Monday, June 30th, 2008

Directions To See A Ghost

Photo by Frank Yang

Last Thursday night, Lee’s Palace played host to a meeting for the Toronto chapter of the “If It’s Got More Than Two Chords It’s #*%?@!-ing Jazz! Society”. Alright, not officially, but if such an organization were to be spontaneously created anywhere, the a show featuring The Black Angels and The Warlocks was as good a place as any. It was a safe bet that most everyone in attendance – almost a full house – was a connoisseur of rock of the droning variety and as such, were pretty stoked to see two of the finer purveyors of craft on tour together.

Los Angeles’ Warlocks started things off loudly as expected but also with a relatively lighter touch. Compared to their tourmates, they ply a dreamier brand of psychedelia – still deafening and utterly stoned but with the pop elements closer to the surface. They were rooted primarily in classic rock influences run through a drone rock aesthetic – there were more than just shades of Spacemen 3 in there – but also the occasional whiff of bubblegum detectable through all the smoke and haze.

There’s not many circumstances where you’d reference The Warlocks as the “lighter” half of a bill – by any measure they’re still hellaciously loud – but when The Black Angels took the stage, things got significantly darker and I’m not just talking about stage lighting. Cloaked either in darkness or projections from actual 16mm film projectors (old school!), The Austinites worked with considerably more low end, led by drummer Stephanie Bailey’s unrelenting tom pounding and giving their set a rhythmic pacing that was part military march, part ritual sacrifice. Material from their latest album Directions To See A Ghost sounded extra intense delivered thusly, which is saying something considering it’s already a bit of a head trip on record. Though both bands work in a style/genre that I have a limited amount of patience for – after X minutes of the same thing over and over again, I get antsy – the show was remarkably engaging. Partly because trying to get a camera to focus in near-pitch darkness isn’t easy, but also because when it works, drone-rock is supposed to be hypnotic and judging from the concert-goers swaying and/or flailing all around me throughout the show, I suppose it was working.

The Boston Globe profiles The Black Angels.

Photos: The Black Angels, The Warlocks @ Lee’s Palace – June 26, 2008
MP3: The Black Angels – “Doves”
MP3: The Warlocks – “So Paranoid”
MP3: The Warlocks – “Isolation”
MySpace: The Black Angels
MySpace: The Warlocks

Wall Of China is yet another blog from Ms Emma-Lee Moss, aka Emmy The Great, wherein she collects bits of writing she’s done for various publications such as this one with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, he himself a musician who also knows his way a blog. Most everything in the blog is entertaining and adorable, but some entries seem to have been excised that still exist in the RSS feed – so until Blogger does something about that, I’d suggest hitting up said feed and finding the December 2007 entry entitled “We Have To Talk”. So best. Also, Emmy was amongst the Glastonbury performers quizzed by The Guardian this weekend about their knowledge of agriculture – she acquits herself nicely with sheep trivia. No further info on her debut album – First Love still due sometime in September – but at least she’s managed to get rid of the Weezer theme that was plaguing her MySpace.

And now that Glastonbury is done, The Verve have made a track from their forthcoming album Forth available to download in advance of the August 19 release date in exchange for your contact info. What a deal! The track, “Mover”, is a damn sight better than the official single, “Love Is Noise”, because you actually get some notion as to why Nick McCabe is one of the best guitarists the UK has turned out in the past 20 years, but as a song it still feels half-baked. Actually everything new that the reunited Verve has released has sounded like that – like jams that had verses and choruses arbitrarily defined and edited down to songs length, with one eye in the studio fixed on the release date circled on the calendar. Or maybe they’re saving the best stuff for the album. Maybe. Update: Stereogum points out that “Mover” is actually not on the album. Whether this bodes well or ill for the material that did make the album is unclear.

First reported by The National Post and confirmed on the official website, this year’s Hillside Festival now has a marquee name to close out Sunday night in Broken Social Scene. And if those Arcade Fire rumours the Post is also spreading have any grounding in reality at all, you can probably expect full-on indie kid amphibious invasion of Guelph Lake this July 25 through 27.

Death Vessel, aka the impossibly high-voiced Joel Thibodeau, will release his Sub Pop debut Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us on August 19 and be at the El Mocambo on August 28 to play songs from it.

MP3: Death Vessel – “Bruno’s Torso”

The Notwist will kick off their Fall North American tour in support of the just-released The Devil, You + Me in Toronto at Lee’s Palace on October 10.

JAM learns that it’s not a good idea to tell Aimee Mann to smile. She opens up for Squeeze at the Kool Haus on August 18.

Pitchfork talks to Liz Phair… wait, didn’t they just do that? Oh, that was It’s different, cause it’s TV.

The Guardian profiles The Ting Tings.

JAM talks to Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers.

The Telegraph heads to Mexico with Sigur Ros. Ambulances ensue. Hoping their September 22 show at Massey Hall is less calamitous.

Daytrotter joins the Retribution Gospel Choir in song and session. Hallelujah.

Metro asks five questions of The National.

An Aquarium Drunkard has part one of an interview with The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. Their Stay Positive is out July 15. Update: Part two is now up.

Drowned In Sound selects their favourite songs of 2008 so far.

Yesterday was the Pride Parade here in Toronto and seeing as how it’s the most entertaining photographic opportunity to occur within 200 metres of my apartment every year, I was there camera in hand. Photos at my Flickr and anyone who has an aversion to full-frontal nudity is warned not to click. Cause they let it all hang out, yo.

By : Frank Yang at 8:31 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Torr says:

    Nick McCabe the best UK guitarist since 1988? That’s crazy talk. In 20 years he’s co-written 2.5 albums. Hardly enough great stuff to cover two decades.

  2. Torr says:

    Mover is from 1994:

  3. Frank says:

    that’s hilarious. though it does explain the sonic pedigree. I guess you can dismiss what I said about it representing where their creative muse is today, though.