Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Xmas and all that.

I'm working on some posts, so I'll be back here some time soon.

If you're in Toronto come Boxing Day and beyond and you have a hankering for live music, there are two festivals of sorts to keep you entertained: the Drake's annual What's in the Box shows, and the Garrison's food drive series. Details on those here and here. Great stuff.

Come NYE, all true indie kids will make their way over to the Tranzac to welcome 2010. Details on that here. But there's lots more... if I was a smidge younger and more energetic, I would opt for F'unreal at Sneaky Dee's or Shit la Merde etc. at the Garrison. It seems the Dakota Tavern event---feat. Catl and Bradley Boy---is already sold out. Fans of slightly more "out there" stuff might dig Double Double Land for NYE. There are happenings at Holy Oak, Mitzi's Sister, El Mocambo, the Boat, Augusta House, Wrongbar, Bread & Circus, the Embassy, and everywhere else you might want to go hang out at, of course.

See you at Tranzac?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sorry, no listings this week.

Apologies, everyone. End of term stuff is keeping me way too busy to concentrate on anything other than the fact that it's cold outside. So time for compiling listings this week. I hate not doing it, but there you go.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ticket / CD Giveaway: Ketch Harbour Wolves, the Rest, and Chinese Food @ El Mocambo, 11 Dec.

We're now firmly in December, and I'm in a giving mood. So here's yet another musical giveaway!

Next Friday, 11 December, is a stacked bill at El Mocambo: Ketch Harbour Wolves, the Rest, and Chinese Food. Toronto / Cambridge, ON's Ketch Harbour Wolves stand out in my mind for working well as very much a rock band and in their stripped-down acoustic version. I've enjoyed them while sitting on the grass in a backyard and in a traditional rock club setting. If you've been around the Canadian music scene in recent years, you may have heard and loved them, too. After all, their last disc, Dead Calm Horizon, earned the no. 1 spot of Herohill's list of top Canadian EPs of 2008! (And those guys listen to a lot of Canadian music.) With strong vocals---including great harmonies---and an emphasis on lyrical content, KHW offer up catchy yet moody melodic rock. They also create awesome show posters, IMHO.

Download: Ketch Harbour Wolves, "Animals" (Dead Calm Horizon, 2008). Beautiful song.
Download: Ketch Harbour Wolves, "Words" (Dead Calm Horizon, 2008). Ditto... the whole album's great.

In the middle spot Friday night are the Rest from Hamilton. They've recently signed with UK record label Something In Construction, and were across the pond for a few shows in mid-October to spread the word about their gorgeous full-length, Everyone All At Once, released here in Canada earlier this year. They've just put out an EP, Walk On Water. The Rest remind me of Shearwater, a band I love but am not always in the mood for.

Download: The Rest, "Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing" (Everyone All At Once, 2009).
Download: The Rest, "Walk On Water" (Walk On Water, 2009).

Chinese Food round out the bill. Uh... why have I not heard this band before? Listening now and enjoying their pop sensibility. Guess this means I better be sure to hit up this show on time!

Download: Chinese Food, "Party At the Kennedy's" (When The Future Caught On Fire, 2008).

Why am I telling you all this? Oh, right: presents! Courtesy KHW, I've got a pair of tickets to the show plus a copy of their 2008 EP to give away. To get in on this, send me an email (historyjenATgmailDOTcom) with "KHW" in the subject line. Get it to me by Wednesday, 9 Dec, at 11:59pm. I'll let you know the next day if you're a winner. The show's 19+.

Fine Print: Ketch Harbour Wolves, the Rest, and Chinese Food @ El Mocambo (First Floor), Friday, 11 Dec., 9pm, $10 (door, or $8 adv, details here).

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What's happening tonight.

I've been busy with other things and haven't gotten around to compiling a full list yet . . . but if you're wanting something to do tonight that's a) musical, b) inexpensive, and c) Jen-approved, well here goes:

THURSDAY (3 dec)

Thursday Night Confidential feat. Stephanie Braganza (11:30pm) and Ninth Planet (10pm) @ The Gladstone Hotel (Melody Bar), 9pm, free.

Clara Engel & Ghost Fetish (CD release) w/ Jaggery (Boston), Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys (Boston), and DJ set by Eklar @ the Central, 9pm, pwyc ($5 sugg).

The Billie Hollies @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 10pm, pwyc.

* $100 (trio) @ Holy Oak Cafe, 10pm, pwyc.

Terror Lake, Real Cops, and the Spooky ScareCrows @ the Boat, 9pm, $5.

* Lisa Bozikovic (CD release) w/ Snowblink and Jessie Kussin (Cry Rumble) @ the Music Gallery, 8-10pm, $8-12 (sliding scale). This will get started at 8pm, and will fill up, so get early. Lisa will be performing backed up by a full band. Should be awesome!

Download: Lisa Bozikovic, "Take and Take" (Lost August, 2009).

Do Right Music presents the Parkdale Food Bank Holiday Jam feat. the Jessica Stuart Few @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 9pm, RSVP. "This is an RSVP-only event, with a non-perishable food donation. All proceeds + food donations go to the Parkdale Community Food Bank. Please RSVP by emailing"

Lots more at other venues, of course. If you're up to show-hopping and you're into folk-pop and country and the like, how 'bout Lisa Bozikovic and then over to the Holy Oak?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Giveaway: Audio Blood Xmas Show @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 12 Dec.

So last week I had quite the prizepack to giveaway... tickets to a stacked show plus four free CDs. Well, loyal readers, here's one that's even better. Hard to believe, but trust me.

Audio Blood Media's annual holiday bash is happening at the Horseshoe Tavern this year, and includes 4 of the bands on its roster: Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make the Man, and the Balconies. I can personally vouch for the live performance awesomeness of at least three of those bands. It's a great lineup if, well, Canadian indie rock is at all your thing.

Thanks to my friends at Audio Blood, I've got a screen printed show poster, Exclaim! merchandise courtesy of Third Estate, 2 tickets to the show, and CDs from all the artists playing to give away to one of you. To enter this giveaway send me an email (historyjenATgmailDOTcom). Put "Audio Blood bash" in the subject line so I don't get confused, and get this to me by 11:59 on Thursday, 10 Dec. And make sure you can make the show, 'cause that's where you'll be able to pick up all the other goodies!

Here's a taste of what you'll hear that night. You can bet that I will be there!

Download: Oh No Forest Fires, "It's Not Fun And Games Unless Someone Loses An Eye" (The War On Geometry, 2008).
Download: Make Your Exit, "Kids" (Remind Me the Reason I Came, 2009).
Download: Clothes Make the Man, "Air Loom" (Distance, 2010).
Download: The Balconies, "The Slo" (The Balconies, 2009).

Fine Print: Audio Blood & Third Estate Jingle Bell Rock feat. Oh No Forest Fires, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make the Man, and the Balconies @ The Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday, 12 Dec, 9pm, $7. 19+

Review: Two Hours Traffic, Sports: the Band, and the Darcys @ The Garrison.

A couple Saturday nights ago (21 Nov) I went to the Garrison to see one of my favourite bands, Two Hours Traffic, and a couple good local acts. The Garrison is the newest downtown venue for indie bands and DJ nights. Located in the Dundas & Ossington neighbourhood, it's just a stone's throw from the Dakota Tavern, and kitty-corner to a handful of trendy bars. I've been going there regularly since it opened in late October, usually because it is home to the Sunday-night series Wavelength. This particular show was all-ages, though it seemed like only a small handful of people were not wearing blue wristbands. I had missed THT when they played Lee's Palace last month during their proper cross-country tour, so was eager to see them, and at a smaller venue than they ought rightly to play. But so much the better for me.

First up were the always snappily dressed Darcys. I know I've seen this band at least once before, but it was so long ago that I really have no memory of it. Their recordings, though, I enjoy, even if they are a bit too rock for me. Knowing their songs didn't get me anywhere that night, though: the whole set list was, so we were told, comprised of new songs. How fun. Their record is done but no word yet on when it will be officially released.

