Posts Tagged ‘Imaginary Cities’

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Canadian Musicfest 2011 Day One

Young Galaxy, Miracle Fortress, Imaginary Cities and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSomeday, possibly not too far in the future, I will have to either admit that Canadian Musicfest begins in earnest on Wednesday nights now, and not Thursdays as it has in the past, or begin ignoring it completely. It’s currently even odds as to which it’ll be. But either way, the 2011 edition started for me on Thursday evening at Lee’s Palace, which would be my only stop for the evening. Hey, it’s not my fault that the programmers put together a bill worth staying put for. Though it is my fault that I’m lazy. Anyways.

I’ve seen The Wilderness Of Manitoba a number of times, most recently last November. And while the intervening months have been eventful for the band, most particularly in the form of a US release for their debut When You Left The Fire come May – their live show continues to be refinements of that with which they’ve been building their audience for the last while. Which is to say, pretty harmony-laden folk-pop that served as a welcome acoustical blanket on a damp, cold night as this one. It was good to see that when obliged to fill the largest room I’ve seen them in, at least, there were not only able to embiggen their sound to fill it out, but they did so by adding some instrumental breaks that introduced a welcome little bit of darkness and/or even chaos to the edges of their sound. Given how good and versatile players they all are, it’d be nice to see the musicianship of the band be given as much weight as their vocals. Or they should go completely post-rock their next time out.

Torontoist and Toro have interviews with the band and a new video has premiered over at Paste.

Photos: The Wilderness Of Manitoba @ Lee’s Palace – March 10, 2011
MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”
MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Mother Song”
Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Orono Park”
Video: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “November”

At first I thought it was odd that I hadn’t seen Miracle Fortress since Summer 2008, but while Graham Van Pelt hasn’t been completely in hiding since then, he hasn’t provided a lot of opportunities to see his solo project live. Partly because he was concentrating on his disco-rock outfit Think About Life and partly because, apparently, it takes a while to completely deconstruct and reconstruct yourself creatively. This, at least, was what could be inferred from his set, which completely eschewed his 2007 debut Five Roses in favour of new material from his second album which is being teased with the acronym WITW? and is due out in April. The My Bloody Beach Boys ’60s/’90s dreampop of the debut has largely been checked in favour of a sleeker, more synthetic ’80s-ish Depeche Shop Boys sound – albeit more guitar-heavy – and while the aesthetic shift take a moment to adjust to, what matters is that Van Pelt’s impeccable songcraft still underpins it all and it sounds fantastic. In addition to the stylistic shifts, Miracle Fortress has also shed the conventional band configuration that it grew into circa Five Roses and this time out, was just Van Pelt on guitar and synths, a drummer basically doubling the pre-recorded rhythm tracks and a laser-light show which probably could have used some smoke machine support for full effect. Still, for such a limited setup, the show had a lot of physicality and energy and affirmed that if you’d forgotten about Miracle Fortress and their greatness over the past few years, prepare to be reminded.

Spinner and eye also have reviews of the performance.

Photos: Young Galaxy @ Lee’s Palace – March 10, 2011
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”
Video: Miracle Fortress – “Maybe Lately”
Video: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”

Winnipeg’s Imaginary Cities must have felt like they won the lottery when tapped to open up for Pixies on their upcoming North American tour, but judging on their Canadian Musicfest set if they’re going to make the most of the opportunity, they’ve got a little more work to do on their live performance. What they can’t do much about, and probably shouldn’t, is their material, which is solid if not overly remarkable pop-rock – it’s not their fault that it’s rather conventional-sounding next to the Pixies’ genre-bending/defining body of work. But the delivery of said material could be improved; while it certainly looked like they were having a good time, with bandleaders Rusty Matyas and Marti Sarbit looking all smiles on stage, they moved and performed with a decided stiffness and self-consciousness, like when Matyas went for the foot-on-the-monitor move at a moment when not only was he not taking a solo, but his guitar wasn’t even audible in the mix. But to their credit, the show and the material both improved as their set progressed and it became clear that they excelled at the mid-tempo pop numbers rather than when trying to rock out.

Spinner and The Montreal Gazette have interviews with the band.

