Posts Tagged ‘Hylozoists’

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Having An Average Weekend

Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, catl., and Daniel Romano at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSaturday night was pretty flush with options for Toronto music fans – Edgefest for the kids up at Downsview, the Sarah Harmer-led free War Of 1812 celebrations at Fort York for the CBC Radio 3 crowd – but for those of a certain generation, there was nowhere else to be but Lee’s Palace. Because for one night only, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet were back.

Thanks to being the house band for the Kids In The Hall comedy troupe in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Shadowy Men were arguably the most widely-heard independent Toronto band of that era; remember, this was a time when being an independent Canadian artist didn’t have the same cachet that it does today – it basically meant that you toiled away in obscurity or something close to it. The sort of reach that their distinctive surf-a-billy instrumentals got was rare and impressive, and their accomplishments over the course of three albums and many singles frequently overlooked (though a small panel I was on tried to mitigate that somewhat by electing them to the Zunior Independent Music Hall Of Fame in 2010).

The trio disbanded to pursue other projects in 1996 and when bassist Reid Diamond passed away in 2001, it looked as though that would be it for the Shadowy Men legacy; thankfully it wasn’t. Whether the start of a reissue series for their shamefully out of print catalog precipitated the decision to play some live shows with Dallas Good of The Sadies standing in for Diamond or vice-versa, what matters is that Shadowy Men were again an active concern in 2012, first with a show at Calgary’s Sled Island festival in late June and then this sold-out and sweaty hometown show on Saturday.

The last time I’d seen Daniel Romano was right here at Lee’s Palace, but that was five years ago and he was fronting Welland rock act Attack In Black and opening up for Built To Spill. I knew that he’d gone solo in a different direction since then, but it was still something to see him take the stage in full cowboy regalia – okay, no spurs or chaps – with the songs to match. Johnny Cash and Gram Parsons were obvious reference points and while formidable ones, Romano’s slow, hurting songs didn’t pale for the comparison. He wasn’t quite able to win the full attention of the audience at first, but as their performance went on, the floor steadily filled up and by the time a couple began slow dancing at the foot of the stage, their set could be marked in the ‘win’ column.

catl.’s Twitter bio doesn’t even need 140 characters to accurately describe them – “dirty. sweaty. fun.”. Though something of a Toronto fixture, I’d never actually gotten to see the trio live before and indeed their set was loud, dirty, sweaty, and fun. Their greasy blues-rock shuffles were a combination of John Lee Hooker and Tom Waits – thanks to the guitar and voice of Jamie Fleming – happy to grind along in their groove and then periodically detonating with gloriously grimy energy, often in the form of Sarah Kirkpatrick’s maraca shake (mostly not a metaphor). I generally don’t care for the blues or things directly derived from them, but this was more than alright; disinterest was not an option.

Though I counted myself a fan in their initial run – dubbed cassettes of all their albums and their songs were the perfect length for filling in the ends of sides on mix tapes – I never saw them live. I didn’t go to shows because, well, I was still underage and concert-going wasn’t part of my lifestyle – something I’ve spent the past 15 years making up for, I suppose. All of which is to say that it was pretty exciting to get a chance to see something that I’d never thought about having missed, and for it to be as great as I’d never imagined. Obviously Reid Diamond is irreplaceable, but if you had to get a stand-in, you couldn’t do much better than Dallas Good and equipping him with the man’s original Gibson Thunderbird bass – the perfect instrumental counterpoint to guitarist Brian Connelly’s Gretsch White Falcon if ever there was one.

I’m not even going to try and cite many specific songs performed over the course of their 90-minute, two-encore set, which they dove right into without much fanfare – no dimming of lights or chilling of ham. One of the perks of being an instrumental band is you get to come up with ridiculous names for your compositions – which Shadowy Men surely did – so being able to identify 1- to 2-minute songs after having not even heard any of their albums in many years was nigh on impossible. That said, I was surprised how many of their tunes were so immediately familiar – “You Spin Me Round”, “Theme From TV”, “Run Chicken Run”, “Shadowy Countdown”; in trying to describe their sound, any of surf, spaghetti western, spy themes, mariachi, and rockabilly would be appropriate but one musn’t forget pop – as complex as their stylistic melting pot got, memorable and immediate melodies were almost always the first ingredient, which is a large part of why they remain so beloved so many years on.

