Posts Tagged ‘Wavelength’

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Fourteen Hour Day

$100, Brides, Hooded Fang, The Luyas and The Element Choir at Wavelength 450

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo yes I’m a bad Torontopian. I know it’d been a while since I’d been to Wavelength, but a little archive digging revealed that it’d been almost four years since I last darkened Sneaky Dee’s doorway on a Sunday night. That’s a long time. And so with the local institution not only celebrating its ninth anniversary but its upcoming final year this past weekend, I got off my butt and headed out.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always loved and supported the idea and mission of Wavelength, but I’m a pop guy and in recent years their programming has gotten more eclectic and less personally interesting to me. And late Sunday nights are hard. So anyways, of the four nights of anniversary shows I opted for the one the Saturday night soiree at the Polish Combatants Hall (a community centre now hosting shows), which featured a few bands I wanted to see and was (therefore) the most “conventional” lineup of all the Wavelength parties.

Or so I’d thought – any notions that this was going to be an evening of just guitar rock were dispelled with the very first act, The Element Choir. An improvisational choir featuring a couple dozen members, they gathered in the centre of the hall’s floor and proceeded to create a downright mesmerizing sound sculpture constructed of just their voices. The troupe utilized yelps, hums, moans, animal noises and random chatter to create an ever-morphing soundscape that was hypnotic to listen to and also fascinating to watch, as they took direction from conductor Christine Duncan. Certainly not something I’d ever seen before.

Next up were The Luyas, who despite having been around for a while sounded like a work in progress – not incomplete but more in the process of deconstructing what they were and seeking to become something new. There were vestiges of the pop leanings from Jessie Stein’s last band, the SS Cardiacs and from what I’d heard from the Luyas before, but it seemed like they were trying to become something more oblique or inscrutable. Not the most enthralling performance, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and check back in if/when they get where they’re going.

Faring much better were pop collective Hooded Fang. I had figured that since I saw them just a month ago that they’d deliver much the same set, but in fact they were much more assured and polished yet managed to not sacrifice any of the playful whimsy they’d demonstrated before. Considering how much better they’d gotten in just a month and factoring in the fact that they’ve only been in existence for a year, it seems like a mathematical certainty that they’ll be the best band on the planet in another two years. Okay, probably not, but if being the next Los Campesinos! is something that anyone would aspire to, it could well be in their grasp.

Though you could accurately describe Guelph’s Brides as atonal, skronky, and not at all pop – generally things I don’t look for in music – they more than surprised by turning out to be the highlight of the night. I’m at a bit of a loss to articulate exactly what it was about their performance that I found so engrossing. Perhaps it was the way that they managed to be all the things mentioned above without being deliberately difficult and sacrificing some structure or even melody for the sake of exploration, and deliver it all with intensity. I don’t really know what it was, but I liked it.

The last act of the night was $100, and after the stylistic smorgasborg of the night leading up to their finale, their decidedly traditional country songs seemed almost out of place. But straightforward isn’t a slight when you’re talking about hurtin’ songs and the directness of their approach, in particular the raw, honest rasp and twang of singer Simone Schmidt, conveyed that emotion quite effectively. I’ve gotten so used having country used in a hybrid sense with other styles that hearing it in such a pure, undiluted form was pretty eye- and ear-opening. There’s good reason that people are talking about $100.

Though the Polish Combatants Hall is certainly not Sneaky Dee’s – there’s no way I’d have sat on the floor at Sneaks – the evening was a terrific reminder of what makes Wavelength great. You may not like everything you see, but it’ll almost never be uninteresting. Happy birthday to a great Toronto institution and hopefully it won’t be a year before I see you again. But no promises.

BlogTO also has a review of $100’s set if not the rest of the evening.

Photos: $100, Brides, Hooded Fang, The Luyas, The Element Choir @ The Polish Combatants Hall – February 14, 2009
MP3: $100 – “No Great Leap”
MP3: $100 – “Forest Of Tears”
MP3: $100 – “Nothing’s Alright”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Land Of Giants”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “The Pageant”
MP3: The Luyas – “Cats In A Bag”
MP3: The Luyas – “Tantamount”
MySpace: $100
MySpace: The Luyas

And speaking of the Polish Combatants Hall (a nice and large community centre-type building by the University, if you were wondering), if you didn’t have tickets for Bruce Peninsula’s record release show there next Sunday (still some left but not many) or just couldn’t make it, take heart because they’ve already announced another show for March 28 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $8. And I don’t recommend sitting on the floor there. The National Post has a video performance and interview with the band.

