Thursday, July 31, 2014

Recording: Khôra

Artist: Khôra

Song: unknown*

Recorded at 8-11, July 18, 2014.

Khôra - unknown

Full review to follow. Matthew Ramolo (who performs music as Khôra) has upgraded his gear, now employing a suitcase modular synthesizer that serves as a tool to shape sounds. What started as gentle guitar notes return in rising and receding waves that make the origins of any particular sonic element difficult to pinpoint, as timeless and formless as his project name would indicate.

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

Recording: Dirty Inputs

Artist: Dirty Inputs

Song: Downtown*

Recorded at 8-11, July 18, 2014.

Dirty Inputs - Downtown

Full review to follow. You might walk down the streets every day, but there's a lot of hidden oases in the city, like a courtyard behind a row of Chinatown shops with a spreading mature tree providing a soft ceiling to let the fading sunlight trickle through. As Aaron Dawson (remembered for his work in Off The International Radar) sang this little paean to downtown discovery, a raccoon was beginning her evening rounds on the rooftops above, using those tree's branches as a bridge from one building to the next.

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

Recording: Thom Huhtala

Artist: Thom Huhtala

Song: unknown*

Recorded at 8-11, July 18, 2014.

Thom Huhtala - unknown

Full review to follow. Leading off a night of relaxing abstract musical haze in the pleasant hidden courtyard behind new Chinatown gallery 8-11, Thom Huhtala offered a couple lengthy excursions that could best be filed under "psychedelic drift".

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #55

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 Saffron Sect (Brent Randall And His Rainbow Twangers / Red Plastic Buddah / Annie & The Honks) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Psychedelic explorers The Saffron Sect reconvened after a hiatus last October, and have been sporadically active with occasional one-off gigs since. Given that this is a fairly rare opportunity, I'd advise you to come check them out while you still can. Powerful stuff.

The Saffron Sect - Phosphorous Flash


This week's noteworthy shows:

Nick Fraser/Rob Clutton/Kyle Brenders / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-29 (Tuesday)

Thom Gill/Justin Haynes/Germaine Liu/Brodie West (Organballoon [Justin Haynes/Ryan Driver] / Felicity Williams) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-29 (Tuesday) [more info]

Carol Gimbel and Pemi Paull / The Toronto Heliconian Club 2014-08-01 (Friday – PWYC! early show, starts @ 5 p.m.!) [FB event]

Oneida (U.S. Girls) / Lee's Palace 2014-08-01 (Friday) [more info]

DAS RAD (Cellphone / BattleWülf) / Imperial Pub 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Moon King (San Marina / Jaunt) / Smiling Buddha 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

No Angels Dancing (feat. D. Alex Meeks and Stephen Parkinson) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-03 (Sunday – matinée! 1 to 3 p.m.!)


Add these to your calendar:

Mike Smith August Residency: Simcoe is Lord (with guests D. Alex Meeks & Karen Ng) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-04 (Monday – early!) [FB event]

Mike Smith August Residency: Transcombobulation (with guest Jonathan Adjemian) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-11 (Monday – early!) [FB event]

Mike Smith August Residency: Mellow Motel (with guests Michael Davidson + Matt Newton) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-18 (Monday – early!) [FB event]

Mike Smith August Residency: Battleship! (with guest Shaw-Han Liem) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-25 (Monday – early!) [FB event]

Salt Lick Kids (Pow Wows / The Green Rays) / Junction City Music Hall 2014-08-08 (Friday) [more info]

Rocket Parade (We Sell Drugs / Several Futures / Connoisseurs of Porn) / Izakaya Sushi House 2014-08-09 (Saturday) [FB event]

DIΛNETICS - OT LVL 3 (feat. Mystic Triangle / Fog Spirits / Hexzuul / Lone Human/ Blunt Chunks) / Mây 2014-08-15 (Friday) [FB event]

Zakary Slax And His Teenage Mutant Superstarz (The Taste / Village / Pet Sun) / Magpie Taproom 2014-08-15 (Friday) [FB event]

