Saturday, August 31, 2013

Recording: Mas Aya

Artist: Mas Aya (feat. Colin Fisher)

Song: Resist Stance

Recorded at Comfort Zone, August 29, 2013.

Mas Aya - Resist Stance

Usually, when you see Colin Fisher on stage with Brandon Valdivia, it's something else entirely. But on this night, Fisher (adding lots of percussion, and here on sax) was in a support role as Valdivia celebrated the release of his new Mas Aya EP on Healing Power Records, playing an extended set before decamping to Columbia to recharge with some new Amazon vibes.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Recording: Surinam

Artist: Surinam

Song: Pass the Baclofen

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, August 29, 2013.

Surinam - Pass the Baclofen

you can say its a brand new day and a bold new beginning but really its just another turn of the wheel another time this shitball of dirt spins around on its axis and anyways you still got to get up even if youre feeling like shit from the night before and you have to get to work before that shitbag boss gets on your case and all these other asshole drones on the subway seem like they got up only to stand in your way and you feel like a pinball bouncing off them come on get out of the fucking way christs sake i need a drink already and then tomorrows going to be the same shit again so why the fuck are you smugly congratulating yourself on your brand new day and bold new beginning

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Preview: INTERsection 2013

INTERsection: Music From Every Direction

Saturday, August 31, 2-10pm, Yonge-Dundas Square

Now becoming a Labour Day long weekend tradition, one of the strangest musical/civic interventions in the city's fabric takes place Saturday, when INTERsection takes over Yonge-Dundas Square. Nestled next to a Temple of Commerce and below the Blade Runner-ish sellscreen glow, this festival counters with what might be the least "market-friendly" music in the Square all year — a coming together of contemporary classical, improvization and the occasional burst of noise.

From Réa Beaumont's austere piano to accordionist Tiina Kiik's avant-oompah, the day will see sober, thoughtful Art Music rubbing shoulders with the casual encounters of the Musicircus, the John Cage-inspired fantasia which sees performers scattered throughout the fringes of the square. All of this is set against the air-show sonic booms overhead and the aural tapestry of passing cars making it a unique, immersive experience.

Percussion will get its due, with appearances not only by the TorQ ensemble

but also the hypnotic/hypnogogic rhythms of Steve Reich's classic "Drumming", being performed by the Russell Hartenberger-led University of Toronto Percussion Ensemble.

There will also be a performance by Contact Contemporary Music, who have been busily curating the day-long affair.

Contact - Evening Star

Those interested in learning more about the city's New Music scene will also be warmly greeted at the marketplace, where most of the city's presenters will have tables. The free event runs rain or shine from 2 'til 10 p.m. Come and stay for a spell or just drop in for a casual encounter.

The action will continue Sunday night at The Music Gallery for Saxopalooza!, a ticketed showcase by the U of T Saxophone Ensemble. Directed by sax hero Wallace Halladay and conducted by Gregory Oh, the night will see feature works from Vivian Fung, Steve Reich, Jacob Ter Veldhuis, Robert Lemay and more. Tickets are $20 ($15 for MG members) and will be available at the door.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Recording: The New Mendicants

Artist: The New Mendicants

Songs: She's Gone + Finding You [The Go-Betweens cover]

Recorded at The Dakota Tavern, August 26, 2013.

The New Mendicants - She's Gone

The New Mendicants - Finding You

Full review to follow. Although Norman Blake (of Teenage Fanclub) and Joe Pernice (of the Pernice Brothers) might have different fanbases, they have some things in common, both being top-shelf pop craftsmen who happen to be expats in Toronto. It also turns out that their voices combine in a rather terrific way, so an ad hoc partnership has lead to this new group, now rounded out by The Sadies' Mike Belitsky on drums. Relying on acoustic guitars, some glockenspiel, and hushed percussion, it's an intimate affair, well-suited to a storytelling sit-down sort of show. The pair traded off songs, both from the project's forthcoming album and their own back catalogs, with a few covers thrown in as well.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Concert Listings Roundup #7

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:

INTERsection (feat. Acid Brass, TorQ Percussion, Rea Beaumont, Tiina Kiik, New Adventures In Sound Art, Contact, The University of Toronto Percussion Ensemble) / Yonge-Dundas Square 2013-08-31 (Saturday) [FB event]

Experience New Music: strange/beautiful/avant garde all day long in Yonge-Dundas Square!

This week's noteworthy shows:

New Mendicants / The Dakota Tavern 2013-08-26 (Monday)

Mini-Beams (Johanna Warren) / Monarch Tavern 2013-08-27 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Drumheller / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2013-08-27 (Tuesday)

Surinam (Mexican Slang / Walk North / Prosimii) / The Silver Dollar Room 2013-08-29 (Thursday) [FB event]

Pale Eyes (Mas Aya / Lido Pimienta / SPAWN / Tough Guy Mountain) / Comfort Zone 2013-08-29 (Thursday) [FB event]

Jewel Ackah (Adam Solomon Trio) / Lula Lounge 2013-08-29 (Thursday) [FB event]

AA Wallace Group (Coronado / Valerie Dour) / The Garrison 2013-08-29 (Thursday) [FB event]

Phèdre (Petra Glynt / KENPARK) / The Beaver 2013-08-30 (Friday) [FB event]

The Auras [EP release party!] (The Disraelis / The BB Guns / Revolvers) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2013-08-31 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wavelength 572 (feat. Tranz Défoncé / Alpha Strategy / Zack Kouns / The Four Hands / Beard Closet / Taggerung Unbound) / Handlebar 2013-08-31 (Saturday) [FB event]

Okavango: An African Orchestra (Femi Abosede and Culture Force) / Harbourfront Centre 2013-09-01 (Sunday) [more info]

Add these to your calendar:

Sonic Boom Cassette Fair (feat. Doc Dunn / Black Walls / Mystery Drone Tape) / Sonic Boom 2013-09-07 (Saturday) [FB event]

Teenanger [album release show!] (Comet Control / Cellphone) / The Silver Dollar Room 2013-09-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Sun Stone Revolvers [f/k/a Revolvers — album release!] (Invasions / The Great Machine) / Holy Oak Café 2013-09-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Michael Morley [of The Dead C!] (Tom Carter / Beard Closet / Double Double Land 2013-09-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Tal National / Lula Lounge 2013-09-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Comanechi (Ell V Gore) / The Silver Dollar 2013-09-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Jazz Avant Series: (feat. Larry Ochs & Don Robinson / Paul Dutton & Joe Sorbara / The Music Gallery 2013-09-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Recording: The Replacements

Artist: The Replacements

Songs: Love You Till Friday/Maybellene + Swingin' Party + Can't Hardly Wait + Bastards of Young

Recorded at Garrison Common ("Riot Fest" – Day 2), August 25, 2013.

