Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recording: Cole/Fisher/Valdivia

Artist: Josh Cole/Colin Fisher/Brandon Valdivia

Song: [set 1, first piece, in three parts]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), March 18, 2015.

Cole/Fisher/Valdivia - [set 1, first piece, part I]

Cole/Fisher/Valdivia - [set 1, first piece, part II]

Cole/Fisher/Valdivia - [set 1, first piece, part III]

Although it seems like an obvious combination of talents — and they certainly have come partially together in other contexts — this was actually the first time that these three musicians had played together as a trio. As heard here at the outset, Josh Cole's double bass acted as a bit of a grounding beacon for Not The Wind, Not The Flag's high-flying sorties, rendering their work as something closer to straight-ahead jazz then you would normally hear from them. Further exploration took things further afield, however, especially in the second set which saw Colin Fisher switching over to guitar. A pretty remarkable outing — tough to believe this was a first-time thing, unthinkable to consider it could be the last.

Recording: Isla Craig

Artist: Isla Craig

Song: Follow Your Heart

Recorded at The Tranzac – Southern Cross Lounge ("Piano Party 2"), March 18, 2015.

Isla Craig - Follow Your Heart

This "piano party", put together by Jonathan Adjemian, saw two musicians with very different approaches take to the Southern Cross' upright. Isla Craig — who's lately been unveiling some new songs written on guitar — treated her piano set as a casual exercise, similar to the way that friends might have gathered 'round in a parlour a century ago to belt out familiar old chestnuts. After a couple more studied takes through songs from her "vocal" phase, things became increasingly relaxed, Craig tackling tunes as they popped into her mind, including some older songs of her own (both from her Continential Drift days, as well as her "Flute Song") plus a series of covers that included Chantal Kreviazuk, PJ Harvey, and a rousingly-heartfelt/gleefully-fragmented set-closing Tori Amos medley.

Recording: Ali Berkok

Artist: Ali Berkok

Song: Improvisation on Ligeti's "Cordes à vide"

Recorded at The Tranzac – Southern Cross Lounge ("Piano Party 2"), March 18, 2015.

Ali Berkok - Improvisation on Ligeti's "Cordes à vide"

This "piano party", put together by Jonathan Adjemian, saw two musicians with very different approaches take to the Southern Cross' upright. Ali Berkok (also of Aurochs and many other projects) led off, showing off his versatility with a series of improvisations and prepared pieces that ranged from Cole Porter riffs to this Satie-esque meditation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Recording: Aalborg Group

Artist: Aalborg Group / John Gregg & Tiina Kiik / Maxwell Boecker & William Davison

Songs: [excerpts from improved sets]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 28.3"), March 16, 2014.

Aalborg Group - [excerpt]

John Gregg & Tiina Kiik - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Maxwell Boecker & William Davison - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Aalborg Group (the Atlanta duo of drummer John Gregg and bassist Maxwell Boecker) look like they'd be right at home in a basement punk show, so it was interesting to see them arrive in Toronto to play an improvised music series. The duo play with a certain heaviness that their setup would imply, but without the power sauce or grind, there's room for them to explore in those grey areas between rock'n'roll jamming and free improvisation. (You can check out their tape on their bandcamp.)

In proper Audiopollination fashion, after they played a short set together, the pair were split up for sets with some local guests, with drummer Gregg playing with accordionist Tiina Kiik while bassist Boecker was matched with noise-generationist William Davison. Both of the guests ended up playing a bit of follow-the-leader with their experienced partners, but pulled off fully-satisfactory performances. Kudos to the band for letting themselves being tossed in the deep end in such a manner — I'd love to see more exploratory "rock" bands dare to take this sort of plunge. Kudos also to Audiopollination's Mike Lynn for curating a evening that was a bit outside the series' usual zone — caught between the cracks of scenes and genres, this gig deserved a bigger audience than it got.

[As is always the case, you can hear a full recording of the night's music in the Audiopollination archives.]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recording: Digits

Artist: Digits

Song: Where Do You Belong?

Recorded at Handlebar, March 14, 2015.

Digits - Where Do You Belong?

The last act of the night was a late addition, with Digits playing a surprise tune-up gig before heading across to London for a prestige slot supporting Gary Numan. Of course, one suspects that the Royal Festival Hall would have a more elaborate sound system than Handlebar, with its crowdsourced sound-mixing. But performance-wise, it was a solid set from Alt Altman and Dan Miller. With nearly a year gone by since the release of the Day You Fight Back EP, the setlist was filled with reliable, time-tested material, so perhaps Altman's game plan here was to be ready to put his best forward forward at the big gig.

Recording: Kurt Marble

Artist: Kurt Marble

Songs: Replacement + So Long*

Recorded at Handlebar, March 14, 2015.

Kurt Marble - Replacement

Kurt Marble - So Long

The six songs on the new tape being celebrated at this release show occupy a very tasty slice of '90's alt-rock nostalgia — but live, the band opened things up into big-league guitar anthems. Thanks there go to Most People's Paul McEachern, who got to tear and shred in a way that Most People's template doesn't usually allow. Add to that the eponymous frontman's shaggy charm and million-watt smile and this was a superior Rock Excursion.