Frustrations (Jay Holy / Josh Korody with Trev) / Milk Glass Co. 2014-08-16 (Saturday) [FB event]

Wavelength 611: Endless Summer Mini-Festival (feat. Comet Control / Mexican Slang / Steve Shiffman & The Land Of No / JFM / New Horizzzons / Alpha Strategy / Hiawatha / Delta Will) / Vintage & Flea Outdoor Market 2014-08-16 (Saturday) [FB event]

Hellshovel (Dirty Frigs / Wicked Witches / No Aloha) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-08-22 (Friday) [FB event]

Optical Sounds Presents: U.S. INVASION! (feat. The Veldt / Magic Shoppe / The Highest Order / B-17) / CineCycle 2014-08-23 (Saturday) [FB event]

EMA / The Drake Underground 2014-09-30 (Tuesday) [more info]

Wavelength 623 (feat. Ben Frost) / The Garrison 2014-10-24 (Friday) [FB event]


Bandcamp corner:

Being able to get recordings back to musicians is one of the treats of this gig, and when someone likes the recording enough to release it, it's a real thrill. A few sonic fragments that I've passed along to Moonwood are part of the mix in this new live tape they just put out:

Having moved from a duo to a full band over the past year, this is a document of a transitional phase not yet captured in a proper album, so it serves an intriguing in-betweener. Perhaps it's befitting, then, that it's sonically at something of an in-between point, too, consisting mostly of semi-improvised mid-tempo jams that often link the more rambunctious material in the band's sets. More of a bean-bag excursion than a skull melter, this might point where the band is heading after finding the off-ramp from the trans-anywhere express. Also: the tape comes in a very awesome shade of purple.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recording: Zoo Owl

Artist: Zoo Owl

Song: Break Out

Recorded at Canton Chilli ("Silent Shout: The Heat and the Pulse, Day 1"), July 17, 2014.

Zoo Owl - Break Out

Full review to follow. Enlisting the assistance of the Silent Shout crew, Bryan Sutherland launched the first album from his Zoo Owl project from the floor of a Chinatown restaurant. That meant not only was there a buffet dinner available for the crowd, but also the chance to incorporate a live crab from the restaurant's tank into his always-innovative visual presentation. That was enough of a coup that a couple minor glitches (like a balky fog machine) didn't matter at all in making this a unique night.

Recording: Sexy Merlin

Artist: Sexy Merlin

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Canton Chilli ("Silent Shout: The Heat and the Pulse, Day 1"), July 17, 2014.

Sexy Merlin - unknown

Full review to follow. Even playing with a stripped-down setup in an unconventional setting (the floor of a Chinatown restaurant with a buffet available to early-arriving patrons), Sean Dunal still managed to (ahem) set the table for Zoo Owl's album release celebration.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recording: Man Forever & So Percussion

Artist: Man Forever & So Percussion

Song: Ryonen [Part II]

Recorded at Jam Factory, July 13, 2014.

Man Forever & So Percussion - Ryonen [Part II]

Full review to follow. So, this is the sort of thing I like: a concert that mixes weird electronics, composed "new music" and an avant-garde percussion group. This is stuff that too often gets siloed off and dished out to different crowds, so kudos to Burn Down the Capital's Tad Michalak for putting this one together. The headlining set combined the forces of NYC quartet So Percussion with Man Forever, the percussion project of John Colpitts aka Kid Millions. (And if that weren't enough drummers, locals Brandon Valvidia and Colin Fisher also pitched in as well.)

They performed both pieces off their recent collaborative album, with the title track (excerpted here) giving echos of Steve Reich while "The Clear Realization" was rooted a bit more in rockband dynamics. They weren't too far apart for all that, and both pulsed with vibrant, reinvigorating energy. Quite wonderful.

[Kid Millions will be back in town in his capacity as drummer for Oneida, playing Lee's Palace on August 1st with U.S. Girls opening. Mark your calendars!]