Though this should have been a record release show for the repressing of their first album Savvy Show Stoppers, drummer Don Pyle apologized for the lack of merch saying that the records were held up at the border… of Saskatchewan. Nonetheless, they’ll make it out eventually and when they do, hopefully a new generation of fans will be able to bask in the greatness that was Shadowy Men. Me, I’m just happy that I finally got to see Brian Connelly play, “Having An Average Weekend”, and be able to confirm after 20 years of wondering that I was indeed playing it right when my high school band covered it in high school – I just sucked at it.

BlogTO has an interview with Don Pyle about the makings of the Shadowy Men reunion and one fan in attendance managed to record their entire set on video in quite good quality and post it to YouTube, so if you weren’t there on Saturday and wished you were, make with the watching. And if you’re up for a road trip, they’ve announced another show on September 14 in Waterloo at the Starlight.

Photos: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, catl., Daniel Romano @ Lee’s Palace – July 14, 2012
MP3: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – “13”
Video: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – “They Don’t Call Them Chihuahuas Anymore”
Video: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – “Rover And Rusty”
Video: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – “Memories Of Gay Paree”
Video: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – “Musical Interlude”
Video: Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – “Shadowy Countdown”
Video: catl. – “Gold Tooth Shine”
Video: catl. – “A Sun’s Grave”
Video: Daniel Romano – “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)”

Toronto vibraphone ensemble The Hylozoists come out of hiding next week to play The Piston on July 18th.

Video: The Hylozoists – “Bras D’Or Lakes”

Purity Ring’s debut album Shrines is getting the NPR First Listen treatment, being available to stream a week before its July 24 official release.

MP3: Purity Ring – “Fineshrine”
MP3: Purity Ring – “Obedear”
Stream: Purity Ring / Shrines

I probably shouldn’t need a British newspaper to tip me off to new bands in my own backyard, but The Guardian deserves credit for alerting me to the existence of Diana, a new electro-pop band from the brain of Joseph Shabason – aka Destroyer’s go-to saxophonist – that features Carmen Elle of Army Girls on vocals. Seriously, is there any musician in Toronto without an electro-pop side-project/persona?

Stream: Diana – “Born Again”
Stream: Diana – “Perpetual Surrender”

Ion talks to Joel Plaskett.

Loud & Quiet has an interview with Japandroids.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

May You Never

Review of Land Of Talk’s Fun And Laughter

Photo By Joseph YarmushJoseph YarmushWhen you’re Land Of Talk fan, you’ve got to keep an eye open. While any self-respecting follower of the band – or music-lover, for that matter – owns copies of their buzzsaw debut EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss and the more nuanced but just as rewarding full-length Some Are Lakes, not everyone even knows about let alone possesses the now sold-out live acoustic L’aventure Acoustique document released between the EP and full-length. And while I, at least, did my best to notify the masses, I wouldn’t be surprised if most haven’t heard their most recent release, the Fun And Laughter EP which came out in the Fall to coincide with their first tour following Liz Powell’s recovery from throat surgery.

And if it’s slipped under your radar on account of not being available in stores, go rectify that right now. At four tracks (and three videos), it’s a bit slight in volume but there’s not a throwaway or weak track in the bunch – if anything, it’s a reaffirmation of everything that makes Land Of Talk great. The front half marries the more polished aspects of Lakes with the fierier approach of Applause and the last couple of tracks invokes their gentler side without sacrificing meatiness or feeling overly pastoral. Really, Fun And Laughter occupies the middle ground between their previous two releases which hasn’t actually been explored yet and if this is a sign of what’s to come on full-length number two, due out in Spring or Summer, then it’s going to be a doozie.

The aforementioned Fall tour covered both coasts of the US but didn’t end up making its way into eastern Canada, an oversight that’s being rectified in April as the band charts a short jaunt with Adam & The Amethysts starting in Powell’s old stomping grounds of Guelph, through Toronto and Kingston and up to Wakefield, Quebec, a little ways outside Ottawa. The Toronto date is April 8 at Lee’s Palace and while tickets are $10, area folk who’ve not gotten their hands on a copy of the EP will actually be rewarded for their procrastination because they’re offering a deal wherein you can get the EP, normally $7, and a ticket to the show for a total of $15 – so that’s essentially admission for $8 with no service charge. There is no earthly reason to not do this.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “May You Never”
Video: Land Of Talk – “It’s Okay”
Video: Land Of Talk – “The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)”
Video: Land Of Talk – “Some Are Lakes”

Okay, one reason not to go to the Land Of Talk show is that it’s the same night Owen Pallett plays the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Maybe you already have tickets. Maybe you prefer violins to guitars. Maybe you know who’s opening. Either way, Chart and Tiny Mix Tapes have interviews with Pallett and NYC Taper is sharing a recording of his show in New York in January. NYC Taper, incidentally, was recently profiled by The Village Voice. There’s a new remix of a Heartland track up for grabs as well.

