Posts Tagged ‘Horse’s Ha’

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

When It's Dark

Yo La Tengo and The Horse's Ha at The Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIn my review of Yo La Tengo’s latest Popular Songs, I lauded the New Jersey trio for their unbelievable ability to deliver excellent album after excellent album over their 25-year career, and having seen them five times before Saturday night’s show at the Opera House, I felt comfortable thinking that same sense of consistency could be applied to their live shows. There’d be a handful of new songs, a brace of old standards and at least a couple unexpected surprises from deep in their catalog. Performance-wise, you could count on Ira Kaplan being alternately hilarious and irascible, be guaranteed a transcendent moment or two and assured of at least one jam would go on for far too long. I know more than one person who’s said, “I love them but don’t think I need to see them again” and it’s a fair statement to make. I myself was going to skip out on this show in favour of one of a multitude of other entertainment options available that evening, but the excellence of Popular Songs persuaded me to go back for more.

Excepting their Beautiful Noise taping last April (that season is now airing on SunTV, by the by), this past Saturday night was Yo La’s first visit back to Toronto in three years and taking place at the Opera House rather than their usual digs at The Phoenix, it was a cozier show than they’ve played here in some time – TV taping aside. As such it was sold out, 800 steadfast fans giving up the early part of Nuit Blanche (or avoiding it entirely) in favour of getting their eardrums massaged and having no second thoughts about it.

Support for the Canadian dates on tour came from Chicago duo The Horse’s Ha, whose pedigree includes Freakwater and The Zincs, and who’ve just released their debut Of The Cathmawr Yards. Their brand of Americana-folk was on the decidedly polite and proper side, dusty-sounding yet immaculately clean in its delivery. Jim Elkington and Janet Beveridge Bean’s voices worked well together, but it was more their supporting players that kept things interesting, offering a rhythmic, musical backbone that they didn’t let fly until later in the set, culminating in a decidedly rewarding shredding cello solo. The Horse’s Ha have got talent and power on hand, and would do well to loosen the reins a bit.

Here’s the funny thing about the list of Yo La Tengo live givens I rattled off earlier – they didn’t happen. It could be that as much as their fans were feeling their shows were getting a bit familiar to hear, the band thought it was getting a bit familiar to play so just as Popular Songs seemed to take every Yo La song template and offer something new in that mould, their live show would also benefit from such a makeover. The set was far heavier on new songs than I’d expected, making up fully half the main set and as such the show felt simultaneously fresh and comfortable and when the band did reach further back into their extensive catalog for numbers like “Big Day Coming” or “Stockholm Syndrome”, it felt like even more of a treat. I was especially pleased to hear “Black Flowers” make an appearance, it being my favourite track off I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass and sadly omitted from the set last time around. And the choice of encore covers this time out – a James McNew-sung Velvet Underground’s “She’s My Best Friend” and Devo’s “Gates Of Steel” – were also impeccable.

Beyond the marvelous song selection, the show benefited from a dynamic arc that felt new to Yo La Tengo shows. Past shows had felt like enjoyable meanders through their repertoire but this show had a more unified feel to it, starting out a touch restrained despite opening with the uptempo “Double Dare”, going gentle in the middle while inviting Georgia Hubley out from behind the kit to sing and then closing out big with a gloriously frantic and guitar-abusive “And The Glitter Is Gone” and sugar-buzzed “Sugarcube”. Throw in a perfectly casual double-encore – James had to remind Ira of the chords to the VU tune – and you had a glorious, and perhaps more importantly faith-restoring, Yo La Tengo show. “I love them, when can I see them again?”.

And oh yeah, Ira seemed to be in a great mood. Maybe that was all the difference.

There’s interviews with the band at, Beatroute and The National Post.

Photos: Yo La Tengo, The Horse’s Ha @ The Opera House – October 3, 2009
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Pass The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Beanbag Chair”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “The Summer” (live on KEXP)
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “I Feel Like Going Home” (live on KCMP)
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Little Eyes”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Don’t Have To Be So Sad”
MP3: Yo La Tengo – “From A Motel 6”
MP3: The Horse’s Ha – “Asleep In A Waterfall”
MP3: The Horse’s Ha – “The Piss Choir”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “When It’s Dark”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Nothing To Hide”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Avalon Or Someone Very Similar”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Periodically Double Or Triple”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Here To Fall”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Sugarcube”
Video: Yo La Tengo – “Tom Courtenay”
MySpace: Yo La Tengo

And if you’re wondering, trying to start Nuit Blanche at 1AM at Queen West and Yonge is quite possibly the stupidest thing you can do, and that includes live scorpions infected with bubonic plague. I got a good look at a lot of lineups before giving up and heading home. Oh, and I had some popcorn. Woo, art! Woo, culture!

Spinner and JustOut talk to Bob Mould.

NPR is streaming the new Flaming Lips record Embryonic for a week, leading up to its October 13 release date.

Stream: The Flaming Lips / Embryonic

PitchforkTV has a Cemetery Gates session with Grizzly Bear.

It’s getting/already gotten colder than any right-thinking person would like, but if you’re thinking there’s still time to take one last hop out to the Toronto Islands then do it next Saturday, October 17, and stop by the ALL CAPS! Island Show at the Artscape Gibraltar Point. It starts at 3PM, goes till 10 and features a bunch of acts including but not only Great Bloomers, Adam & The Amethysts and Snowblink. It’s $10 or PWYC and all-ages.

You’ll have a clinic in teaching the indie kids to dance when Junior Boys and Woodhands hit Lee’s Palace on November 6. Junior Boys were just featured in a Daytrotter session.