Recording: Music in the Barns

Artist: Music in the Barns

Song: Schoolhouse Étude [from Hitchcock Études – composer Nicole Lizée]

Recorded at Jam Factory, July 13, 2014.

Music in the Barns - Schoolhouse Étude

Full review to follow. If there were a "star system" for composers in this country, Nicole Lizée would probably be a household name by how. Combining compositional chops, a forward-thinking approach to new ways of making music and a pop-culture referencing ability to tap into the zeitgeist, her works are "serious music" that are still easily accessible outside the cloisters of the "new music" community.

Her Hitchcock Études were originally composed for "piano, glitch and film", and are here essayed by the Music in the Barns ensemble, in a string quartet plus vibes formation. The music feeds off the manipulations of the source material, enfolding little lurches and hiccups in a tribute to the composer's memories of rewatching Hitchcock movies on slowly-wearing-out videotapes. [The original piano version is embedded below for comparison, and should serve to show how the visual element works here. You can check out a couple more clips on her videos page.]

Recording: Gordon Monahan

Artist: Gordon Monahan

Song: Sauerkraut Synthesizer [excerpt]

Recorded at Jam Factory, July 13, 2014.

Gordon Monahan - Sauerkraut Synthesizer [excerpt]

Full review to follow. The title here is purely descriptive, for the music was generated through Monahan's custom synth setup, with various fruits, vegetable and a jar of sauerkraut acting as voltage gates to control various sound elements. Although it is, at one level, a bit of a gimmick, the music was, ahem, rather tasty. Plus there was a cool visual element, as well, with Monahan providing both a live close-up video feed of his hands-on manipulations, but also a live readout showing which items were contributing to the soundscape.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Recording: Zacht Automaat

Artist: Zacht Automaat

Song: Zacht Automaat - [two unknown songs]* ("Carl's card trick") + A Whiter Shade of Pale [Procol Harum cover]

Recorded at Double Double Land, July 11, 2014.

Zacht Automaat - Carl's card trick

Zacht Automaat - A Whiter Shade of Pale

Full review to follow. To some extent, ZA keyboardist Carl Didur cultivates the image of a slightly-distant mad-scientist, more concerned with twiddling knobs than pandering to a crowd. But there's also evidence of a wry sense of humour and a bit of showmanship, too — if the sequined cape didn't tip you off to that, then the way he pulled off a mid-song card trick just might.

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

Recording: Prince Nifty

Artist: Prince Nifty

Song: Body Irony

Recorded at Double Double Land, July 11, 2014.

Prince Nifty - Body Irony

Full review to follow. Matt Smith's dancefloor-oriented work does a, um, nifty job of subverting the too-obvious tropes the genre can fall into, sometimes bursting out of the gate before you can catch up to it, and sometimes — as in the case of a brand new piece debuted at the end of the set — surging suggestively without dropping into the straighahead 4/4 zone you're expecting. But you don't have to get uptight about it. "I'll spare you all the details of what I'm thinking today," Smith told the crowd as he got started, "and just ask that you guys can dance. If you can't dance, just flail." I did my best.

[You can catch Nifty in a different sort of environment at Sunday's highly-anticipated Backyard Afternoon at Tibet Kitchen.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recording: Rob's Collision

Artist: Rob's Collision

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Imperial Pub, July 10, 2014.

Rob's Collision - unknown

Full review to follow. This group, convened by flautist Rob Piilonen to explore his compositions, is quite well named, given how he would, at some points, point out pairs of musicians to play duos before moving back into the more structured portions of the pieces. But even more striking were the different musical textures rubbing up against each other, with the gentler tones of flute, Mitchell Yolevsky's clarinet and Cheryl Ockrant's cello rubbing up against Andy Yue's analog synth and clattering percussion from Germaine Liu and Mark Zurawinski. And the real secret weapon was Matthew Miller, manipulating all of the above in realtime on his laptop. It all adds up to a sort of avant-smooth with occasional chunky digressions.

