Saturday, November 30, 2013

Recording: Jay Holy

Artist: Jay Holy

Song: Skeletons

Recorded at Recorded at 961a College St., November 28, 2013.

Jay Holy - Skeletons

Full review to follow. The recordings so far cast Jay Holy as a band with a bit more of a goth-y menacing edge (and prone to "moog abductions"). But live, this came off more like a big new wave dance party, with Jay Holy's omnichord supplemented by some ace keyb work.

Recording: Bile Sister

Artist: Bile Sister

Song: On the Cheetah Sleeper

Recorded at Recorded at 961a College St., November 28, 2013.

Bile Sister - On the Cheetah Sleeper

Full review to follow. Bile Sister (the bandonym of Julie Reich) sounds a bit like Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk tweaking in a back alley because he saw Bernie Worrell being attacked by rabid chipmunks. This is a pop project, but pop with beats peeking out from under layers of wobbly muck. There were some new songs in the set, as well as a new tape just out now.

Recording: New Chance

Artist: New Chance

Song: unknown*

Recorded at 961a College St., November 28, 2013.

New Chance - unknown

Full review to follow. VC (who plays in HVYWTR and is half of the braintrust behind the Healing Power label) takes a solo turn with this project mixing deeep sonic murk, beats, and popsmarts in intriguing proportions. There was a bit of crowd chatter audible in the room (and on this recording) but I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more of this.

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Recording: Shannon and the Clams

Artist: Shannon and the Clams

Songs: unknown* + Into a Dream + Runaway [Del Shannon cover]

Recorded at Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, November 25, 2013.

Shannon and the Clams - unknown

Shannon and the Clams - Into a Dream

Shannon and the Clams - Runaway

Full review to follow. I mostly went to this show on a hunch, having dug when I saw Shannon Shaw as part of Hunx & His Punx. Her own band has a similar vibe, but with less punkish attitude and camp verve, there's more room for pure rock'n'roll glory. The pedal-to-floor race through "Runaway" gives a pretty good indication where they're coming from, and there were plenty two-minute-flat originals that were channelling that same spirit. Sweaty fun that had the packed dancefloor shaking right from the get-go.

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

Recording: Milk Lines

Artist: Milk Lines

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, November 25, 2013.

Milk Lines - unknown

Full review to follow. I was intrigued by Milk Lines when I first saw 'em, but in the months since, they've rapidly been growing as a unit. They've quickly become the sort of opening band that can pack a room on their own merits, and with guitarist Emily Frances taking more lead vocals to act as foil to Jeff Clarke's peyote-paranoid visions, there's a satisfying balance to their sound.

* The band's setlist identified this as "X MAS", but I'm not sure if that's a partial title or a placeholder for this not-obviously-seasonal tune. Please leave a comment if you can confirm the full title!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Recording: The Green Ray

Artist: The Green Ray

Song: The Descent*

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, November 23, 2013.

The Green Ray - The Descent

Full review to follow. Recently plying their trade in, respectively, Fill Spectre and The Whirly Birds, Jay Share-It and Pete Carmichael have now combined forces in this new project that squeezes psych-rock nuggets out of the combination of the former's whoops and the latter's 12-string jangle. This song demonstrates that there's room for those elements to recombine in some inneresting ways.

This was their first show, but the band already has a few demos online, and have announced that their next outing will be at The Magpie on Friday, December 20th.

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

Recording: Programm

Artist: Programm

Song: We Barely Escaped

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, November 23, 2013.

Programm - We Barely Escaped

Full review to follow. The name "Programm" hints at this band's essence in a way that former moniker "Volcano Playground" did not. There's a sense of careful deliberateness in the way they go about crafting and presenting their music. That doesn't mean they're rote or mechanistic though — just not the sort of folks who are gonna get randomly unstructured or jammy on stage. And at any rate, it serves their dream-pop-gaze well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recording: MATROX

Artist: MATROX

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison ("All Toronto's Parties"), November 22, 2013.

MATROX - unknown

Full review to follow. Toronto's DIY show promoters have generally been more mutual admirers than competitors, and now, this is the first flowering of a new commitment to work together. Wavelength, Weird Canada, Silent Shout, Feast in the East and Pleasence Records each picked an act for this joint show, which packed The Garrison with music and other diversions.

PEOPLE OF EARTH! The Interplanetary Robots known as MATROX have descended upon us. Very little is known about them or their purpose on our planet. They claim they are here to entertain, which sounds like a peaceful mission, but their presence may be related to unconfirmed reports of invading krautrock replicants. If you are summoned by MATROX, be warned that your critical faculties may be overpowered by their groove rays, rendering you helpless to do anything but dance.

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

Recording: Lido Pimienta

Artist: Lido Pimienta

Song: Goodbye

Recorded at The Garrison ("All Toronto's Parties"), November 22, 2013.

Lido Pimienta - Goodbye

Full review to follow. Toronto's DIY show promoters have generally been more mutual admirers than competitors, and now, this is the first flowering of a new commitment to work together. Wavelength, Weird Canada, Silent Shout, Feast in the East and Pleasence Records each picked an act for this joint show, which packed The Garrison with music and other diversions.

Taking the stage with a headliner's confidence, Lido Pimienta challenged the audience to overcome their own apathy and preconceptions while still inviting them to join in with her futuristic Colombian grooves — and by set's end, that extended to welcoming the crowd up on stage for a big dance party.

Recording: Young Guv

Artist: Young Guv

Song: Crawling Back to You

Recorded at The Garrison ("All Toronto's Parties"), November 22, 2013.

