Posts Tagged ‘Leif Vollebekk’

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Halifax Pop Explosion 2010 Day Four

It Kills, Great Lake Swimmers, Milks & Rectangles and more at Halifax Pop Explosion

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI guess the final day of coverage is as good a time as any to talk about some of the non-Pop Explosion aspects of my visit to Halifax, which was my first-ever visit to the east coast and first trip within Canada in over three years. Though to be honest, I didn’t do a whole lot that wasn’t HPX-related – some wandering around downtown Halifax, which seemed to be in a particularly epic state of construction and/or renovation, the previously mentioned fast/walkabout to Point Pleasant, and most enjoyably a visit to the exceedingly photogenic but also incredibly cold and windy Peggys Cove, which had the added bonus of some picturesque Autumn foliage on the drive out.

Still, the best parts of the trip were thanks to the festival and conference, where I got to participate in a panel on blogging (natch) with You Ain’t No Picasso, Hero Hill and The Line Of Best Fit (and apologies to anyone who misinterpreted when I said, “the first songs you write will be terrible, and the next ones will also be terrible but less so” – I was trying to be encouraging! They’ll get better!) and just generally got to hang out with peeps old and new; Halifax offers many great places for lounging about, waiting for the… leisurely wait staff.

And of course there was the music. I’d gone relatively light on shows through the first few days so Saturday was the day to make it up some – and a good start was a matinee performance by Great Lake Swimmers. I hadn’t seen the band play since Spring 2007, by which point they’d already graduated to playing churches and halls that complimented their gorgeous, ghostly folk – pretty much the polar opposite from the dark and (pleasantly) grubby Seahorse Tavern. And as lovely as the performances in those more stately venues are, there was something really exciting about seeing them in relatively rougher and tumbler (?) environs – they ran through their set with more jump and flourish than I think I’ve ever seen them with and having a great time of it. Seeing as how a tour of churches and the like would be a special outing for most bands, I propose that the Great Lake Swimmers cross Canada while playing the seediest clubs possible. By the time they hit the coast, they’ll be downright metal.

Photos: Great Lake Swimmers @ The Seahorse Tavern – October 23, 2010
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “I Am A Part Of A Large Family”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “River’s Edge”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Stealing Tomorrow”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Palmistry”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Still”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Back Stage With The Modern Dancers”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “To Leave It All Behind”
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Bodies & Minds”
MySpace: Great Lake Swimmers

The evening programme kicked off at Hero Hill’s showcase at the cozy Company House and locals It Kills. Of all the bands’ MySpaces I cruised in advance of the festival, theirs caught my attention the most and buoyed by Radio Free Canuckistan’s glowing review of their self-titled debut, it was one of the few immovable shows on my schedule. Describing them is no easy task; the four-piece of guitar, cello, drums and piano certainly incorporated elements of Godspeed, Kronos and Explosions into their baroque take on orchestral post-rock, but rather than the build-and-release typical of the style, they instead meditate on the moment like a suspended breath. Add on top of that choral harmonies that may or may not be wordless – it could be hard to tell in the mix – and you had something that had familiar touchstones but still sounded unlike anything I’d heard before. Recommended? Yeah.

Photos: It Kills @ The Company House – October 23, 2010
MP3: It Kills – “Jump Kid”

It was then down the street to the Paragon Theatre for Toronto’s Dilly Dally. I hadn’t heard of them before but they were pretty appealing in their punky (though not especially punk) rock, which came liberally drenched in grease and snot, but also with a dollop of melody and attitude. About midway through their set frontwoman Katie Monks mentioned her brother’s band would be playing later that night, and something snapped into place – you could hear some of the same record collection DNA that informs Tokyo Police Club’s sound in Dilly Dally’s, but while rougher, the latter is potentially more interesting. Their set lasted barely 30 minutes and exhausted their entire repertoire, but it was more than enough to impress. They have a couple of Toronto shows coming up – The Tranzac tomorrow night, October 27, and The Garage on November 5.

Photos: Dilly Dally @ The Paragon Theatre – October 23, 2010
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Helen Hunt”
MP3: Dilly Dally – “Pretty Pretty Pictures”

The lack of anywhere else to be at 10PM kept me at the Paragon for Calgary’s Ghostkeeper, even though their self-titled debut had failed to impress me the way it had those who got it onto this year’s Polaris long list. Happily, I found them more enjoyable live as their brand of abrupt, deconstructed blues and pop was prone to outbursts of rocking out and was softened up by some nice boy-girl vocals. Even so, about midway through their set I noticed on Twitter that someone said the venue was at capacity and, being the generous soul I am, I decided to let someone else have my spot.