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

Recording: Ken Aldcroft + Mike Gennaro

Artist: Ken Aldcroft + Mike Gennaro

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at The Imperial Pub, July 10, 2014.

Ken Aldcroft + Mike Gennaro - [excerpt from first piece]

Full review to follow. Drummer Mike Gennaro has been running a series of low-key gigs in the Imperial's back room for several months now, spurring a series of duo and trio partners into an improvising frenzy with his entertainingly committed percussion style. His foil on this night was Ken Aldcroft, as always one of the craftiest guitar players in town, building up from some nimbly-picked licks up to more abstract string-stretching noises.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #54

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:

Backyard Afternoon (feat. HVYWTR / Heather Segger & Doug Tielli / Isla Craig / Prince Nifty) / Tibet Kitchen 2014-07-27 (Sunday – Matineé! PWYC!) [FB event]

The gorgeous back patio vibes at Parkdale's Tibet Kitchen were a delightful surprise at Healing Power's first afternoon show there last summer. Sheltered under mature trees and colourful banners, the space radiates tranquility. Add in some cool music and this is a can't-miss proposition. PWYC and all ages.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Ken Aldcroft/Scott Thomson / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-22 (Tuesday)

Tequila House Band (TJ Borden / Clarinet Panic) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-23 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Secretary City (Keratoid / Spoils / Fitness) / Handlebar 2014-07-24 (Thursday) [FB event]

Simeon Abbott/Rob Clutton/Jeremy Strachan/Scott Thomson / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-24 (Thursday)

Wavelength 607 (feat. Nat Baldwin / Black Walls / Kira May) / Monarch Tavern 2014-07-24 (Thursday) [FB event]

Field Trip Discovery Series III (feat. Grounders / Fresh Snow / Programm / Dirty Frigs) / The Garrison 2014-07-24 (Thursday – free with RSVP!) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-25 (Friday)

Paul Dutton/John Kamevaar (Simeon Abbott/Mike Gennaro) / Musideum 2014-07-25 (Friday) [more info]

I Have Eaten The City [tape release! First official show at Ratio!] (Khôra / Fake Humans [Carl Didur/ Colin Fisher]) / Ratio 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Ought (Freelove Fenner) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Advance Base [formerly Casiotone For The Painfully Alone] (Omhouse / Our Founders) / Rancho Relaxo 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Jay Arner (Brave Radar / Jeans / Ketamines) / Milk Glass Co. 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Construction Vol 6 (feat. Beliefs / Elsa / You'll Never Get To Heaven) / Double Double Land 2014-07-25 (Friday – all ages!) [FB event]

Man Finds Fire Presents: Summer Sesh @ Geary Lane (feat. Bile Sister / Mimico / A K U A + art installations + "surprise pop up performances") / Geary Lane 2014-07-26 (Saturday – afternoon event!) [FB event]

Quartet Best [Jay Hay/Nicole Rampersaud/Simeon Abbott/Mike Gennaro] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-26 (Saturday)

HIT IT (feat. Doldrums / Tonstartssbandht / Cellphone / Steve Jr) / The Comfort Zone 2014-07-26 (Saturday) [FB event]

B-17 (Twist / Seraphic Lights) / Junction City Music Hall 2014-07-26 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crocodiles (Jaill / Pow Wows) / The Garrison 2014-07-27 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Thom Gill/Justin Haynes/Germaine Liu/Brodie West (Organballoon [Justin Haynes/Ryan Driver] / Felicity Williams) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-29 (Tuesday) [more info]

Moon King (San Marina) / Smiling Buddha 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Swing Low (feat. Old Haunt / Hazy Montagne Mystique & YlangYlang / Babel / Zones [ambient set!]) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-08-08 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