Young Guv - Crawling Back to You

Full review to follow. Toronto's DIY show promoters have generally been more mutual admirers than competitors, and now, this is the first flowering of a new commitment to work together. Wavelength, Weird Canada, Silent Shout, Feast in the East and Pleasence Records each picked an act for this joint show, which packed The Garrison with music and other diversions.

Keeping busy, as always, both with Fucked Up as well as his other "solo" projects, Ben Cook still has found time to put together a new version of his power pop unit. There was a whole bunch of new songs here, not miles removed from what we've heard before, but perhaps torqued a bit, say, from something that sounded like it might have been playing over the end credits of an 80's teen comedy to something you might have heard on an 80's college radio station.

Recording: Ken Park

Artist: Ken Park

Song: He Says I'm An Island (I Won't Try And Find Him)

Recorded at The Garrison ("All Toronto's Parties"), November 22, 2013.

Ken Park - He Says I'm An Island (I Won't Try And Find Him)

Full review to follow. Toronto's DIY show promoters have generally been more mutual admirers than competitors, and now, this is the first flowering of a new commitment to work together. Wavelength, Weird Canada, Silent Shout, Feast in the East and Pleasence Records each picked an act for this joint show, which packed The Garrison with music and other diversions.

Scott Harwood was a last-minute injury replacement in the lineup, but his one-man laptop-free dance grooves fit right in. (Oh, and by the way: this one used to sound like this, but not any more.)

Recording: Holiday Rambler

Artist: Holiday Rambler

Songs: August 16, 1942 [story] + Made for Him

Recorded at The Garrison ("All Toronto's Parties"), November 22, 2013.

Holiday Rambler - August 16, 1942

Holiday Rambler - Made for Him

Full review to follow. Toronto's DIY show promoters have generally been more mutual admirers than competitors, and now, this is the first flowering of a new commitment to work together. Wavelength, Weird Canada, Silent Shout, Feast in the East and Pleasence Records each picked an act for this joint show, which packed The Garrison with music and other diversions.

While the chatty crowd filtered in to the room (and threatened to drown out the performance), man-out-of-time D. Alex Meeks related his gothic tales with unconcerned beneficence. Presented in glorious monophonic sound.

Recording: Rookie Lights

Artist: Rookie Lights*

Song: O Canada

Recorded at The Garrison ("All Toronto's Parties"), November 22, 2013.

Rookie Lights - O Canada

Full review to follow. Toronto's DIY show promoters have generally been more mutual admirers than competitors, and now, this is the first flowering of a new commitment to work together. Wavelength, Weird Canada, Silent Shout, Feast in the East and Pleasence Records each picked an act for this joint show, which packed The Garrison with music and other diversions.

Befitting the momentousness of the event, the night started with the national anthem, sung in the contemporary style of slowing things down one thousand per cent.

* This combo's name could, in fact, be Rookie Light or Rookie Lite — this is what I heard from the stage. I'm note sure this is a band per se, as one source tells me they were found outside The Garrison before the gig, practising their harmonies on the sidewalk. Leave a comment if you know the proper moniker!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Concert Listings Roundup #20

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:

The Beverleys [Digital EP & Video Release!] (Crosss / Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs / Wants) / The White House 2013-11-29 (Friday) [FB event]

the beverleys - Anyway (recorded at Clinton's Tavern, May 22, 2013.)


This week's noteworthy shows:

Shannon and The Clams (Milk Lines) / The Silver Dollar Room 2013-11-25 (Monday) [FB event]

Jim Lewis + David Occhipinti + Andrew Downing / The Emmet Ray 2013-11-25 (Monday) [PWYC avant jazz]

Eucalyptus [Homecoming Gig!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2013-11-26 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Michelle Willis / Thom Gill / Charles James / Holy Oak Café 2013-11-26 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Eve Egoyan / The Jane Mallett Theatre 2013-11-26 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Ted Phillips & Nilan Perera (Lina Allemano & Rob Clutton) / Musideum 2013-11-26 (Tuesday) [more info]

PiNG! [Canadian Music Centre showcase of chamber music] (feat. new compositions by Monica Pearce / Heather Schmidt / Nick Storring / Patrick Horn / Darlene Chepil Reid) / Chalmers House 2013-11-28 (Thursday – early + free!) [more info]

Gentleman Reg (Kelly McMichael and The Gloss / Bernice) / The Piston 2013-11-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

TMI Storyteller (feat. Henri Fabergé) / Holy Oak Café 2013-11-28 (Thursday) [FB event]

Frank Bretschneider's Kippschwingungen [North American premiere] (Michael Trommer/Nokami) / The Music Gallery 2013-11-29 (Friday) [FB event]

Unsigned #27 (feat. Rituals / The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores / Fresh Snow) / Steam Whistle Brewery 2013-11-29 (Friday) [FB event]

Punchclock Showcase (feat. New Fries / LLVK [Sook-Yin Lee/Adam Litovitz/Brandon Valdivia/Benjamin Kamino] / Carl Didur / Petra Glynt) / Double Double Land 2013-11-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

CCMC (Jay Hay + Mike Gennaro) / Array Space 2013-11-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Ostrich Tuning (Connoisseurs of Porn / Meeko Cheech / Secret Guest) / 961a College St. 2013-11-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wavelength 583: The Bass Piano (feat. Marilyn Lerner/Nicole Rampersaud / Ryan Driver/Justin Haynes/Michael Davidson/ Andrew Wedman /Robin Buckley) / Creatures Creating Gallery 2013-12-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

Paul Newman and Friends (See Through Trio) / Array Space 2013-12-01 (Sunday)


