Posts Tagged ‘First Rate People’

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Canadian Musicfest 2010 Day One

Diamond Rings, First Rate People and The Darcys at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOkay, so for the more intrepid festival-goers Thursday night would have been Canadian Musicfest night TWO, not one. But I think that with the amount of standing around on sticky barroom floors I’ve got coming up, I should be given a bye for choosing to begin my CMF at the traditional Thursday starting line rather than the present-day realistic Wednesday one, though that starting line was located at The Garrison, some ways away from the traditional CMW stomping grounds.

The event was the eye weekly showcase, and the draw one act whom I’d been meaning to see for the better part of six months and another whom I’d only discovered a week or so ago, but was finding more than a little bit intriguing. These were First Rate People, an act who in this era of online over-sharing had managed to maintain an air of mystery about them, offering nothing in way of image and a few tantalizing song samples that reveled in a sample-heavy, retro-pop, soul revue aesthetic. Live, however, there were no such airs about them. The five-piece all looked barely old enough to be in the bar legally, and rather than belie their young age, their set and sound reveled in it. Not in any juvenile or amateurish sense – there was clearly a lot of talent up there as well as instrument swapping – but in their giddy, “school’s out!” spirit and refreshing disregard for things such as musical genre. Reminiscent at their best of Saturday Looks Good To Me with more hip-hop than power-pop in their blood, they’ve still not fully reconciled their beats-friendly inclinations with their traditional band roots and their best hooks are still coming from the samples and not them, but when – not if – they get it together, they’ll be a potent crew.

Photos: First Rate People @ The Garrison – March 11, 2010
MP3: First Rate People – “Girls’ Night”

I had missed countless opportunities to see Diamond Rings live since he emerged as a Pitchfork darling last Summer, so with only the breezy videos to go by, I was expecting John O’Regan’s glammy alter-ego to be a tongue-in-cheek bit of synth-poppery. And while the unicorn tapestry hanging off the front of his synth was a bit of fun, the performance was decidedly darker and more dramatic than any of that – the light-hearted “All Yr Songs” was an anomaly amongst the songs that will likely make up the full-length debut Special Affections, due out later this year, and second single “Wait & See” takes on an entirely different character when heard without the visuals. Also helping the intensity of the performance was O’Regan picking up the guitar for more than a few numbers and injecting some welcome D’Urbervilles-ish skronk. An impressive set, and it was good to see that the Bowie comparisons that get used in describing Diamond Rings go much further than just the Aladdin Sane-ish makeup; the style is obvious, but there’s plenty of substance as well.

Photos: Diamond Rings @ The Garrison – March 11, 2010
MP3: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “All Yr Songs”
Video: Diamond Rings – “Wait & See”
MySpace: Diamond Rings

I then took leave of The Garrison and hoofed (then streetcar-ed) it to the El Mocambo for the Audio Blood showcase, which had the good luck of a) featuring a band I wanted to see at the precise time I would be able to get there and b) being en route to my apartment. I had seen The Darcys at NXNE last year, but since that show they’d undergone some pretty fundamental lineup changes with the departure of frontman Kirby Best and they’ve since recorded a new record under the production auspices of The Dears’ Murray Lightburn. And while the positive-and-not-derivative Radiohead comparisons I made in June still hold, new singer Jason Couse’s voice does have a greater Yorke-ian influence than his predecessor; a fact that could be troubling if its used in the wrong (read: obvious) way. Musically, they still have superb arrangements and songcraft built on a bed of white noise and white knuckles, but they could stand to sublimate the angst in their delivery a bit. I suggest rolling it up into a little ball and swallowing it deep, down inside. That’s what I do.

The Varsity has an interview with The Darcys.

Photos: The Darcys @ The El Mocambo – March 11, 2010
MP3: The Darcys – “House Built Around Your Voice”
MySpace: The Darcys

Daytrotter has posted up a session of Michael Jackson covers from Snowblink, who are opening up for Owen Pallett at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 8.

The Vancouver Sun and The Georgia Straight have feature pieces on Basia Bulat, who has announced a show at The Phoenix on June 4, tickets $17.50. Her video session with QTV also just went online.

