Friday, March 28th, 2008

This Gift

Photo by Frank Yang

Blame Belle & Sebastian, or perhaps Teenage Fanclub, but in my mind Scots are generally synonymous with often quiet, unfailingly melodic and frequently bookish music. Even Mogwai, noisemongers they may be, rarely raise their voices past a mumble when it comes time to sing.

So I have Sons & Daughters to thank for blowing that stereotype to little bitty pieces. I’d never paid them much heed before, but some positive reviews and the fact that Bernard Butler was in the producer’s seat for their third record This Gift was enough to get me to pay attention and boy howdy, am I glad I did. From start to finish, it’s a breakneck galloping hybrid of glam and rockabilly led by Adele Bethel’s devilish and delicious snarl and Scott Paterson’s jackhammer guitar riffs and hollered backing vox. There’s none of my imagined Scottish politeness, their brogues are not cozy anoraks. They are fierce and fiery and will not settle for whispering when shouting will do. And on top of all of this, they are pop. So very pop, with barbs and hooks and no compunctions about using them.

If it’s not clear, I really like the record and so relative to my enthusiasm for the record, I expected Lee’s Palace to be packed on Wednesday night. And while it was a healthy enough audience, everyone had plenty of personal space and they all seemed to be of the established fanbase and not necessarily new converts like myself or simply the curious, enticed by any sort of hype or buzz.

Opening things up was California quartet Bodies Of Water, who evade easy description. The most obviously remarkable thing about them are their harmonies – flawless choral four-parters that would be impressive if they simply performed a capella. But they don’t – they take a musical mystery tour through the sounds of the ’70s, paying special attention to the lessons of prog rock as well as influences you’d file under psychedelia or country. The net result is technically stunning but the overworked songcraft and arrangements ended up feeling a bit sterile.

Sterility wasn’t a concern for the headliners, though exhaustion quite obviously was. Toronto was the last date on this leg of their North American tour (they return for a west coast swing in a month starting at Coachella) and the wear and tear was evident. Bethel’s voice was noticeably frayed around the edges and bassist Ailidh Lennon was fighting a nasty case of the flu, though you couldn’t tell if it hadn’t been mentioned – her playing was fine and though her pallor was deathly pale, I’m fairly certain she always looks like that. But the nice thing about the finals shows of tours is that the band has no reason not to leave it all on stage and whatever the band had left in the tank, they did their best to use it up at Lee’s, Bethel prowling the stage like a wild cat on the hunt.

I had caught a couple of their day shows at SxSW and while those were great, they’re really not a daytime band. At night, in a dank club (not that Lee’s is especially dank) is where their goth-country punk noir really belongs. I was only really familiar with the This Gift material, which made up half the hour-long set, and while that sounded great it was the older material – aka the stuff I didn’t really recognize – that really stood out. No, they’re not as finely crafted pop songs as the new stuff but that allowed them the be delivered with a lot more brute force intensity. And Sons & Daughters do brute force well, with a snarl and a smile.

FabChannel has a terrific quality video of a Sons & Daughters concert in Amsterdam from last month.

Photos: Sons & Daughters, Bodies Of Water @ Lee’s Palace – March 26, 2008
MP3: Sons & Daughters – “Dance Me In”
MP3: Sons & Daughters – “Johnny Cash”
MP3: Sons & Daughters – “Gilt Complex” (acoustic, live on Vic Galloway)
MP3: Sons & Daughters – “Chains” (acoustic, live on Vic Galloway)
MP3: Bodies Of Water – “I Guess I’ll Forget The Sound, I Guess I Guess”
MP3: Bodies Of Water – “These Are The Eyes”
MP3: Bodies Of Water – “Doves Circle The Sky”
MP3: Bodies Of Water – “We Are Co-Existors”
Video: Sons & Daughters – “Gilt Complex”
Video: Sons & Daughters – “Darling”
Video: Bodies Of Water – “I Heard A Sound”
MySpace: Sons & Daughters
MySpace: Bodies Of Water

Pitchfork has an interview with Colin Greenwood of Radiohead.

Chart talks to The Gutter Twins, who’ve just released the first appropriately seedy video from Saturnalia.

Video: The Gutter Twins – “All Misery/Flowers”

Ray Davies, in town at the Danforth Music Hall on April 3, chats with Spinner.

Duffy tells Digital Spy she’s not all that familiar with frequent reference point Dusty Springfield. And apparently the UK version of her video for “Mercy” wasn’t good enough for North America because they made a new one.

Video: Duffy – “Mercy” (US version)

Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater talks to Pitchfork about the forthcoming Rook (out June 3), ornithology and maintaining his Okkervil River commitments. Shearwater will be at Lee’s Palace on May 11 and Okkervil River at the Phoenix on April 9, but it doesn’t sound like we should expect to see Meiburg onstage at that one. Alas.

Black Mountain does the press thing with JAM!, The Gateway and The Chicago Tribune.

CMJ talks to Laura Cantrell about her forthcoming, digital-only covers EP Trains and Boats and Planes, from which this acoustic New Order cover is taken. The EP will be available on April 15.

MP3: Laura Cantell – “Love Vigilantes”

Concert news of note – due to popular demand, Jens Lekman’s two-night stand at the Music Gallery has been combined Voltron-style into a single night on April 8 at the Great Hall out on Queen West. All tickets for either night at the music gallery will be honoured and more tickets are now on sale.

Elsewhere, Creature, out of Brighton UK, Montreal, Quebec, is at the Rivoli on April 26. Spiral Beach are at the Opera House on May 17, Snowden and Colour Revolt are at Lee’s Palace on May 21. Sea Wolf is back for a gig at the El Mocambo on June 3 and Nine Inch Nails are at the Air Canada Centre on August 5.

MP3: Creature – “Brigette Bardot”
MP3: Snowden – “Anti-Anti”
MP3: Colour Revlot – “A Siren”
MP3: Colour Revolt – “Naked And Red”
MP3: Spiral Beach – “Made Of Stone”
MP3: Spiral Beach – “Kind Of Beast”
MP3: Sea Wolf – “You’re A Wolf”
MP3: Sea Wolf – “The Garden That You Planted”

By : Frank Yang at 8:37 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post6 Responses.
  1. Serge says:

    Uh, it’s not that Creature, unfortunately:

  2. Serge says:

    Yeah, and the Emerge page links to the British Creature’s myspace, I know. Should have linked to or

  3. zh says:

    Bethel’s stomp-ass posturing reminds me of another Scottish rock goddess who doesn’t fit the stereotype — Shirley Manson. Those Scots are definitely not all sweetness and light.

  4. Steve McGill says:

    Ps. Snowden is on the 21st not the 17th

    Atleast according to the ATG page

  5. rajiv. says:


    I picture "Ed Greenwood" as being Colin/Johnny’s really underachieving pseudo-rebel younger brother. He’s probably finishing an engineering degree. Just to prove that all the Greenwood’s don’t have to be rockstars.


  6. Frank says:

    it’s just one of those typo days. leave me alone.