Making it a three-peat, the “Rolling Tundra Revue” featuring Constantines and Weakerthans has added a third and final show at the Phoenix for April 2. Tickets $25. If you manage to miss out on this one as well as the two previously announced ones for March 31 and April 1, then congratulations – you are the absolute worst procrastinator in the world.

Tricky, who was here for a show at the Phoenix last September, returns for a much more intimate performance at the Mod Club on April 2. Tickets $29.50.

It’ll be all about the UK dance-rock at the Kool Haus on April 10 when The Whip and Late Of The Pier roll into town. Both are touring behind their debut albums – X Marks The Spot (out March 3) and Fantasy Black Channel respectively. Please don’t ask me what the mash-up below is, I really don’t know. It’s just there.

MP3: The Whip – “Trash”
MP3: The Whip Vs. Britney Spears – “Trash Circus” (Ruben X Trashmash)

The polar opposite of the previous bill – Damien Jurado and Laura Gibson – will folk things up at the Drake Underground on April 14. Jurado released Caught In The Trees last year and Gibson’s Beasts Of Seasons is out next week, though you can stream it right now at NPR. The song below is an older one. The Daily Vanguard has an interview. Full dates at BrooklynVegan.

MP3: Damien Jurado – “Gillian Was A Horse”
MP3: Laura Gibson – “Hands In Pockets”
Stream: Laura Gibson / Beasts Of Season

The Dears have scheduled at date at the Mod Club for April 30, tickets $20. The Montreal Mirror talks to Murray Lightburn. and The News interviews White Lies, whose debut To Lose My Life is out Stateside March 17 and they play Lee’s Palace on March 31 with Friendly Fires and The Soft Pack.

MP3: White Lies – “Death”
Video: White Lies – “Farewell To The Fairground”

Paste declares Alela Diane their artists of the week. Her new record To Be Still came out yesterday and is streaming at Spinner. She plays an in-store at Soundscapes this Saturday at 6:30PM and at the Horseshoe that night with Blitzen Trapper. That’s sold out, if you were wondering. Billboard has an interview with Blitzen Trapper.

Stream: Alela Diane / To Be Still

Also new this week and streaming – M Ward’s Hold Time. He also gave a solo performance and interview you can stream at NPR.

Stream: M. Ward / Hold Time

And to wrap up this week’s other new release streams of interest – Asobi Seksu’s Hush – they’re at the ElMo on March 3 – and Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3’s Goodnight Oslo. They play the Mod Club on April 16.

Stream: Asobi Seksu / Hush
Stream: Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 / Goodnight Oslo

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Bubbles & Wheezy

The Hylozoists at Soundscapes in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangJust a week after seeing Bruce Peninsula jam Soundscapes to the gills for a rousing in-store, the store again played host to an act intent on cramming a lot of band into not a lot of space. This time, it was The Hylozoists and while the ensemble was hardly small with six members, it was their equipment – in particular the dual vibraphones – that took up the majority of the real estate.

The Hylozoists are generally known as “that vibraphone band”, and while that’s not an inaccurate description – the instrument is very central to their sound – it’s also fails to do justice to the scope and sweep of their sound. It’s far more enticing to go with something along the lines of, “that band that creates soundtracks to lost ’60s European art films, all elegance and majesty and bursting with texture, atmosphere and melody. And they have a vibraphone”. Listening to them play – and it’s really unreal how good a live sound they were able to get with just a portable PA – you’d be hard-pressed to not close your eyes and imagine yourself in some exotic and exciting locale, engaged in some manner of illicit adventure or grand romance.

The occasion for the show was the recent release of their new album L’Ile de Sept Villes, which somehow manages somehow to even out-lush their last effort, La Fin Du Monde – no mean feat. The band are playing a handful of dates around southern Ontario throughout this month, including a February 21 date at the Mod Club – if you can, hit up one of the shows and be taken away somewhere besides a dark and slushy southern Ontario in February.

The Guelph Mercury talks to head Hylo Paul Aucoin about finding inspiration for the new album.

Photos: The Hylozoists @ Soundscapes – February 10, 2009
MP3: The Hylozoists – “Smiley Smiley”
MySpace: The Hylozoists

eye pays tribute to Wavelength on the occasion of the music showcase’s ninth anniversary and start of its final year. The celebrations start tonight, run through the weekend and were covered here last month.

JAM, Metro, The Ottawa Citizen, The Coast and Chart talk to Jenn Grant about her new record Echoes while The National Post gets some Valentine’s Day insight from her. She plays and early show at the Mod Club tonight and will be at the Reverb on March 14 for CMW.

Prefix interviews AC Newman and Pitchfork is streaming his cover of a-Ha’s “Take On Me”. He plays Lee’s Palace on March 11.