MP3: Owen Pallett – “Keep The Dog Quiet” (Simon Bookish remix)

To everyone who’s been enjoying the (relatively) low profile that Broken Social Scene has been keeping for the past four years or so… break’s over. Just in time for their performance at the Toronto Islands on June 19, they’ll release their new, as-yet untitled album on May 4 – which happens to be the same day The New Pornographers drop their latest, Together. Shades of Blur vs Oasis, August 1995? If only. Pitchfork talks to Kevin Drew about the making of the new album and Paste does the same with head Pornographer Carl Newman.

The now-defunct Oh No Forest Fires have left a farewell gift in the form of a second album, entitled Wants To Try Something. And an unsightly stain on the Horseshoe stage, but let’s not talk about that.

ZIP: Oh No Forest Fires / Wants To Try Something

Spinner declares The Balconies a band you oughta know. They’re at the Drake Underground on February 10, as soon as they’re back from their tour of eastern Canada which they’ve been diligently blogging.

Exclaim talks to Woodhands, who’re giving away a new Pitchfork-baiting/hating track. For kicks, I guess.

MP3: Woodhands – “P’iss”

The Hylozoists have released a new video from last year’s L’Ile de Sept Villes.

Video: The Hylozoists – “Bras D’Or Lakes”

Spinner talks to Woodpigeon’s Mark Hamilton. They play the Drake Underground on February 11 and do an in-store at Soundscapes on February 14.

Le Hiboo has a video session of Basia Bulat performing “The Shore” in Paris whilst wearing a jaunty beret. The London Free Press has an interview with Bulat and a short chat with her viola player, Alison Stewart. Basia Bulat plays an in-store at Soundscapes on February 16.

The Toronto Star contemplates the many faces of Neil Young while Paste reports that he’s started work on his next album.

The Line Of Best Fit has posted their seventh volume of “Oh! Canada” Can-con mixes to download.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009


Review Of Evening Hymns’ Spirit Guides and giveaway

Photo via eveninghymns.comeveninghymns.comThey say you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep, and nowhere is this more true than in the case of Peterborough’s Jonas Bonnetta, aka Evening Hymns, who first earned notice in these parts back in June opening up for Ohbijou. The liner notes of his second album, the just-released Spirit Guides, reads like a who’s who of the Bellwoods crew, including members of Forest City Lovers, Ohbijou and The Wooden Sky, to name but a few, and if you want to take that as an implicit “RIYL”, then you won’t be disappointed.

Throughout Spirit Guides, Bonnetta echoes the sounds of his peers – Ohbijou’s orchestral flourishes, the Wooden Sky’s rustic melancholy, Bruce Peninsula’s ghostly chorals, The Acorn’s nimble balancing of folk and rock – and as such, sounds and feels immediately comfortable to anyone who’s been following the sound of Toronto/southern Ontario over the last few years. Sublimated together, however, they form something that’s so cohesive and perfectly suited to the songs they adorn, that focusing on its familiarity is to miss the point entirely.

Wearing reverb like an early morning fog, Spirit Guides is the sound of Bonnetta wandering through the wilderness, both literally and allegorically, burdened by memory and regret and searching for salvation, shelter, something – anything. His voice is warm and worn, inherently a thing of the earth, but it still seeks to soar and when buoyed by the host of ethereal backing vocals, manages to do so. And for all the weightiness that’s implied, Spirit Guides is still every bit a pop record, full of wonderful melodies and hooks and, most importantly, the ability to make the deepest melancholia feel uplifting. It’s a lonely record that never feels alone. And though I didn’t realize it on initial listens, perhaps too busy playing “who does this remind me of”, it’s wholly remarkable and quite possibly essential.

Evening Hymns is marking the record’s release with a couple of shows next week – a free in-store at Soundscapes on Wednesday, December 2 at 7PM and a full and proper show at the Tranzac on December 4. Tickets for that will be $10 at the door but courtesy of Out Of This Spark, I’ve got a copy of Evening Hymns on CD to give away along with a couple of passes to the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to sing an Evening Hymn” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me by midnight, December 1.

MP3: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Broken Rifle”
MP3: Evening Hymns – “Cedars”
MySpace: Evening Hymns

Gavin Gardiner of The Wooden Sky teaches QTV – and you! – how to play “Something Waiting For Us In The Night” on guitar.