Add these to your calendar:

Project Lift PH ("a Haiyan Yolanda Relief Fundraiser") (feat. MALOO / Casey Mecija & Jenny Mecija / DATU) / The Great Hall 2013-12-04 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Neon Windbreaker [7" Release!] (Nice Head / Pink Wine / WTCHS) / Sneaky Dee's 2013-12-06 (Friday) [FB event]

Telephone Explosion: 6-year celebration (feat. Teenanger / Soupcans) / Sonic Boom Kensington Market 2013-12-12 (Thursday) [FB event]

The Justshows.com 2nd annual Christmas show (feat. Dog Day) / CineCycle 2013-12-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Sunshowers (feat. Glit Clit / Prince Nifty / Lido Pimienta / HVYWTR) / Comfort Zone 2013-12-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Download: Lou Reed Live Tribute

Whether you were there and want to re-live the experience or just couldn't make it out, here's the entire night's proceedings from the Silver Dollar Lou Reed tribute night. That makes for nearly three hours of music! Grab it here:

Toronto's Lou Reed Live Tribute

It took a lot of work to pull something like this together, so do say thanks to Mr. Dan Burke next time you're at the Silver Dollar. And remember to support the artists who make wonderful music like this happen by going to their shows and buying their recordings.

Recording: Patti Cake

Artist: Patti Cake

Song: She's My Best Friend [Velvet Underground cover]

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Lou Reed: Live Tribute"), November 21, 2013.

Patti Cake - She's My Best Friend

Full review to follow. Lou Reed, in his work in the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, created an entirely new lineage in the great tree of rock'n'roll. Any band that embraces some combination of darkness, bad vibes, unrepentant vice, noise and art can probably trace their roots back towards Lou Reed, and in Toronto, it seemed exactly right that the Silver Dollar (home, most nights, to some combination of the above) should be the place to host a night of music in tribute. A full night saw a wide variety of Reed's heirs celebrate some good songs, ranging from quiet moments of beauty to noise freakouts.

After a long evening of celebration, Patti Cake closed the night out with warmth and love by lighting some candles for Lou.

Bonus! If that's not enough for you, I've made the entire tribute night available to download.

Recording: Ostrich Tuning feat. Steven Leckie

Artist: Ostrich Tuning feat. Steven Leckie

Song: Coney Island Baby [Lou Reed cover]

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Lou Reed: Live Tribute"), November 21, 2013.

Ostrich Tuning feat. Steven Leckie - Coney Island Baby

Full review to follow. Lou Reed, in his work in the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, created an entirely new lineage in the great tree of rock'n'roll. Any band that embraces some combination of darkness, bad vibes, unrepentant vice, noise and art can probably trace their roots back towards Lou Reed, and in Toronto, it seemed exactly right that the Silver Dollar (home, most nights, to some combination of the above) should be the place to host a night of music in tribute. A full night saw a wide variety of Reed's heirs celebrate some good songs, ranging from quiet moments of beauty to noise freakouts.

The best set of the night saw Ostrich Tuning (whose very name is a tribute to Lou Reed) pay their respects with several diverse approaches. With an extended lineup featuring friends Robyn Phillips (backing vox) and Nick Kervin (guit), the set started with Ami Spears delivering slow, gorgeous versions of "Femme Fatale" and "I Found a Reason", and it ended with Matt Mason (of Surinam/Anagram) taking the mic with some roboticized metal machine vox on "White Light/White Heat" and "Sister Ray." But in the middle of it all was this song, which will probably be remembered as the night's signature moment, with The Viletones' Steven Leckie's sensitive and poetic reading of one of Reed's most tender songs.

Bonus! If that's not enough for you, I've made the entire tribute night available to download.

Recording: The Flowers of Hell feat. Andre Ethier

Artist: The Flowers of Hell feat. Andre Ethier

Song: Charley's Girl [Lou Reed cover]

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Lou Reed: Live Tribute"), November 21, 2013.

The Flowers of Hell feat. Andre Ethier - Charley's Girl

Full review to follow. Lou Reed, in his work in the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, created an entirely new lineage in the great tree of rock'n'roll. Any band that embraces some combination of darkness, bad vibes, unrepentant vice, noise and art can probably trace their roots back towards Lou Reed, and in Toronto, it seemed exactly right that the Silver Dollar (home, most nights, to some combination of the above) should be the place to host a night of music in tribute. A full night saw a wide variety of Reed's heirs celebrate some good songs, ranging from quiet moments of beauty to noise freakouts.

Tackling a couple less-obvious selections, Greg Jarvis and his Flowers of Hell showed both the reach of their ambition (in choosing to tackle mini-suite "Street Hassle") and their will to rock, as seen in this groover with ex-Deadly Snake Andre Ethier on vocals.

Bonus! If that's not enough for you, I've made the entire tribute night available to download.

Recording: By Divine Right feat. Ian Blurton + Dan Burke

Artist: By Divine Right feat. Ian Blurton amd Dan Burke

Song: Sweet Jane [Velvet Underground cover]

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Lou Reed: Live Tribute"), November 21, 2013.

By Divine Right feat. Ian Blurton + Dan Burke - Sweet Jane

Full review to follow. Lou Reed, in his work in the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, created an entirely new lineage in the great tree of rock'n'roll. Any band that embraces some combination of darkness, bad vibes, unrepentant vice, noise and art can probably trace their roots back towards Lou Reed, and in Toronto, it seemed exactly right that the Silver Dollar (home, most nights, to some combination of the above) should be the place to host a night of music in tribute. A full night saw a wide variety of Reed's heirs celebrate some good songs, ranging from quiet moments of beauty to noise freakouts.