SummerWorks: One Night, Two Brendans (feat. Brendan Canning) / The Theatre Centre Mainspace 2014-08-08 (Friday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Failure Fest (feat. Army Girls) / Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement 2014-08-09 (Saturday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Weaves Through Time (feat. Weaves) / Lower Ossington Theatre 2014-08-10 (Sunday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #21 (feat. Neil Wienrik/Michael Lynn / Dominque Banoun/Eel/Ben Bennet / Aisha Sasha John/Michael Kaler/David Grollman / Chris Adriaanse/Michael Foster / Ben Bennet/David Grollman/Michael Foster) / Array Space 2014-08-12 (Tuesday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: The Secret Garden of Lido Pimienta (feat. Lido Pimienta) / Lower Ossington Theatre Mainspace 2014-08-13 (Wednesday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Do I Have To Do Everything My Fucking Self (feat. Light Fires) / Lower Ossington Theatre Cabaret 2014-08-14–16 (Thursday–Saturday) [FB event]

SummerWorks: Young Drones (feat. The Bicycles) / Lower Ossington Theatre Mainspace 2014-08-14‐17 (Thursday–Sunday) [FB event]

Shonen Knife (Habibi / Mexican Slang / BB Guns) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-09-20 (Saturday) [FB event]

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Recording: Aurochs

Artist: Aurochs

Song: Dwindling Doors

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), July 8, 2014.

Aurochs - Dwindling Doors

Full review to follow. A slightly unusual night for this instalment of Aurochs' monthly residency. With bassist Pete Johnston out out town, Mike Smith was drafted to sit in alongside Ali Berkok (piano) and Jake Oelrichs (percussion). Given that all three have played with each other in various other projects, it was no surprise that there was an easy, free-flowing familiarity here. Just as in their regular lineup, Aurochs is very much a three-headed beast (as opposed to, say, a "piano trio"), where anyone is liable to take hold of a piece and shift things in a new direction. The band can be found playing an early show on the second Tuesday of every month at The Tranzac, and their Rational Animals album is recommended.

Bonus! You can find the band's recording of this full show on soundcloud.

Extra bonus! So, Mr. New Phone over here realized that he can capture moving pictures with the thing. Are some short clips a useful addition to the audio recordings? The sound isn't going to be great, but it adds something else, maybe. Thoughts?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Recording: Army Girls

Artist: Army Girls

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison ("Girls' Art League fundraiser"), July 4, 2014.

Army Girls - unknown

Full review to follow. The smashing success of DIANA kept Carmen Elle away from this other project for a while, but as of this spring, Army Girls shows started popping up around town again. Through sheer bad luck I missed 'em all, do I was doubly happy to be able to make this one — not only to catch up with what Carmen Elle and Andy Smith's rough-hewn pop treats, but also to help in a good cause. This gig was put together to raise funds (and awareness) for Girls' Art League, and they put together a really stacked night, with supporting sets from Dilly Dally and New Fries.

Army Girls, meanwhile, will be celebrating their failures at their just-announced SummerWorks show, coming up in August. This will be an interdisciplinary show with "performative disruptions" by artist Cara Spooner as well as special guests joining the band.

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

Recording: Dilly Dally

Artist: Dilly Dally

Song: Gender Role

Recorded at The Garrison ("Girls' Art League fundraiser"), July 4, 2014.

Dilly Dally - Gender Role

Full review to follow. Dilly Dally's rep continues to grow, but thankfully they're not doing it by smoothing out the rough edges either in Katie Monks' slurring/mumbling vox or Liz Ball's diamond-tipped guitar slashing. We're still waiting to hear when their EP will be coming out, but for the moment that makes 'em a band that you have to get out and see to hear most of their songs.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recording: Bombino

Artist: Bombino

Song: two unknown songs*

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage), June 30, 2014.