The Replacements - Love You Till Friday/Maybellene

The Replacements - Swingin' Party

The Replacements - Can't Hardly Wait

The Replacements - Bastards of Young

Full review to follow. I was not planning to go to this show, despite the fact that The Replacements mean a whole lot to me. I had no shortage of apprehension over whether this could live up to expectations, plus I've been spending the summer avoiding the corporate festivals at Fort York. And even the event's name bugged the hell outta me. Anyways, long story short, a ticket fell into my hands (Thanks, J.!) and I ended up at the show. And I'll be damned if it wasn't pretty fucking excellent.

Perhaps inspired by the festival they're touring with, The 'Mats came out with a blasting reminder that they were — and are — a punk band, leading off with "Takin' a Ride" and "I'm in Trouble" from their first ablum [sic] Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. They'd touch on that a few more times, hitting the songs hard and fast — but also not stinting on the later, anthemic material.

There's lots more to say, but for the moment I will just mention this: in 2013, The Replacements brought a tear to my eye with a poignant version of "I Will Dare" — immediately whereupon Paul Westerberg forgot the lyrics. Which is to say that are still, and ever shall be, The Replacements.

Bonus! Given the historical importance/general awesomeness of this show, I have expedited things and gotten it ready for sharing. A lossless version will be available on DIME, and MP3's are also available. For those, I will put the link in the comments.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Recording: Hobo Cubes

Artist: Hobo Cubes

Song: unknown*

Recorded at basement of The Red Cherry Bar & Grill (Pleasence records double release show), August 24, 2013.

Hobo Cubes - unknown

Full review to follow. Closing out the night, prolific Montréaler Francesco De Gallo brought a noisier edge to this live set than the material found on his half of the new Pleasance split.

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

Recording: New Positions

Artist: New Positions

Song: unknown*

Recorded at basement of The Red Cherry Bar & Grill (Pleasence records double release show), August 24, 2013.

New Positions - unknown

Full review to follow. Celebrating the release of their first tape, Neil Rankin (also of Gay) and C. Jude (of HSY, etc.) laid down some no wave noise jams, featuring sax, radio, broken-string bass, and on this track a whole lot of doomy drum-pad beats.

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

Recording: Taiwan

Artist: Taiwan

Song: untitled

Recorded at basement of The Red Cherry Bar & Grill (Pleasence Records double release show), August 24, 2013.

Taiwan - untitled

Full review to follow. Celebrating the release of a lovely-looking split record on Pleasence, Edmonton's Taiwan made their local live début in a stripped-down fashion, with founder Philip Dickau playing a set of solo piano tunes. When swathed in Badalamenti-esque keybs and other instrumentation, the music takes on an "experimental smooth jazz" vibe, but with just piano there was more of a Satie musique d'ameublement feel (with, perhaps, some hints of Ann Southam's quieter side).

Recording: Tranz DéFoncé

Artist: Tranz DéFoncé

Song: unknown*

Recorded at basement of The Red Cherry Bar & Grill (Pleasence records double release show), August 24, 2013.

Tranz DéFoncé - unknown

Full review to follow. Something of an all-star team of local noiseniks (incl. members of Soupcans, Man Made Hill, Wolfcow), this project brought a clamourous assault of noise behind Kevin Crump's (Roman Pilates, etc.) shout-attacks. Key features include crude drag and boom-box recorded releases.

* There's a title shouted out near the start here, but my ears can't pick it up. Please leave a comment if you have a notion.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Recording: Dany Laj & The Looks

Artist: Dany Laj & The Looks

Songs: 799 Queen St West + We Were a Gang

Recorded at Handlebar ("Dollarstore Spaceship" – Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival), August 23, 2013.

Dany Laj & The Looks - 799 Queen St West*

Dany Laj & The Looks - We Were a Gang

Full review to follow. I hadn't seen Montréal's Dany Laj play before, but his sideburns/leather jacket/thick-rimmed glasses gave an immediate sense of what he's all about — the frills-free spirit of rock'n'roll that was reawakened by punk rock. With Jeanette Dowling (previously of party/rockers Chang-a-Lang) on bass, I'd been meaning to catch this much-travelled band pretty much every time they've made their way down the 401. Completely convincing as a live force, my only regret now is that I waited so long.

[Danny Laj & The Looks will be returning to town on September 30 for a show at the Junction's 3030 bar.]

* Once this was released on 2015's Word on The Street, the title was shortened to the slightly less-specific "Queen St. West".

Recording: Alphabot!

Artist: Alphabot!

Song: Rabbit Ears

Recorded at Handlebar ("Dollarstore Spaceship" – Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival), August 23, 2013.

Alphabot! - Rabbit Ears

Full review to follow. Jake Roels' project comes complete with an elaborate comic book narrative, but the jaunty tunes — performed solo with some loop-based assistance — stand on their own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Recording: The Skeletones Four

Artist: The Skeletones Four

Song: Dragging the Lake

Recorded at Izakaya Sushi House ("Attack of the 100 ft Bands" – Out of the Box Music and Arts Festival).