By Diving Right closed off their mini-set by inviting up Ian Blurton (supplementing Jose Contreras' fiery guitar solos) to help them back iconic Silver Dollar booker/rock'n'roll animal Dan Burke, who delivered the goods with attitude and conviction.

Bonus! If that's not enough for you, I've made the entire tribute night available to download.

Recording: Lily Frost with Jose Contreras

Artist: Lily Frost with Jose Contreras

Song: Pale Blue Eyes [Velvet Underground cover]

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Lou Reed: Live Tribute"), November 21, 2013.

Lily Frost with Jose Contreras - Pale Blue Eyes

Full review to follow. Lou Reed, in his work in the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, created an entirely new lineage in the great tree of rock'n'roll. Any band that embraces some combination of darkness, bad vibes, unrepentant vice, noise and art can probably trace their roots back towards Lou Reed, and in Toronto, it seemed exactly right that the Silver Dollar (home, most nights, to some combination of the above) should be the place to host a night of music in tribute. A full night saw a wide variety of Reed's heirs celebrate some good songs, ranging from quiet moments of beauty to noise freakouts.

Lily Frost stumbled a bit while trying to remember the chords to "Sunday Morning", but rebounded for one of the night's best moments in this quiet duet, which held the rowdy audience in totally silent, rapt attention.

Bonus! If that's not enough for you, I've made the entire tribute night available to download.

Recording: Broken Bricks

Artist: Broken Bricks

Song: I'm Set Free [Velvet Underground cover]

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Lou Reed: Live Tribute"), November 21, 2013.

Broken Bricks - I'm Set Free

Full review to follow. Lou Reed, in his work in the Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, created an entirely new lineage in the great tree of rock'n'roll. Any band that embraces some combination of darkness, bad vibes, unrepentant vice, noise and art can probably trace their roots back towards Lou Reed, and in Toronto, it seemed exactly right that the Silver Dollar (home, most nights, to some combination of the above) should be the place to host a night of music in tribute. A full night saw a wide variety of Reed's heirs celebrate some good songs, ranging from quiet moments of beauty to noise freakouts.

Broken Bricks showed off their softer side with their versions of "Stephanie Says" and "Perfect Day", but they also turned this one into a swaggering rocker.

Bonus! If that's not enough for you, I've made the entire tribute night available to download.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Recording: Fucked Up

Artist: Fucked Up

Songs: Breed [Nirvana cover] + new song*

Recorded at The Garrison, November 20, 2013.

Fucked Up - Breed

Fucked Up - new song

Full review to follow. Headlining a free show acting as a launch for some new brand of beer, Fucked Up's set was a bit more casual than I've seen 'em, with the band working without a setlist to pump out songs 'til basically enough instruments were out of commission to stop. Of course, that was made up for by the fact that even if hiding back behind the pit this was still a pretty up-close-and-personal show. As often happens, not a lot of vocals audible here on the Nirvana cover (especially as Damian Abraham started offering the mic to the crowd to sing along), but he was clearly having a good time throwing a few covers into the proceedings.

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

Recording: Odonis Odonis

Artist: Odonis Odonis

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison, November 20, 2013.

Odonis Odonis - unknown

Full review to follow. As far as I can remember, I don't recall seeing Dean Tzenos put down his guitar to play keyb as he does here. It doesn't exactly "change it all" as this song's lyrics suggest, but it does foreground the band's dance imperative a bit more than usual.

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Recording: Crocodiles

Artist: Crocodiles

Songs: Cockroach + Marquis de Sade

Recorded at Lee's Palace, November 19, 2013.

Crocodiles - Cockroach

Crocodiles - Marquis de Sade

Full review to follow. In these Buzz Fast/Fade Fast times, it's always nice to see a band that's able to switch over to "career mode". San Diego's Crocodiles have maintained the core of their dream-pop/postpunk sound while managing to grow as songwriters and musicians. Fourth album Crimes of Passion (produced by Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes) isn't so far removed from their first as to sound be unrecognizable, but it also couldn't have been made by that band. Also, Brandon Welchez, while still hitting the stage with frontman energy, shows more tender self-assurance than the brash young buck we saw a few years back. If this is growing older gracefully, it looks really good on the band.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Recording: Colin Fisher + Phil Melanson

Artist: Colin Fisher + Phil Melanson

Song: [excerpt 1]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Tiki Room), November 17, 2013.

Colin Fisher + Phil Melanson - [excerpt 1]

Full review to follow. Playing with Montréaler Phil Melanson (of MagicEyeImage and his bandmate in Bernice), Colin Fisher joined in for a two-night home-and-home musical series. Dunno what happened at the other end of the 401, but the T.O. leg featured some excellent deep excursions down a grimy alleyway in some seedy district on the far side of Saturn. In this chunk from the early part of the set, both are twiddling knobs on whatever pedals/electronics they were running through, such that that barely needed to make make use of their primary inputs (guitar and drumpads).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Planet in Focus 2013: Preview + Advance Reviews

Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival

November 21–24 , 2013

Planet in Focus is Canada's largest environmentally-themed film festival, presenting movies and advocacy since 1999. The ongoing ecological crises we are living trough can be emotionally draining to consider, but in the face of a constant corporate onslaught telling us everything is fine, it's essential for concerned planetary citizens to educate themselves. And beyond the inherent heaviness of the issues, there are always stirring stories to be told of people who are standing up and trying to do something about it.