Neko Case talks to Reuters about Middle Cyclone, due out March 3. And if you were hesitating on either of her shows at Trinity-St Paul’s on April 17 and 18, consider yourself lost – both are sold out.

Malajube have rolled out a video from their new album Labyrinthes. They’re at the El Mocambo on March 12 as part of CMW and The National Post has an interview.

Video: Malajube – “Porté Disparu”

Mobius Band want to be your Valentine again. As they did last year, they’re making an EP of romance-themed cover songs available for free off their website tomorrow.

Chairlift talk to NME about the forthcoming major label re-release of their debut Does You Inspire You?, which will come with two extra tracks when it arrives in April. They play The Phoenix on April 25 with Peter Bjorn & John.

Billboard and American Songwriter talk to Jason Lytle about coming back to music with Yours Truly, The Commuter. It’s out on May 19.

Mark Olson and Gary Louris discuss their reunion with PopMatters and The Free-Lance Star.

SoundProof interviews Cut Off Your Hands, set to play the Horseshoe on March 30.

The Quietus has details on the first batch of 5.1 surround-sound Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reissues, due out March 30 in the UK and presumably April 1 in North America.

You can currently stream the whole of the War Child: Heroes compilation, due out February 24, over at the project’s MySpace.

Stream: War Child: Heroes

The Quarter Bin recaps the Scott Pilgrim panel with Bryan Lee-O’Malley at last weekend’s New York Comic Con, including info on the film which is set to begin filming here in Toronto at the end of March. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, aka Ramona Flowers, is already in town and MTV has a photo of her – or her hair and eyes, at least – getting in character.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Someday Soon

Wavelength turns nine, throws a party

Photo By Davida Nemeroff Davida Nemeroff Seminal new music showcase Wavelength – across whose stage pretty much every Toronto indie band of note from the last decade or so has passed – celebrates its ninth anniversary next month and as they’ve done pretty much every year that I can remember, they’re marking the occasion with a full weekend of shows at venues all across the city.

The full lineup was announced over the holidays, and the evenings of February 12 through the 15th will look something like this: On the 12th it’s spooky folk at the Music Gallery with Timber Timbre (also playing this Saturday night at the Tranzac and doing an in-store at Soundscapes on January 15 at 7 to mark the release of their self-titled debut on Tuesday), Ghost Bees and Dorit Chrysler followed by an after-party/nightcap at the Cameron House with The Diableros and Loitering Heroes.

Friday’s venue is Wrongbar, and the bill is headlined by the much-acclaimed Slim Twig and also features Bonjay, Child Bite and The Magic. That’s not a lineup that’ll get me out to Parkdale but Saturday night’s soiree is definitely circled on the calendar, and not just because the Polish Combatants Hall is but a short walk from home. No, it’s because the lineup for that night features a number of acts that I’ve heard good things about and am looking forward to checking out. In particular I’m interested in $100, pictured here and recently featured both The Toronto Star and BlogTO – their debut full-length Forest Of Tears reveals a raw and unvarnished country band stuck in the city who do things slow and know a thing or ten about pain. Also playing that evening are Brides, Hooded Fang, The Luyas and The Element Choir.

And finally, things close out at Wavelength’s usual time and channel – Sunday night at Sneaky Dee’s. Theatrical party-pack Foxfire Forest have the honour of closing things out, accompanied by I Am Robot And Proud and a couple of out-of-town guests – Baltimore’s Thank You and San Franciscans Mi Ami.

As with all Wavelength shows, these are pay what you can events though a cover of $10 for these shows is suggested.

MP3: $100 – “No Great Leap”
MP3: $100 – “Forest Of Tears”
MP3: $100 – “Nothing’s Alright”
MP3: The Luyas – “Cats In A Bag”
MP3: The Luyas – “Tantamount”
MP3: The Diableros – “Heavy Hands” (demo)

Liz Powell tells Chart that she’s now officially a member of Broken Social Scene, meaning she now gets the decoder ring and newsletter subscription. Her other gig – Land Of Talk – will be at the Horseshoe on January 15.

NPR profiles Bon Iver, whose Blood Bank EP is out January 20.

Clash profiles Andrew Bird, releasing Noble Beast on January 20 and playing the Queen Elizabeth Theater on April 3.

There’s a video for the title track from M Ward’s forthcoming Hold Time, out February 17.

Video: M Ward – “Hold Time”

Calexico are giving away a free MP3 over at Threadless.

PitchforkTV has a two-part video interview with Okkervil River.

Elvis Perkins In Dearland will release their second album – a self-titled affair – March 10. A handful of new songs are streaming at their website.