The Skeletones Four - Dragging the Lake

Full review to follow. With other projects in the ascendant, the band let it be known that this was going to be the last S4 show for the foreseeable future. Hopefully it's not the last we see of the band's densely-structured prog-pop. On this one, the title track from last winter's EP, you can hear Evan Gordon's bass as the actualization of the song's title.

Recording: B.A. Johnston

Artist: B.A. Johnston

Song: Best Day

Recorded at Izakaya Sushi House ("Attack of the 100 ft Bands" – Out of the Box Music and Arts Festival).

B.A. Johnston - Best Day

Full review to follow. "B.A. Johnston" is a performance art project (employing crudely-reproduced simulacra of popular musical forms) curated by Hamilton's B.A. Johnston to deconstruct hierarchies such as "personal space", hygiene and talent while confronting members of an alienated society with their own failures and awkwardness.

Johnston will be releasing his new album Mission Accomplished with a show at The Garrison on September 6.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recording: Fiver

Artist: Fiver

Song: Smoke & Steam

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, August 20, 2013.

Fiver - Smoke & Steam

Full review to follow. Simone Schmidt has been busy lately playing with The Highest Order, but the songs she'd introduced last year for her "solo" Fiver project are about to make a return with the release of Lost the Plot on September 10. I'm sure we'll have a chance to hear them live in a full-band setting once the album comes out, but for now it was nice to get re-acquainted with 'em with just Schmidt and her guitar.

Recording: The Weather Station

Artist: The Weather Station

Song: Seemed True*

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, August 20, 2013.

The Weather Station - Seemed True

Full review to follow. Promised as the "last show for a real long time" (due to, her other commitments), Tamara Lindeman continues to refine her newest batch of songs, and even if she's given in to the technological imperative of adding a pickup to her guitar, she's still keeping things spare and lovely.

* Thanks to Shawn for pointing out that I didn't update this since What Am I Going To Do With Everything I Know was released.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Recording: Jennifer Castle

Artist: Jennifer Castle

Song: Piece of Glass

Recorded at Parts + Labour ("Mattyfest Summerslam BBQ 2013"), August 18, 2013.

Jennifer Castle - Piece of Glass

Full review to follow. It appears that Jennifer Castle has had her 2008 album You Can't Take Anyone on her mind, choosing to revisit a few of its tunes — including a dandy new arrangement for this song.

Recording: Marine Dreams

Artist: Marine Dreams

Song: Straight Path

Recorded at Parts + Labour ("Mattyfest Summerslam BBQ 2013"), August 18, 2013.

Marine Dreams - Straight Path

Full review to follow. I think every time I've seen Marine Dreams play, it was always with a bit a of jury-rigged lineup — breaking in a new drummer or compensating for a missing member. So it was no surprise to see vocalist/guitarist Ian Kehoe beaming as his now-sextet cruised with what he declared to be Fleetwood Mac-style velocity. The band's sophomore album Corner of the Eye is going to be out September 24 on You've Changed, so while there's no tour dates listed at the moment, it's reasonable to expect we'll be hearing about some soon — and hopefully seeing this current unit sticking together.

Recording: Alvvays

Artist: Alvvays

Song: Party Police

Recorded at Parts + Labour ("Mattyfest Summerslam BBQ 2013"), August 18, 2013.

Alvvays - Party Police

Full review to follow. Although they've now settled on one google-able version of their name, Alvvways are still keeping a deliberately low (lovv?) profile — seemingly never playing a headlining show and now selling their Chad VanGaalen-produced debut album on tape at shows, but keeping the music mostly offline. But for all the mystery, they're cheerful in the flesh as they present their nuanced (but poppy) numbers.

Recording: Teenanger

Artist: Teenanger

Song: Psychic Sonya

Recorded at Parts + Labour ("Mattyfest Summerslam BBQ 2013"), August 18, 2013.

Teenanger - Psychic Sonya

Full review to follow. Last-minute fill-ins Teenanger brought some of their new songs to the summer iteration of chef Matty Matheson's "Mattyfest" celebration, with bands and BBQ all evening long upstairs at Parts + Labour. Teenanger will also be celebrating the release of their new album Singles Don't $ell with a free record-release show at the Silver Dollar on September 14.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Concert Listings Roundup #6

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:

Fiver (The Weather Station / James Irwin) / Holy Oak Café 2013-08-20 (Tuesday) [FB event]

This week's noteworthy shows:

Cousins (Gay) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2013-08-21 (Wednesday — free! early!) [FB event]

Screaming Females (Greys / The Beverleys) / The Shop under Parts + Labour 2013-08-22 (Thursday) [FB event]

Onakabazien (Carl Didur) / Double Double Land 2013-08-22 (Thursday) [FB event]

Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival presents Aquarium Sounds (feat. The Skeletones Four / Formalists / The Jessica Stuart Few / The Benefit of the Free Man / Eden Wells) / Measure 2013-08-23 (Friday) [FB event]

Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival presents Dollarstore Spaceship (feat. The Beverleys / Dany Laj & the Looks / Chrymes / Alphabot) / Handlebar 2013-08-23 (Friday) [FB event]

Moonwood (Psyche Tongues / I Have Eaten The City / KUSABIRA) / 90 Bellevue Ave. 2013-08-23 (Friday) [FB event]

The Big Sound XII / The Great Hall 2013-08-23 (Friday) [FB event]

Ketamines (Tough Age / Big Dick / Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs / Paul Jacobs) [record release party!] / Imperial Pub 2013-08-23 (Friday) [FB event]

Pleasence Records Release Party (feat. TAIWAN / Hobo Cubes / New Positions / Tranz Défoncé / Doom Tickler) / The Red Cherry Bar & Grill 2013-08-24 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wish (Breeze / Elsa) / Holy Oak Café 2013-08-24 (Saturday) [more info]

In-Between Sounds 29 (feat. Lorde Awesome / Knurl) / The Only Café 2013-08-24 (Saturday) [FB event]

Lone Bone (Blunt Chunks) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2013-08-25 (Sunday) [FB event]

Add these to your calendar:

New Mendicants / The Dakota Tavern 2013-08-26 (Monday)