There room for a lot of variety in looking at these topics, from the austere examination of nuclear fallout in Metamorphosen (an "attempt is to find a cinematic translation for a danger that is not perceptible nor visual") to Kiss the Water's more close-up, personal look at fly fishing. There's a chance to learn about issues ranging from advocacy on GMO's to invasive Asian Carp to European songbird poaching. It's also an awesome chance to see the world on the screen, from the impacts of far-flung tourism to life in cities, where most of us are, including Ekumenopolis' tour of Istanbul to Tokyo Waka's urban crows.

Screenings are at the TIFF Lightbox and Jackman Hall, and tickets are generally $15 per screening ($10 for seniors/students), with some money-saving pass options available if you want to really explore. The festival gets started on Thursday, but I've had a chance to check out a couple films already, so here's a couple advance reviews:


Arctic Defenders (Dir: John Walker, 90 mins., Canada, 2012)

Passionately interested in the people of the Arctic as a youth, John Walker got a job on a cargo ship at age sixteen and went to Resolute Bay, snapping pictures of the people he met there. Now, forty years on, he's making the trip again. The fact that he gets to re-encounter some of the same people is the "hook" here, and a scene where a couple of the locals go through the pictures, their faces lighting up with the memories of those living and dead is a highlight. But the film is really about what the people of Resolute Bay have had to go through, before and since.

These were not their original lands. The Inuit were involuntarily relocated here (as well as to Grise Fiord) from Northern Québec in the 1950's as "human flagpoles", part of the Canadian government's efforts to establish its sovereignty in the Arctic during the Cold War. These geopolitical pawns were treated with shocking racism — virtual prisoners "dumped on the beach", left with no homes and no food, and even their sled dogs were systematically killed by the RCMP so they wouldn't get to wandering off too far. Unsurprisingly, this sense of dislocation led to widespread suicide and other social ills.

It would also lead to the birth of a political movement by the younger cohort in the 60's — a bridge generation who knew the languages of both cultures. The Inuit Tapirisat of Canada was founded as a united voice for the Inuit peoples, and their long struggle (and monumental land claim) would lead to the foundation of a new territory called Nunavut. We get to meet with some of those activists, including living Father of Confederation Tagak Curley and John Amagoalik and see how they fought for their rights in the "Inuit way", speaking with tenacious gentle insistency, presenting their movement with nonviolence and humility and always playing the long game.

Their work has led to new possibilities as well as new struggles. With global warming opening up the North-West passage to more shipping (and the possibilities of new oil and gas exploitation), there is, once again, a quest for the government to "declare sovereignty" with splashy military pageants. But when the big annual war games are done, it's the Canadian Rangers, composed of the locals and their deep knowledge of the landscape, that are Canada's eyes and ears in the high Arctic. We spend some time on patrol with the Rangers, whose pride is mixed with more ambiguous feelings at their place in promoting a concept of land-grab sovereignty that was never their own to begin with.

And we also spend time with Oo Aqpik, who is returning to her childhood haunts in Lake Harbour (now known as Kimmirut), as well as the pragmatic Aaju Pater, who is equally adept as a wildlife-spotting guide and cultural philosopher. We're reminded that not all of the promises made during the creation of Nunavut have been kept, and as a new lawsuit to hold the Crown to account looms, we once more meet some figures from a rising young generation who are working to preserve their culture.

As all of that might indicate, this film is a bit like its protagonists — patient and not in a rush to assert a point. It drifts a bit topically, but remains engaging throughout. (And as we travel, there's no shortage of beautifully shot footage of the Arctic's rugged beauty to linger over.) As we trace the larger history of Canada's Inuit through individual personal stories, many viewers will feel sadness and shame at what has been done in their name by the Canadian government, but this isn't a sad story. You couldn't survive in the Arctic without a sense of perpetual optimism, and even as we witness a quiet moral forcefulness ("the Canadian people need to cleanse themselves of what's happened in the last hundred years," Amagoalik reminds us) it's the joy and beauty in these lives and this land that give hope.

Screens: Thursday, November 21, 2013, 5:30 p.m. @ TIFF Lightbox Cinema 1


Gold Fever (Dir: JT Haines/Tommy Haines/Andrew Sherburne, 84 mins., Guatemala/USA/Canada, 2013)

A giant machine eats a mountain, grinding it to dirt to find tiny particles of precious gold, leaving poison in its wake. Eventually, someone will amass enough of it to make a shiny new gold bar that they can secure in a buried vault.

What happens when this gold is found in your back yard? Would you fight for your land, for your way of life? With gold prices going through the roof, giant open-pit mines processing low-grade deposits are suddenly profitable, leading to extraction operations all over the world. In 1998, vast deposits of gold were discovered in the Guatemalan Highlands, where the Marlin mine has been operating since 2005. This film follows the struggles of the indigenous locals as they struggle to stop the destruction of their environment and their way of life.

This is, sadly, not a new story, and I'm inclined to think that most people who will seek it out at a festival like Planet in Focus will already be familiar with these tropes. In one sense, this has been done enough that there's something of a template to be followed, with a standard cast: an evil corporation, resilient locals, a valiant NGO worker. (And, of course, an all-star team of truth-to-power talking heads, here including Noam Chomsky, David Korten and John Perkins.) And though I have no doubt that the whirlwind history lessons given here for background here (the links between the CIA and United Fruit in engineering generations of coups in Central America; large-scale development imposed by IMF and World bank with no consultation or sense in how it will benefit Guatemalans instead of corporate shareholders; the festering wounds of the civil war, where hundreds of thousands of Mayans were killed) will blow someone's mind as they learn for the first time that "corporations are people too", this feels a little rote and is not the film's strength.