Download: The Darcys, "I'm A Ship" (Endless Water, 2007).
Download: The Darcys, "The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead" (Final Fantasy cover, single, 2009).

The Darcys post-rock fuzz-gaze art pop (or whatever; I shouldn't even try) was followed by Sports: the Band, a more peppy / less preppy outfit. I've seen Sports a few times, and I quite like their spirited pop tunes. I've increasingly come to respect the fact that they are doing something a little different, even though their live performances aren't always as tight as they might be. What they lack in precision is more than made up for in stage presence . . . and here I especially mean the dorky/adorable Robin Hatch on keys and vocals. It was, unfortunately for me, her last show with the men, but it's all good. Here's to new musical projects and directions.

Download: Sports: the Band, "Cast Lots" (s/t EP, 2008).

Earlier this year PEI folk-pop quartet released their third full-length album, Territory. To my mind it's not as good as their second, Little Jabs. That record, though, is so so so good that I forgive them. A band can't be brilliant all the time. And so it was with their performance. Not quite as mesmerizing as they could be, but certainly strong enough to meet my high expectations. (It would have been hard to beat the last all-ages show they played in Toronto.) The set was about equally filled with songs off Territory and Little Jabs, including my favourites "Stuck for the Summer," "Jezebel," "Territory," "Stolen Earrings," "Backseat Sweetheart," and so many more! The bit at the end of "Lost Boys" was performed as a full song by Liam. Good stuff. The excited fans around me near the front---including CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence, to whom the band dedicated their encore song---were singing along. Very quickly I found myself grinning and dancing. I really do love this band. They do folk-pop-rock pretty damn near perfectly.

Download: Two Hours Traffic, "Stuck for the Summer" (Little Jabs, 2007).
Download: Two Hours Traffic, "Territory" (Territory, 2009).

The Garrison, being a new venue, is still a challenge for sound techs, and this was apparent that night, especially during THT's set. The first song was rocky, sound-wise, and throughout the set I would have preferred a slightly better mix with louder acoustic guitar. No big deal, though. Improvements are being made, and the sound techs will work out the kinks. It's nice to have a new spot for good music, and so far I've had a great time hanging out there.

Tonight was no exception. Good bands, some variety, a healthy crowd, and I even bought myself a copy of Little Jabs on vinyl before I left. Now I just need a record player . . . .

Photo credit: Ming Wu, of the THT show in Ottawa earlier this month. He has his own music and photo blogs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Indie Music 104 (26 Nov - 2 Dec 09).

Welcome to my weekly roundup of inexpensive indie(ish) musical happenings in downtown Toronto, all for $10 or less. If I'm missing something you think I should list, or you have any comments, let me know. I star (*) shows that most interest me.

Like this list? Join my Facebook group or subscribe to this blog. Subscribe to my podcast (or download the episodes) here, or through iTunes. The latest ones are here. Make sure to check the rest of my blog for show reviews and photos, giveaways, and downloads.

Last week looked like this for me: Parlovr, Provincial Parks, Young Mother, Two Hours Traffic, Sports: the Band, the Darcys, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Bahamas, and Fox Jaws. Yours?

THURSDAY (26 nov)

* Blocks presents The Phonemes, Michelle McAdorey, and Betty Burke @ The Gladstone (Melody Bar), 10pm (start time), free.

Locomotive 8, Real Cops, Black and Beat @ Smiling Buddha Bar, 9pm, free.

Butchers and Ballads feat. Abigail Lapell, Scott Maynard, and Sarah Greene @ Zoots Cafe, 7:30-9:30pm, pwyc.

Ladyfest and Steers & Queers presents Queens of Country tribute night @ Grossman's Tavern, 8:30pm, pwyc.

Born Because and Ghostwalk Creek @ The Central, 9pm, pwyc.

Ostrich Tuning (CD release) w/ Teen Tits Wild Wives (formerly Boxes & Bags) @ Monster Feelings Studio (20 Camden Ave.), pwyc. I hate this new band name, just FYI.

Homefront w/ Roctopus and The Quick Fix @ Clinton's Tavern, 9pm, $5.

Wintage Records & Tapes presents Thrashed Genes, Anaeq, Preanderthals, and Toddler Body @ Teranga, 9:30pm, $4.

Friendlyness & the Human Rights @ The Boat, 9pm, $5.

String Bone, Mexican Divorce, and Alfie Smith @ Mitzi's Sister, 9pm, $5.

The Mechanical Flowers (acoustic) w/ Ida Maidstone @ The Cameron House, 9pm, $5.

* D-Sisive (CD release) feat. Calcu-Lator & The Oral Presentation, Muneshine and Special Guests, w/ music by DJ Grouch, Moss & Dirtyman @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 9pm, $5. Includes free download card. Get the album for free here.

Stagehands (CD release), Bernadette & the North, and Metro4 @ Lee's Palace, 9pm, $7. Stagehands is "Broadway-Rock."

International Pop Overthrow feat. Darrelle London (8pm), The Foreign Films (8:30pm), Clockwise (9pm), The James Clark Institute (9:30pm), The Pretty Faces (10pm), The Fantasy Defender (10:30pm), and Broomfiller (11pm) @ The Rivoli, 7:30pm, $10.

* Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle @ The Painted Lady, 9:30pm. Not sure on cover.

Download: Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle, "Coma" (Havana Winter, 2009).

FRIDAY (27 nov)

Kyp Harness w/ Jerry Leger & the Situations and Drew Hawkins @ The Cameron House, 10pm, pwyc?

Download: Jerry Leger, "Half Asleep And Drunk" (You, Me, and the Horse, 2008).

Wordburglar w/ Bank Machine and Juice Money Collective @ Vapor Central, 10pm.

Kate Rogers Band @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 7:30pm, pwyc.

TWM presents The Pretty Faces, Born to Busk, and Maned Young Lions @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $5.

Thank Funk It's Friday feat. The Ambassadors and Harbour Sharks @ The Silver Dollar Room, 8pm, $5.

Uma Nota feat. The Main Thing w/ DJs Jason Palma, General Eclectic, and eLman @ The Gladstone Hotel (Ballroom), 10pm, $10 (or $5 for first 50 people before 11pm).

Late Night Live feat. Carney Byranik & the Heroes, The Lying Cheats, and the Burnitdowns @
The Silver Dollar Room, 10pm, $5.

Kingswell, Steve Bick, Beautiful Nothing, Broken Sons, and Devolver @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 8:30pm, $5?

* Ten Kens w/ Heart of a Shark, Chang-A-Lang, and the Ooohh Byby Gimme Mores @ Sneaky Dee's, 9pm, $6.

* Steamboat (EP release) w/ Cityfolk and DJ Glissandro 70 @ The Garrison, 10pm, $?. Should be much fun!

Download: Steamboat, "Day Dreaming" (Steamboat, 2009).

International Pop Overthrow feat. Gentlemen Husbands (8pm), The Odysseys (8:30pm), The 905’s (9pm), The Dropjoys (9:30pm), The Nines (10pm), Square Root Of Margaret (10:30pm), The North (11pm), The Matavaras (11:30pm), The Sound Technicians (12am) @ The Rivoli, $10.

Punchclock Workers' Collective showcase 1 feat. Life of a Craphead, Emma McKenna, LSDoubleDCup, and DJs Back Stabbath and Alzka @ Whippersnapper Gallery, 9pm, $7 (or $10 for both nights).

Bruce Peninsula w/ The Good Right Arm String Band , and The Youngest @ The Music Gallery, 8pm, $10 (adv, or $15 doors).

SATURDAY (28 nov)

* The Schomberg Fair (in-store) @ Sonic Boom, 4pm, free. Please bring a non-perishable food item donation.

Download: The Schomberg Fair, "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" (Gospel, 2009).

43rd annual Cavalcade of Lights feat. live musical performances by Steven Page, Matt Dusk, Keshia Chante, and Fritz Helder & the Phantoms @ Nathan Phillips Square, 7-8pm, free. All ages (obvs; it's outside). Other stuff like lighting the Xmas tree, fireworks, a fair trade market, and skating party w/ DJ Tony Sutherland.