Mini-Beams (Johanna Warren) / Monarch Tavern 2013-08-27 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Phèdre (Petra Glynt / KENPARK) / The Beaver 2013-08-30 (Friday) [FB event]

INTERsection (feat. Acid Brass, TorQ Percussion, Rea Beaumont, Tiina Kiik, New Adventures In Sound Art, Contact, The University of Toronto Percussion Ensemble) / Yonge-Dundas Square 2013-08-31 (Sunday) [FB event]

X Avant VIII (feat. Quartetski [playing The Rite Of Spring / The Gordon Grdina Trio) / The Music Gallery 2013-10-11 (Friday) [FB event]

X Avant VIII (Morton Feldman String Quartet No. 2 feat. The FLUX Quartet / The Music Gallery 2013-10-12 (Saturday) [FB event]

X Avant VIII (feat. Charlemagne Palestine / Rose Bolton) / The Music Gallery 2013-10-13 (Sunday) [FB event]

X Avant VIII (Not The Wind, Not The Flag & William Parker / Eucalyptus) / The Music Gallery 2013-10-17 (Thursday) [FB event]

X Avant VIII (Ensemble Supermusique) / The Music Gallery 2013-10-18 (Friday) [FB event]

X Avant VIII (Gurpreet Chana / Alaniaris feat. Scott Good) / The Music Gallery 2013-10-20 (Sunday) [FB event]

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Recording: Maylee Todd

Artist: Maylee Todd

Songs: I Can't Stand It + Pegwee Power

Recorded at The Great Hall – SummerWorks Festival ("Maylee Todd's Musical Planetarium"), August 17, 2013.

Maylee Todd - I Can't Stand It

Maylee Todd - Pegwee Power

Full review to follow. A Maylee Todd show is most often a raucous affair, featuring Todd's powerhouse band cranking out high-octane funk blasts. But her albums contain another, quieter side to them that don't fit into that environment as well. This special show gave Todd a way to present her softer side to an eager, quieter audience who'd be treating these songs as the main attraction and not a quiet spot between chances to dance. The set was played in the round, on a mini-stage set up on the Great Hall's floor, with the audience encouraged to bring blankets and lay back, watching the "planetarium" projections on the ceiling. They were well done (especially when interpolated with some processed live footage) but it was still difficult not to keep an eye on Todd, who took the stage looking like a Japanese virtual idol made flesh. Playing solo, Todd brought her harp as well as some of the tools (including tenori-on) that she's been exploring with her solo Maloo project — though here her voice was enhanced by a quartet of backing singers perched above her on either side of the room's balcony.1

In its best moments, the combined effect of musical, visual and spacial elements was quite spellbinding. Cheers once again to SummerWorks for underwriting these fabulous Music Series shows and giving musicians a chance to work on a bigger canvas than usual in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. Let us hope that the spirit of these shows is carried forward to next year's festival.

1 As much for my own future reference as anything, I should note that the backing singers were Heather Mazhar, Charise Aragoza, Hallie Switzer and Alex Samaras. The latter was one of the Music Series' secret ingredients, also appearing as one of Snowblink's auxiliary musicians.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recording: The Wooden Sky

Artist: The Wooden Sky

Songs: Ambient Alleyway #1 + River Song One + An Evening Hymn + Take Me Out + Baby It's No Secret

Recorded at various locations (see below) ("The Wooden Sky Travelling Adventure Show"), August 16, 2013.

The Wooden Sky - Ambient Alleyway #1

The Wooden Sky - River Song One

The Wooden Sky - An Evening Hymn

The Wooden Sky - Take Me Out

The Wooden Sky - Baby It's No Secret

Full review to follow. A rather amazing night! One of my fondest memories of The Wooden Sky is that time they headlined Lee's Palace, played their encore in the alley behind the building and then finished off with a massive traffic-stopping singalong in the middle of Bloor Street. This SummerWorks presentation was planned in the same spirit, taking the audience on a walking trip down alleys and through streets. Just to give a sense of the variety of experiences on the night, here's a larger-than-average number of selections, with some quick notes following the trail of the action.

1) "Ambient Alleyway #1" recorded in the alleyway west of Ossington Av, north of Queen St. The show started in the back parking lot behind the Lower Ossington Theatre that's been serving as the festival hub's beer garden. After playing four songs, "City of Light" didn't actually end — instead guitarist Gavin Gardiner and violin player Edwin Huizinga slung mini-amplifiers over their shoulders and started walking down sound the alley that runs parallel to Ossington, leading the crowd pied-piper style. Musicians were playing along the way, and a series of speakers in wagons provided keyboard atmospheres. This recording is an edit of my trip down the alley. It's a little rough, given the circumstances, but it captures the sound-journey reasonably well. It ends as the crowd reached the intersection with the east-west alley parallel to Queen, as Gardiner climbed onto a box, plugged his mic into one of the wagon-speakers and launched into a singalong version of "The Late King Henry".

2) "River Song One" recorded on the lawn of CAMH While still playing that song, the journey continued as Gardiner led the crowd onto Queen Street, and stopping traffic for a couple minutes, kept the song going. The crowd then moved onto the new lawn beside Lower Ossington on the CAMH grounds and sat down for a stripped-down mini set.

3) "An Evening Hymn" recorded on the back of a truck being pushed down Stokes St. The show then moved over to the corner of Lower Ossington and Stokes St., and Gardiner and Huizinga climbed into the back of a pickup truck, instructing the crowd to push them along while they played this song. When finished, they played one more song in the truck while sparklers were being passed around.

4) "Take Me Out" recorded on the loading dock of Real Food For Real Kids Then, cutting through another alley, the band took to a "stage" on a loading dock. With all of their gear waiting for them, they launched into a more rocking series of tunes, pausing to help the crowd warm up by passing out a few bottles of whisky for everyone to share.