Instead, it's seeing the specifics of this struggle in this place that register. In San Miguel, we meet Gregoria, Diodora, and Crisanta, strong women fighting in defence of land and water in San Miguel. There's local discord as those with mining jobs have bought into the company's worldview, pitting them against local activists who take a longer view and wonder what will be left when the mine is depleted and only toxic tailing ponds are left behind.

It's also important to name names of those who perpetuate this destruction, and we also watch the gleeful expansion of Canadian corporation Goldcorp, always maintaining plausible deniability that any misfortunes to those against their mines has anything to do with them. Meanwhile, sweetheart royalty deals are negotiated and any "setbacks" to profiteering (such as an injunction to close) lead only to business as usual, the mine chugging away while the process drags through the legal system. If you believe that this is a bad scenario, then it's worth knowing that all Canadians have an indirect stake in these profits (and the environmental destruction they entail) being maintained, as the Canada Pension Plan is invested in Gold Corp.

On the whole, this is a slick and well-made film. It takes a position and makes a well-argued stand for it. These are important things, and its role as an advocacy tool should not be diminished. As a documentary, its impact is undermined for some viewers by the "standard issue" template indicated above. Your enjoyment will vary, depending on how many times you've seen this story before, and by whether seeing another iteration of it feeds righteous indignation and a desire to try and stop this or merely a doomed sense of the inevitability of it all.

Screens: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m. @ TIFF Lightbox Cinema 1

Monday, November 18, 2013

Concert Listings Roundup #19

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:

Weird Canada + Wavelength + Silent Shout + Pleasence Records + Feast In The East co-present All Toronto's Parties (feat. Lido Pimienta / Young Guv / Actual Water / Gay / Holiday Rambler / Still Boys) / The Garrison 2013-11-22 (Friday) [FB event]

Sometimes we're burdened in this town by having too much of the good stuff, and many's the night where a show-goer is torn between multiple enticing offerings. That ain't happening on Friday, with no less than five of this town's best concert throwers pitching in together for one ecumenically-minded event.

Lido Pimienta - Al Unison Viajan (Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter – Year 2 Volume 1"), November 8, 2013.)

Young Governor - Summer Girl (Recorded on the Captain Matthew Flinders (Bruise Cruise @ NXNE), June 18, 2011.)

Actual Water - Brighton (Recorded at Sneaky Dee's, May 22, 2011.)

Gay - Asbestos (Recorded at Double Double Land ("Wavelength 569"/Pleasence Record Release), July 11, 2013.)

Holiday Rambler - Dogwood (Recorded at Dickens Street Theatre (Feast In The East 9), January 8, 2012.)


This week's noteworthy shows:

Crocodiles / Sonic Boom Records 2013-11-19 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Crocodiles (Wymond Miles) / Lee's Palace 2013-11-19 (Tuesday) [more info]

Audiopollination #12 (feat. Watson Jennison/Colin Fisher/Barry Lipton / Branko Dzinovic/Alan Bloor/Michael Lynn / Branko Dzinovic/Avesta Nakhaei) / Array Space 2013-11-19 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Fucked Up (S.H.I.T. / Odonis Odonis) / The Garrison 2013-11-20 (Wednesday) [RSVP]

Jesse James Laderoute (Sasha Chapin / Jordan Belowos) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2013-11-20 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Live Memorial Tribute To Lou Reed (feat. By Divine Right / Andre Ethier / Flowers Of Hell / Steven Leckie / Ostrich Tuning / Suitcase Sam / Patti Cake / Lily Frost / Jesse Laderoute / Broken Bricks / Autumn Stones) / The Silver Dollar Room 2013-11-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Elsa [EP release party!] (Smartboys / Wish) / The Piston 2013-11-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Soupcans + Strange Attractor [Double Release Party!] (Wrong Hole) / Double Double Land 2013-11-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble [Saskatoon CD Release!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2013-11-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

The Nursery (EFFENS / Voidfolk) / 961a College St. 2013-11-21 (Thursday) [FB event]

Persian Rugs (The Taste) / Holy Oak Café 2013-11-22 (Friday) [FB event]

The Green Ray [debut show!] (Spectre / Programm / Husbands / Kristina King) / The Silver Dollar Room 2013-11-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Prince Enoki's Insect Orchestra (Carl Didur) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2013-11-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

"Tunings" ["An evening of new sound and music performances. Presented in conjunction with the closing reception for Cold Pin by Eli Keszler."] (feat. crys cole / Matt Rogalsky / Nick Storring) / InterAccess 2013-11-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Peter Evans & Sam Pluta (Aaron Lumley) / 27 Primrose 2013-11-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crosswires [hiatus show!] (feat. Illitry / Zoo OWL) / Handlebar 2013-11-24 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Jim Lewis + David Occhipinti + Andrew Downing / The Emmet Ray 2013-11-25 (Monday) [PWYC avant jazz]

Unsigned #27 (feat. Rituals / The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores / Fresh Snow) / Steam Whistle Brewery 2013-11-29 (Friday) [FB event]

Frankie & Jimmy (DAS RAD / Noble Savages ) / Trash Palace 2013-11-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Punchclock Showcase (feat. New Fries / LLVK [Sook-Yin Lee/Adam Litovitz/Brandon Valdivia/Benjamin Kamino] / Carl Didur / Petra Glynt) / Double Double Land 2013-11-30 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wavelength 583: The Bass Piano (feat. Marilyn Lerner/Nicole Rampersaud / Ryan Driver/Justin Haynes/Michael Davidson/ Andrew Wedman /Robin Buckley) / Creatures Creating Gallery 2013-12-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