MP3: Junior Boys – “In The Morning”
MP3: Woodhands – “Dancer”

The annual Make Some Noise events presented by the Toronto Public Library returns on November 7 when Bruce Peninsula and Timber Timbre make the North York Central Library sound like it’s haunted.

MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”
MP3: Timber Timbre – “Demon Host”

Constantines will celebrate their 10th anniversary with a pair of special shows at Lee’s Palace on December 10 and 11. Ticket pre-sales are already on, with early birds eligible for extra goodies.

MP3: Constantines – “Nighttime Anytime It’s Alright”

The Line Of Best Fit is offering a fifth volume of “Oh! Canada” series of downloadable Canuck mixes.

CBC Radio 3 has a shiny new website and the same old annoying habit of constantly rewriting the location in the browser back to Seriously, WTF.

And if you’re one of those people who not only still has cable, but has those ridiculously high-numbered channels which seem to only show Law & Order reruns, check out channel 107 as went on the air (well, the digital cable air) last weekend and features a slew of terrific music television programming that goes well beyond videos. There’s details on what the channel hopes to offer and how they’ll do it at The Globe & Mail and ChartAttack.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

We Call Upon The Author

Nick Cave writes novel, talks about novel, reads from novel

Photo By Gavin EvansGavin EvansToday marks Nick Cave’s second foray into the world of fiction – at least in the printed form – with the release of The Death Of Bunny Munro, his follow-up novel to 1989’s And The Ass Saw The Angel. I’ve read neither of these works, but considering the dark and seedy places where his musical muse takes him, I have trouble imagining his prose will be anything but blackly hilarious and disturbing.

And while I’ve never been an audiobook sort – I prefer to multitask and listen to music while reading, and listening to a book leaves my eyes with nothing to do – but the audio version of Bunny Munro offers a certain temptation. Besides having Cave himself read his work, it features musical accompaniment by Cave and Warren Ellis – the Bad Seed, not the comic scribe, though he himself is no stranger to things dark and seedy. The book’s website has audio clips of Cave reading the first four chapters of the book, video footage of him reading four chapters with more to come and Spinner has a text excerpt available. The audio book will come on 7 CDs with a DVD from whence the above video clips are taken, as an iPhone version – prose app or audio download – and in an old-fashioned dead-tree edition. Multi-platform much?

Cave talks to The Times and Scotland On Sunday about the novel and to The Guardian about going with the iPhone as a means of distribution. And if the recorded and printed Cave isn’t enough, he’ll be doing readings and signings in the UK, US and Canada – September 16 at 7PM at the Indigo in the Eaton Centre in Toronto and September 17 at 7PM in Ottawa at the Ottawa Writer’s Festival at St Brigid’s Centre.

MP3: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!”

Another musician gone author is Joe Pernice, with his debut novel It Feels So Good When I Stop. Though not being promoted as elaborately as Cave’s book, it’s also more than just a book – it has a soundtrack CD that includes a couple of spoken word passages of Pernice reading from his book and the handful of live dates will be combination shows and readings. I fully intend to have read the book before his September 24 date at the Dakota Tavern. Seriously, I will. There’s interviews with Pernice at The National and The AV Club, and there’s a bunch of video session performances available at KEXP’s YouTube channel.

That September 24 date is circled in ink on the ol’ calendar (figuratively speaking, of course), but it’s not without a bit of regret as it means missing seeing The Antlers at the Horseshoe that same night – especially now that Holly Miranda has been announced as opener for the tour.

Resonancity talked to drummer Paul Banwatt of The Rural Alberta Advantage at V Fest this past weekend. I also talked to Paul, but our conversation was along the lines of, “hey how’s it going,” “alright, how’re you?”. Not really worth transcribing. Much more noteworthy is the fact that the band recorded a session for Daytrotter on their last jaunt through the midwest US and that session, featuring two new songs, is now available to download.

Other conversations taking place at V Fest had Fazer and Spinner chatting with members of Mew. ArtistDirect also has an interview, though conducted elsewhere.

Coeur de Pirate performed a new song on CBC’s Q. Metro talks to Beatrice Martin.

Video: Coeur de Pirate – “Place de la Republique” (live on Q)

Brooklyn’s White Rabbits have finally made a local date in support of their latest album It’s Frightening – catch them at the Drake Underground on October 24, tickets $15.50. And also check out their WOXY session from earlier this Summer.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”
Video: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”

Yo La Tengo’s new record Popular Songs isn’t out until next week but it’s currently streaming in its entirety over at NPR and they’ve also released yet another video from the record. And Pitchfork has a chat with Dario Robleto, who crafted the art that adorns the album cover. Yo La Tengo are at the Opera House on October 3.

Video: Yo La Tengo – “When It’s Dark”
Stream: Yo La Tengo / Popular Songs

And support for Yo La Tengo’s Canadian dates has been announced as Chicago outfit The Horse’s Ha. They sound something like this.

MP3: The Horse’s Ha – “Asleep In A Waterfall”
MP3: The Horse’s Ha – “The Piss Choir”

Maxim has an interview with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. No bikini photo shoot, though. Probably for the best. Wilco are at Massey Hall on October 14 and 15.

If you thought Neil Young was going to take a break from his Archives now that the first box set has been released, think again. Rolling Stone reports that November 2 will see the release of Dreamin’ Man, a live album collecting solo recordings of Harvest Moon circa 1992. Neil will be making an appearance at Yonge-Dundas Square on September 14. He may bring his guitar. He may play it.

eye talks to members of The Depreciation Guild, in town at the Horseshoe on September 7 opening up for The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart, with whom NOW has a chat. The Chicago Tribune talks to the third band on the bill, Cymbals Eat Guitars.