5) "Baby It's No Secret" recorded at BLK BOX After another ambient alleyway excursion, moving up the back lane parallel to Dovercourt, the show ended in the basement of the Great Hall, with horns and drums marching from the street and keeping the music going as the band leapt on stage. The set closed with an unamplified singalong in the middle of the floor before the band took a much-deserved break. But then they returned for one more set, nearly exhausting their storehouse of songs before throwing in a couple brand-new numbers, including this one.

Addendum: I've posted a few more photos from the night over at the MFS Facebook page.

Special thanks to Mick and Emily who helped me to be able to get these recordings in some unusual circumstances.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Contest: Out Of The Box Music & Arts Festival

Win a pair of All-Access Festival Passes to the Out of The Box Festival

Thursday, August 22 – Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Out of The Box festival emerged a couple years ago with the idea of transforming regular ol' concerts into a more immersive experience. Applying a DIY spirit to art and music, the festival returns for a second round in some of the city's comfier smaller rooms. The "festival" feel comes from packing several shows together over a weekend, so you can skip around a bit if you want to explore the different concepts.

Themes at the shows include the budget-minded garage-rockin' Dollarstore Spaceship and the kaiju misadventures of Attack Of The 100 Ft Bands — not to mention aquariums, dragons and more.

Musically, there'll be a mix of old friends and new discoveries on stage, but highlights include a chance to see fast-rising grunge-punkers The Beverleys, prog-poppers The Skeletones Four and koto-folkers The Jessica Stewart Few. And more. Much, much more.

listen! The Beverleys - Dreams
listen! The Skeletones Four - Trap Door
listen! The Jessica Stuart Few - Kid Dream


You can find everything you need to know at the festival's Facebook page. Shows range from free to $10, with a couple PWYC and several at $8.


That's plenty affordable, but thanks to the festival, I have a pair of all-access festival passes to give away! Here's a chance to get a full weekend's worth of entertainment and maybe even hop around a bit to discover something new.

CONTEST CLOSED To enter, shoot me an email to, with "OOTB" in the title and your name in the body. I'll randomly draw a winner on Wednesday, August 21st.

Recording: The Bicycles

Artist: The Bicycles

Songs: Modulation/Transformation + Gentle Rain + Requiem

Recorded at BLK BOX (SummerWorks Festival), August 15, 2013.

The Bicycles - Modulation/Transformation

The Bicycles - Gentle Rain

The Bicycles - Requiem

Full review to follow. Tapping into the same zeitgeist that drives Schützen (one of the festival's big presentations), Stephanie Markowitz and Maggie MacDonald's Young Drones unpacks an unspoken cultural conundrum: we wouldn't blink an eye at the idea of machines that indiscriminately kill, yet somehow the idea of machines that indiscriminately love seems comedically outlandish. The narrative of this tale of young drones in love is brought to life through an entirely new set of songs by The Bicycles, several of which would be standalone gems in their repertoire.

Here's a taste of the story's love, loss and redemption, though the music is only one leg of the artistic triad here, alongside Amy Siegel's amazing projections and the choreography of "drones" Tina Fushell and Andrya Duff. If you want to see all of these elements coming together, be sure to raise your voice in suggesting a remount of this fabulous production.

Recording: Snowblink

Artist: Snowblink

Songs: Pray For Surf + I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) [Whitney Houston cover]

Recorded at BLK BOX (SummerWorks Festival), August 14, 2013.

Snowblink - Pray For Surf

Snowblink - I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)

Full review to follow. The Music Series at this year's SummerWorks festival is placing a greater emphasis on creating one-of-a-kind events. Snowblink's "Original Touch" made the band's songs unique by placing a veritable who's who of local musicians throughout the crowd, spacializing the musical accents on each tune. It also transformed from sit-down show to slow-dance party with this closing Whitney Houston cover.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Download: The Final ALL CAPS! live compilation

If you've been paying attention, you might have noticed that I've now posted a track from every set at the final ALL CAPS! festival. In case you happen to want a little audiomemento, I've put them all together in one zip file. So you can either dig around and just get the ones you want the most right here on the blog, or you can grab the whole thing with this link:

The Final ALL CAPS! live compilation

Please support the artists who make wonderful music like this happen by going to their shows and buying their recordings. Also: next time you're at a Wavelength event, pick one of the organizers that most looks like they need a hug, and give them a hug.

Recording: Rich Aucoin

Artist: Rich Aucoin

Song: Brian Wilson Is A.L.I.V.E.

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 11, 2013

Rich Aucoin - Brian Wilson Is A.L.I.V.E.

My quick notes for this set can be found here. [Do note that I fudged with chronology here and added Ryan McLaren's intro from the start of the set to this track.]

Recording: Beliefs

Artist: Beliefs

Song: Long Wings

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 11, 2013

Beliefs - Long Wings

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Magneta Lane

Artist: Magneta Lane

Song: Leave The Light On

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 11, 2013

Magneta Lane - Leave The Light On

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Pachamama

Artist: Pachamama (feat. Lido Pimienta)

Song: At What Cost

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 11, 2013

Pachamama - At What Cost

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Currente calamo: The ALL CAPS! Island Festival 2013 (Sunday)

The ALL CAPS! Island Festival 2013 — Artscape Gibraltar Point

Day 2 — feat. Watershed Hour / Pachamama / EONS / Elfin Saddle / Magneta Lane / Beliefs / catl / Rich Aucoin)

While it's all fresh in my mind, a few notes from this year's ALL CAPS! Festival. Longer, more comprehensive reviews will follow down the road a piece.

Scale matters. There was a hugely different vibe at something like this than at a giant mersh festival where you're penned in all day. Room to move, an understanding that you can wander away and come back. Glints of recognition — even when it's just a quick nod to a familiar face who's not a friend yet. Heck, on Sunday, when we strolled up at the start of the second day, the security guard at the gate recognized a friend of mine and commented that she looked less stressed out than the previous day. Somehow, ALL CAPS even managed to curate compassionate security guards.