[Kurt Marble will be playing alongside Champion Lover, The Two Koreas and Several Futures at The Magpie Taproom on Friday April 17th.]

* Thanks to Kurt for passing along the title to this one.

Recording: Germaphobes

Artist: Germaphobes

Song: Everybody Else

Recorded at Handlebar, March 14, 2015.

Germaphobes - Everybody Else

This post-Gay project fronted by Neil Rankin and Paul Erlichman strips away some of that band's party-on-stage chaos vibe in favour of a more streamlined New Wave sound, but the no-time-for-tuning urgency is still joyfully intact.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Concert Listings Roundup #89

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.

Gig of the week:

Queer Songbook Orchestra Play Songs of Resilience / Church of the Holy Trinity 2015-03-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Just on the merit of the performers in this ten-piece pop orchestra (including Alex Samaras, Lief Mosbaugh, Shaun Brodie, Ghislain Aucoin, Dan Fortin and more) this would be worth seeing — and all the more with guest vocalists like Simone Schmidt and Geordie Gordon. But tapping into the group's mandate ("a living archive of songs that shape community") gives it even more power. A sort of musical equivalent to the Celluloid Closet, this performance is billed as "taking a look back at this history with the queer lens intact, revealing little known backstories and personal narratives". And add to that the august surroundings in the Church of the Holy Trinity, and this is simply not to be missed.

This week's noteworthy shows:

Pendrith Trio / The Emmet Ray 2015-03-23 (Monday) [more info]

Killer BOB (Processor / Lice) / Double Double Land 2015-03-24 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Etiquette [record release show!] (Programm / Year of Glad) / The Drake Underground 2015-03-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

HPR presents (feat. Mas Aya & New Chance) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Wavelength 653 (feat. Brian Borcherdt / Sean Paul / Slime / Toblerone Boys) / Ratio 2015-03-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Prince Nifty & friends / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-27 (Friday) [more info]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-27 (Friday)

Angela Lansbury: a jazz tribute (feat. Bobby Hsu and Alex Samaras) / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-28 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Mexican Slang [single release show!] (The Ukiah Drag / Moss Lime) / S.H.I.B.G.B.'s 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Featurette (Deciduous / Tasha & The Sweet Talkers) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Tranz Defonce (White Van / Onfiilm / Rocket Parade) / Handlebar 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Milk Lines (PANIC) / 3030 2015-03-28 (Saturday – free!) [FB event]

LIDS [Telephone Explosion 7" release show!] (MIMICO / Fake Palms) / Double Double Land 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Gates (Hashed Out / Good People / IRN) / Soybomb 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

LOOM (Mekele / Beard Closet) / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crosswires (feat. Paul-Julien Tanti / Faiyaz & the Wasted Chances / Ugly School / The Jim Storie Juniors / Handlebar 2015-03-29 (Sunday) [FB event]

King Weather / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-29 (Sunday)

Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

Wolfshirt Presents (feat. Personal Data / Hallowed Bells / Spookyfish / Know Itself) / Magpie Taproom 2015-03-31 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Shawn William Clarke (Jos Fortin / Matthew Oomen) / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-02 (Thursday) [FB event]

Clara Engel (A. Minster) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-04-03 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-03 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Wand (Heaters / The Saffron Sect) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-03 (Friday) [FB event]

Alpha Strategy (New Horizzzons / Badminton Raquet / Connoisseurs Of Porn / Zack Kouns) / Smiling Buddha 2015-04-04 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crofts/Adams/Pearse/Hemingway / The Rex 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. Advertising / Tofu Stravinsky / AC) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-05 (Sunday) [FB event]

Track Could Bend #1 (feat. Allison Cameron / Michael Lynn & Michael Keith / Jesse James Laderoute) / Johnny Jackson 2015-04-07 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Bernice (Omhouse) / Burdock Music Hall 2015-04-07 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-10 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Jon McKiel & Aaron Mangle (Stella Ella Ola / Marine Dreams / Joyful Talk) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-04-11 (Saturday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #29.1 (feat. Heidi Chan/Jamie Thompson / Brian Abbot/James Bailey / Kayla Milmine-Abbot/Conrad Gale / Tomasz Krakowiak/Holger Schoorl) / Array Space 2015-04-14 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-17 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Champion Lover (Several Futures / The Two Koreas / Kurt Marble) / Magpie Taproom 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Holy Oak's 6th Anniversary (feat. April Snow & The Musicologists [Thom Gill/Johnny Spence/Bram Gielen/Kieran Adams] / "secret guest performance") / Holy Oak Café 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and Guests [April residency!] / Dakota Tavern 2015-04-24 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Wavelength #656 (feat. Peers / Daniel Isaiah / Mannerisms / Caylie Staples) / Monarch Tavern 2015-04-24 (Friday) [FB event]

DIΛNETICS IV (feat. Knurl / Ceramic TL / The Good Children / Broken Doll Factory) / 8-Eleven 2015-04-24 (Friday) [FB event]

C.R.E.A.M. Afternoon All Ages (feat. Ken Park / NOIA / Pantayo / Petra Glynt / Tonkapuma / VCR) / Double Double Land 2015-06-20 (Saturday – PWYC!) [FB event]

C.R.E.A.M. Afternoon All Ages (feat. DOOMSQUAD / HATAW / Hooded Fang / Ice Cream / Lido Pimienta / Moss Lime) / Double Double Land 2015-06-21 (Sunday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Wavelength 669 (feat. The Ex / Brodie West & Fleshtone Aura) / Hard Luck 2015-06-23 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Recording: The Thing Is + GREX

Artist: The Thing Is + GREX (feat. Jane Bunnett)

Song: Borders of One*

Recorded at The Music Gallery, March 14, 2015.