Photos: Imaginary Cities @ Lee’s Palace – March 10, 2011
MP3: Imaginary Cities – “Hummingbird”

The rehabilitation of Young Galaxy around these parts has come a long way thanks to their latest album Shapeshifting, but that re-appraisal hadn’t yet extended to their live show. A poor first impression in early 2007, wherein they seemed to be some combination of bored and stoned, was mitigated somewhat in Summer 2008 opening up for Death Cab on the Islands and I was hoping that this outing, bolstered by the best material they’ve had to work with, would move them firmly into the plus column.

About midway through their set, Stephen Ramsay apologized to the audience for not being “slick” yet with regards to their show, and it wasn’t unjustified – there were some sound issues, the four-piece band had a lot of gear to wrangle and they weren’t going to be mistaken for a well-oiled machine. But despite the hiccups, it was impressive how well they were able to find the right balance of organicness and synthesis, maintaining the studio-ness of the recordings’ while giving them the humanity necessary to make them come along on stage. And it had the desired effect on the audience, as the well-filled room was dancing – or at least swaying – with the pulse of the music and it didn’t go unnoticed on the band. Ramsay and the decidedly pregnant Catherine McCandless were clearly pleased with the turnout and the response, appearing more engaged and probably feeling pretty validated in the risks taken to get to this point – clearly the critical rebirth of Young Galaxy extended to themselves.

NOW has a feature interview on Young Galaxy while Panic Manual and Spinner were also in attendance.

Photos: Young Galaxy @ Lee’s Palace – March 10, 2011
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Cover Your Tracks”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Long Live The Fallen World”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Swing Your Heartache”
Video: Young Galaxy – “We Have Everything”
Video: Young Galaxy – “The Alchemy Between Us”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Outside The City”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Come And See”

A little bit of sleuthing my Exclaim has revealed a June 7 release date for Fucked Up’s new record David Comes To Life. They also reported last week that the band would be performing a live soundtrack to the 1928 silent film West Of Zanzibar as part of the Images Festival. It’ll happen on the closing night of the festival, April 9, at the Toronto Underground Cinema and cost $12 in advance.

Diamond Rings has released another video from Special Affections.

Video: Diamond Rings – “It’s Not My Party”

Southern Souls has a video session with Land Of Talk, filmed in Toronto’s Kensington Market.

TV On The Radio have made a track from their forthcoming Nine Types Of Light available to download. The album is out April 12 and they play The Sound Academy on April 18.

MP3: TV On The Radio – “Caffeinated Consciousness”

For Folk’s Sake and The New Current interview Nicole Atkins. NPR is streaming her recent WXPN session while NYC Taper is sharing a recording of the homecoming finale of her recent tour.

J Mascis lists his favourite guitarists for The Guardian. His solo record Several Shades Of Why is out on Tuesday.

The Chicago Tribune profiles Warpaint, in town at Wrongbar on March 26.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Sleep Patterns

Canadian Musicfest 2011 suggestions that I won’t be taking

Photo By Samantha CardowSamantha CardowWith festivals come hard choices, and for this year’s edition of Canadian Musicfest, getting underway with a handful of events tonight and in earnest as of tomorrow, I am choosing to eschew the club-hopping-ness that typically comes with these sorts of fest and largely plant myself in one place for each evening. Hard choice or lazy choice? A little of both.

But just because I am staying put doesn’t mean that I recommend others do the same. So by way of festival preview, here’s a list of stuff that I almost certainly won’t be going to but that you should, or at least should investigate. As for what I am going to be seeing over the next few nights, well you can wait for the post-mortem for that.

Wednesday, March 9
Snowblink @ The Painted Lady, 10PM – their release party for the beauteous album Long Live this past weekend apparently a carnivalesque success, the Toronto duo have announced their festival showcase. If you missed the Music Gallery show, as I did, you should make this one, as I will not.
MP3: Snowblink – “The Tired Bees”

Alcoholic Faith Mission @ Rancho Relaxo, 12AM – acoustically-inclined pop-rock comprised of Danes who met in Brooklyn will be all over Toronto this week, following this show with a midnight engagement at The Dakota Tavern on Friday night and an 8PM opening slot at The El Mocambo on Saturday night.
MP3: Alcoholic Faith Mission – “Running With Insanity”

Thursday, March 10
Modern Superstitions @ The Horseshoe, 8:30PM – this local quartet delivers scrappy garage rock with a healthy dose of hooks, attitude and not a little sex appeal. Only an EP to their name right now but more and better will come.
MP3: Modern Superstitions – “Visions Of You”