The second afternoon of the fest again started with the day's youngest band. Watershed Hour had a few years on the previous day's Unfinished Business, and they'd clearly put the time to good use, learning now only how to master their instruments, but also how to mess with that as well — as evidenced by the bucket that Laura Klinduch has appended to her drum kit. She was joined by Natalie Paproski-Rubianes on bass, and the pair proceeded with some thick and ferocious rock jams.

With hints of DFA1979 (but with more of a slop-prog edge), there was all sorts of fun here, from the balaclava-clad bell-ringing assistant to the fingertapping basslines to the cowbell mini-breakdowns. Paproski-Rubianes handled the bulk of the vox (including one song that referenced Doctor Who) though Klinduch did some fine sing-shouting on one song ("I'M SORRY SIR / I JUST COULD NOT BE BOTHERED") in a mock-British accent that brushed up against sounding like an angry Spinal Tap. Coming in with no expectations here, I enjoyed this a lot, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one making "more like Watershred Hour, amirite?" jokes by set's end. Could they be the most exciting thing to come out of Whitby since, Oh, I dunno, Cleavers?

Listen to a song from this set here.

After that, a most pleasant change of scenery as the festival moved down to the beach for a couple sets. The beach stage was a small platform that looked like it could have been a reclaimed raft that Pachamama might have arrived on, nestled underneath a giant beachfront tree. This liberation-music percussion duo is a joint effort between Alexandra Mackenzie and Brandon Valdivia, who both have a lot of ongoing artistic projects (the former as a visual artist and the latter as a busy member of the city's improvised music community). But it might be easiest to get a grip on their approach here by viewing the partnership through the lens of their respective solo music projects, with Pachamama absorbing elements of Petra Glynt's handcrafted electronic loop-pop and Mas Aya's Latin American percussion bricolage. Together, it makes the project a fusion of organic drum-pounding essentialism with technologically-created sonics, all in the service of body-moving social uplift.

For this set, the pair were joined not only by a dancer who ranged freely around the beach, but also by Eric Woolston and Lido Pimienta who rounded out the sound with even more percussion and another layer of vocals. That added something new to the songs, but I think nature's stage was the most powerful collaborator here. I've been seeing this band a fair bit lately, as they're pretty electrifying when they're on their game. But having a chance to stand at the edge of the lake, waves lapping at my feet while they sang about, say, the true value of water and how it's cheapened by commodification, felt pretty amazing.

Listen to a song from this set here.

It was also amusing to see the festival-goers mixing with the passers-by who were simply working their way along the Island's beaches. Some looked suspicious, a few stopped to listen, and as EONS began their set, one guy in a canoe even held his spot a little ways off shore to listen a while. In contrast to the funky clatter of the previous set, Matt Cully brought some introspective songs from his brand-new Arctic Radio album, accompanied only by his guitar and co-vocalist Misha Bower. Doc Pickles, the day's MC, was not wrong when he introduced the set as "Lake Ontario, featuring EONS", as the sound of the waves completed the folk-y excursions, filling in the vast yearning spaces in the songs. A gorgeous time.

Listen to a song from this set here.

The extra quiet time at the main stage had been put to good use, for by the time the crowd straggled back up from the beach, it was rather filled with all manner of unusual equipment. Foremost among them would be a tape loop stretching out about six feet from a reel-to-reel player as well as a long tube that looked somewhere between a didgeridoo and one of Jean-François Laporte's compressed air instruments. These were just some of the tools that Elfin Saddle would employ in their set.

The quartet led off with a drone-y sort of folk song faturing Jordan McKenzie's slowly unfolding, flattened keening vocals. This was a very "Wavelength" sort of moment, a taste of something avant and not easily digestible that many in the audience might otherwise pass by, but here sitting back on the lawn and absorbing it. The band's contrasting textures were provided by Emi Honda, whose Japanese vocals had a different sort of distancing effect. But then, as if to remind the crowd that even if they tend to work in a more experimental sonic space they were still from Montréal and on Constellation records, all at once the drones broke into a rising post-rock swell. I'd seen the band a couple years back and was left feeling fairly neutral towards them, but between the green grass and the greyish sky this was much more to my liking.

Listen to a song from this set here.

If that was an example of Wavelength nudging the audience a bit towards something that might be at the edge of people's comfort zones, then following it up with a set from Magneta Lane may well have felt like a soothing balm afterward. And if there was something prototypically Wavelengthesque about the Montréalers' weirdness, this might have felt a bit correspondingly out of place and somewhat too-straight up. Now celebrating a decade as a band, Magneta Lane are somewhat cursed by that longevity, never quite getting popular enough to "break out", but never being weird or obscure enough to gain defenders among the indie-rock cognoscenti. They are also cursed, in that same regard, for having a career based more on consistency rather than on the sort of "growth" or "reinventions" that make for convenient narratives.

And yet, Magneta Lane are a Wavelength band as well, and they were palpably happy to be playing the show, talking about how important the series was to their early formation. I have no doubt that the blasts from their Marshall stacks were too straight-ahead for some in the crowd, just as Elfin Saddle's droney weirdness was not straight-ahead enough for others — and such is the Wavelength continuum. The trio proceeded to blast away with some crunchy riffs, mixing some older tunes with material from their recent Witchrock EP. I hadn't really paid attention to the band in a while — their-straight up rockitude generally places them in different circles than I usually travel in — and even if this didn't make me think I'd rush to got out of my way to see them again, this was a pleasing enough re-introduction.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Beliefs also offer guitar-rock with plenty of volume, but their penchant for leavening their sound with squishy noise and distortion puts them closer to my heart. Hearing the shoegaze-y quintet out in the open was an inneresting sonic experience, as I've always thought of the bombarding echoes reverberating off the walls as a key element of their sound. But here, having the soundwaves expanding to the sky brought a pleasingly expansive clarity to their sound. It helps that the band is in fine form right now, getting heady for a European tour (and to record their sophomore album on their return).

Listen to a song from this set here.

