Posts Tagged ‘Keane’

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

CONTEST – Keane @ The Sound Academy – June 19, 2012

Photo By Alex LakeAlex LakeWho: Keane
What: Vanguard of the British piano-rock scene, which currently includes such acts as Keane.
Why: They released their fourth album Strangeland at the start of May, and while not the arena-scale, chart-topping act that they are back home, their fanbase in North America is still devout enough to fill large halls and follow them around on tour.
When: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Where: The Sound Academy in Toronto (all-ages)
Who else: England’s Mystery Jets support, making it a super-solid bill.
How: Tickets for the show are $46.50 in advance but courtesy of Universal Music Canada, I’ve got one grand prize consisting of a pair of passes to the show and a copy of Strangeland, and an indeterminate number of 30 secondary prizes consisting of Strangeland CDs to give away. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want Keane” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body – if you want to be eligible for the passes, please say so and if you just want to enter for a free CD, note that as well; have that in to me before midnight, June 13. Contest is open to residents of Canada, though obviously if you want to go to the show it helps to be in the 416/905. Maybe 519 if you’re really – wait for it – keen. OH! Update: And courtesy of LiveNation, I now have a second pair of passes for the show to give away so that’s two grand prizes!
What else: There’s features on the band at NME, Alternative Addiction, and USA Today.

Video: Keane – “Disconnected”
Video: Keane – “Silenced By The Night”
Video: Keane – “Sovereign Light Cafe”

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

SXSW 2012 Night Four

Django Django, Michael Kiwanuke, And So I Watch Your From Afar and more at SXSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangTaking into account how incredibly efficient I was at catching my must-see bands of SXSW on the first day of the festival, I knew that it was a very real possibility that come Saturday night, I’d have nothing left that I wanted to see… and that was almost the case. Thankfully I’d kept a few things in my back pocket and either skipped earlier in the week for just such a scenario or had been putting off for Canadian Musicfest the following week. It’s called planning, folks. And if those contingencies didn’t work out, well I could just sit back and survey the chaos brought on by the final night of the festival, the return of the University of Texas students after spring break and St. Patrick’s day all converging on 6th St.

London’s Michael Kiwanuka might well have found his way into the spotlight in his own time, but getting named as BBC’s Sound Of 2012 certainly expedited the process. So rather than play one of the festival’s smaller, more intimate clubs for his SXSW debut, he was here on one of the biggest stages at Stubb’s amphitheatre and while it’s possible or probable that something cozier would have better suited him, the way he was able to fill the night sky with just his voice, acoustic guitar and accompanying bassist was remarkable. It’s a simple, time-tested recipe and perfectly suited for Kiwanuka’s romantic, folk-soul songwriting; I admit to being a bit surprised that the BBC went with something so traditional for their usually musically forward-looking honour, but kicking back and just luxuriating in Kiwanuka’s warm vocals, it’s tough to form a good argument against it.

From there it was a necessary to try and navigate the bedlam of 6th – oh, the sea of wobbling people dressed in green – and back to Latitude 30 where odds were I was just going to park myself for the next few hours. First up were Clock Opera, whom I’d seen way back on Wednesday and would be the only repeat act of the week. And it’s just as well because though this was probably the exact same set that I’d seen at The Mohawk, this performance was better in every sense. The crowd was more enthusiastic, the sound was bigger and cleaner, the setting much more atmospheric and the band much tighter. It’s probably no surprise that their last show of the fest was better than the first – there’s a sweet spot for bands at SXSW playing multiple showcases where they’ve settled into the rapid-fire showcase groove before beginning to fall apart from fatigue; Clock Opera hit it just right. Anticipation for their debut Ways To Forget, out April 23, remains high.

Sometimes the drive-by showcase dynamic of club festivals isn’t suited to appreciating certain bands, and they’re unfairly dismissed in favour of something more immediate. Fortunately for Django Django – who formed in Edinburgh but now reside in London – they manage to impress and intrigue while remaining inscrutable such that you may not fully understand why you want to hear more of them, but you do. I did, at least. The built an unfussy kind of art rock – conveniently collected on their self-titled debut – on a deep, inescapable groove full of odd turns and angles and littered with all manner of synths and percussion. As said, it’s not immediately pop but the treasures that lay just beneath the surface are evident; it’s music you may be surprised to find yourself intensely dancing to, but dance to it you will.