Molly Rankin @ The Horseshoe, 9:20PM – caught a bit of this Nova Scotia native – yes, of those Rankins – during a BBQ at NXNE last year, and her rootsy power-pop made an impression, even over the sound of me eating a tasty burger. She has members of Two Hours Traffic in her band, presumably voluntarily.
MP3: Molly Rankin – “Bombshell”

Heartbeat Hotel @ The Silver Dollar, 10PM – rising locals continue to refine their heady brew of psychedelic pop, and hopefully their live show will be as good as their recorded works – maybe it’ll happen this evening!
MP3: Heartbeat Hotel – “Fins Of A Shark”

Memoryhouse @ The Great Hall, 10:45PM – hey, didja hear? The local dreampop duo has signed to Sub Pop. Not that you need the validation of some big American indie label to know that these guys are great and worth seeing. No, you’re smarter than that.
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”

The High Dials @ Hard Luck, 11PM – this venue is pretty new but I’m reasonably certain it’s not a drug front for the mob. The High Dials, on the other hand, have been around for ages and I am certain they’re still putting out some of the sharpest power-pop around.
MP3: The High Dials – “Chinese Boxes”

The Darcys @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM – long one of the city’s most bursting-with-potential as well as sort-of snakebit bands, their new – and first? – second album is done and should finally deliver on their immense promise. Appreciate their ubiquitousness on local stages while you can.
MP3: The Darcys – “The House Built Around Your Voice”

Halves @ The Hideout, 12AM – these Dublliners were playing at Whelan’s Pub in Dublin the very same night I was there in 2008. I didn’t go upstairs to see them, drank a Guinness instead. TRUE STORY. They cultivate a gorgeous, post-rock with vocals vibe reminiscent of Early Day Miners and are also playing Friday at The Comfort Zone at 8PM.
Video: Halves – “Medals”

Austra @ Wrongbar, 1AM – the artist formerly known as Private Life formerly known as Stelmanis formerly known as Katie Stelmanis has finally settled on an identity and a sound – dark electro-pop – and is reaping the benefits and buzz from it. Her debut Feel It Break is out in May.
MP3: Austra – “The Beat & The Pulse”

The Butterfly Explosion @ The Hideout, 2AM – the Irish shoegazers have visited before and broken up and reformed in the interim, and have now drawn an unenviable insomniac/unemployed time slot. If you’re still out and about at that hour and looking for something to see, they won’t disappoint.
MP3: The Butterfly Explosion – “Sophia”

Friday, March 11
Rebekah Higgs @ Supermarket, 9PM – Haligonian songwriter constantly trying to reconcile her folkish roots and electronic inclinations with tuneful results. Her Little Voice EP offers a taste of the new full-length coming soon.
MP3: Rebekah Higgs – “Asleep All Winter”

Aidan Knight @ The Rivoli, 10PM – BC singer-songwriter whose debut album Versicolour is an understated gem, and whose live show is charmingly goofy. Also playing a day show out Trinity-Bellwoods way at 4:40PM on Saturday.
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Friendly Fires”

The Jezabels @ Lee’s Palace, 10PM – Australian rock act here all the way from Australia. Dark, dramatic, crunchy and Australian. Did I mention they’re Australian?
MP3: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”

Monogrenade @ The El Mocambo, 10:30PM – we all took French in grade school and high school, so language shouldn’t be a barrier to appreciating these rangy Montrealers, who’ve got the acoustic/orchestral smoulder thing down pat. Yeah, that’s a thing.
Video: Monogrenade – “Ce Soir”

Imaginary Cities @ The Garrison, 11:30PM – if an act as legendary as Pixies saw fit to invite these Winnapeggers along for their North American tour and see/hear them every night, then surely they’re worth an hour of your time? They’re also playing on Thursday night at Lee’s Palace at 10:30PM.
MP3: Imaginary Cities – “Hummingbird”

Bombay Bicycle Club @ Lee’s Palace, 12AM – every year it seems there’s a token buzzy Brit band who makes a festival appearance – this year it’s Bombay Bicycle Club. But if you’re of the Anglophile persuasion, you’ve probably already decided to be at this show.
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “Evening/Morning”

The Meligrove Band @ Sneaky Dee’s 1AM – local power-pop veterans will be showcasing songs from their latest album Shimmering Lights; always a spirited and rollicking good time.
MP3: The Meligrove Band – “Halflight”

