Posts Tagged ‘Sofia Talvik’

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Canadian Musicfest Day Three

The Week That Was, Library Voices, We See Lights and more at Canadian Musicfest

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo yes, I sort of wimped out on the first couple days of Canadian Musicfest, but like to think I made up for it with Saturday, hitting up something from the evening’s start to the very end although I did skip out on a couple of very attractive pre- and post-showcase events. But anyways.

Scottish septet We See Lights were making the most of their visit to Canada, playing three shows in the week – this one at Bread & Circus in Kensington being the last – though from what I’d heard from others, they weren’t what you’d call the best-attended performances. And that’s a shame because they have a lot to recommend and really, an overabundance of talent. Boasting four more than capable lead singers, they crafted lush and beautifully open-hearted whose sentimentality and earnestness was extra endearing given the youthfulness of the band – like a teenager absolutely convinced that they’re the first ones to have ever had their heart broken. They’re like the melancholic, mirror universe version of Los Campesinos! and by god they deserved to have people hear them. Dear We See Lights, please don’t hold our city’s indifference against us – please visit again.

Photos: We See Lights @ Bread & Circus – March 14, 2009
MySpace: We See Lights

After the Scots cleared out all their gear, Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik took the stage with her decidedly more stripped-down band, made up of one cellist, one percussionist and one fellow tapping out synth notes on an iPhone. The spare but thoughtful accouterments worked well at accenting Talvik’s fairly straightforward singer-songwriter fare, which was a bit disappointing in that it didn’t seem to exhibit the sort of sunny exterior/dark subtext that a lot of Swedish acts seem to imbue their work with. I thought I got whiffs of that on her latest album Jonestown, but she also didn’t play some of my favourite tracks from that record so perhaps she was just smoothing out the set list for the audience. Either way, a lovely voice and a lovely girl – hard to complain too much about that.

Photos: Sofia Talvik @ Bread & Circus – March 14, 2009
MP3: Sofia Talvik – “My James Dean”
Video: Sofia Talvik – “It’s Just Love” (with Bernard Butler)
MySpace: Sofia Talvik

At this point the plan was to again hoof it up to the Tranzac for The Morning After Girls but after seeing two streetcars zip by while walking to the stop, the transit line seemed to dry up and there was nothing else in sight. At this point it was obvious that I’d be 10-15 minutes late for their set at best and I bailed – just as well, too, as I’ve heard that their set was cut short due to technical difficulties.

Instead, plan B became the El Mocambo and Regina’s Library Voices and goodness, all consolation prizes should be so satisfying. I should say that at this point, I’m utterly skeptical about bands whose rosters could also be fielded as a baseball team, but Library Voices – nine members strong – won me over. Yes they indulged in the same sort of antics other big bands do – instrument swapping, raucous on-stage behaviour, general shenanigans – but they did it so well and so infectiously, that my cynicism was melted away within a couple songs. And in more quantitative terms, they may be a big-ass band but their sound is surprisingly focused and the songs are grand and hooky. I’m not sure I could subsist on a diet of what they’re serving, but for one musical meal, at least, it was tasty.

Photos: Library Voices @ The El Mocambo – March 14, 2009
MP3: Library Voices – “Step Off The Map And Float”
MySpace: Library Voices

This was only halfway through the night? Egads. When discussing my CMF schedule with someone, don’t remember who, mention of The Assistants reminded said unknown person that he’d seen them at a Jesus & Mary Chain tribute night once upon a time, whereas my only live experience with them was a few years ago at a shoegaze tribute night. The point of this being that The Assistants really don’t sound anything like shoegaze, so their presence at these shows and ensuing mental associations is erroneous to say the least. What they do sound like, as their set at Neutral confirmed, is good to great ’80s-inflected jangle-pop. A little Go-Betweens and New Order for the hip influences, a dash of Tom Petty and Dire Straits for the not-so-hip though, for the record, I like Tom Petty and Dire Straits and make these comparisons flatteringly. They play next April 11 at the Mod Club.

Photos: The Assistants @ Neutral – March 14, 2009
MP3: The Assistants – “Fiction”
MySpace: The Assistants

I’d originally planned to wrap the night at this point, but I still hadn’t seen the band I had circled before this whole week began, and since they were on at 1 it I had some time to kill – back to Bread & Circus. On stage were Abbey, hailing from Pembrooke, outside Ottawa, and notable for being the new project of Jordan Zadarozny, ex of Blinker The Star, who were almost the next big thing for a moment in the ’90s. And that brief shining moment definitely comes across in the music, which is big, downstroke-heavy guitar rock with just enough pop in it to not be rawk. Not offensive, but the most memorable thing about their set was the band blowing a fuse a couple songs in.