* Muskox @ Holy Oak, 10pm, pwyc.

Orphan Choir, !Attention!, Barrier, and Beat Noir @ Siesta Nouveaux, 8pm, $8. All ages. BYOB.

* 3rd Annual Toronto Rock Lottery @ Sneaky Dee's, 10pm, $8. Proceeds to the Regent Park School of Music. More details here.

Plunt, The Loft, and John Copping @ Mitzi's Sister, 9pm.

Punchclock Workers' Collective showcase 1 feat. Vowls, Man Made Hill, Spiritual Aky Blues, and Glass Tomb, and DJs Back Stabbath and Alzka @ Whippersnapper Gallery, 9pm, $7 (or $10 for both nights).

Jay Clark & the Jones, Jetset Motel, Cool Dad @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $tba.

The Bad Ideas, Authors, and Lacerda @ The Bovine, 10pm, $5.

* Late Night Live feat. Beth in Battle Mode, Girl + the Machine, and Digits @ The Silver Dollar Room, 10:30pm, $5.

Download: Digits, "Saturation" (Hold It Close, 2009).

* TWM & Zygiella present Germans, the Racoon Wedding (CD release), The Schomberg Fair, Black Hat Brigade @ The Garrison, 9pm, $7.

The Ryde, Julia Set Generator, Hot Kid, and Owel 5 & Corboe @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 9pm, $7.

The Rizdales w/ Swamperella @ The Silver Dollar Room, 8pm, $10.

* Ladyfest feat. Emma McKenna, Katie Stelmanis, Masia One, Brescia, Birdthroat, Bloodbeard & Ali, and Rat Tail @ Tranzac (Main Hall), 8pm, $10.

Slave to the Squarewave, Ashes, and High Heels Lo Fi @ Kathedral, 8pm, $10.

Matt Epp (CD release) w/ Bahamas @ The Cameron House, 9pm, $?

International Pop Overthrow - GWNtertainment / Selective Image Showcase feat. Jeff Jones (3:15pm), Jaimie Vernon (4pm), The Black Flies (4:45pm), Swedish Fish (5:30pm), Meeting Of Important People (6:15pm), Blair Packham (7pm), The Strange (7:45pm), Maureen Leeson (8:30pm), The Jitters (9:15pm), The Waxbills (10pm), The Apollo Effect (10:45pm), Segarini Band (11:30pm) @ The Rivoli, $10.

Black Art Entertainment presents the Exalted Piledriver, Riotor, and Twilight Hammer @ The Velvet Underground, 8pm, $8.50 (adv, or $12 door).

Bruce Peninsula w/ The Gertrudes and Ghost Bees @ The Music Gallery, 8pm, $10 (adv, or $15 doors).

SUNDAY (29 nov)

Gather Round feat. Hamilton Trading Co. and more @ The Boat, 9pm, pwyc.

* Wavelength 491 feat. The Lovely Feathers, Aidan Baker, and Animal Hospital, hosted by Doc Pickles, and visuals by General Chaos @ The Garrison, 9pm, pwyc. The Lovely Feathers! You should go.

We, the Undersigned; Life In Vacuum; The Isosceles Project; and Authors @ Sneaky Dee's, 9pm, $5.

Inertia Entertainment presents Neuraxis, Revocation, Abyssal Throne, Sixteen Gauge, and Adversary Number Seven @ The Annex WreckRoom, 7pm, $10. All ages.

MONDAY (30 nov)

* Elvis Mondays feat. Ofir Gal, the Royal So & So's, Whale Tooth, the Lovely Killbots, Mamabolo
Retro Radio, and Royal Canoe @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 9pm, free.

Download: Whale Tooth's "Hibernation Song" (Whale Tooth, 2009).

Shoeless Monday feat. The Breakup Letter, Evylyn, and George Casey @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 8:30pm, free.

Chloe Charles and Trevor Campbell @ The Tranzac (Tiki Room) 8pm, pwyc.

Live music with Angie Grant and Empire Avenue (feat. Tyler Yarema) @ Supermarket, 8:30pm, $7.

TUESDAY (1 dec)

Dave Bookman's Nu Music Nite feat. Sixxer, The British Columbians, Shotgun Wedding, and Royal Canoe @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 8:30pm, free.

Peter James Project @ The Central, 9:30pm.

Catalog & Easy Street w/ Natasha Waterman @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 8pm, $5.


* Everything All the Time (in-store) @ Sonic Boom, 7pm, free. Please bring a non-perishable food item donation.

Download: Everything All the Time, "Lazy Days" (Everything All the Time, 2009).

* Evening Hymns (in-store) @ Soundscapes, 7pm, free.

Tripping Hazard, Courtney Quebec, Ostara, Dress Rehearsal, First Rate People, and Free Man On The Land @ Mullins Pub, 9pm, free. Acoustic sets.

Wednesdays Go Pop! feat. Yellowwood, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and Jesse Labelle @ Supermarket, 8:30pm, pwyc.

Seven Second Chase, Dirt & Diamonds, Robert Haley, and Chasing Sam @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 8:30pm, $4.

Beware the Leopard (EP release) w/ Right By Midnight, Siberia @ The Garrison, 9pm, $5.

TWM presents Apple Pi, Caledonia, and Francis Bacon's Ghost @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $6.

Download: Caledonia, "We Are America" (We Are America, 2009).

* Chère Françoise w/ Lara Martin @ C'est What, 8:30pm (start), $6.

* Wombat Wednesdays presents N and the Owle Bird @ Tranzac (Main Hall), 8pm, $8/pwyc.

Andrew Austin & the Fuss @ The Drake Hotel, 8pm, $10.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Podcast 55 (26 Nov - 2 Dec 2009).

And we're back. Podcasts have been few and far between this fall, but not for lack of love or music. Just lack of time. But this week we've got 6 songs to share with you that you may not have heard yet. It's a little heavy on stuff I really like... which will either appeal to you or it won't. But tough, it's my podcast, eh? ;-)

Featuring the Phonemes ("April, Let’s Send His Colleagues An Email"), Steamboat ("Day Dreaming"), Bahamas ("Already Yours"), the Racoon Wedding ("Basement or the Attic"), the Lovely Feathers ("Lowiza"), and Evening Hymns ("Broken Rifle").

Oh, and if you subscribe through Zygiella, you won't get this podcast there (yet). Site troubles. Feel free to stream or download from this website. Sorry, and hopefully this problem will be fixed soon!

Listen at Zygiella
Download the podcast
RSS (subscribe / download this and past podcasts)
iTunes (subscribe)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Review: The RAA, Bahamas, and Fox Jaws @ Lee's Palace.

On Friday night the RAA performed for a sold-out hometown crowd at Lee's Palace. It was a great show; I'll get to that. First, some background.

I've been following the Rural Alberta Advantage since the summer of '07, and first saw them perform back in May 2006 (with, apparently, Friday Morning's Regret, AKA the Wooden Sky, though I can't remember). About a year ago, I included the RAA in my personal list of the hottest Canadian bands of 2008. Listing them at no. 7, I noted that they'd gone on an east-coast tour, played to a capacity crowd during NxNE, and that their album had been

getting rave reviews from critics and regular folk across the continent. . . . Hampered in part by the success of Woodhands---drummer Paul Banwatt plays in both---the band has had to turn down show offers (to open for the Dodos, for one) and hasn't been able to tour as extensively as it otherwise might have. And yet. All this underground pressure must lead somewhere, and heck it has to be soon. I predict some lucky label will snatch up the RAA in late 2008 or early 2009, re-release Hometowns, and we'll see the band take itself out west and beyond.
(They made it to no. 19 on the actual hottest list.) A month later they opened for Ohbijou and the Acorn at Lee's Palace. I remember thinking that this was a pretty big deal for them, and the band thought so too. They were really excited to be playing that night. As part of my review, I commented, "here's to hoping for bigger things for this band soon!"