Next up was supposed to be someone called Maverick Sabre – a very superficial investigation didn’t make it seem the sort of thing I’d be particularly interested in, but someone had just bought be a whiskey so I opted to hang out for a bit. However, it became clear that it wasn’t going to be what I expected when, instead of a band setup, they wheeled a DJ table onto the stage and at the top of the hour, rather than some hip-hop/r&b the room filled with some heavy electronic beats. It turned out that Sabre (Maverick?) had to cancel and was replaced at the last minute by London-born/Manchester-raised Callum Wright, who operates as D/R/U/G/S. It’s a bit of a shame that I spent about half his set trying to figure out just what was going on and who this was, because he was pretty damn good.

I was actually a bit torn as to whether to stick around for Slow Club, since I’d just seen them in Toronto less than a month prior. That’s one of the peculiar things about SXSW – you’ll find yourself actively avoiding the bands you know and love because it means not discovering something new. But given that there was nothing else on offer that hour calling my name and I was already sitting right there, I let inertia win the day. The early part of their set was mildly calamitous with falling mic stands, failing guitar straps and broken microphones but they took it all in stride and it all became part of the fun; the band was simply too good to be deterred. It was something of a condensed version of the Toronto show with the older material scrapped in favour of focusing on Paradise and the new material earmarked for a forthcoming EP, but all delivered with gusto and enthusiasm by Charles and Rebecca. Such a lovely band.

Avoiding the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day seems like pretty obvious advice but for whatever reason, I did the opposite to close out the festival and hit up Friends Bar, which was hosting a lineup of all-Irish acts in order to see Belfast’s And So I Watch You From Afar. That’s right – even though I probably could have just given a hobo $5 to punch me in the face for the same net effect, I instead went to an Irish bar at 1AM on St. Patrick’s Day on the final night of SXSW to see a really loud, aggressive rock band. But at least I saved the $5. Now I’d listened to their 2009 self-titled debut and like to think I had an idea of what to expect, but rather than some variant of post-rock, it was more a kind of instrumental metal with some hardcore punk and even a touch of traditional Irish folk sprinkled on top – to wit, lots of insane riffing, pogoing around the stage, dueling guitar leads and at least one broken bass string. Then factor in the falling-down drunk crowd moshing, lurching and jigging and you’ve got something akin to mayhem. It was actually fun for a little while to be in the middle of – it certainly wakes you up – but eventually I fled to the fringes of the crowd and then out onto 6th to watch the rest from the street.

And then I left. Seeya, SXSW. Seeya, Austin. And thank goodness I’m done with festival coverage for a while. OH WAIT.

The Guardian talks to Graham Coxon about his new solo record A+E and are also streaming the whole thing ahead of its April 2 release date. And not to be outdone, The Quietus chats with Damon Albarn. No Blur insights are offered on either side.

Stream: Graham Coxon / A+E

Belle & Sebastian have released a video for their Primitives cover, taken from the Late Night Tales, Vol 2 compilation that’s just out today.

Video: Belle & Sebastian – “Crash”

DIY has a feature on and video session with Blood Red Shoes. Clash also has a feature.

Richard Hawley has offered up a stream of the first taste of his new record Standing At The Sky’s Edge, out May 7. And dare I say someone is getting their rock on? Yes, I do believe I do.

Stream: Richard Hawley – “Leave Your Body Behind You”

Keane are coming to town to promote their new album Strangeland, out May 7, and they’re bringing Mystery Jets, who’re putting out their own new album Radlands on April 30. Hm, that’s a whole lot of “-land” titles. Anyways, the Toronto date is June 19 and tickets are $45 in advance.

Stream: Keane – “Silenced By The Night”
Stream: Mystery Jets – “Someone Purer”

The big/best news of yesterday was that Sigur Ros would be releasing their sixth solo album on May 29, entitled Valtari, and if that wasn’t enough, they also released the first video from it. Now all we need is a Toronto live date to go with the Montreal Osheaga appearance in August, yeah? Word is that this is a more ambient kind of record than 2008’s Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust; the first preview certainly seems to bear that out.