Photos: Abbey @ Bread & Circus – March 14, 2009

And then, finally, it was around the block to the El Mocambo for The Week That Was – an appropriately-named act to finish things off, I think. I’ll tell myself that everyone who wanted to see them had done so Thursday night at the Gladstone because the turnout for this show, hastily scheduled last week after they were removed from the Ting Tings bill, was pretty meagre. The Week That Was, however, are pros and didn’t let something like that dissuade them from putting on a performance that was worth the wait, somehow managing to recreate the breadth and impact of their densely prog-pop self-titled debut with only four players, even though the record was recorded with upwards of ten members. Though not exactly overflowing with stage presence – frontman Peter Brewis spent kept his eyes shut most of the time – the playing was tight and impactful. With Brewis returning to concentrate on Field Music after this North American tour is done, it was possibly the last time these songs would be aired so it’s good that they were done justice.

Photos: The Week That Was @ The El Mocambo – March 14, 2009
MP3: The Week That Was – “Scratch The Surface”
MP3: The Week That Was – “Learn To Learn”
Video: The Week That Was – “Scratch The Surface”
Video: The Week That Was – “Learn To Learn”

And yeah, that’s another CMW/CMF in the can. There’s a crapload of CMF coverage at eye, Chart, The Toronto Star… oh hell, just google the rest.

And here’s a smattering of non-CMF/SxSW stuff to hopefully appease those who have no interest in either.

Billboard profiles Bob Mould, whose The Life & Times is out April 7.

Bob Dylan’s next album will be entitled Together Through Life and be released on April 28. Billboard has more details.

Spin has details on the forthcoming Bloc Party remix album Intimacy Remixed, due out May 11. There’s also a downright disturbing video for for one of the mixes. Egads.

Video: Bloc Party – “Signs” (Armand Van Helden remix)

Swedish rockers The Sounds have a date at the Mod Club on April 28. Their new album is Crossing The Rubicon and due out May 26.

And one to file under “didn’t see that coming” – Charlotte Hatherley has joined Bat For Lashes. She will be guitarist in Natasha Khan’s touring band through the Fall while they promote Two Suns, out April 6. So the good news is that Ms Hatherley will finally be coming to North America on tour, the bad news is she’s not doing any of her own songs. The more good news is she’s still going to be playing some great songs. The more bad news is this means the release of her next solo record Cinnabar City has been pushed back from the Spring to September. The even more good news is that it looks like the record will get a North American release and that proper touring of her own will follow. Oh hell, just read her MySpace blog for details. And be at the Mod Club on April 25 to welcome Charlotte – and Bat For Lashes – to Toronto.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a plane to catch.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

The Canadian Music Week That Was And Will Be

A look ahead to Canadian Music Week/Fest

Photo by Ian WestIan WestCanadian Music Week – sorry, Canadian Musicfest, as the showcase component has now been renamed – is a tricky time for me, because as much as I’d like to take in as much of the shows on offer as possible, I need to be mindful of saving energy for the big show – SxSW – the following week. To this end, I tend to be very particular about what I choose to see during CMW/F, avoiding if I can bands I’ve seen or can easily see again. Ironically, this usually means I don’t see all that much Canadian music during Canadian Music Week.

One of the acts definitely circled on the schedule is Sunderland, UK outfit The Week That Was, whose main claim to fame is being the spinoff project from Field Music drummer Peter Brewis. My interest in this band surprises me a bit because though I tried, I was never able to get into Field Music. Their attempts to meld prog rock and folk just sounded too studied and wasn’t able to connect, but after seeing their self-titled debut show up on more than a few 2008 year-end lists, I decided to give the new band a shot and it was a wise choice. The Week That Was sheds those more rustic touches and more fully embrace the rock – the drums are thunderous – without abandoning Field Music’s quirky musical sensibilities. TWTW feels more like a band than a project, so it just figures that this North American jaunt is their swan song, at least for the foreseeable future – the Brewis brothers are getting Field Music out of mothballs. Here’s hoping they bring some of the looseness of The Week That Was back to the mothership.

The Week That Was have two shows in Toronto this week – one at 11PM on Thursday, March 12 at the Gladstone Hotel and another at 6:30PM at the Mod Club opening up for The Ting Tings. The former is part of eye‘s three-night throwdown at the Gladstone and as such, they’ve got an interview with the band. Update: And apparently The Ting Tings have taken offense with the non-reverential tone of Brewis’ interview and have booted The Week That Was off the bill for the Mod Club show. But they will still be kicking it Saturday night, now at the El Mocambo at 1AM.