Well. I wasn't quite right about the details, but that's because I could never have imagined what actually did happen very shortly after I published my "hottest" list on 27 October. The story's been told well here, but the short version is that the good reviews got the word out a bit and in November their self-released disc, Hometowns, was named eMusic's album of the month. Soon enough bloggers all over the US (primarily) were writing about the album, giving it more rave reviews. I read a whole bunch of these, and got a huge kick when some random young woman in Ohio or wherever wrote that the RAA was her new favourite band. ("Hey!," I'd think, "that's my band!") Fast-forward to March, where at SxSW, thanks to eMusic, the RAA opened for Grizzly Bear in a church, to---you guessed it---rave reviews. Thrilling! Soon they were signed to Saddle Creek.

After that Paul Banwatt, Amy Cole, and Nils Edenloff started touring in the US---they'd played a couple NYC shows in early 2009 already---and then did make it out to western Canada and back. They've been on the road pretty steadily since then, and, if I'm not mistaken, have also been recording some new songs for their next album. Their 30 July CD release show at the Horseshoe was sold out (crazy, at $12-$15 dollars a ticket). Friday's Lee's Palace gig, their first in Toronto since then, was priced at $15 in advance, or $18 at the door, but tickets were long gone days before. The RAA is getting to be out of my price-range. How wonderful.

And Friday's show was indeed wonderful.


Fox Jaws opened things up. This Barrie band, producers of finely-crafted indie rock, are always good, but Friday they were on top of their game. They sounded fantastic, and though I'm still not convinced guitarist Dan Allen should take over lead vocals from Carleigh Aikins on occasion, I was impressed. I'm starting to see what Bob sees in them, and though I think they are a little too rock for me, they looked right on that stage. One song fell a little flat---something about phone calls---but otherwise, great stuff.

Next up, the man responsible for one of my favourite albums of the year, Bahamas. I saw him---Afie Jurvanen---back in August (playing with the Weakerthans' drummer), and then again all by his lonesome when he opened for Amy Millan at the Mod Club. I really enjoyed both sets, but the Mod Club performance was something special. His banter was spot-on, really adding to his songs, and the heavily female crowd was pretty near silent. So I was looking forward to seeing him again, this time with his regular drummer.

Once they got on stage, they proceeded to sound-check---must'a not had a chance before---and that's fine, but it wasn't the best sign. Sound problems marked his set, but mostly sound problems the audience couldn't detect. Jurvanen got some laughs later by covering the song he said he could hear being played upstairs in the Dance Cave. The character I'd seen at the Mod Club was there in force, and I'm not sure I really like the extra attitude. All the talking between songs distracted somewhat from the music, and didn't end up having the hoped-for effect: to shush the audience. There were some good moments, including a song I'd never heard before, and a cover of Prince's "Purple Rain" to end things on a definite high note.* And he played some of my favourites off Pink Strat. I was happy, but not ecstatic.

Bahamas was less than magical, but the RAA really rose to the occasion. They came on stage to cheers from the audience, and the band members' grins gave away their delight. It had been quite a year, and though I suspect most people in the audience had no idea of just far the band has come, this did nothing to diminish the moment. Throughout the set I could hear people singing the words to songs they knew, and anticipating when it was time to clap along, or even when it was time to go "woo ooo" during "The Dethbridge in Lethbridge."

The set was heavy with songs off Hometowns, but we were treated to a few new songs, including one song I had never heard before. One of them, about life on the road, featured pounding beats. A real folk-dance number, it was awesome. Another, presumably titled "North Star," I've heard a few times, and it too I quite like. The one I'd never heard before started with an organ solo, and soon enough Banwatt came in with another pounding, primal drum beat. The chorus had Edenloff practically screaming. Brilliant. (Every time I see this band I'm struck by how amazing Banwatt is. Why do I always forget?) During the encore they played "Barnes' Yard," yet another new one. I'm looking forward to a new RAA record. Should be a stunner.

I've seen the RAA more than 15 times now, in a few different settings, and I always liked them. But, like I wrote about their July show, touring has made a difference. Not just in their stage set-up, which has Banwatt in-line with Cole and Edenloff, and not just in banter, which is much better, but in performance, too. They fill the stages they are playing with their presence and sound---Edenloff especially---and know how to perform to fans both new (mostly) and old (like me). Although I was most excited about hearing newer stuff, I was still thrilled with the ones I've been hearing live for years. And I still love their record. I'm listening to it right now.

Download: The RAA, "Don't Haunt this Place" (Hometowns, 2009).
Download: The RAA, "Frank, AB" (Hometowns, 2009).
Download: The RAA, "Barnes' Yard" (Daytrotter Session, 2009).

Great show. Oh, and that hottest Canadian bands list I referred to above? The RAA topped it in 2009. Of course.

Photo credit: I took the ones of each band member on Friday night from Chromewaves. Frank Yang has great photos of all the performers.

* I think I was the only person in the audience not to know this song. Everyone else was singing along.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ticket / CD Giveaway: Racoon Wedding, Schomberg Fair, Black Hat Brigade @ The Garrison, 28 Nov.

Let me get right to the heart of the matter: this is your chance to get your hands on 4 CDs and 2 tickets to one heck of a local music showcase, all for the price of $0. Interested? Read on.

On 28 November the Garrison plays host to four local(ish) bands. Two Narratives favourites, Black Hat Brigade and the Schomberg Fair, kick things off, followed by Brantford's the Racoon Wedding---who will be celebrating their CD release, and ending up with Germans. The whole thing will cost you $7 at the door (or nothing, if you win tickets from me). Black Hat Brigade haven't played in a little bit, and I'm itching to see them perform in this venue. Should make for a good combination. The Schomberg Fair have been touring all month, letting people all over Canada know about their awesome "speed gospel" sound, and getting the word out about their great new disc, Gospel. (Exclaim was recently suitably impressed.) I've never seen the Racoon Wedding, and Germans---well, I'll be glad to see them perform in a proper venue where they won't have massive technical troubles.

Here's a taste of what you'll be in for.

Download: Black Hat Brigade, "Zombie City Shake" (Fathers, 2009).
Download: The Schomberg Fair, "Trouble Will Soon Be Over" (Gospel, 2009).
Download: The Racoon Wedding, "Basement or the Attic" (Gather Gather Bones Rattle Rattle Truth, 2009).
Download: Germans, "I Am the Teacher" (Cape Fear, 2006).

Courtesy Zygiella, Two Way Monologues, and the bands, I've got a pair of tickets to the show to give away to one of you. In addition, this is a mega prizepack, and includes a copy of the new Schomberg Fair full-length, the Racoon Wedding disc, and two Black Hat Brigade EPs. For a chance to win, send me an email (historyjenATgmailDOTcom) by 11:59pm on Thursday, 26 November. Please put "MEGA prizepack" in the subject line, and your full name in the body. 19+ only, of course.

Fine Print: Germans, The Racoon Wedding (CD release), The Schomberg Fair, and Black Hat Brigade @ The Garrison, Saturday, 28 November, 9pm, $7.

P.S. Germans' "I Am the Teacher" video is v. cute.

Indie Music 103 (19-25 Nov 2009).

Welcome to my weekly roundup of inexpensive indie(ish) musical happenings in downtown Toronto, all for $10 or less. If I'm missing something you think I should list, or you have any comments, let me know. I star (*) shows that most interest me.

Like this list? Join my Facebook group to get my weekly Toronto indie music listings. Subscribe to my podcast (or download the episodes) here, or through iTunes. The latest ones are here. Make sure to check the rest of my blog for show reviews and photos, giveaways, and downloads.

Since last Thursday I've seen the Diableros, Brian Borcherdt, Hooded Fang, the Wooden Sky, the Love Machine, Amos the Transparent, and the Rural Alberta Advantage. Not a bad outing, if I do say so myself. I also had one free beer, one free shot, one free CD. And I bought 2 band t-shirts. So there you go.