Video: Sigur Ros – “Ekki Mukk”

Paste examines how Of Monsters & Men became Iceland’s biggest musical export since, well, Sigur Ros. The Georgia Straight also has an interview and Rolling Stone has a video session recorded at SXSW. Their debut My Head Is An Animal is streaming in whole at NPR ahead of its release next week and they play The Phoenix on April 12.

MP3: Of Monsters & Men – “Little Talks”
Stream: Of Monsters & Men / My Head Is An Animal

Exclaim reports that The Raveonettes will release a new, four-song EP entitled Into The Night on April 24 – they’re also hosting the widget that lets you trade your email for an MP3 of the title track. A new album should be out later this year.

The Jezabels have released a new video from Prisoner; they’re at The Mod Club on April 18.

Video: The Jezabels – “Rosebud”

The Stool Pigeon, Vogue Australia, and Stuff interview Pip Browne of Ladyhawke. The new album Anxiety is out May 28.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Dart In The Map

Review of The Futureheads’ The Chaos and giveaway

Photo via Goldest EggGoldest EggIf there’s a rule that bands are supposed to mellow and get more introspective as they age, no one told Sunderland, England’s Futureheads. After briefly making Newcastle the next epicentre of Brit-rock with their 2004 self-titled debutMaximo Park and Field Music would emerge from the same scene – the quartet would release two more records of their distinctive, harmony-laden jerky New Wave with less success than their debut, some complaining that the breakneck rhythms and energy that made The Futureheads so infectious were lacking on the follow-ups.

I can’t comment on the veracity of those comments, as I don’t think I heard either News & Tributes or This Is Not The World though I did see them on tour for the former in Summer of 2006, and they certainly had as much energy as I could have expected. And having made the acquaintance of their newest record The Chaos – out today – I think I can say that if the last couple records were indeed a bit soft, then this can be considered a return to form as sonically, it’s pretty much monolithic. The four-part harmonies, with their clipped phrasing and sharp accents, are still exceptionally tight and as far from a barber shop quartet as you can get and the guitars, if aptly described as “wiry” circa their debut are now akin to electrical transmission lines in girth. Coupled with songs that are maybe a notch or two less immediate than their earlier material but still eminently catchy and performed at a pace that only a bona fide speed freak would call anything but barrelling, The Chaos has all the manic energy promised by its title, encapsulated in compact 3-minute pop packages. Some more dynamics – or just an opportunity to catch one’s breath – over the course of the record would have been welcome, but there’ll be time enough for that when they’re older.

The Futureheads are kicking off a North American tour tonight in New York and will be rolling through Toronto on June 10 for date at the Mod Club. Advance tickets are $18.50 in advance but courtesy of Goldest Egg, i’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to have a Futurehead” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and get that in to me before midnight, June 7.

Futurehead guitarist Ross Millard talks to Spinner about some of the political themes that have worked their way into the new record.

MP3: The Futureheads – “Struck Dumb”
Video: The Futureheads – “Heartbeat Song”
Stream: The Futureheads / The Chaos
MySpace: The Futureheads

Drowned In Sound reports the new Manic Street Preachers record – the one Nicky Wire compared to Aerosmith’s Pump – will be entitled Postcards From A Young Man and be out in the UK on September 20. Was not expecting new MSP so soon; very happy.

Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes talks to Billboard about some of the ideas she’s kicking around for album number three, including working with Beck. have premiered a new video from Vampire Weekend, who are at the Molson Amphitheatre on September 7.

Video: Vampire Weekend – “Holiday”

Flagpole and The Daily Record have interviews with The Hold Steady while NPR has the band in for a World Cafe session. There’s an MP3 now available to download from Heaven Is Whenever, which they’ll be performing at the Kool Haus on July 17.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Hurricane J”

Chart talked to LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy before their show in Toronto last week. The Vancouver Sun and The New York Times also have interviews.

The National’s Aaron Dessner talks to The Boston Herald. They’re at Massey Hall next week on June 8 and 9.

The Guardian chats with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste.

