Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Shout out.

I've seen a lot more than my fair share of great sets/shows in December. I don't have time to do proper reviews of them all---and I kept forgetting my camera---but I figure I should give a shout out to few of the bands that have made my life better recently. I saw a whole whack load of great, fun performances; this is just a sampling.

Canaille @ Sneaky Dee's, as part of Wavelength, 7 Dec.

This jazz-experimental group headlined a night that otherwise consisted entirely of hip hop. Ah, Wavelength. The hip hop was loads of fun. But then these guys proceeded to blow my mind with their awesomeness. Usually, jazz instrumental weirdness isn't my thing, but Canaille was amazing, and with enough solid beats, dancey parts, and fantastic solos to balance out the odder bits. I must have their record when they do one. The band was started by Jeremy Strachan, who is one half of Feuermusik, and also includes Colin Fisher and Mike Smith, two well known members of the jazz-improv scene here in Toronto.

The Rural Alberta Advantage @ Sneaky Dee's, 9 Dec.

I've now seen the RAA a dozen times. This is probably more than I've seen any other band. So you know that I like this band. A lot. I've loved seeing more and more blog posts all over the internet about this band every day, especially since they were made a featured artist on eMusic. Their album, Hometowns, is appearing on some best of 2008 lists, too. Yes! See this post for another RAA download, and my most recent review of one of their sets you'll find here.

Download: "The Air," a song the RAA doesn't play at shows (that I can remember), but one that I absolutely love from the record, Hometowns.

Human Highway @ The Tranzac Club, 16 Dec.

I won a couple tickets from Chromewaves, and man am I ever glad I got to go to this show! Top-notch show also featuring The Magic, a great young band originally from Guelph that No Shame introduced to me. Human Highway, AKA Jim Guthrie and Nick Thorburn, is a folk rock side project for these two. They released Moody Motorcycle a few months ago, and it's been well received. This Tuesday show was sold out and I'm sure everyone there left hoping HH will come back soon. Just great.

The Golden Hands Before God . . . @ Rancho Relaxo, 20 Dec.

One of the best shows I've been to at Rancho, and the best in many months, for sure. It opened with Terror Lake, a garage rock trio featuring two male guitarists and a dummer/singer named Wendy. The small crowd stayed back but got closer as the set went on. The weather was horribly cold this night, and the throngs that would certainly have otherwise come out did not show. But those of us who were there were treated to a mad-crazy rock 'n' roll performance by The Golden Hands Before God Conducts Incredible Magic Band & the Spirits. I have never seen such (drunken?) rock antics pulled off so well, by a six piece band of men exhausted from an 11-hour drive. I have little tolerance for a lot of rock music, but this 60s throwback psychedelic garage rock band was seriously blowing my mind last Saturday night. By the end of their set half the audience was on stage with them, singing along while the tambourine man slammed his instrument against the venue's wall and ceiling and his own gloved hand, and the lead guitarist rocked out on the floor, surrounded by spilled beer and broken glass. It was just insane. Count me in for their next Toronto show. More people, a bigger venue, and higher temperatures, though, please. The night closed with local blues rock duo The Speaking Tongues unleashing their brand of masculine musical thunder on an appreciative crowd. I've really come to like these guys a lot. For my money they are a better band than The Pack A.D., and that's saying something. Too bad I had to leave early. The TTC hates rock 'n' roll.

Download: "Communist Party" from The Golden Hands Before God's Here.

Download: "Run To My Door" from The Speaking Tongues's Wild Sound.

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