There are a few free in-store performances this week. My plans include the sold out RAA show on Friday, Two Hours Traffic on Saturday (LOVE), and Parlovr at Wavelength on Sunday. Lots more great options, of course.

The 416 Toronto Creative Improvisers Festival is on at the Tranzac this weekend. Ladyfest Toronto and International Pop Overthrow get started next week.

THURSDAY (19 nov)

Koushik (live, in-store) @ Sonic Boom, 7:30pm, free. All ages.

Crookedhook and Permanent Bastards @ Arbor Room, Hart House (U of T), 8pm, free.

Patrick Brealey w/ The Crooked Brothers @ The Cameron House (Back Room), 9:30pm, pwyc?

Inyrdisk Showcase feat. Ghostlight, Huelepega Sound System, Cave Dudes, and Glass Tomb, w/ DJ Craig Dunsmuir @ The Boat, 9pm, $5.

Endcast and The Womb @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5. "Night of Terror- bands in the front horror movies in the back- 'METAL "CHICK" NIGHT' girls in metal shirts get in for FREE."

* The Strumbellas w/ The Sure Things @ C'est What, 9pm, $6. (Or come w/ a friend, and cover is $3 each.)

Groovetastic Entertertainment presents Intensive Groove feat. Other People's Friends, Alphabot, Intensive Care (CD release), Edgewater Hotel, and Broken Telephone @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $7.

Download: Intensive Care, "Tales Of Sarah Jane, The Golden Horse" (Fairytales From The Island, 2009).

* Entire Cities (vinyl release), Dr. Ew (Drew from the Bicycles), and Tonka & Puma (members of Hooded Fang) @ The Garrison, 9pm, $?

Download: Entire Cities, "Talkers" (Deep River, 2008).

* Quest For Fire, Jeff The Brotherhood, Sports (members of Ladyhawk), and Songs From A Room @ Sneaky Dee's, 9pm, $8.

Jason Bajada w/ MJ Cyr @ The Rivoli, 8pm, $8.

FRIDAY (20 nov)

Katie Stelmanis @ Toronto Public Library (Bloor/Gladstone Branch), 8pm, free.

You Say Party! We Say Die! (acoustic, in-store) @ Criminal Records, 8pm, free. All ages. Later that night, YSP!WSD! are playing at the Phoenix w/ Think About Life and Little Girls.

Download: You Say Party! We Say Die!, "Laura Palmer's Prom" (XXXX, 2009).

Steve Gleason w/ Anthony D'Amato (Cdn debut) @ Free Times Cafe, 9pmpm, pwyc.

Download: Anthony D'Amato, "Hank Williams Tune" (Shades of the Prison House, 2009).

wordPEOPLE w/ Christian Bridges, hosted by Mark Harris @ Vapor Central, 10:30 (start time).

Sweatshop Hop Residency feat. Sweatshop Hop w/ Scott Bouwmeester (from Wilderness of Manitoba), Inessa & Alanna (comedy), and John & Jenna @ Concord Cafe, 10pm.

Flashlight Radio @ The Dakota Tavern, 8pm (start time), $5.

Street Fever, The Zolas, and Hotel Royal @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 8pm, $5.

The Royal Crowns @ The Dakota Tavern, 10pm, $5.

Cut Throat Kids, Killing for Friday, This is an Empire, w/ DJ Vania @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5.

The Cosmic Eyes w/ Witchways West and Ida Maidstone (from The O Darling) @ Smiling Buddha, 9pm, $5.

Farewell Cool Reason, This Is An Empire, Currents, and You Yourselves @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5.

The Black Rainbows, The Protozoans, and Picturesound @ The Silver Dollar Room, 10:30pm, $5.

Broadcast Zero, The Daily Times, Permanent Bastards, and Sick Error @ Hard Luck (812 Dundas St. W.), 8pm, $5. All ages.

Hostage Life (final show), City Sweethearts (7" release), and The Little Millionaires @ Sneaky Dee's, 9pm, $5.

Survival Club (new party) w/ The Magic (live), and DJs Mikey Apples, DMT, DJ LP (of Corpusse), visuals by Liquid Hands @ Wrongbar, 10pm, $5 (before midnight). The Magic is awesome.

TWM presents Ginger & Irene, Tin Star Orphans (ex-Yonder), and Slides @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $6.

Download: Tin Star Orphans, "Slack-Jaw" (Yonder, 2009).

Native (Indiana), Whiskey Priest (final show), Creeper, The Love & Terror Cult, and Windows 95 @ Siesta Nouveaux (15 Lower Sherbourne), 8pm, $5-$10. All ages.

Alright Alright, Cartoons @ Rearview Mirror, 9pm, $tba.

* The Framework, The Paint Movement, The Jing Bang Show, and Young Empires @ El Mocambo, 9pm, $10.

* By Divine Right Record Release / Hand Drawn Dracula Anniversary Party feat. By Divine Right, The Tight Ship (double CD Release), and The Darlings @ The Garrison, 9pm, $tba.

SATURDAY (21 nov)

* Lullabye Arkestra (in-store) @ Sonic Boom, 7pm, free. All ages. "We kindly suggest you bring a non-perishable food item for the food bank and a $2 donation to get one of our kickass posters!!! All proceeds go to the Friends for Life Bike Rally."

Chris Cogburn, Bonnie Jones, Liz Tonne, and guests @ Heartbeat (960 Queen St. W.), 8pm, pwyc.

Lovely Picnic 002 feat. Likewise Vultures, Tonka & Puma,a nd Orang Pendek @ The White House (377 Landsdowne Ave.), 8pm, $5/pwyc. "Lovely Picnic is a bi-monthly concert series focused on creating an inclusive and accessible environment for new bands, musicians and artists. Less performance and more dialogue; show and tell with a friendly, receptive audience. For LP 002 we'll be adding free food (and maybe some hot beverages) into the mix. Also, some of the bands will be playing in the garage outside the house -- so come hungry and dress in layers!"

Taisuke, We're For Barton, Joanna, Scrap Gold, The Donefors, and Ryan Karam @ Duffy's Tavern, 9pm, pwyc.

* The Wilderness of Manitoba w/ VIVIV (Ken Reaume) @ Holy Oak Cafe, 9pm, pwyc.

Download: The Wilderness of Manitoba, "Evening" (Hymns of Love and Spirits, 2009).

The Silt @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 10pm, pwyc.

Alistair Christl & Big Ass Cracker @ The Dakota Tavern, 10pm, $5?

Ash Lee Blade (CD release) @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5.

The Big Go-Go!Go! Show! Featuring: The Boojies, Luau Or Die, and The Sisters of Mersey @ Mitzi's Sister, 9pm, $5.

Earthroots Fundraiser show feat. Mantler (feat. members of Steamboat), Emilie Mover, and DJ Scott Cudmore (Bring it on Home) @ The Magpie Tavern, 9pm, $5.

* TMW 53 feat. Pick A Piper, Corduroy, and Ace Kinkaid @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $6.

Peter James Project and Ashley @ Neu+ral, 9pm, $7.

* Bonjay (live, EP release), Poirier, and Valeo @ Teranga, 9pm, $8.

* Two Hours Traffic, Sports: The Band, and The Darcys @ The Garrison, 9pm, $10 (adv, $12 door). All ages.

The Hots (final show) @ The Mod Club, 11pm (set time), $10. But email to get on the guestlist and get in for free... as long as you're there before by the time the band starts.

Sheena Grobb w/ Allison Lickley, Zoe Sky Jordan, and Colleen Dauncey @ C'est What, 9pm, $10.

* Bit Your Tongue 2 feat. Lucky Dragons, Corpusse, Nif D, Feuermusik, Castlemusic @ The Centre Of Gravity, 1300 Gerrard E, 9pm, $10 (adv. tix only).

SUNDAY (22 nov)

Magnolia w/ Carlie Howell Avec Band @ C'est What, 8pm, free.

* Wavelength 490 feat. Parlovr, Provincial Parks, and Young Mother (debut), hosted by Dic Pickles, and w/ visuals by General Chaos @ The Garrison, 9pm, pwyc ($5-$10 suggested).