NYC Taper has a recording of Holly Miranda’s homecoming show in New York City last week available to share while has a video session recorded on the University of Toronto campus which includes a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Hundreds Of Sparrows”. If one good thing comes out of the passing of Mark Linkous, let it be more and more beautiful Sparklehorse covers. The Sydney Morning Herald also has an interview with Ms Miranda.

Uncensored has an extensive video interview with Nicole Atkins.

The Times-Union profiles Phantogram.

NPR talks to Josh Ritter and premieres the new video from So The World Runs Away.

Video: Josh Ritter – “The Curse”

Chart, The Windsor Star, Chart, The Colorado Springs Independent and NOW profile Broken Bells, in town at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tomorrow night.

The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle gets sombre with The Georgia Straight.

NPR is streaming Blitzen Trapper’s new album Destroyer Of The Void in advance of its release next week. Learn all the words and sing along when they play the Opera House on August 3.

Stream: Blitzen Trapper / Destroyer Of The Void

The Brother Kite’s Isolation has finally been granted a release date – look for the CD on September 14 and a vinyl edition to follow in November. Preview a few tracks at their website and count the days.

Before playing the Horseshoe that evening, tUnE-yArDs will do an in-store at Soundscpaes on June 13 at 3PM in the afternoon, perfect for those – like myself – who are curious but not ready to commit an evening to see her.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Sunlight”
Video: tUnE-yArDs – “Real Live Flesh”

Fresh off opening up for Sharon Jones at the Sound Academy last week, UK funk-soul brothers The Heavy will play a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 9 at 8PM as part of this year’s edition of Beats, Breaks & Culture.

MP3: The Heavy – “Colleen”

Langhorne Slim, who was great supporting Drive-By Truckers back in April has his own date at the Horseshoe on July 21, tickets $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Langhorne Slim – “I Love You But Goodbye”

It’s being billed as “Disco Lemonade”, but other appropriate names might be “You Got Your Sensitive Singer-Songwriter In My Dance Party”, “When Disparate Tours Collide”, “I Want The Venue No *I* Want The Venue” or just plain “WTF”. I speak of the show taking place at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 30, which will feature Keane, Robyn, Ingrid Michaelson, Kelis, Fran Healy, Dan Black and Far East Movement. Tickets range from $29.50 to $49.50, the show begins at 3:30PM – yes, that’s on a Friday – and it’s reasonably safe to say that everyone who goes to this show will see something they probably would never have gone to see otherwise. I actually saw this bill on Pollstar a couple weeks ago and assumed it was a typo. Silly me.

Video: Keane – “Clear Skies”
Video: Robyn – “With Every Heartbeat”
Video: Ingrid Michaelson – “The Way I Am”
Video: Kelis – “Milkshake”
Video: Travis – “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”
Video: Dan Black – “Symphonies”
Video: Far East Movement – “Fetish”

Goth godfather Peter Murphy has a date at Lee’s Palace on August 10, tickets $29.50 in advance.

Video: Peter Murphy – “Cuts You Up”

Mice Parade have a date at the El Mocambo on September 29.

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Ending On A High Note

a-ha and Ray Materick at Massey Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’ve taken a bit of ribbing in the last while about not only attending Monday night’s a-ha show at Massey Hall, but for being excited about it. Which is sort of fair, I suppose, as the Norwegian trio largely fell off the North American radar around 1987, despite not only maintaining but growing a massive fanbase worldwide over the past two decades plus. But those who assumed the band had been creatively fallow since Hunting High And Low – or even no longer in existence – not only missed out on 25 years or so of great pop music, but by ignoring the Toronto stop on the band’s farewell tour, an amazing show as well.

I can’t pretend that I’ve kept up with a-ha in all that time. Their first three albums or so were staples of my youth, thanks to my older brother’s music collection, but circa 1990’s East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon, grunge/alternative broke out and there was little room in this 15-year old’s world for sophisticated Euro-pop. Even so, I’ve always had a soft spot for them, gave new singles a listen whenever they crossed my path and taken notice if they made any sort of news – as they did when they announced last Fall that they would split up after a final world tour that would cover most of 2010. And when Toronto was listed as one of the four North American cities and seven shows on this continent in total to host one of these farewell shows, I decided I kind of had to be there. Which brings us to Monday.