MP3: The Week That Was – “Scratch The Surface”
MP3: The Week That Was – “Learn To Learn”
Video: The Week That Was – “Scratch The Surface”
Video: The Week That Was – “Learn To Learn”

For the curious, the rest of my CMF schedule looks a little like this:

Ketch Harbour Wolves (Thursday, March 12, 9PM @ The Silver Dollar) – Toronto combo whose debut EP impressed last year and whose follow-up (available for free download on their site) was I Heart Music’s co-album of the year for 2008. That’s no faint praise.

MP3: Ketch Harbour Wolves – “Words”
MP3: Ketch Harbour Wolves – “Leaves”

6 Day Riot (Thursday, March 12, 10PM @ Rancho Relaxo) – The highlight of NxNE 2008, this London outfit is returning to Canada to win over Toronto once again and preview material from their forthcoming second album Have A Plan, targeted for a June release. They’re also playing at 1AM on Saturday, March 14, at Bread & Circus.

The Week That Was (Thursday, March 12, 11PM @ The Gladstone) – see above

Little Scream (Friday, March 13, 8PM @ The Silver Dollar) – One-woman Montreal act who made an impression opening up for Land Of Talk back in January. And still no website of any kind.

An Horse (Friday, March 13, 9PM @ The Tranzac) – Australian guitar-and-drums duo whose debut Rearrange Beds is set for release on March 17. Scrappy and catchy, they could be good. Actually, make that “should”. Hell, I’ll even commit to “will”. The Badger Herald has an interview and Filter has more North American tour dates, they they got a little “!”-happy, only the March 24-27 dates are with Wintersleep. An Horse are also appearing on Letterman the evening of the 11th.

MP3: An Horse – “Postcards”

The Darling DeMaes (Friday, March 13, 10PM @ The Silver Dollar) – Alternately folky and noirish, this Montreal band were initially a random selection so that I didn’t end up going home at 10PM on a Friday evening (not that I would have minded that) but I’m now actually quite interested to see/hear them and find out which side of them shows up. Their EP is up for grabs for free on their website.

MP3: The Darling DeMaes – “With A Magnifying Glass”
MP3: The Darling DeMaes – “A Day In Her Life”

We See Lights (Saturday, March 14, 8PM @ Bread & Circus) – They’re Scottish, and let’s be honest – all things being equal that’s probably enough to get me out to see you. There’s also a lot of them and have that sort of earnest folky cacophonous thing going on. They’re also playing on Thursday night at 9PM at Rancho Relaxo.

MySpace: We See Lights

Sofia Talvik (Saturday, March 14, 9PM @ Bread & Circus) – Swedish artist who recorded a duet with Bernard Butler before he became producer to the stars. Her fourth album Jonestown has its share of standard singer-songwriter fare, but also enough standout material to merit attention.

MP3: Sofia Talvik – “My James Dean”
Video: Sofia Talvik – “It’s Just Love” (with Bernard Butler)

The Morning After Girls (Saturday, March 14, 10PM @ The Tranzac) – Australian drone-rockers who didn’t impress too much with their first record compiling early EPs, but the new stuff from their forthcoming album Alone, due in May, sounds a lot more dynamic and interesting. Grab a download at RCRDLBL.

Video: The Morning After Girls – “Shadows Evolve”

The Assistants (Saturday, March 14, 11PM @ Neutral) – It’s jangly, homegrown power-pop. Can you go wrong? I certainly hope not.

MP3: The Assistants – “Fiction”

Obviously what I plan to see is not all that I endorse. Here’s some randomness with other bands playing the festival and worth your time:

eye talks to Angela Desveaux, who’s playing the Gladstone on Thursday at 10PM.

I Heart Music has uploaded a session from late last year with Jenn Grant. She’s at the Reverb at midnight on Saturday night.

Handsome Furs, who are the reason you won’t get into the Horseshoe anytime past 9PM let alone just before their midnight set Friday evening, have a new video from Face Control, which is out this week. Chart talks to Dan Boeckner about the new record (and again), which is currently streamable.

Video: Handsome Furs – “I’m Confused”
Stream: Handsome Furs / Face Control

Radio Free Canuckistan, Xtra and Chart have interviews with Gentleman Reg, who helps anchor the Thursday night lineup at the Horseshoe with an 11PM set.

The Toronto Star talks to Malajube, closing out the Sirius Satellite Radio showcase at the El Mocambo on Thursday night at midnight.

And while it’s not technically a CMW/F show, it’s certainly in the spirit of and features bands participating in – I speak of a matinee show on the Saturday, March 14 at the Trash Palace (converted theatre near Bathurst and King W) featuring The Rural Alberta Advantage, Dinosaur Bones, Great Bloomers and Peachcake. It’s an all-ages gig, starts at 2, over by 5 and admission is $6. And your fancy-pants CMF wristband won’t count for jack.