The Thing Is + GREX - Borders of One

As the artist designation above implies, this performance was a collaborative affair, put together to present Tova Kardonne's "Lanka Suite", a set of compositions reflecting on her outsider's observations of a trip to Sri Lanka. The music has evolved for a while now (a streamlined version was workshopped a year ago), but this full-on presentation united two of Kardonne's projects, including The Thing is, her the large-format jazz ensemble as well as Alex Samaras' avant-vocal group GREX. The night also included some atmospheric, abstract visuals from Nilan Perera that evoked a sense of travel and elsewhereness. The net effect was to create a form of musical tourism that isn't reliant on mere appropriation — a reflection of Kardonne's experiences without a usurpation of Sri Lankan tropes.

* Thanks to Ali for passing along the title to this one.

Recording: Khôra

Artist: Khôra

Song: [excerpt]*

Recorded at The Music Gallery, March 14, 2015.

Khôra - [excerpt]

It was a fairly intense and enveloping experience to get to hear Matthew Ramolo's music in the Music Gallery's sanctuary. His word-melting visuals were a nice addition, but this was a good set to just close one's eyes and listen. Paying close attention also allowed a few interesting variations to come to the fore, including a percussive element, where Ramolo looped and processed some tapping on the body of his acoustic guitar until it appeared in the mix sounding almost like a tabla. A high synthesizer tone recalling a shehnai on top of that gave this one segment a faint taste of raga, and in this extract, a little bird-like chirp emerges from the sonic field to act as a bit of a guidepost.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recording: Vag Halen

Artist: Vag Halen

Song: Ace of Spades [Motörhead cover]

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Vag Halen - Ace of Spades

The feminist rawk re-appropriators in Vag Halen were the night's headliners, bringing the figurative thunder to shove away the last vestiges of winter. Fresh off a couple nights of Pixies covers, their setlist showed a bit of a slide towards more recent/less purely classic rock tunage (including Nirvana and Jane's Addiction), but to close things out, they still brought the big guns, ending with singer Vanessa Dunn leading a chant of "Fuck C-36!" before dropping the mic and leaving the stage. Next: spring.

Recording: Hank

Artist: Hank

Song: You Never Really Let Go Of The Past

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Hank - You Never Really Let Go Of The Past

One of the big non-musical attractions at this LW was a retrospective installation from storied record label/workers' collective Blocks, which has been winding down its affairs over the past few months. As a tie-in to that, Cab Williamson's croon/groove collective (who released a trio of albums on Blocks) took the main stage for a rare Toronto show. This new song from the group's forthcoming album perhaps best captured the mood of the Blocks celebration.

Recording: Not Of

Artist: Not Of

Song: Until It Stops

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Not Of - Until It Stops

This new-ish band's two members have a few songs up on their soundcloud, where they identify themselves as John Ex and Jason Seance. Savvy observers might connect the dots on seeing FAWN still stencilled on the amp cases and realize the guitarist is Jason Crossingham, formerly of Raising The Fawn and a one-time Broken Social Scenester. This project is a much more straightahead rock proposition, noisy guitar jams hinting that growing older sometimes means getting louder and sounding a little more pissed off.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Recording: Dirty Frigs

Artist: Dirty Frigs

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall's Conversation Room ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Dirty Frigs - unknown

The Conversation room was packed and throbbing by the time Dirty Frigs closed things out. This one feels a bit like Elastica being reinterpreted by a scuzzy bar band.

[You can catch Dirty Frigs next at The Silver Dollar on Friday, April 17th, co-headling with Montréal's Birds of Paradise plus Sunshine & The Blue Moon and Katelyn Molgard.]

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Several Futures

Artist: Several Futures

Song: Before You Forget*

Recorded at The Great Hall's Conversation Room ("Long Winter: Year 3, Volume 5"), March 13, 2015.

Several Futures - Before You Forget

This post-punk trio is pushing past the songs on their debut tape, with co-vocalists Jonny Dovercourt and Matt Nish-Lapidus working off each other in some more elaborate ways. This older crew (dare one say "grizzled veterans"?) also managed to hold the attention of the young crowd of the room, even in the spaces before the kinetic collisions where their songs simmer with patient potential energy.

[Several Futures will be playing alongside Champion Lover, The Two Koreas and Kurt Marble at The Magpie Taproom on Friday April 17th.]

* Thanks to Jonny for passing along the title to this one.