Brian Borcherdt, who opened up for The Wooden Sky at Lee’s a couple weeks back has made good on his promise to release a free album – Torches is available to grab from his website now. And it’s a double-set, no less. Or it would be if it actually existed in physical form. But you could burn it onto two discs and pretend. I will shut up now. Or after I mention he’s also got a new video from his last record Coyotes.

ZIP: Brian Borcherdt / Torches
Video: Brian Borcherdt – “While I Was Asleep”

The Hylozoists have scheduled a show at the Whipper Snapper Gallery on December 17 to celebrate the release of a new video for “Bras d’Or Lakes”. Until then, it remains heard and not seen.

MP3: The Hylozoists – “Bras d’Or Lakes”

Stereo Subversion has a feature piece on Broken Social Scene and what it sees as the advent of collectives over traditional bands.

A track from Fucked Up’s forthcoming singles collection – Couple Tracks, out January 26 – is now available to download. I Heart The Music has posted an interview with frontman Damian Abraham just before their Polaris Prize win in September.

MP3: Fucked Up – “Neat Parts”

Spinner talks to Sloan’s Chris Murphy about the hit-and-run accident which broke his collarbone this Summer and inspired the title of their just-released digital EP Hit & Run. A primarily east-coast tribute album to Sloan was also just released – Take It In is available digitally; check out The Acorn and ex-Plumtree bassist Catriona Sturton do “Snowsuit Sound” on the label’s MySpace.

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Son Of A Gun

The Vaselines get reissued, come to Toronto

Photo via SubPopSubPopMy head is kind of, uh, fried right now on account of my powering through and processing all of my SxSW photos this weekend, as those who are unfortunate enough to be RSS subscribers or Twitter followers and been deluged with update notices can attest. But the good news for everyone is that I am done and there are 46-odd photo galleries of artists I saw a couple weeks ago along with as many MP3 and video links for each as I could find. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out – please have a boo, or check out the Flickr set for a high-level view. And with what remains of my grey matter, I will try to cobble together some sort of blog post.

Starting with The Vaselines. You may know them as the Scottish band who existed just long enough to release a couple of EPs, one album, and exert a huge influence on one Kurt Cobain. I actually knew them better as the band that Eugene Kelly was in before Eugenius, but that’s neither here nor there. For many years, the The Way Of The Vaselines: A Complete History compilation from SubPop has been the first (and last) stop for those seeking to learn more about the outfit, but come May 5 there’s going to be a new final word. That’s the day they’ll replace the venerable compilation with Enter The Vaselines, a new double-CD/triple-LP collection that remixes much of and remasters all of Way and throws in a pile of unreleased extra material. Full tracklisting at Exclaim!.

But wait, there’s more! The band reunited last Summer for a few one-off and festival gigs, but appear to be ready to do more in order to promote the collection. Though they didn’t make it over for SxSW as they’d initially intended, they do still have their eyes on North America, or at least Toronto – they’ve got a date set for May 15 at Lee’s Palace, for which tickets will run $29.50. That’s pretty exciting, and I assume other dates for some sort of tour will be forthcoming soon.

Also on the reissue tip, dearly departed Guelphies Royal City are set to be compiled by the good folks at Asthmatic Kitty They’ll release Royal City on June 23, a collection of a dozen previously unreleased tracks that has been rumoured for over four years. Better late than never though, right? Magnet is also on board with the nostalgia, paying tribute to their second album Alone At The Microphone. Here’s one of the songs from the new comp, and a few older album tracks to remind of how good they were.

MP3: Royal City – “A Belly Was Made For Wine”
MP3: Royal City – “Bring My Father A Gift”
MP3: Royal City – “My Brother Is The Meatman”
MP3: Royal City – “Bad Luck”
MP3: Royal City – “I’m Taking The Train”
MP3: Royal City – “At Rush Hour The Cars”

Exclaim! reports that R.E.M. are giving the deluxe reissue treatment to their sophomore album Reckoning, planning a live release of their 2007 “Dublin working rehearsals” which preceded the release of Accelerate and getting to work on the follow-up to said record. No timelines for any of the releases has been provided, though.

A track from the new Bob Dylan album Together Through Life is available to download from his website through midnight (Eastern Daylight time) tonight. The album is out April 28.

Chart and See talk to Hylozoists frontman Paul Aucoin.

There’s an MP3 available from the new Super Furry Animals album Dark Days/Light Years, available digitally now and on CD April 21.

MP3: Super Furry Animals – “Inaugural Trams”

The California Chronicle talks to Dean Wareham.