MP3: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush”
Video: Basia Bulat – “Gold Rush” (live on QTV)

The National Post talks to Dan Mangan, who plays an in-store at Criminal Records tonight at 6PM and will be at the Horseshoe on April 22.

Pitchfork reports that Holy Fuck will release their new record Latin on May 11.

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Young Believers

Canadian Musicfest 2010 preview and recommendations

Photo By Ryan Edward MillerRyan Edward MillerCanadian Musicfest 2010 is almost upon us, and while some of my blog brethren have offered their suggestions of what to see by way of their own schedules, I’m going to take a more free-form approach because following my own schedule will probably not yield the optimal experience. Logistics and workloads, not to mention still needing to get my act together for SxSW the following week, are keeping my plans relatively limited in scope but if none of that was a concern, then here’s a day-by-day breakdown of what I can endorse or would at least be curious about – above and beyond what I’ve mentioned in past posts – without concern for how you’d get across the city in 15 minutes without aid of a jetpack.

Wednesday: Canadian Musicfest (and Canadian Music Week) have traditionally been Thursday-Friday-Saturday affairs, but this year they’ve done a pretty good job of making Wednesday more than a token addition to the schedule. No, there’s not as much slated to go for hump day, but if you’ve got a wristband and are looking to maximize it, there’s more than a few options.

Spirits (Bread & Circus @ 10PM) – These ’80s-inflected Hamiltonian synth-rockers can legitimately say that they had Pixies open up for them – the alt.rock legends used a Spirits show as a cover for their secret show prior to V Fest last year. And beyond that, they’ve got some pretty slick new wave/new romantic moves of their own.
Video: Spirits – “Forbidden Flame”

Fucked Up (The El Mocambo @ 1AM) – The reigning Polaris winners are much too big to play the El Mo anymore – but they’re gonna do it anyways. Chaos (and nudity) is pretty much guaranteed. Exclaim has an exclusive on where they’re going on their next record.
MP3: Fucked Up – “Neat Parts”

The Wilderness Of Manitoba (Painted Lady @ 10PM) – This hotly-tipped, harmony-laden folk outfit wins over more and more fans with each performance, so catching them in intimate environs such as this while you can is recommended.
MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Bluebirds”

Styrofoam Ones (The Roosevelt Room @ 9PM) – I used to play in a band with Styrofoam Ones’ drummer. He certainly gets to play louder/faster/harder with these post-punk/dance-rockers than he did with us.
MySpace: Styrofoam Ones

Thursday: Yeah, you’ll have to work in the morning but really – who gets anything done on a Friday? Really? You do? So it’s just me? Huh.

Forest City Lovers (The Drake Underground @ 10PM) – One of the cities finest folk-pop bands just finished recording their third record and are about to head off to their first SxSW. To say they’ll be at the very top of their game is an understatement.
Video: Forest City Lovers – “If I Were A Tree”

The Darcys (The El Mocambo @ 11PM) – Despite some major recent lineup changes, their forthcoming Murray Lightburn-produced album Young Believers should introduce a much larger audience to their unpredictable guitar-laden epics. Also playing at Sneaky Dee’s on Saturday at 3PM. Read an interview at The Brock Press.
MP3: The Darcys – “House Built Around Your Voice”

And So I Watch You From Afar (The Hideout @ 1AM) – Belfast instrumental post-rockers eschew the quiet-quiet-quiet-LOUD-LOUD-LOUD thing for something more lively and melodic than many of their more bombastic peers.
MP3: And So I Watch You From Afar – “The Voiceless”

Neon Indian (Lee’s Palace @ 10:30PM) – Okay, mostly this is curiosity as to what all the fuss is about. Chillwave? What? Really? And the kids are into this, you say?
MP3: Neon Indian – “Deadbeat Summer”

Dinosaur Bones (The Silver Dollar @ 10PM) – These guys have come a long way since I last saw them in August 2008 – or so it would seem, as I’ve done a lousy job of following up on them since them. But people are talking about their grand and moody rock and they’re clearly on the cusp of something.
Video: Dinosaur Bones – “Ice Hotels”

First Rate People (The Garrison @ 9PM) – Mysterious and apparently big in Owen Sound, there’s something undeniably compelling about their synthesis of old school Motown soul, electronic cut-and-paste aesthetic and indie rock earnestness. Plus The National’s Matt Berninger is apparently a fan. Also playing Sneaky Dee’s on Friday at 3AM.
MP3: First Rate People – “Girls’ Night”

Friday: I’ll be camping out the whole night at Lee’s Palace for my co-presented showcase with Billions and would certainly think you wise if you did the same, but if you’re inclined to see what else is out there, maybe add these to your list.