If you’ve ever wondered what 24 years of pent-up demand felt like – that’s how long it had been since a-ha’s last and only visit to Toronto – then Massey, where that show also happened, was the place to be. I would imagine that anyone who only knew them as “that band with that song and that video” was elsewhere on this evening (or else had too much disposable income) because while the theatre wasn’t quite sold out – I wager there were a couple hundred of the less choice seats vacant – but the buzz of anticipation from the other couple thousand plus in attendance more than made up for the empty seats.

When the lights dimmed for the start of the show, anticipation turned into confusion as the opener was introduced as Hamilton folksinger Ray Materick, who had a few radio hits back in the ’70s. His appearance was not without context, as this piece in eye explains, but it was an odd pairing to say the least. While Materick delivered a short set of his material new and old, the audience managed to stay on the right side of polite while not really paying much attention. Which is probably all that could have been expected.

“Polite” wouldn’t be the word to describe the atmosphere when the house lights dimmed a second time and the giant video screen that served as backdrop to the otherwise bare-bones stage setup began playing a montage of sweeping abstract visuals – “madness” might be more accurate. And “madness squared” for when the visuals resolved into a giant “2010” and the band strode onto a Toronto stage for the first time in almost a quarter century. Not that you could necessarily tell that much time had elapsed by looking at them – though all around 50 years of age, they all looked remarkably well-kept and youthful. But they weren’t here just to act as testaments to the benefits of nordic living; they were here to put on a show.

And with the title track of their latest (last) album Foot Of The Mountain, they began a backwards journey through their discography that was clearly designed to remind to deliver maximum hit value while serving to remind that they were writing solid songs to the very end. It didn’t take them even an hour to blow through the ’00s and ’90s, highlighted by “Summer Moved On” from 2000’s Minor Earth Major Sky wherein Morten Harkett proved he had lost not iota of range or power from his voice over the years, hitting and holding the high notes for an absurdly long time. The sweeping “Stay On These Roads” and “The Living Daylights”, backed by Bond-ian visuals, marked the start of the golden age portion of their set and immediately shifted gears for a two-song, acoustic break of “And You Tell Me” and “Early Morning”. They spent the remainder of the main set with their first two records, Scoundrel Days and Hunting High & Low, including stellar readings of “Manhattan Skyline” and “I’ve Been Losing You”. When they walked off stage following “Cry Wolf”, no one believed for a millisecond they weren’t coming back, and following an extended video montage of stills and photos from the band’s earliest days, they returned for a soaring “The Sun Always Shines On TV” and “Hunting High & Low”, and after one final encore, it was “Take On Me” and the end.

From start to finish, the trio – backed by a drummer and keyboardist/bassist – put on a nearly perfect performance, striking the right balance of slickness and honesty, not unlike their music. Though this was a farewell tour, there was no sense of sadness or regret to be found – more than anything, the prevailing emotion was pride in a body of work assembled over a career any artist should be envious of and a sincere appreciation for the fans who stood steadfast by them, even though they were more or less neglected since the start of the ’90s. If North America had some appreciation for adult contemporary-ish pop music that wasn’t r&b-based or just pap, a-ha might well have been the stars here that they were in the rest of the world. But as it was, we just got this one final opportunity to say hello and goodbye and were grateful for it.

The Toronto Sun also has a review of the show and The National Post Chicago Sun-Times have interviews with guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy. a-ha’s first two albums will be reissued in double-CD expanded form on June 28 by Rhino.