The Highest Order (Teenanger / The Saffron Sect) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2013-12-06 (Friday) [FB event]

No Joy (HSY) / The Garrison 2013-12-06 (Friday) [FB event]

Silent Shout (feat. Sean Nicholas Savage / Sing Leaf / Ice Cream) / Double Double Land 2013-12-09 (Monday) [FB event]

Emergents I: Strange Strings / The Music Gallery 2013-12-12 (Thursday) [FB event]

This Mess (Fires of Cheektowaga / Culture Reject) / Clinton's 2013-12-12 (Thursday) [FB event]

Long Winter: Year 2 Volume 2 (feat. Doldrums / Hooded Fang / I am Robot and Proud / Beliefs / Fresh Snow / Nick Ferrio & His Feelings / Demolition / Milk Lines / Omhouse / LLVK) / The Great Hall 2013-12-13 (Friday) [FB event]

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Recording: ANAMAI

Artist: ANAMAI

Song: 50% Pizza [now called "Half"]*

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, November 15, 2013.

ANAMAI - 50% Pizza

Full review to follow. Anna Mayberry released her project's first tape (a three-song EP) to a packed house at Holy Oak. Folk music in structure, the backing trio (including her HSY bandmate Jude as well as Doom Squad's Allie Blumas) situated the songs in a hazy, barren, shoegazey landscape, balancing their fragile beauty and mournful spareness. The tape has apparently already sold out, but you can get it digitally here, and add this of your list of bands to see.

* Thanks to Anna for passing the original title to this one along. I note that as released, that's been amended.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Recording: Evening Hymns

Artist: Evening Hymns

Songs: You And Jake + Rescue Teams

Recorded at The Drake Underground, November 14, 2013.

Evening Hymns - You And Jake

Evening Hymns - Rescue Teams

Full review to follow. Out on a short road swing before hunkering down for the winter, Jonas Bonnetta played solo for the show's first half and in a new trio configuration for the rest. There were a few new songs in the setlist, giving some hints of what Spectral Dusk follow-up might bring us — they included a semi-joking reference to back-to-the-land draft-dodger tunes and also a big rock number called "Evil Forces".

Friday, November 15, 2013

Recording: Fiver

Artist: Fiver

Song: Undertaker

Recorded at The Royal Theatre, November 13, 2013.

Fiver - Undertaker

Full review to follow. It's a testament to the audience that Simone Schmidt has built that her new album's DIY launch filled a large soft-seater movie house to capacity. The format gave everyone a chance to listen to her words, but that didn't preclude some rockin' out from her band, who just happen to do double duty with her louder, more psychedelically inclined unit The Highest Order. (Which means if you didn't get in to this one, you've got a chance to see the same folks doing different songs on a packed bill alongside Teenanger and The Saffron Sect at the Silver Dollar on December 6th.)

Recording: Timber Timbre

Artist: Timber Timbre

Songs: Hot Dreams + Powdered Confessions [$100 cover]

Recorded at The Royal Theatre, November 13, 2013.

Timber Timbre - Hot Dreams

Timber Timbre - Powdered Confessions

Full review to follow. Playing a solo set to warm things up for Fiver's album release gig, Taylor Kirk brought some a few new tunes that managed to amp up the psycho-stalker vibe found in his past work while branching out a bit musically — there were a few more country signifiers, and this one hinted at something like a creepy Lambchop. And since Simone Schmidt isn't usually inclined to spend much time looking back, he filled in that gap by closing with a $100 cover.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recording: Wooden Shjips

Artist: Wooden Shjips

Song: Other Stars

Recorded at The Horseshoe Tavern, November 10, 2013.

Wooden Shjips - Other Stars

Full review to follow. Beneath a thousand points of light (that would explode into a variety of projected patterns as they played), Wooden Shjips laid out a selection of tunes from their new Back To Land album. There's a bit more of stylistic range explored here, but live, it all fits in their template of stretched-out cosmic psych grooves.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rendezvous With Madness 2013: Festival Preview + Advance Reviews

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival

November 11–16, 2013

The Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival has been investigating the facts and mythologies surrounding mental illness in the media of moving pictures since 1993. Presenting films cutting across genre lines, the festival creates spaces for dialogue and the exchange of ideas. Many of the films are presented with panel discussions to further the conversations that the screenings provoke. And it helps that there's a strong selection of films that are worth seeing on their own merits.

This year's movies move from present-day India to Iran to 19th century Bavaria and range stylistically from shorts to documentaries to dramas.

Some of the films feel ripped from the headlines (such as Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse, about "a shy and gentle artist's struggle with schizophrenia... [which] examines the actions of the police officers responsible for his death" — a topic which resonates all too strongly in this city) while others explore nearly unimaginable ideas (like Sole Survivor's look at four of the people who lived through the commercial plane crashes in which only one person survived). There's also a couple classic films of note, including Warrendale by the late Canadian documentary master Allan King (presented as part of a Youth Mental Health Symposium) and a free screening of Chester Withey's 1916 silent film The Devil's Needle, presented with a live piano score performed by Justin Haynes.

Screenings take place at Workman Arts and the TIFF Lightbox. Regular screenings are $12 (galas and symposia vary), and you can get all the box office you need here. And don't forget, I also have some free passes I'm giving away to Valeria Golino's Honey (Miele). Oh, and I've also manages to catch a couple films from the festival already, so here's the early reviews...