Download: Parlovr, "Pen to the Paper" (Parlovr, 2009).

Gather Round feat. Hamilton Trading Co @ The Boat, 9pm, pwyc.

Young Doctors in Love, All My Hocus Pocus, Jennifer LFO, Gay, and Tommy and the Tall Girls @ Sneaky Dee's, 9pm, $5.

MONDAY (23 nov)

Elvis Mondays feat. Whale Tooth, Chinawoman, Nadia, The Stormalongs, Steve Prickett, and The People of Canada @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 9pm, free.

TUESDAY (24 nov)

Nu Music Nite feat. Deadly Hopefuls, Future History, Blackie Jackett Jr., and The Royal Ascots @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 8:30pm, free.

The Pink & Black Attack presents The Class Assassins and Detroit @ The Bovine, 9pm, free.

Donlands & Mortimer w/ Yuka @ C'est What, 9pm, $5.

WEDNESDAY (25 nov)

* Malajube (in-store) @ Sonic Boom, 7pm, free. All ages. "We kindly suggest you bring a non-perishable food item for the food bank and a $2 donation to get one of our kickass posters!!! All proceeds go to the Friends for Life Bike Rally."

Download: Malajube, "Porte disparu" (Labyrinthes, 2009).

Maylee Todd w/ Andrew Scott and guests @ The Red Light (1185 Dundas St. W.), 10pm.

Ladyfest Toronto 2009 Launch Party hosted by Elisha Lim, feat. music by Nolan Natasha, Airheart, Sarah Mangle, plus spoken word, films, and burlesque @ The Gladstone Hotel, 7pm, free. "We will be accepting donations of non-perishables for the food bank at Ernestine's Women's Shelter at all Ladyfest Events this year."

* Ian Blurton w/ Huron @ The Dakota Tavern, 10pm, $7.

PWYC Weds feat. the Thundermonks, A.M., and Field Assembly @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, pwyc.

Old World Vulture, Elk @ The Boat, 9pm, $5.

Daniel Greer, Thelonious Bajcar, Amnesiac Jack, and Matt Noris @ The Rearview Mirror, 9pm, $5.

Worldly Savages, Extinct or Alive, The Blind Cats, and Ola Roks @ The Poor Alex (772A Dundas St. W.), 9pm, $7.

International Pop Overthrow feat. Cut Throat Kids (8pm), Alright Alright (8:30pm), Terribly Empty Pockets (9pm), Calling Wendy (9:30pm), Jane’s Party (10pm), Ramona (10:30pm), and See Spot Run (11pm) @ The Rivoli, 7pm, $10.

Review: Amos the Transparent, The Love Machine @ Rancho Relaxo.

I was working steadily on Saturday night, and unsure whether I should even leave the house for some fun, but about 11:30pm I decided it was time for a break. I was at Rancho Relaxo by midnight, in time to catch the final two bands on the bill that night: Ottawa's the Love Machine and Amos the Transparent, also from the nation's capital.

The Love Machine played a full, happy set of exuberant, catchy songs. Mostly new ones, they said. I was impressed, and the crowd certainly was, too. Although I'd never seen the band before and hadn't a clue what to expect, I was definitely late to the party. Audience members were singing along to some songs, knew the right hand-claps, and etc. Their music wasn't the most cutting edge pop I've ever heard, but their energy and enthusiasm made it all the better. Great four-part harmonies and a little synth action didn't help either. Good stuff.

The last song was the show-stopper. It ended "This is the way that we scream our hearts out." It's not on the disc I got afterward (their 2007 EP, If You're a Bird, I'm a Bird), and a little internet searching revealed that's it's on their first (self-titled) EP, put out in 2005. I believe the band is currently putting together another album. Something to keep an ear out for.

It'd been several months since I last saw Amos, one of my favourite bands of 2008 that's only gotten stronger since then. By all rights they should be playing much larger venues---and they sometimes do---so I knew I was in for a treat. The first time I saw this band was at Rancho, they are always so much fun in that long, narrow room. Plus, a look at their new website earlier that day informed me that the band had new, red t-shirts! (Embarrassing admission: One time I went to Rancho to see Amos play wearing one of their band t-shirts.)

Things were running really late at Rancho, and if I'd been relying on the subway, I would have had to miss their set, seeing as it started at about quarter after 1am. (Thank you, bicycle.) The band had noticed the late start, too, taking the opportunity to drink perhaps a little more than usual in advance of playing. Lead-man Jonathan Chandler noted as much to us, paraphrasing local blogger Bob Battams. But, so much the better, I say! The band played rousing versions of songs off their albums, 2007's wonderful Everything I've Forgotten to Forget and the 2009 EP, My, What Big Teeth You Have . . . . (I was planning on stealing the set list after the show, but I got distracted [see below]). One of things that sets this band apart from others is that each time they perform, their songs sound just a little different. The changed instrumentation is on purpose, and helps keep things interesting. Although the crowd had thinned a little, there was still a good contingent out, dancing and singing along. The band expects their audiences to know the words to their songs when they play Toronto, and we didn't let them down.

Soon enough, Two Way Monologues' promoter Dan Wolovick and his wife, Terri Coles, were handing out shots of Jägermeister to the band members. But, somehow, there was one left over, and since I was right in front of him, Chandler told me to drink up. (That's him in white; also pictured is Daniel Hay.) Oh boy. So then the set got a little more fun and a bit more sloppy and I had to concentrate more on not losing my balance. Ahem. There were attempts at contests to give away EPs, a rendition (feat. audience participation) of "happy birthday" for Chandler's wife, much hooting and hollering and etc.

I had a blast. I bought a red t-shit---$10!---and tried to sober up a little before heading home. Note: One shot of Jager is apparently one too many.

Download: The Love Machine, "Green Tea and Honey" (If You're a Bird, I'm a Bird, 2007).
Download: The Love Machine, "We Are Squirrels and This Is Nuts (The Family Song)" (The Love Machine, 2005).
Download: Amos the Transparent, "Lemons, aka BigFishLittlePond" (My, What Big Teeth You Have..., 2009).
Download: Amos the Transparent, "Title Track" (Everything I've Forgotten to Forget, 2007).

Amos the Transparent are playing at Ottawa's Capital Music Hall on 27 November, competing for a $250,000 grand prize (the Big Money Shot). They've already won a tidy $25,000, and I, for one, would LOVE for them to take home the "big money." If you're in Ottawa that night, go see them!

Photo credit: Terri Coles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Indie Music Filter presents Hand Drawn Dracula mixtape!

Toronto music blogger Chris Budd sent over this message:

Just wanted to send you tip about something we recently put together on Indie Music Filter. We made a mixtape to showcase the artists on this new(er) Toronto-based record label called Hand Drawn Dracula (founded by visual artist James Mejia and Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt). Our blog post is here and the site where people can stream individual tracks and download this free mixtape is here.

If this is something you want to tell your readers about, that would be great.

Here's the tracklist:
1) "I Love A Girl" by By Divine Right
2) "While I Was Asleep" by Brian Borcherdt
3) "Disco Guitars (unmastered)" by Bishop Morocco
4) "Goodbye Before Hello" by Julie Fader
5) "Holy Radar" (Off The International Radar vs Holy Fuck) by Off The International Radar
6) "Not A Goodbye" by Contrived
Go download it now for free! Pass it along!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: The Wooden Sky, Hooded Fang, Brian Borcherdt / Field of Fur @ Lee's Palace.

The Wooden Sky sold out Lee's Palace on Friday night!

Although I've seen them in much smaller (but always full) rooms, I shouldn't have been surprised. These guys have been at it a long time---the better part of a decade---and they've been getting good press in recent months. Their 2006 album, When Lost At Sea, was (and still is) fantastic, and their new If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone solidifies their place as one of the country's top folk-rock bands. The word has clearly gotten out.