Saturday, March 12
The Balconies @ Lee’s Palace, 10PM – local faves have been holed away writing album number two all Winter – surely there’ll be some new songs in the set? And no you don’t have to stay for Electric Six.
MP3: The Balconies – “300 Pages”

Neon Windbreaker @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM – at first they weren’t a real band, then not a serious band, and now they’re a band with a work ethic that shames career bands that’s playing all over the place both here and at SxSW with a penchant for covering ’90s Canadian alt-rock standards. So you may as well.
MP3: Neon Windbreaker – “Furniture”

Nadia von Hahn @ The Library Bar 11:30PM – smooth and sassy retro-pop from the west coast with loungey and doo-wop accents. Also doing a Daytime Living Room session for The Toronto Institute For The Enjoyment Of Music out Trinity-Bellwoods way at 2PM that afternoon.
Video: Nadia von Hahn – “This Holy Night”

Writers’ Strike @ Rancho Relaxo, 12AM – scrappy and kinda snotty pop-punk from Halifax, not really offering anything new but doing what they do well and with vigor.
MP3: Writers’ Strike – “Bad Time”

The White Wires @ Wrongbar, 2AM – highly regarded new purveyors of old-school garage rock from Ottawa, they may well be worth dealing with Parkdale at 2AM on a Saturday night to see. Seriously.
MP3: White Wires – “Be True To Your School (Until You Get Kicked Out)”

Did you notice the fest is really front-loaded this year? Yeah, me too.

Of course, besides the showcases there’s plenty else going on that doesn’t necessarily require a badge or wristband or even a cover charge – Dorkshelf has rounded some of them up. There’s the three-day in-store mini-fest happening at Sonic Boom, which will feature sets from the likes of The Balconies, The Most Serene Republic, Bombay Bicycle Club, J Mascis, James Vincent McMorrow and Karkwa, among many many others – the full list and schedule is up at the Sonic Boom website.

Criminal Records will also be hosting an in-store with a west coast flavour on Friday night at 7PM, featuring Aidan Knight – complimented above – and We Are The City.

MP3: We Are The City – “Happy New Year”

There’s also a full list of performers and times for the Living Room Sessions noted a couple times above – all performances are free and all-ages.

Memoryhouse discusses their background and aesthetics with Spinner.

The Toronto Star talks to The Darcys about their near-death and rebirth.

Spinner talks to The Wilderness Of Manitoba, who are opening up Thursday night’s bill at Lee’s Palace as well as playing a Living Room Session at 5:20 on Saturday.

She Does The City asks random questions of Young Galaxy’s Stephen Ramsay. They’re the headliner on the Thursday night Lee’s Palace bill, going on at 11:30PM.

Citeeze talks to Laurel Sprengelmeyer, aka Little Scream, whose debut album The Golden Record has been released on iTunes as of this week, well ahead of the physical edition’s April 12 street date. A new MP3 from said record is also available to download. She is opening things up at The Opera House on Thursday night at 8:30, and note that she will no longer be supporting Sharon Van Etten at The Drake on April 12.

MP3: Little Scream – “Cannons”

The National Post chats with Karkwa, who are at Wrongbar on Friday night with a set time of 10PM.

J Mascis’ new solo record Several Shades Of Why, which you can expect to hear when he headlines The Great Hall on Friday night, is streaming over at Spin ahead of its March 15 release.

Stream: J Mascis / Several Shades Of Why

The Globe & Mail previews Canadian Music Week by chatting with Jenn Grant, Imaginary Cities and Hollerado.

Chad VanGaalen’s next record Diaper Island will be out May 17; details at Chart.

Mumford & Sons might be getting the headlines for their railroad tour through the southwest this Spring, but a similar excursion – though presumably by good old Via Rail rather than some retro-fied locomotive – is happening across Canada and is bringing Mark Hamilton of Woodpigeon, Magali Meagher of The Phonemes and Jon Janes of The Mountains & The Trees to 16 station stops from coast to coast. The Toronto date is April 21 at The Tranzac.

MP3: Woodpigeon – “Empty-Hall Sing-Along”
MP3: The Mountains & The Trees – “More & More & More”

And if this hasn’t been quite enough Canadian music to get you through the day/week/month, head over to The Line Of Best Fit for another Oh! Canada mix to download.

Whew. Effin’ festivals.