Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Lola Who?

Montreal label Secret City Records has had a charmed, if brief, existence. When this year’s Polaris Music Prize nominees were announced, their entire catalog was on the short list and one of them, Patrick Watson’s Close To Paradise, would end up taking the top honours.

So understandably, expectations are high for their third domestic signing, Montreal’s Plants & Animals. I caught them at Hillside back in July and found their psych-country-but-not sound intriguing but now, as I listen to their debut Avec/With EP, I’m trying to reconcile the band that I saw that afternoon with the one on this record and not quite managing to do it.

Though only four tracks deep, Avec/With covers a lot of stylistic ground and ranges so broadly that it’s hard to get a handle on exactly what Plants & Animals actually sound like. On the plus side, opener “Lola Who?” is a sumptuous bit of acoustic pop that builds like a steam train taking aim at the Beatles with the ghost of Jeff Buckley in the engineer’s cabin. On the negative side, their closing cover of the spiritual standard “Sinnerman”, done Latin-style, sounds like being trapped at a particularly heinous hippie jam with Santana’s band. Not a good place to be.

There is a common thread that runs throughout, though, and it leads right back to The Byrds circa Fifth Dimension, and their heady blend of psychedelia, folk and pop. It’s a deep well to draw from and Plants & Animals have certainly got the chops and creativity to take it somewhere interesting though I’d recommend steering clear of jam-land in the future. Their full-length Parc Avenue comes out next year and I’m going to hold back on laying Polaris 2008 odds until I hear it, see if they get their identity a bit more cohesive-like.

Chart has run a couple pieces on the band recently and eye has a feature this week on account of the band being in town to play not one but two shows this weekend. The first at Lee’s Palace tomorrow night as part of the Wood Wires & Whiskey tour with Elliott Brood and the second on Saturday night at the Drake Underground with Forest City Lovers and Great Bloomers.

And courtesy of Secret City and No Shame, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the Saturday show. It’s an early show (doors at 7) so if you’ve got a late evening planned (or no evening at all) and want to check this out, email me at contests AT with “I want Plants & Animals” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight tonight.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Feedback In The Field”
MySpace: Plants & Animals

Neil Young discusses Chrome Dreams II, the Archives project and the ongoing tour which brings him to Massey Hall in a week and a half with USA Today.

Want to help out a worthy local band? Head over to and vote for The Coast to perform on the Around The World For Free reality show thing. I don’t know what this is, but The Coast are good so go there and make with the clickly. The Coast are just finishing up recording their full-length debut which I’m looking forward to hearing in the new year.

Carl Newman talks to Wireless Bollinger about New Pornography.

A Broken Social roundup: Pitchfork reports on Metric’s forthcoming live DVD – Live At Metropolis out February 12 – and iTunes EP with material from the same show. Gothamist talks to Kevin Drew and Chart finds out how the Stars early digital release strategy for In Our Bedroom After The War worked out.

The fourth and final installment of Soft Focus’ sit down with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine is now up. And via Drowned In Sound… TOUR DATES. I hear Glasgow is lovely in July…

In-store news – The Acorn’s set at Soundscapes on November 24 has been moved from 4PM to 5PM and Sonic Boom will host Jose Gonzalez on December 7 at 6:30, before his show at Mod Club that same night.

The bonus EP for Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky is now available. If you already own a copy of the CD, just pop it into your computer and follow the instructions to download the goodies. Easy as falling off a log.

I picked up Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together yesterday… so good. I think more than anything else right now, this comic makes me proud to be a Torontonian though I do wish my life was a fraction as interesting as the Scott Pilgrim’s is. Comic Book Resources has an interview with creator Bryan Lee-O’Malley.

By : Frank Yang at 8:14 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Colin says:

    Do you figure that iTunes purchasers of Sky Blue Sky are out of luck when it comes to the bonus EP?

  2. Frank says:

    excellent question. The SBS page on wilcoworld has a link to itunes – maybe they check if you have it in your purchase history and give it to you for free? I can’t find anything explicitly covering that situation, but I have to imagine they’ve accounted for it and will make it available.

  3. thomaus says:

    Even though I can never see the desktop on my Mac, it’s nice to know I now have the flock’o’birds cover covering it. Wilco is such a nice band. Always giving stuff away.