The night started with Brian Borcherdt, of Holy Fuck fame, whose solo output---quiet, contemplative, almost fragile---is rather different from the dance tracks put out by that other band. He was accompanied for a few songs by the talented (and very busy) Julie Fader, and then she left the stage and a drummer came on. The last few songs were from the two men's new project, Field of Fur, which had debuted the week before at the Boat. Nothing made a particular impression on me, though I'm keen to see Brian perform his solo work in a less cavernous venue.

Next up, Hooded Fang. This is a great band who came out of nowhere in 2008 to blow away the local indie pop scene. Its members have since entrenched themselves in the arts community here in Toronto, and . . . but that's not relevant to their set. What is relevant is that the 7-piece performed songs we know and love and some new ones, to be released sometime in 2010. And they sounded great, and the band seemed to be having an appropriate amount of fun up there. A small but enthusiastic bunch of us were dancing at the front, and I can only imagine that many of the more restrained audience members were happy they'd come out to see them.

And then, the headliners. By now the venue had really filled up, and it was getting pretty hot up at the front. (I admit to having a part in moving a some of the truly awesome set decorations so that, squished up against the very high stage as I was, I could see the band. I wasn't alone in this.) The four main players---Gavin Gardiner (lead vocals, guitar), Andrew Wyatt (bass, vocals), Simon Walker (guitar, keyboard, vocals), and Andrew Kekewich (percussion)---were joined by violinists Edward Huizinga and Mika Posen, as well as Jonas Bonnetta (guitar, vocals) and Sylvie Smith (vocals) for a couple songs. The extra players really added a nice touch, especially the violin parts.

Including a three-song encore, the band played for over an hour. The Wooden Sky can move from serious rocking-out to a more pensive attitude like few bands I know, and this comes out live even more than on their recordings. We were treated to most of the songs on the new album as well as a smattering from When Lost At Sea. Not every tune is a smash-hit, to my mind, but there were no throw-away tracks. I really appreciated the rockier songs on Friday night; they really showcase the strength of Gavin's voice. (blogTO has the full set-list at the end of their review.)

It's always nice to see good bands start to get the attention they deserve, and to have them fulfill their promise. Friday night's set was pretty awesome. I can't wait to see the Wooden Sky again . . . though I might not like that I'll have to put up with a larger venue and hundreds more people to do so.

Download: The Wooden Sky, "Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot To Me)" (If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone, 2009).
Download: The Wooden Sky, "Oslo" (If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone, 2009).
Download: The Wooden Sky, "North Dakota" (When Lost At Sea, 2006).
Download: Hooded Fang, "Fall Leaves" (Hooded Fang, 2008).
Download: Brian Borcherdt, "Scout Leader" (Coyotes, 2008).

Photo credit: Frank Yang. He's got really beautiful shots of all the performers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Indie Music 102 (12-18 Nov 2009).

Welcome to my weekly roundup of inexpensive indie(ish) musical happenings in downtown Toronto, all for $10 or less. If I'm missing something you think I should list, or you have any comments, let me know. I star (*) shows that most interest me.

Like this list? Join my Facebook group to get my weekly Toronto indie music listings. Subscribe to my podcast (or download the episodes) here, or through iTunes. The latest ones are here. Make sure to check the rest of my blog for show reviews and photos, giveaways, and downloads.

Last weekend I saw Woodhands and Junior Boys twice---see my review here. I've been enjoying the new Gravity Wave songs. This weekend I'm going to see the Wooden Sky (at Lee's Palace, details here) and maybe Amos the Transparent. I'm told Wavelength this Sunday is the best lineup of the month. Interesting... and I've never even heard of the bands on the bill. The Rural Alberta Advantage play an intimate in-store at Soundscapes on Tuesday, and then later that evening head to the Horseshoe for free performances by Arts & Crafts bands Zeus, Still Life Still, and the Most Serene Republic. Details about these and lots more great shows below.

THURSDAY (12 nov)

99 Lives - A Chiptune Dance Party feat. PDF Format, jefftheworld, and J Arthur Keenes @ The Ossington, 9pm, free.

Thursday Night Confidential feat. Airheart, Hibou, and Girl + the Machine @ The Gladstone Hotel (Melody Bar), 10pm, free.

Sarah Greene Pickup Band w/ Gord Light @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 10pm, pwyc.

I Have Eaten the City, Ghost Eye, and Rob Clutton @ Rearview Mirror, 9pm, $5/pwyc. Creative improvisations.

Snowblower and guests @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5.

* No Shame presents New Voices Night feat. Steve McKay, Catriona Sturton & the Penguins, and Abigail Lapell @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 9pm, $6. "[M]usic you didn’t know you couldn’t live without."

* Hue, The Job, My Shaky Jane (CD release), and Little Foot Long Foot @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 9pm, $6.

* Colleen & Paul (full band), Nana Grizol, Paul Linklater, and guests @ The Dakota Tavern, 10pm, $8?

Download: Nana Grizol, "For Things That Haven't Come Yet" (Ruth, 2010).

* Zeus w/ Moby Dick (feat. Andrew Scott from Sloan) and William Delray @ The Rivoli, 8:30pm, $10.

FRIDAY (13 nov)

Yawn Temiseva, LLIONS, The Soles, Nadjiwan, Dom Deluca, and Elf TV @ Not My Dog, 9pm, pwyc.

Kate Rogers @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 7:30pm, pwyc.

* The CFL Sessions w/ Jenny Omnichord @ Tranzac (Tiki Room), 10pm, pwyc.

Carney Byranik & The Heroes, Jeremy K. Rempel, and Icarus Had Wings @ The Cameron House, 10pm, $5/pwyc.

Dead Wife, Induced Labour, Play Guitair, and Toronto Beat @ Teranga, 9pm, $5. I never heard of these bands either. More info here.

Matt Paxton and Ben Somer @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 8pm, $5.

Sin Dealer, Conflicted, and Symbiolic @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5.

Planet Creature, Invasions, and Davey Parker Radio Sound @ The Silver Dollar Room, 10:30pm, $5?

The Calrizians @ The Dakota Tavern, 10pm, $5.

* Krupke, B'mo Crazy, The Lovely Killbots, and Ex~Po @ Bread & Circus, 9pm, $5? Everyone who comes gets a Krupke slap bracelet. Seriously.

Download: The Lovely Killbots, "Little Shape" (Primrose Lane, 2008).

TWM presents The Idlers (CD release), the Outbred Inlaws, and Luau or Die @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $8.

* Right On! Media & YYZ Records present Vitaminsforyou (live band), Maylee & Pegwee Power, and DJs John Kong and Smilotron @ Supermarket, 10pm, $10.

* Primary Colors and Psst, FM present Japanther, Ninjasonik, Ear Pwr, and Life of a Craphead @ The Deleon White Gallery, 9:30pm, $10 (adv tix avail.).

The I Love You Toos (CD release) w/ Ronley Teper & her Lipliners @ The Music Gallery, 7pm, $15 (incl. entrance, a CD, and after-party at the Boat w/ DJs Sandro Perri and others).

SATURDAY (14 nov)

A / Collision (in-store) @ HMV Superstore (333 Yonge St.), 1pm, free.

* The Miles @ The Mod Club, 11pm (set time), $10. Email to get on the guestlist and get in for free. Don't be shy.

J. J. Ipsen @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 10pm, pwyc.

Beautiful Disgusting Humans fundraiser show feat. The Wilderness of Manitoba, Dave Merheje (comedy), Manicorn (comedy), Romo Roto, and more @ 913 Bathurst St., 10pm, pwyc.

Fidget (video release) @ Annex WreckRoom, 7pm, $5. Live performance at 9pm.

The Ambassadors @ Mitzi's Sister, 9pm, $5. 8-piece funk band.

Yesterday's Ring and Jo Snyder, w/ DJs Scott Wade & Betty B. @ Soybomb HQ, 10pm, $5. BYOB.

Voodoo Bunny (EP release) and Mass Assembly @ The Bovine, 9pm, $5.

Robert Hedge (7" release) w/ Ben Rough and Jacqueline Rendell @ C'est What, 9pm, $6.