Isis have a date at the Phoenix on June 7 in support of their new album Wavering Radiant, out May 5.

A few radio sessions available to stream – NPR with M Ward, who is at the Phoenix on April 27, and MPR welcomes AC Newman and another one with The Broken West.

BrooklynVegan has unveiled the lineup to this year’s All Points West festival, taking place just across the Hudson from Manhattan. It’s interesting to me mainly to give a better idea of what acts are doing the festival circuit this year and perhaps who we might expect at V Fest this year. This, of course, presumes that there will BE a V Fest in Toronto this year. The past three years, the headliners and first wave of acts had all been announced by now, and this year there’s been nary a peep – the website doesn’t acknowledge that it’s 2009 or try to build any sort anticipation and their social network pages are similarly silent. It’s almost like they’re trying to keep a low profile and hope no one notices they’re not there. I’ve asked around a bit and while no one has heard anything about V Toronto being cancelled, no one has heard anything about it actually happening either and I know just enough about goings-on on the business end of the fest to not take for granted that it’s happening. I hope I’m just being paranoid and they’re just hammering out some details to bring, oh, Blur and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to town but each day that goes by without an effusively-worded press release showing up in my inbox is, well, another day. But if anyone out there knows something, even a cryptically-worded message along the lines of, “Stop fearmongering! The rock is en route!” or “At least you’ll be able to see more films at TIFF this year”, one way or the other would be appreciated.

Update: And this is related-interesting – Montreal’s Osheaga Festival, which was branded last year as “presented by Virgin Mobile”, has confirmed dates for 2009 – July 30 and 31 “in they city” (presumably club gigs) and August 1 and 2 “on the island” (at Parc Jean-Drapeau). Perhaps they’ll siphon off some acts from APW? Perhaps I’m going to Montreal for the August long weekend? It seems Coldplay – and thus Elbow – are a lock for that one…

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Here It Comes

Doves migrate to North America

Photo via Doves.netDovesI had something really cool ready to post today, but then I couldn’t post it quite yet and so another day, another cobbled-together post. But at least it starts with some good stuff. And cool stuff might yet come before the day is out.

We’e inching nearer and nearer to the April 7 release date of Doves’ new album Kingdom Of Rust, and with new albums comes touring – the band have announced their first North American tour in four years starting in May, and the Toronto date is set for June 1 at the Kool Haus. Now I have kind of mixed feelings about this date – if I’m able to attend, it means that I didn’t go to Primavera Sound. But if I do get to go to Primavera Sound, then I miss seeing Doves. Of course, Barcelona wins this little competition of things I’d rather do by a landslide but it’s kind of nice to know that if it ends up out of reach, there’s a consolation prize.

Video: Doves -“Kingdom Of Rust”

Stop Crying Your Heart Out has an interview with Noel Gallagher of Oasis. Via Information Leafblower.

That Coldplay show with Elbow will be taking place at the Rogers Centre on July 30, and not the Molson Amphitheatre as originally reported. Tickets range from $39.50 to $99.50 and go on sale March 9

Hey, remember when she played the Rivoli? Adele has a date at Massey Hall for April 29. Tickets $39.50, on sale Saturday.

Vivian Girls are hitting the road and will be swinging through Toronto on May 8 accompanied by Crystal Antlers for a show at the Horseshoe. Pitchfork.TV also has a two-part video session with the band.

Le Blogotheque has a Take-Away Show with Ra Ra Riot, and if you missed the announcement yesterday, they’e going to be in town on April 7 opening up for Death Cab For Cutie at the Sound Academy. Cold War Kids round out that bill.

Magnet have enlisted Dean & Britta to play guest-editor on their website – start out with this interview and browse the site at your leisure for more dispatches from the duo.

They’re not, however, responsible for this piece that rates the top five overrated and underrated Wilco songs – that’s all Magnet staff. Wilco’s new album is currently set for a June release.

Billboard has got more details on Neil Young’s forthcoming Fork In The Road, now set for an April 7 release.

The Line Of Best Fit has got another new track from My Latest Novel, whose sophomore album Death And Entrances is out May 18.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews DeVotchKa.

Spin is offering a couple of acoustic performance videos from Metric, whose new album Fantasies is out April 14. They’re streaming a few tracks on their website.

BeatRoute interviews The Hylozoists.

Laundromatinee sessions up with Blitzen Trapper.

Citing an internet leak as the reason, The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s have elected to move the release of their next album It’s Blitz! up from the original April 14 date to March 31. Spin has excerpted some of their cover story on the band online.