Photos: a-ha, Ray Materick @ Massey Hall – May 10, 2010
Video: a-ha – “Shadowside”
Video: a-ha – “Nothing Is Keeping You Here”
Video: a-ha – “Foot Of The Mountain”
Video: a-ha – “Cosy Prisons”
Video: a-ha – “Analogue”
Video: a-ha – “Celice”
Video: a-ha – “Lifelines”
Video: a-ha – “Forever Not Yours”
Video: a-ha – “I Wish I Cared”
Video: a-ha – “Velvet”
Video: a-ha – “Minor Earth Major Sky”
Video: a-ha – “Summer Moved On”
Video: a-ha – “Shapes That Go Together”
Video: a-ha – “Angel”
Video: a-ha – “Dark Is The Night”
Video: a-ha – “Move To Memphis”
Video: a-ha – “There’s Never A Forever Thing”
Video: a-ha – “I Call Your Name”
Video: a-ha – “Crying In The Rain”
Video: a-ha – “You Are The One”
Video: a-ha – “Touchy!”
Video: a-ha – “The Blood That Moves The Body”
Video: a-ha – “Stay On These Roads”
Video: a-ha – “The Living Daylights”
Video: a-ha – “Manhattan Skyline”
Video: a-ha – “Cry Wolf”
Video: a-ha – “I’ve Been Losing You”
Video: a-ha – “Hunting High & Low”
Video: a-ha – “Train Of Thought”
Video: a-ha – “The Sun Always Shines On TV”
Video: a-ha – “Take On Me”
MySpace: a-ha

Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit will release their debut full-length The Big Black & The Blue on May 25. Hear songs from it when they play the Rivoli on June 11. And also by clicking below. That works too.

MP3: First Aid Kit – “Hard Believer”
MP3: First Aid Kit – “Sailor Song” (live)

Delays, whose a-ha cover remains this week’s cover selection for a few more days, have released a first MP3 from their new record Star Tiger, Star Ariel, due out June 21.

MP3: Delays – “Find A Home (New Forest Shaker)”

Field Music have released a new video from (Measure).

Video: Field Music – “Let’s Write A Book”

Damon Albarn tells NME that new Blur singles are likely, but not a proper album. Until they collect said singles into an album.

M.I.A. has named her new album /\/\/\Y/\. Yeah, someone needs to talk to her handlers. It’s out July 13.

The Fly checks in with Ritzy of The Joy Formidable to see how work on their debut full-length is going. It’s targeted for an Autumn release. Blare also has an interview.

The San Jose Mercury News and The Georgia Straight talk to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit.

The Big Pink have premiered a new video from last year’s A Brief History Of Love.

Video: The Big Pink – “Tonight”

Shad will mark the release of his new record TSOL – out May 25 – with an in-store performance at Sonic Boom on May 24 at 7PM. He plays a full show at the Opera House on June 12.

MP3: Shad – “Yaa I Get It”

Keane are hoping their fanbase has increased about five fold since the last time they were here as they’re booked into the Molson Amphitheatre on July 30. They just released a new album entitled Night Train.

Video: Keane – “Clear Skies”

The UK’s Wild Beasts return to town in support of Two Dancers with a date at the Mod Club on August 6.

MP3: Wild Beasts – “All The King’s Men”

The August 7 show at the Horseshoe with Maps & Atlases just got that much buzzier with the addition of mysteriously shimmering Motown-y New York duo Cults. Their debut 7″ is available to download for free at their website. Listen and find out what all the cool kids are talking about for the next 3 seconds.

MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”

Logistical issues have snookered the August 8 Empire Of The Sun show at the Sound Academy. They apologize and hope to make it back, but not to the point of offering anything resembling a window when that might happen. So don’t expect it to happen.

Michael Gira’s newly-reformed (as in formed again, not as in served hard time but feeling much better) Swans have put together a Fall tour that includes an October 2 date at Lee’s Palace.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

A Mountain Is A Mouth

Bruce Peninsula, Alex Lukashevsky and Snowblink at the Polish Combatants Hall in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf there’s an advantage to writing about the same band for the third time in the span of a month, it’s that rather than try and lay down some background, I can just point you here and here and voila – you’re up to speed. If there’s a disadvantage, it’s completely running out of things to say. But I’ll soldier on.

Sunday night was the long-awaited album release party for Bruce Peninsula’s debut A Mountain Is A Mouth and there was simply no better place to be than the Polish Combatants Hall, and that includes in front of a television watching the Academy Awards (though Hugh Jackman’s opening song and dance number was pretty awesome). The hall was decorated with all manner of fake foliage, giving the environs a sort of nature-themed senior prom feel, and filled rows of chairs to accommodate the sold-out house. Indeed, there was an unmistakable sense of occasion in the air.