* MV + EE w/ Layne Garrett, Michael Keith, and Ptarmigan @ Teranga, 9pm, $7. Matt Valentine & Erika Elder return to Toronto, playing with Doc Dunn and Mike Smith.

* TWM 52 feat. Amos the Transparent, The Love Machine, Rival Boys, and Michou @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, $8. Amos just won themselves a $25,000 music prize.

Download: Amos the Transparent, "Lemons, aka BigFishLittlePond" (My, What Big Teeth You Have..., 2009).

Ben Stevenson & Band w/ Tanika Charles and Michael Rault, and DJ Eon Sinclair (Bedouin Soundclash) @ Sneaky Dee's, 8pm, $10. Followed by the Shadows of Motown dance party. Soul all night long.

Vaudeville Whores, Garaga, Jen Simpson, and The Shanks (CD release) @ Polish Combattants Hall, 6:30pm, $10. Includes CD. Polish buffet available from 8:30pm.

SUNDAY (15 nov)

Magnolia w/ Caitlin Burgess, Sweet Peas, and Duncan Davies @ C'est What, 8pm, free.

Kristin Mueller-Heaslip @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 7:30pm, pwyc.

* Wavelength 489 feat. Young Flux, 'It It, and Vollmar, hosted by Doc Pickles, w/ visuals by General Chaos @ The Garrison, 9pm, pwyc ($5-10 sugg).

MONDAY (16 nov)

Elvis Mondays feat. Tommy & the Tall Girls, Gay, Pink Moth, and more @ The Drake Hotel (Underground), 9pm, free. Free food, too.

TUESDAY (17 nov)

* The Rural Alberta Advantage (in-store) @ Soundscapes, 7pm, free. All ages. The RAA is the hottest Canadian band of 2009 according to this poll.

* Nu Music Nite 16th Anniversary Show feat. The Most Serene Republic, Still Life Still, and Zeus @ The Horseshoe Tavern, 8:30pm, free. Yes! Free!

Download: Still Life Still, "Pastel" (Girls Come Too, 2009).
Download: Zeus, "I Know" (Something Awesome, 2009).

Allie Hughes, Brooke Manning, and Princess Century (Maya Postepski) @ The Cameron House, 9:30pm, pwyc.

Andrew Allen and Christina Maria @ Supermarket, 8:30pm, pwyc.

Honky Night feat. Drunk Woman, the Caraways, and GatesGatesGates @ The Silver Dollar Room, 9pm, $3?

Donlands & Mortimer (double set) @ C'est What, 9pm, $5.

Gildon Works and Ava Luna @ The Boat, 9pm, $5. Says Keith Hamilton: "Gildon Works is a danceable shoegaze rock outfit featuring members of Ted Leo/Parmacists hailing from Philladephia and decending on Toronto for their Canadian Debut. Ava Luna is an electro-punk soulful pop act like nothing I've really encountered while booking in the city. They are making their Toronto debut with this not to miss set."

WEDNESDAY (18 nov)

PWYC Weds feat. Arman's Frozen Peas, Garbageface, and The Alter Kakers @ Rancho Relaxo, 9pm, pwyc.

Wednesdays Go Pop! feat. Revolvers, Parlour Steps, and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald @ Supermarket, 9pm, pwyc.

Koushik w/ Vowls, and DJs Tony Phatak and Joe Shampoo @ The Garrison, 9pm, $10 (adv tix avail.). Koushik will be doing a free in-store performance at Sonic Boom on Thursday, 7:30pm.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Review: Junior Boys, Woodhands @ Lee's Palace (Toronto) and the Starlight (Waterloo).


An interesting, exciting double-billing of electro bands, Toronto's Woodhands and Junior Boys, originally from Hamilton, stopped in at Toronto's Lee's Palace Friday night. Woodhands' energetic, in-your-face electro-pop is a guaranteed party starter; Junior Boys are much more about sexy grooviness. To Woodhands, you jump and scream. Junior Boys call for more restrained behaviour (at least in public spaces).

I arrived just shy of 10:30pm. A DJ was on stage amid smoke and the place was already buzzing. And then Woodhands came on. They had a healthy following on the dance floor, with audience members singing along to some of their better-known songs. There was dancing, but it took a couple songs for people to really loosen up. By then there was an excited group just to my right who were intent on dancing up a storm, and from my vantage point right up front it seemed like people were into things. A technical glitch or two didn't interrupt the flow for long. Dan Werb's screams and grunts were well-received and his frenetic keytar soloing from the high stage was a rare treat. (Woodhands is more of a visual band than one might expect given everything the duo is doing during a performance.) During the extended finale, "Dancer," drummer Paul Banwatt sang the female part---in context, not strange at all---and toward the end Werb sang parts of rapper Biz Markie's "Just a Friend." Banwatt, whose voice isn't present on the band's recordings, rapped during one of the band's earlier songs. Lee's Palace isn't the best place for a dance party, and so Friday night wasn't a particularly memorable Woodhands experience (for me), but not for lack of trying on the band's part. The duo definitely earned themselves a chunk of new fans.

Most people in the audience were there to see the headliners, who have been making waves in the dance scene for several years. (As a point of trivia, I first heard of Junior Boys because Woodhands' Banwatt had their "In the Morning" song streaming on his personal MySpace a couple years ago.) After Woodhands' high energy set, Junior Boys seemed super mellow, and though the band installed a green laser and the lights were put to good use, their performance wasn't a feast for the eyes. Junior Boys' live band---Jeremy Greenspan (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Matt Didemus (knobs and buttons and etc.), and a touring drummer---did a good job translating the recordings to the live setting. There wasn't much extended jamming during their set, which I found disappointing, but it did mean that we heard more songs than we might have. And the band has some good ones, including the stand-out "In the Morning" and new tracks "Parallel Lines," "Bits & Pieces," and "Hazel," off this year's Begone Dull Care. Greenspan is a strong singer, his voice fuller live than on their records.

Download: Junior Boys, "In the Morning" (So This Is Goodbye, 2006).
Download: Woodhands, "Dancer (Extended Mix)" (Dancer EP, 2009).

The juxtaposition of these two different electro-pop acts allowed for a fascinating study in contrasts. Woodhands and Junior Boys come out of different musical traditions and have had very different touring experiences. Both produce music that makes you dance, but Woodhands have built a reputation primarily for their explosive live sets. There is nothing explosive about a Junior Boys' show. Greenspan danced a little, but Didemus hardly seemed to be aware that there were hundreds of people watching him do his thing. Greenspan's between-song banter was, if not awkward, hardly befitting his music's smooth, sexy attitude. I found it jarring, like a jolt of reality spoiling a great moment.


The show was fun, but as a serious Woodhands fan I left rather unsatisfied, and unconvinced of the awesomeness of Junior Boys. There was only one remedy: go see them both again the next night in Waterloo at a smaller club, the Starlight!

This time around, with Woodhands on a much lower stage, things were as they should be. The younger crowd started dancing right away, and though I got the sense that not a lot of people there had seen them before, Werb's call for audience participation during "I Wasn't Made For Fighting" was eagerly answered. It was awesome. A great space, good crowd, and fantastic sound all made for a brilliant performance. The new song that the band played---they'd debuted it in Toronto the night before---struck me as stronger, and made me look forward to their new record even more than I had been.

The smaller club benefitted Junior Boys on Saturday night, too. I spent most of their set manning the merch table, and so had a dance party by myself. Fun times. They finished their set with a slow number, which was a bit of a vibe-killer, but redeemed themselves during the encore. And although I enjoyed JB more the second time around, to my mind Woodhands outdid the headliners in the danceability of their songs and certainly in their performance. Junior Boys' slow simmer is better for mood-setting at home or a DJ night at your favourite club. Their quieter, slower jams lose something in the live setting. Woodhands are a brilliant live dance band, and that's what I like most about them. Look for their new record, Remorsecapade, out 26 January.

Photo credits: Jeremy Greenspan by Michael Ligon, original here; Dan Werb by Aviva C., original here. Thanks!