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.