Friday, October 30th, 2009

Keep Sakes

Sky Larkin and Peggy Sue at The Cameron House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere are many things to like about Leeds trio Sky Larkin, not least among them their wonderfully sweet and spiky debut album The Golden Spike, but what I think I like most is how much of a good time they’re clearly having. On record, on stage, in their videos, everything Sky Larkin is permeated with a genuine, unaffected sense of fun – no brooding angst or overamped giddiness, just the natural reaction to three friends in their early 20s getting to travel around the world playing rock music without the massive weight of expectation that some of their peers are carrying (ahemxxahem). How could they not be having fun?

The band were nearing the end of a North American tour when they rolled into the Cameron House in Toronto on Wednesday night, accompanied by fellow Brits Peggy Sue, who had the co-ed trio thing in common with their tourmates but not a lot else. Fronted by the wonderfully pseudonymed (presumably) Katy Klaw and Rosa Rex with Olly Olly Olly on drums, the outfit formerly known as Peggy Sue & The Pirates (perhaps the Pirates were taken by Pete) deal in a strain of folk that’s probably too off-kilter in instrumentation and arrangement for traditionalists yet not nearly weird enough for the 21st century hippie scene. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that both Klaw and Rex have the sorts of voices that you’d normally find in soul music, rich and emotive with the right amount of rasp – they’re not equipped to create conventional folk music, even if they were inclined to do so. Their Lover Gone EP intrigued but was really too brief to get a proper handle on what they were about and while their set went a ways towards filling in the blanks, it also expanded the canvas of what they were doing enough that their net inscrutability remains unchanged. I guess I’ll just have to hear more to figure them out. I’m okay with that.

Sky Larkin don’t require nearly as much contemplation to understand – the nature of their scrappy guitar pop will be familiar to anyone who’s ever heard Sleeper or Sleater-Kinney and satisfies on an immediate and visceral level. I’d gotten to take in their live show at SxSW so I knew that the energy of the record more than translated in the live setting with the extra bonus of the fact that the band were genuinely hilarious on stage in their between-song banter. The between-banter stuff was pretty good too, with the trio turning in an energetic if a bit short set of highlights from The Golden Spike as well as their new (and free) “SMARTS” single. As befit a band that tours as much as they, they were superbly tight with frontwoman Katie Harkin effortlessly tossing off sophisticated guitar riffs and drummer Nestor Matthews literally beating his drum kit to death. A destroyed cymbal got some licks in of its own, though, inflicting a nasty bloody gash on Matthews’ hand which he insisted on playing through, finishing off the set’s last two songs with equal – if not extra – vigor. That is dedication. Sky Larkin will bleed for you.

Photos: Sky Larkin, Peggy Sue @ The Cameron House – October 28, 2009
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
MP3: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
MP3: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Antibodies”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Fossil, I”
Video: Sky Larkin – “Molten”
Video: Sky Larkin – “One Of Two”
Video: Peggy Sue – “Lover Gone”
MySpace: Sky Larkin
MySpace: Peggy Sue

Clash has a short interview The xx, whose exhaustion-induced show cancellations haven’t affected this Fall’s North American dates opening up for Friendly Fires… yet.

Frightened Rabbit have given their third album a name – The Winter Of Mixed Drinks – and a target release date of March 2010.

Video: Frightened Rabbit – “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

ChartAttack talks to Dog Day, who will be at the Horseshoe on November 5.

Great Lake Swimmers have released a new video from Lost Channels. They play a War Child benefit at the Dakota Tavern on November 5 and a show at Trinity-St. Paul’s on February 6 of next year.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”

Vue has a cover feature on Dan Mangan.

FFWD reports on exactly what goes on at the mysterious Banff Centre, where both Woodpigeon and Basia Bulat are currently sequestered away being turned into unstoppable cybernetic killing machines honing their musical craft with an impressive team of mentors. CBC Radio 3 has also been checking in from the the Banff Centre and Woodpigeon has posted another song.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “For Norman Luxton”

Molina & Johnson (that’s Jason and Will) have released a second MP3 from Molina & Johnson, out November 3.

MP3: Molina & Johnson – “Almost Let You In”

Gigwise chats with Glenn Kotche of Wilco.

The Loyola Phoenix has an interview with Mountain Goats bassist Peter Hughes.

eye, The National Post, NPR, The Montreal Gazette, CNN and Spinner have conversations with The Swell Season, who have a date at Massey Hall on November 3.

The Raveonettes talk to The Georgia Straight.

Johnny Marr weights in on the subject of reunions with Spinner.

By : Frank Yang at 8:26 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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  1. Sacha Marsac says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Having seen both Sky Larkin and Peggy Sue separately over the last couple of months it was interesting to see that someone else got pretty much the same impression as me. Peggy Sue were enjoyable, although while you seem to question how well the voices work with music, this was a high point for me. At times the vocals were a little haunting and it was genuinely refreshing to hear soulful tones over the folky music as opposed to the slightly thin, shaky ones that seem to be becoming all too popular.

    It was Sky Larkin, who I saw at the end of September (I think) who impressed me most though. I hadn’t heard of them before the show and I think I was lucky to see them before listening to the album. While songs like Molten and Matador really stand out, they haven’t quite managed to capture the same energy that the band exude on stage. Katie’s performance was awesome: fantastic stage presence and some pretty good playing, while the rest of the band had a real confidence about them. It was just before they headed off to the US for a mini-tour and some record company showcases and they looked well into their groove.

    Cheers for the photos. As a teenie bit of self promotion, check out We’re based in Sheffield and you could listen to our stuff next to Sky Larkin and definitely appreciate it. I think so anyway!

    I hope you get a chance to listen to it and let us know what you think