Photos: Ghostkeeper @ The Paragon Theatre – October 23, 2010
MP3: Ghostkeeper – “Like Moose Do”
MP3: Ghostkeeper – “By Morning”
Video: Ghostkeeper – “Haunted”

After a visit to Pizza Corner for my first donair and one of the messiest dining experiences of my life, it was to the Foggy Goggle for the last stop of the night and the festival. Prince Edward Island’s Milks & Rectangles wasn’t the reason I went there, initially, but quickly into their set they became just about the highlight of the night. I would be surprised if any reviews of the band failed to mention Franz Ferdinand, and the comparison is an apt one – though they may not cut as dapper a figure as the Scots, they do mine much of the same New Wave/post-punk dance rock landscape and do it really well. That’s not all they’ve got in their arsenal, though – they also had a knack for half-anthemic (no fist pumping) singalongs and quirky art-rock, but most importantly, they knew that if you got the girls in the audience dancing, you’d already won. And having apparently brought an entire party with them from PEI, the girls were definitely dancing. It was a loud, sweaty and irresistible set that deserved – and got – an encore. Their last two EPs – Dirty Gold and Troubleshooters – are available to download for free and while neither quite captures the tightness and excellence of the live show, they do affirm that this is a band that could do great things.

Photos: Milks & Rectangles @ The Foggy Goggle – October 23, 2010
MP3: Milks & Rectangles – “Gold Teeth / Diamond Ring”
MP3: Milks & Rectangles – “Wink And A Gun (The Jury’s Hung)”
MySpace: Milks & Rectangles

And to wrap it all up, Gramercy Riffs. Now I had thought that, hailing from St. John’s, Newfoundland, that they’d have a flotilla of fans out to support them but as it turns out, they now call Toronto and Montreal home and this was, apparently, their first time playing Halifax. Needless to say, the big, rowdy throw-down I expected didn’t quite happen but considering how… boisterous their appearance at NXNE got and how it didn’t quite feature the band at their best, maybe that was a good thing. Because though this performance was a few degrees more subdued than that one, it was also less ramshackle and put the focus on the band’s proper strengths – namely their two excellent frontpersons in Mara Pellerin and Lee Hanlon (even though Pellerin’s vocals were poorly mixed for much of the show). Their different yet complimentary deliveries elevate Gramercy Riffs and their debut It’s Heartbreak above many others who’d seek to make adjectiveless pop-rock. A performance level somewhere between this one and the NXNE one would have been ideal, but still a good time and a good wrap to the fest.

Photos: Gramercy Riffs @ The Foggy Goggle – October 23, 2010
MP3: Gramercy Riffs – “Call Me”
MySpace: Gramercy Riffs

Many thanks to the folks at HPX and in Halifax in general for a great trip. Less thanks to the security staff at Stanfield International airport, who take whole Maritime friendliness a touch too far in stopping to chat with everyone who passes through their metal detector. I barely made it onto my flight and that included a 10-minute boarding delay. But anyways.

Under The Radar has details on the new album from The DearsDegeneration Street will be out February 15 of next year and the first single, “Omega Dog”, is available now for $0.99.

I don’t know if all the names will fit on the sandwich board outside, but a worthy bill hits the Horseshoe on November 25 with The Wilderness Of Manitoba, Leif Vollebekk and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers.

MP3: The Wilderness Of Manitoba – “Hermit”
MP3: Leif Vollebekk – “Northernmost Eva Maria”
MP3: Olenka & The Autumn Lovers – “Eggshells”

There’s interviews with Diamond Rings over at, Macleans, Spinner, Exclaim and Interview. Special Affections is out now and the record release show goes tonight at the Garrison.

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

CONTEST – Kelp Records 16th Anniversary @ The Horseshoe – May 12, 2010

Art By Douglas WilkinsongDouglas WilkinsonOkay, so I spent (too) much of yesterday in planes and airports and places, in general, not conducive to blogging so I am essentially taking today (or took last night) off to get my head together a bit, and am going to just toss this up for now.

As announced last week, I’m proudly co-presenting the Toronto stop of the Kelp 16 anniversary tour, marking the fact that the Ottawa-based label is now old enough to drive. To help celebrate, we’re having Cleveland cult hero singer-songwriter Bill Fox, as well as Andrew Vincent, Chris Page and Leif Vollebekk play the Horseshoe on the evening of May 12.

Tickets are $10 in advance and on sale at Soundscapes right now, but since it’s not a birthday party without loot bags – at least not in my estimation – I’ve got a couple of Kelp prize packs to give away. These consist of a pair of passes to the show – natch – a label compilation CD and a Kelp Records t-shirt. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to wish Kelp a happy birthday” in the subject line and your full name and address in the body and get that in to me before midnight, May 10.

Proper bloggage re-commences tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

For Almost Ever

Bill Fox to help Kelp Records celebrate 16th birthday

Photo via Last.FMLast.fmSo apparently there’s this guy – based in Ohio but sings with an affected British accent, played in a band with his brother for a while, has a habit of writing amazing pop songs and recording them onto 4-track cassette and is worshipped by those in the know. I’m talking, of course, about Bill Fox. Why, who were you thinking of?

