because that album was extraordinary. The Reminder is great, but not as good as say, The Dears or Chad Vangaalen or (personally,) even The Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible.

    But then again yes, I won’t be surprised if she wins. I bet she will. I won’t agree, but I’ll be happy for her.

  9. Garry says:

    Go Miracle Fortress.

  10. Robert Thompson says:

    Frank — thanks for the nod to my Billboard story, but man, they cut half of what I’d written out in the Reuters version.

    BTW, picked up a used copy of a Six By Seven album called "04" that I was familiar with and was being put out by some American inide label. Now I see it came out in, well, 04, but it looks like it just was reissued this year. Know anything about this? The promo lael on the disc talks about US tour dates….

  11. Robert Thompson says:

    I meant, of course, to say I was unfamiliar with the album…

  12. Tom says:

    i didn’t really read all of those comments above, but more than 3 of us have sirius… i’ve been a subscriber for a while like almost 3 years, i love the stuff they put on… your show is actually one of my favorites to listen to on my way down to school every friday… but more to the point, i actually got sirius because of cbc radio 3, being from detroit, i got cbc radio 3 on regular radio until they had to not put it on cbc 2 anymore, which was a complete bummer….

    reguardless based off of the 2 people from CBC who vote, i think junior boys very well may win… i guess that is the point, we’ll see in a few hours…


    keep up the great work on blog radio.

  13. Mel says:

    Well I guess we’re all wrong. Patrick Watson won. I’m happy though, that album was great.

  14. Frank says:

    Hey Tom – Six By Seven’s "04" was indeed released in 2004 originally and it took forever to come out domestically via The First Time. Considering the band split up after that record was released and only just got back together with a new record (which is okay but nowhere near as good as "04"), North American touring is unlikely. I think the US label got overzealous about things – the album came out almost a year later than it was supposed to, I wouldn’t expect they could manage to put any kind of tour together…

  15. Basia Bulat covers The Strokes | WAKAZ says:

    […] recall them breaking it out live for the album’s record release show at the Music Gallery in September 2007 when they had completely run out of material but the audience kept calling them back for […]