Hannah Georgas (The Drake Underground @ 10PM) – Could this Vancouverite be the next in Canada’s long, proud tradition of terrific female singer-songwriters? From what I’ve heard from her and about her, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Video: Hannah Georgas – “Thick Skin”

Old World Vulture (Neutral Lounge @ 11PM) – Despite giving them a thumbs up at the end of last year, I haven’t yet gotten to see/hear/feel their intense post-rock action in a live setting yet. Operative word “yet”.
MP3: Old World Vulture – “Benny”

PS I Love You (The Silver Dollar @ 12AM) – I’d like to say it didn’t take Pitchfork rave to put something from almost by own backyard on my radar… but it did. And as embarrassing as that may be, I thank them for it.
MP3: PS I Love You – “Facelove”

Phantogram (Supermarket @ 1AM) – The were here just a few weeks ago, but they were awesome and deserve another “hey go see these guys they’re awesome”. So go see these guys they’re awesome.
MP3: Phantogram – “When I’m Small”

Saturday: It’s kind of odd that the biggest show happening during Canadian Musicfest isn’t associated with Canadian Musicfest, but the first part of Saturday night will be spent at the Phoenix to see Joanna Newsom. Happily, it’s an early show so after that there’ll still be time to catch some or all of these.

The Brother Kite (Rancho Relaxo @ 10PM) – I’m so very excited that Rhode Island’s finest guitar-pop band are coming back to Toronto and that I’ll finally be here to greet them – their last album Waiting For the Time To Be Right remains one of my favourites of the past decade and the follow-up, Isolation, is finally being prepared for release. If there’s any show this week that I will put the “don’t miss” label on, it’s this one.
Video: The Brother Kite – “I’m Not The Only One”

Yukon Blonde (The Horseshoe @ 8:30PM) – Yeah, the Horseshoe is always jam-packed from the moment doors open and this year will be no different, but at least the first band is definitely worth seeing. Lots of people like to call Yukon Blonde “classic” rock. I prefer to think of it as timeless – big guitars and harmonies never really go out of style.
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Wind Blows”

Gemma Ray (Painted Lady @ 11PM) – This Brit’s swaggering, throwback guitar pop ranges from dark noir to folky light. I think I’ve been meaning to see her live for some time – too bad I’m unlikely to catch either this showcase or her other one at The Silver Dollar on Friday night at 10PM.
MP3: Gemma Ray – “100 mph in 2nd Gear”

Revolvers (The Comfort Zone @ 9PM) – Hazy, vintage-tinged psychedelic garage rock that doesn’t bring a whole lot new to the table – almost nothing, actually – but it still done well enough that if you’re into it, you won’t care.
Video: Revolvers – “Rock Y Roll”

Whew. Obviously there’s loads else going on through the weekend, but hopefully if you’re looking for somewhere to start, the above will offer some ideas.

And elsewhere in Canadian music… Spinner has words with The Russian Futurists – they’re playing the aforementioned Billions/Chromewaves show at Lee’s Palace on Friday night.

Chart chats with Amos The Transparent, playing the Horseshoe on Thursday night at 9:20.

Canadian Interviews talks to Gavin Gardiner of The Wooden Sky. They play the Horseshoe on March 13.

Spinner catches up with Woodhands, playing the Opera House on March 11 and the Paper Bag/Chromewaves showcase at SxSW on March 18.

Spinner checks in with Holy Fuck.

The Portland Mercury has an interview with Basia Bulat.

Spinner asks Owen Pallett to list off his favourite video games. And no, none of the Final Fantasy titles make the list. Pallett plays The Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 8.