With the daylight beginning to falter, there were a few scattered drops from the clouds overhead, but the weekend's perfect weather held. I'd timed my beer buzz to correspond with catl's return to ALL CAPS, and their punk/blues dance-noise did a good job of warding off the chills as evening turned to night. There's been a couple rounds of changes for the band since they played in the backyard to close out the festival in 2010. Down to a duo, the band features now-unseated guitarist Jamie Fleming alongside Sarah Kirkpatrick, who has shifted from keybs to stand-up drum kit. When I first saw the duo incarnation of the band in a back patio gig one of my first reactions was that they'd need more volume to really get over — and this set would prove that hunch correct.

Playing as a two-piece also has the advantage of pushing the band back to the scuzzy rawness that they're best at, and several new songs showed that off to good effect. Holdovers in the setlist ("Caroline", "Hey Hey", "Gold Tooth Shine") were served with pulsating abandon as well, and the set ended with a supercharged version of "Working Man's Soul".

Listen to a song from this set here.

As catl played, there was a flurry of activity off to the side of the stage, with a circle of volunteers loading the confetti cannons and unpacking the rainbow-coloured parachute. Even a a few minutes of extra setup time dealing with a recalcitrant projector couldn't dampen the sense of enthusiasm. After giving thanks to the crowd, WL organizer and festival founder Ryan McLaren had a question: "How does ALL CAPS! end?"

"With an exclamation mark!" In finding the right way to close out the last night of Wavelength's last island festival, the organizers reached out to the night's other returnee, as Rich Aucoin is basically the human embodiment of that exclamation mark. Aucoin's greatest talent is to make affirmations seem joyful to make even the most jaded want to carpe the hell out of the diem. The manipulated viral videos and disco-y dance rock are just the tools with which he's accomplishing that, but they certainly help in his uplift party plan.

After sharing a few new youtube finds, Aucoin established his familiar pattern of teaching the audience the chant-along chorus before launching into each song, and then launching himself out into the crowd to lead the sing-alongs. There's not much more to say about it — the in-the-moment-ness that he inspires needs to be experienced rather than dissected. I'll only passingly note that besides upgrading to a full live band somewhere along the way, Aucoin has also upsized his parachute to a huge thing that, once efficiently unfurled with spontaneous co-operation, was sufficiently large to encompass the field full of people, an embodiment of the shared experience that somehow manifests itself. The fact that a large portion of the crowd didn't even notice the fireworks being launched from the beach says something about how engrossing this is.

Listen to a song from this set here.

And thus ends ALL CAPS! Any sense of sadness at that fact was forestalled by the satisfaction of a perfectly-executed weekend. As next summer starts to wind down, I may well get to missing the festival, though I have a hankering that Wavelength is going to have some reasonably-diverting new experiences ready to go by then.

Addendum: I have more photos from the weekend posted in an album over at the MFS Facebook page.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recording: Bizzarh

Artist: Bizzarh

Song: Low Love

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 10, 2013

Bizzarh - Low Love

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Shotgun Jimmie

Artist: Shotgun Jimmie

Songs: Proud Champions + Bridge Street Stage/Suzy

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 10, 2013

Shotgun Jimmie - Proud Champions

Shotgun Jimmie - Bridge Street Stage + Suzy

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: beekeeper

Artist: beekeeper

Song: It's The Blood

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 10, 2013

beekeeper - It's The Blood

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Most People

Artist: Most People

Song: Young and Wild

Recorded at Artscape Gibraltar Point ("The Final ALL CAPS! Island Festival"), August 10, 2013

Most People - Young and Wild

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Currente calamo: The ALL CAPS! Island Festival 2013 (Saturday)

The ALL CAPS! Island Festival 2013 — Artscape Gibraltar Point

Day 1 — feat. Unfinished Business / Most People / ev ree wuhn / beekeeper / Shotgun Jimmie / Bizzarh / Hooded Fang / The Blow

While it's all fresh in my mind, a few notes from this year's ALL CAPS! Festival. Longer, more comprehensive reviews will follow down the road a piece.

Over each of the past four years, Wavelength has thrown an Island festival that has gotten bigger and more ambitious in scope — and become for some folks a tentpole summer event. When word of the fifth iteration came with the adjective "final" in its title, there was certainly cause for consternation. And yet, that "final" also fit right into the Wavelength ethos: on the one hand, it served as a focusing device, a reminder to be alive to this moment, because this is it. It also served as a reminder of WL's playful self-rejuvenation, as if the organizers were saying, "All right, we've finally really figured out how to do this, so let's start something new from scratch and make some more mistakes again."

And indeed, at a logistical level, this went off without a hitch. It helped that that ever-mercurial weather co-operated beyond all expectations, with pleasantly warm days turning to gorgeously cool evenings, and no threat of rain. But beyond that, the festival went off like clockwork — having nearly all the music on the roomy outdoor stage meant that the next band up could be gathering their gear together and getting ready to set up even before the band ahead of them finished playing. In fact, for the diligent music-listener, the main stage operated so efficiently that there was hardly time to check out the rest of the festival, from the game zone with ping-pong table and a giant Jenga set, to the open art studios, to — ah! — the beautiful beach. That also meant that people could customize their experience: for some, the music was merely the background to the camping, hanging around, beach-going, etc, and that's cool too.

I was mostly sticking around by the stage, mind, and I made a point of being there early enough to see the lightning-fast set from festival openers Unfinished Business. I'd seen the teenaged trio a few times already, and they always play with refreshingly unjaded joy. The youngest band at the festival (now savvy veterans at thirteen and fourteen years old!), they also helped to reinforce ALL CAPS' all-ages ethos, playing songs they've written about superpowers and #epicfails. Their music also brought some of the crowd's younger members right up front, so hopefully the we can do it/you can do it message is being passed along. The confetti cannon blast at the end came after only about ten minutes of playing, but the band packed in a full set of quick songs. [By the way, if you act fast, you can still get in on the rewards of the band's crowd-funded vinyl release plans.]

Listen to a couple quick songs from this set here.

