Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Break time.

I'm taking a wee break from this blog while I concentrate on the lots of actual work I have to do. You can still find me occasionally over at Sticky Magazine. I like that project a lot, and feel I can contribute something worthwhile to it once in a while. I wish I had more time and energy, but oh well. Until later!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Horse Feathers w/ The Wilderness of Manitoba @ The Drake Hotel, 28 April.

This was one of those rare seated shows---as in, butts-on-floor---at the Drake Hotel's basement music venue, and, my, was it ever lovely. I'd heard of and sampled Portland, OR's Horse Feathers in the past few weeks and was seriously considering hitting up the show, but the announcement that the Wilderness of Manitoba would open sealed the deal for me.

The Wilderness of Manitoba---always Scott Bouwmeester, Will Whitwham, Stefan Banjevic, and Melissa Dalton---took to the stage just after 9pm, with their drummer, Sean Lancaric. The band doesn't always bring Sean along for gigs, and it was a nice treat for me to see them in full force in such a nice-sounding room. They started off with a couple songs from their 2009 debut EP, Hymns of Love and Spirits, namely, "The Great Hall" and "Bluebirds." The crowd was quiet and respectful to the point of being completely silent during many of the songs and little breaks between them. The first few rows were made up of people sitting on the hard floor. It made for a nice setting, with the Drake's good lighting and stage dressing. "Hermit," the first single from the WOM's first album, coming in June, was next.

The first two highlights of the set for me were "Dreamcatchers" and "Orono Park," performed next. The tribal, driving drum beat and harmonies were great on the former; the latter's banjo / guitar / ukele arrangement was beautiful, as were the Will and Melissa's harmonies and call-and-response vocal tradeoffs. And I gotta say: If audience members weren't completely sold on this band by this point, they have no souls. "Evening," a song originally penned and recorded by Will's mother, Wendy Blackburn, in the 1960s, was next, following by the newer "St. Petersburg." Both are gorgeous, and fan favourites. A couple more new songs ended the performance---"November" and "Summer Fires." The buildup at the beginning of "Summer Fires" was stunning. Just great.

Catch the WOM opening for Matthew Barber at the Mod Club on 12 May, and for Basia Bulat (and Julie Doiron) at the Phoenix on 4 June.

Download: The Wilderness of Manitoba, "Hermit" (When You Left the Fire, 2010).
Watch (below): The Wilderness of Manitoba, "Orono Park" (Southern Souls live performance, 2009).

Photo credit: WOM by Zuzana Hudackova.

After a healthy break to get things properly set up, during which we were treated to Owen Pallett's Heartland over the house system, Horse Feathers performed in the headlining spot. (Timber Timbre's self-titled album was the soundtrack before WOM's set.)

I'm not nearly as familiar with this band's output---and, indeed, it was their first time performing in Toronto---but others in the audience clearly were, showing keen appreciation during and after songs. Like Toronto's WOM, this band trades in lush 4-part harmonies and country- and folk-inspired arrangements. But there are classical elements in their ballads, too.

The band played a lovely 12-song set, plus an encore. To me, many of the songs sounded alike, but to my mind that was just fine. "Curs In the Weeds," performed two-thirds of the way through the set, seemed like their hit number; it was warmly received by those around me.

Horse Feathers will be back around this part of the world in July for the Hillside Festival in Guelph.

Download: Horse Feathers, "Belly of June" (Thistled Spring, 2010).
Download: Horse Feathers, "Curs in the Weeds" (House With No Home, 2008).

Monday, May 03, 2010

A few things: Woodhands, Delhi 2 Dublin, The Acorn, Shawn Clarke.

My favourite live band has a new remix EP out this week. Who's that, you ask? Woodhands! (D'uh.) Download the EP for free from the band's label, Paper Bag Records. Here's what you can look forward to:

Track Listing:

1. Pockets (Diamond Rings Mix)
2. Dissembler (Mathemagic Mix)
3. Dissembler (French Husband Mix)
4. CP24 (Teen Mix)
5. Pockets (Jeremy Glenn’s Stay Real Dub)
6. Dissembler (Dan’s Piano Version)

Catch Woodhands on the road this summer:

May 25 @ Habourfront Centre, Toronto (Inside The Musician’s Studio)
July 1-2 @ Sled Island, Calgary
July 3 @ Pride Festival Outdoor Main Stage, Toronto
July 12 @ Le National, Montréal (with Passion Pit)
July 15 @ Blues Fest, Ottawa (with Champion)
July 24 @ Evolve Festival, Antigonish


There's a weird "world music"-type Vancouver band you may have heard of called Delhi 2 Dublin. Their mix of, let's see [checking press release], "Bhangra, Celtic, Dub Reggae and Electronica" is creative. They've landed high-profile gigs like Canada Day on Parliament Hill and a free Yonge-Dundas Square performance last summer, and while I doubt indie music tastemakers like Pitchfork would approve, interesting, fun music is interesting, fun music. Their second album is out on Tuesday. It's called Planet Electric.

(That was them at Hillside Inside.) Oh, and if you like what you hear, you can "like" it on Facebook, too. If the band gets itself 7,000 fans by the end of 4 May, it'll offer up the EP version of its new album as a free download to everyone who wants it.

Delhi 2 Dublin celebrate the release of their album at the Drake Hotel on 11 May. Tickets are $15 at the door.


One of my favourite bands, The Acorn, whose album is due out on 1 June, have released the first single off it for free download. Head over to Paper Bag Records to preorder No Ghost. The band is in Toronto on 11 June for a show at Lee's Palace. For full Canadian tour dates, check here.

Download: "No Ghost" (No Ghost, 2010).


I got a CD in the mail recently from a guy named Shawn Clarke. I've met Shawn a few times at shows, and have seen him play saxophone with Olenka & the Autumn Lovers and Timber Timbre. He's also got a nice arts & culture blog that I read. Shawn's got a musical project of his own and performs around town in singer-songwriter-type evenings. And it's his own album, Like Birds Too Tired To Fly, that came for me. Why am I telling you this? Because I finally today tore off the cellophane wrapping and popped the disc into my stereo, and I loved what I heard! Seemingly simple, yet meaningful songs with strong vocals and good arrangements. I need to listen more. Right now.

Ticket/CD Giveaway: Brett Caswell @ Supermarket, 12 May.

Ontario roots rocker and piano pop crooner Brett Caswell and his band the Marquee Rose are releasing a debut album on 18 May called A New Balance. This will be Caswell's first offering since 2007's Love Waiting EP. Ahead of the release, the band is celebrating with a few Ontario shows, including 12 May's at Toronto's Supermarket.

Here's a taste of the new disc:

Download: "A New Balance" (A New Balance, 2010).
Download: "Needle In the Groove" (A New Balance, 2010).

Nice, eh?

Thanks to Audio Blood Media, I've got a pair of passes and a copy of the new disc to giveaway to one lucky reader! For you chance to win, email me by 11:59pm on 10 May, and put "Brett Caswell" in the subject line of your message. (I'll let you know the next day if you're a winner.) The CD release show also features Bass Lions, so should be a lovely event. Please don't enter unless you can actually attend the event, which is 19+; your CD will be at the merch table for you. And if you don't win, you can still go. Tickets, available at the door, will go for the inexpensive price of pay-what-you-can.

Fine Print: Brett Caswell & the Marquee Rose w/Half Full, Bass Lions, and Colin Moore @ Supermarket, Wednesday, 12 May, 9pm, pwyc.