Running From Crazy (Dir: Barbara Kopple, 100 minutes, USA, 2013)

What does it mean to come from a family with a history of mental illness? How do family members accept and comprehend the burden of their parents' strife, and how do they overcome damage done to them while raising the next generation? This film examines all these issues, but it wraps it up in the "hook" of investigating them in the context of a family of celebrities.

Mariel Hemingway (the main subject here) rose to fame in the 70's and 80's alongside her older sister Margaux, but there were always dark clouds looming. Including their grandfather (famed novelist Ernest Hemingway), there were numerous suicides in their family and a history of mental illness. The film gives us the outlines of the burdens passed down the generations — Ernest lost his own father to suicide and had a distant mother, and his eldest son Jack (father to Margaux and Mariel) was an alcoholic, struggling with the corrosive effects of being the son of a legend.

"There's a bunch of funky shit in my family," Mariel tells us, as we learn about the environment she grew up in, with domestic discord, allegations of sexual abuse and her mother's illnesses being her "normal" before she droped out of school to pursue her Hollywood career. Now, she's in a reflective mood, looking back at her conflicts with Margaux (who would take her own life at age 42) and the institutionalization of her eldest sister Joan.

We watch Mariel in the celeb milieu, shilling lifestyle advice, but also but also in support groups and working as a suicide prevention activist. She's pretty open here, raw and self-critical — trying to look back and see the lessons learned and trying to apply them in the lives of her own daughters.

Produced for Oprah Winfrey's television network, there's a couple draggy spots in the endgame with (including a too-forced climb-that-mountain metaphor on a rock-climbing expedition) but on the whole, this is engaging stuff. It helps that the project is helmed by veteran director Barbara Kopple (who made one of the all-time great documentary films). Here she's working closer to the celeb profile template, but it never settles for infomercial glibness. There's also strikingly seamless use of archival material, including footage from a documentary on Ernest Hemingway that Margaux began in 1983. (In fact, the 80's material is some of the most compelling stuff here.) This will be of interest to those interested in the Hemingways as well as fans of Kopple's work, but ultimately it's a compelling story about how a family's struggles are passed along with their name. [Warning: contains some footage of the ritualized animal abuse that is bull-fighting.]

Screens: Thursday, November 14th, 6:45 p.m @ TIFF Lightbox.


Ludwig II (Dir: Marie Noëlle & Peter Sehr, 140 minutes, Germany, 2012)

A rare regent who cared more for kunst than krieg, King Ludwig II of Bavaria is remembered for his love of opera, his architectural legacy... and for going mad. His oft-told story gets a re-examination here from Noëlle and Sehr, who treat this as more-or-less a straight-up biopic.

We meet young Ludwig in his student days, happier to sneak off to listen to the latest opera than to deal with his militaristic royal duties. Despite his father's efforts to teach him the ways of realpolitik his sudden death leaves Ludwig a most reluctant king, thrust too quickly to the throne. Swanning around with his beloved cousin Elisabeth, he employs his political capital to prove that opera could be more powerful than guns — never a popular opinion with the established order, who approve even less of his almost filial devotion to the composer Richard Wagner, who quickly comes to realize he can manipulate the young king.

Defeat in the Seven Weeks' War and Wagner's forced expulsion were psychological blows to the king, and soon he is hiding on his private island. The cancellation of his wedding, his brothers' struggle with mental illness and further political setbacks led to his increased isolation, and soon he preferred to remain far from the capital, building a series of more elaborate castles and existing at a far remove from the masses (and though the locations are sumptuous, sometimes the screen feels weirdly underpopulated). Eventually, he would be deposed and reduced to a "poor madman" before his mysterious death.

The film's main concern seems to be to get us through this huge amount of plot, and big questions like "what is madness?" and whether art can be as powerful as politics aren't tackled head on. Nor does the film really get to the heart of the man and the king — although that's admittedly no easy task for someone who pronounced, "I wish to remain an eternal enigma to myself and to others."

In covering three decades of Ludwig's life, the film chooses to represent him with two actors, which is handled fairly seamlessly. Sabin Tambrea excels, giving us the young king as a twitchy dandy with shades of Crispin Glover filled with airy romanticism and confused sexuality. Sebastian Schipper fares less well, although perhaps there's less to be done with the withdrawn older Ludwig, a sullen mystic holding imaginary dinner parties with Wagner and Louis XIV.

This story has had several big screen treatments — cineastes may be most familiar with Visconti's Ludwig from 1972, and it's probably hard for any actor to match Helmut Berger's intensity there. But this version moves at a quick enough clip that the lengthy running time never feels like a strain, and though there are some underdeveloped elements, it never feels too slight. That makes this film worth seeing for those who are interested in the legend and the man — but it probably shouldn't be the only one they see.

Screens: Tuesday, November 12, 8:30p.m. @ TIFF Lightbox

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Recording: The Jim Storie Juniors

Artist: The Jim Storie Juniors

Songs: Don't Take My Shortwave Away + Xena

Recorded at Handlebar ("Crosswires"), November 10, 2013.

The Jim Storie Juniors - Don't Take My Shortwave Away

The Jim Storie Juniors - Xena

Full review to follow. You don't just have to sit there at a rock show and watch the bands play — you can start one of your own! Duncan "Doc Pickles" MacDonell has long espoused this bedrock principle and continues to put it into action. Clinging to his mic like a life preserver (when not leaping down to the floor like a sailor abandoning himself to the ocean), by set's end MacDonell looked like a guy who had just completed the last leg of a rock'n'roll triathalon — sweaty, spent, and satisfied that he gave it his all.