"Incubator" band Most People have played the anniversary festival and celebrated their album release with Wavelength, but outside on a sunny afternoon seemed like their ideal environment. Although the songs' electronic spines feel like they were laptop-crafted in the bedroom, they have an expansive languidness that opens up underneath the sky. The echo-y atmospheres recall Dusted at a few points, but without the glumness. Employing guitar and bass on top of backing tracks, Brandon Gibson-DeGroote and Paul McEachern also take care to craft a concert experience that feels "live", whether joining in on a dual-drum breakdown or in striking a winking rock-star pose during closing statement of purpose "Young and Wild".

Listen to a song from this set here.

Name-wise, ev ree wuhn [sic] might sound more expansively ambitious than "Most People", and indeed, there's more reach in their post-bedroom breakbeat-informed wooze. That's not always to their credit, as that widescreen ambition sometimes led to a blockbuster-esque generic-ness. For example "Turquoise", featuring an over-emoting Devin Wilson (of local "apocalypse pop" unit Bravestation), sounded like the band was imagining themselves playing an arena show and reaching for the cheap seats. Some of the more textured material, such as "Paper Tokyo" came off better, and closer "Colours" seemed like an appropriate soundtrack to lean back and watch the clouds drifting overhead.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Taking the stage to the pre-recorded voice of a "bad advice hotline" would be the first sign that Vancouver's beekeeper is leavening their pop-punk-y tunes with a fair bit of whimsy. To put it another way: it was not a shock when the drummer punctuated a song by pulling out a kazoo. Usually, a little of this goes a long way, but I was actually surprised that I enjoyed the band's goofiness more than the music. When they broke into a (gleep) Alanis Morissette cover, at least Devon Lougheed had the decency to run down to the ground in front of the stage to solo among the first row of spectators. But there were some hints (such as the power pop of "It's The Blood") that the band's music might yet become as inneresting as their antics.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Hopefully they stuck around, as they could have no better guide to integrating whimsy and strong songwriting than Jim Kilpatrick, who operates under the nom de guerre Shotgun Jimmie. Often (such as at his Wavelength-abetted album release show) playing as a one-man band, Kilpatrick was backed here by a rhythm section of Jay Baird and the Cannon Bros.' Cole Woods. Having musical support behind him gave Kilpatrick a chance to untether himself from the songs a bit, leading to some pleasingly goofy "jazz" excursions and lounge versions of some of the tunes. The pair rolled with the sudden shifts, laughing along, and could also provide a powerful new wave crunch when the band attacked the songs head-on, such as on Transistor Sister's "Suzy". And more than at that album-release show, Kilpatrick was tossing out songs from throughout his career.

On the surface, these are simple songs presented in an uncomplicated way, but Kilpatrick's wit and presence elevates the material quite a lot. Maybe not so much that I'd want to join the trio of sing-all-the-words superfans who spent the show at the lip of the stage, but this was still pretty great stuff and one of the festival's highlights.

Listen to a couple songs from this set here.

Had I not seen Bizzarh just a couple weeks ago, I might have been dubious about the pair, as their hip-hop/R&B style is not the sort of music that I usually gravitate towards. But that Regent Park gig was a good reminder that talent trumps genre every time, and I left totally impressed with the duo.

Charli Champ and Dollar Paris play off each other with the ease of telepathic twins, spitting rhymes and singing hooks with a natural ease. That said, as they took the bigger festival stage, they looked a bit more nervous than at that last time 'round and it took a couple songs for them to really find their groove. But as they moved along, it seemed as if they realized the crowd was really into this, and they got back to their confident swagger. If we didn't get the front-porch a capella the pair threw off at Regent Park, we did get a string of rapid-fire hits, and there was so much packed into the quick songs that I was surprised that the set was done in twenty minutes.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Relative veterans, Hooded Fang showed how to keep the show moving forward even when there's some bumps in the road. After easing in with instrumental "Big Blue", the band leaped into their Gravez-garage-gloom, only to have both April Aliermo's bass and vocalist Daniel Lee's microphone come unplugged. The rest of the band plunged on, Lee gave a smile and a shrug and all at once they took off. As the band careened into "Ode to Subterrania", a small (and fairly gentle) moshpit formed up front as Lee and fellow guitarist Lane Halley threw in some fresh licks and noise-twists into the songs. Spreading the banter around also let the band's personalities shine, with the crowd getting to hear from an erudite hobo perfessor (drummer D. Alex Meeks) and sassy activist Aliermo. Even in the moments where things were falling apart a bit — or especially? — the set was a superb mix of technicolor slop and motorvatin' gusto.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Given that I had never heard of The Blow before, I simply had to trust in the curatorial skills of the Wavelength crew. But it didn't take long for Khaela Maricich to establish her headliner bona fides. All of the rock'n'roll gear stripped away, Maricich entered to a stage that was empty, save for her microphone stand, and proceeded to fill up the whole thing with her goofy/manic/sexy energy. Collaborator Melissa Dyne worked from a platform behind the audience, and as she'd start tracks and drop in skittering rhythmic complications, Maricich moved like one of the pied piper's rats, twitching and suddenly possessed by the music. (And if that makes it sound like a disagreeable experience for Maricich, do note that she'd frequently implore Dyne to never, ever let the rhythm stop.) It's a bit too bad that "Step Into My Wiggle Room", which would be an entirely apt album title, is already taken.

There was an element of performance art at play here, but it was never at the expense of the music or having fun. Debuting a set of almost entirely new material, there were some rough edges, but the anything-could-happen sensibility was a thousand times more fun than over-polished professionalism. Maricich got the crowd on side (demonstrations such as "Six Things My Butt Never Does" were a big winner) and even enlisted volunteers to operate the smoke machine at the edge of the stage. She also solicited ideas from the crowd, doing a cartwheel when one was called for and all-but-daring the crowd to command her to take off her pants. By the end of the set she spent most of one song singing while crowd surfing ("don't put me back! I don't want to stand!") — and eventually, the pants came off. That's always a satisfying way to end an evening.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Addendum: I have more photos from the weekend posted in an album over at the MFS Facebook page.