I actually can’t pretend to be one of those aforementioned “in the know”, however. Prior to a few weeks ago, the first I’d heard of Bill Fox was via the first sample of Nada Surf’s forthcoming covers record, if i had a hi-fi, and “Electrocution” offered a terrific first impression – both of the Nada Surf record and the songwriting talent behind that song. And then a copy of his 1998 record Transit Byzantium was forwarded on to me by the folks at Ottawa-based Kelp Records, both for my own musical edification and by way of invitation to help them celebrate their 16th anniversary.

Apparently the traditional 16th anniversary gift is silver holloware, but who doesn’t have enough of that cluttering up their homes? Instead, Kelp – who has been and still is home to such acts as The Acorn, Hilotrons and Jim Bryson, is marking their 16th by throwing a series of parties in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, featuring Mr Bill Fox and a variety of Kelp friends and family. For my part, I’m pleased to be co-presenting the Toronto show which will take place on Wednesday, May 12, and feature sets by Andrew Vincent, Chris Page, Leif Vollebekk and of course, Bill Fox.

Obviously I cannot pretend that I’m anything resembling an old-school fan of Bill Fox or his old band The Mice, but my crash course in his story and works has been a wholly enjoyable one: The Mice are terrific scrappy power pop and Fox’s solo works more folkish and thoughtful but just as melodic. And so I’m happy to be able to associate my name with a Canadian label that’s been fighting the good fight for so long and a show that is no doubt bringing much happiness to those out there who ARE old-school Bill Fox fans. For a while Fox had dropped almost completely out of sight – his Wikipedia page more or less tells the tale – and while he’s now playing live more and his catalog is slowly being reissued courtesy of Scat Records, the man doesn’t really tour so this is, as they say, an opportunity.

Tickets for the Toronto show are $10 in advance. Grab a free sampler of Kelp artists at Bandcamp.

MP3: The Mice – “Not Proud Of The USA”
MP3: The Mice – “More Than I Can Talk About”
MP3: Nada Surf – “Electrocution”

Stereogum has premiered the new video from Born Ruffians’ forthcoming Say It, due out June 1. They play The Horseshoe on May 28.

Video: Born Ruffians – “What To Say”

The New Pornographers are streaming Together in its entirety at Exclaim, a week ahead of its May 4 release. They will be at the Sound Academy on June 15.

Stream: The New Pornographers / Together

School Of Seven Bells have finally put a release date on their second album, Disconnect From Desire. Pitchfork has the vitals on the new record, which will out on July 13.

Alison Mosshart of The Kills tells BBC 6 that their new record is more than halfway complete.

The Fly interviews James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, whose This Is Happening is out May 18 and who are at the Kool Haus on May 25. Slowly, but surely, I am starting to get LCD. It’s fun like parties, right? I get that.

Shout Out Louds are taking over the editors desk at Magnet this week as they gear up for their North American tour which brings them to the Mod Club on May 8.

Mew have released a typically weird new video from No More Stories.

Video: Mew – “Beach”

In concert news, the June 9 She & Him show has been moved from the Phoenix to the Sound Academy. I’m somewhat surprised at this, as the show has been sold out for well over a month and I figured if a move was in the offing, it’d have happened sooner. But so it is that Matt and Zooey will now be visiting in the most despised room in the city, but look on the bright side – it’s now all-ages so at least some of the 2000 more people who can attend won’t be very tall. And no, there’s no info on getting refunds because you have the new room. Sorry.

MP3: She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”

Their free record release show last week having been a huge (crushing) success, Plants & Animals will be returning for a June 24 show at the Opera House; unfortunately this one you have to pay for. They’re featured in The Montreal Mirror, The Montreal Gazette, Chart and The Toronto Sun.

MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”

Could one band who hasn’t been here in ages and another who just visited make up the bill of the Summer? When it’s The Flaming Lips and Spoon, maybe so. The pair will be at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 and considering the show starts at 6:45 and curfew is 11PM, it seems the Lips will finally be making up for their 15-minute V Fest set in 2006. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10AM and range from $52.50 for GA floors (and the privilege of being in Wayne Coyne’s bubble walk route) to $29.50 for lawns (unlikely he’ll make it up there but you never know).

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Powerless”
Video: Spoon – “Written In Reverse”

The Swell Season will be coming back to town on July 12 for a show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, tickets $39.50 to $42.50. It sounds as though Glen Hansard is getting The Frames out of mothballs for their 20th anniversary, so this could be your last chance to see him in a quieter headspace, not to mention Marketa Irglova.

MP3: The Swell Season – “In These Arms”

Ween are coming to town – look for them at the Kool Haus on July 20, tickets $35. Is it wrong that this is my favourite Ween composition?

MP3: Ween – “Where’d The Cheese Go?”