Considering many of the Bruce Peninsulans do duty in other bands, it wasn’t surprising that one of them would be tapped to open things up – this time, it was recent addition Daniela Gesundheit and her band Snowblink. Although an almost completely unknown quantity to myself and everyone I asked, after seeing them play there’s little chance anyone will soon forget who they are. By means of instruments both conventional and not – I don’t know the last time I saw someone play glasses onstage – she and her shifting lineup of musical compatriots put on a performance that transformed the stage setup into nothing less than an enchanted, fairy tale forest. More descriptively, they crafted ethereal folk-pop that reminded of St Vincent with a dash of Feist, but were entirely their own thing. Utterly beguiling.

This gave middle act Alex Lukashevsky, he of Deep Dark United and writer of the songs on Final Fantasy’s recent Plays To Please EP, a tough act to follow and at least as far as showing me something I’d never seen before, he succeeded. Lukashevsky himself didn’t do anything especially unusual, delivering rough-hewn folk-blues songs via acoustic guitar, but with his two bandmates providing almost orchestral accompaniment with just jazz vocal lines, they took on a theatrical aspect that was certainly unique. I don’t know that I’d find Lukashevsky’s unadorned solo work all that compelling, but definitely enjoyed the live performance.

There’s not a lot I can say about Bruce Peninsula live that I haven’t said before. This show wasn’t necessarily a better performance than any of the others I’ve seen them give – this is not a slight, as all their shows have been pretty incredible – but as mentioned earlier, the context of the night made it extra special. It was a celebration of friends and family, of fans gained by fervent word of mouth, of a band with a sound that manages to be fresh and distinctive while also feeling as old as the earth itself and of a record that implausibly manages to capture it. And with all that going around, it’s no surprise that the band was extra boisterous as they hollered like wild men and sang like angels through pretty much their entire repertoire, welcoming back departed members to join in one more time and filling their spectral songs with joy and life. A remarkable evening.

Chart also has a review of the show. RCRDLBL has some more background on Snowblink and an MP3 to download. Bruce Peninsula play again on March 28 at Lee’s Palace.

Photos: Bruce Peninsula, Alex Lukashevsky, Snowblink @ The Polish Combatants Hall – February 22, 2009
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”
MySpace: Bruce Peninsula
MySpace: Snowblink

SoundProof talks to Angela Desveaux. She plays the Gladstone on March 12 for CMW.

MP3: Angela Desveaux & The Mighty Ship – “Sure Enough”

NPR is currently streaming the whole of Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone for the week leading up to its release next Tuesday. Her show in Amsterdam this past Sunday was supposed to be streamed live on FabChannel but had to be cancelled due to illness. It’ll be made up this Summer. Neko plays two sold-out shows at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18.

Stream: Neko Case / Middle Cyclone

The little digital music store that could – – is celebrating its fifth anniversary as the finest online shop for Canadian music this year, and are celebrating with a party. Thick Specs has details on the show which will take over the Tranzac on June 27 and feature performances from Forest City Lovers and The Violet Archers, among many others. Tickets are $10 and on sale now at Zunior (duh) and advance purchases come with an MP3 compilation of rarities from the artists playing the show. And if you didn’t know, they offer free weekly MP3 mixes via the widget dealie over there on the right. Go get. And check out some recent interviews with Forest City Lovers at The Charlatan and The Silhouette.

MP3: The Violet Archers – “Sunshine At Night”

Keane have made a date at the Sound Academy for May 23. Support will come from Mat Kearney and The Helio Sequence.

Billboard has lineup details for this year’s edition of Edgefest, taking place June 20 at Downsview Park. Acts this year will include Metric, k-os and The Stills.

People will be digging out their threadbare Pretty Hate Machine and Ritual de lo Habitual t-shirts and pretending it’s 1990 again when the Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction tour rolls (creaks?) into the Molson Amphitheare on June 23. Full dates at The Music Slut.

Daytrotter welcomes Nellie McKay to their studios for a session. Naples News has an interview.

Happy 9th birthday to Bradley’s Almanac, who is marking the occasion by sharing a live Bedhead show circa 1998.