Bombino - unknown

Bombino - unknown

Full review to follow. One might have been worried to hear that Omara "Bombino" Moctar's first album aimed at the North American market was going to be produced by a mainstream rock musician not known for his subtlety, but credit is due to The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach for not messing it up. On Nomad, he mostly stays out out of way and lets Moctar and his incredible guitar skills loose without softening things up, throwing in guest performers, etc etc. Live, the band's sound is largely the same — besides a couple brief harmonica parts, there's not too many sops to the "desert blues" marketing angle. Instead we get a series of stretched-out jams, where chord changes are few and incendiary solos drift over infinitely danceable grooves. After a series of under-promoted gigs in small clubs, it was fantastic to see Moctar up on the big Harbourfront stage — he's not a chatty or demonstrative frontman, but this was a festival-sized set throughout.

* Does anyone know the titles to these? Please leave a comment!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Recording: The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble

Artist: The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble

Songs: Brussels + Clomp

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), June 29, 2014.

The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble - Brussels

The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble - Clomp

Full review to follow. Maybe I oughtta be more jaded about it by now, but it still really blows my mind that y'can wander in off the street and — in the most relaxed and casual environment imaginable — watch a superbly-talented group of musicians work on their craft. To give some more textures to his compositions, Kyle Brenders has drafted a formidable chamber ensemble, each of whom I'd be happy to go see play in their other projects. Alongside Brenders' reeds, the group included Ilana Waniuk (violin), Cory Latkovich (cello), Rob Clutton (double bass), Mark Segger (percussion), Heather Segger (trombone), and Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet). The first set essayed a series of shorter pieces (from which we draw a couple contrasting samples here), while the second was given over to a suite entitled "Group Dynamics".

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Recording: The Two Koreas

Artist: The Two Koreas

Song: LP Winner!

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, June 28, 2014.

The Two Koreas - LP Winner!

Full review to follow. The absence of keyb player Jason Anderson meant there was one less texture in the mix for the Two Koreas in this set, giving the music more the feel of the brusque shove of a back-alley mugging rather than the harsh ballet of a boxing match. Undeterred, the band not only continued to celebrate their recent EP, but even debuted a brand-new tune.

Recording: Several Futures

Artist: Several Futures

Song: Heroic Phase*

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, June 28, 2014.

Several Futures - Heroic Phase

Full review to follow. Seeing the kids taking their first kick at the can and re-inventing rock'n'roll by sheer dint of their enthusiasm is great, but I'm also a fan of seeing old hands reassemble in new forms to create something that's informed both by past experience and new enthusiasm. This debut performance by Several Futures was a hit in that regard, taking some ingredients familiar to the musicians here but torquing things into a new topology.

Jonny Dovercourt (bass/vox) and Matt Nish-Lapidus (guit/vox) played together in the more experimental Hybrid Moments, but the improvisatory postpunk shifts on the shred/drone continuum that they explored there have now been sublimated to a more song-based template. Dovercourt also previously played with drummer Evan Davies in Republic of Safety1, so there was no lack of familiarity and easy interplay on stage, even if this material was getting its first public airing. There were short songs and a couple longer ones, plus places where hardcore-esque jousting shifted into jagged Slint-offs. The band already has a couple tracks up on their soundcloud, so they're definitely hitting the ground running.

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


1 Careful observers would have noted that they were greeted at the door of this gig by another former member of Republic of Safety as well!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recording: Courtney Barnett

Artist: Courtney Barnett

Songs: Avant Gardener + Lance Jr.

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room (NXNE 2014), June 22, 2014.

Courtney Barnett - Avant Gardener

Courtney Barnett - Lance Jr.

Dan Burke's three-night festival-within-the-festival NeXT shifted to a Friday-Saturday-Sunday format this year, which gave it a chance to become the de facto must see night to close out the festival. As is so often the case, there was some deft programming here with his triple-bill headliner, bringing Australian Courtney Barnett here to serve as a complete unknown on Friday and a name on everyone's lips by Sunday. In a lean and rangy power trio, Barnett brought some meat-and-potatoes rock to the table — simple songs that could get stretched out musically with impressive chops when required (as on "Lance Jr.") or that could catch you off guard with some nimble wordplay (as with "Avant Gardiner"). The slightly bluesy tone with intense sing-speaking brought none other than The Mark Inside to mind in a few spots. A huge success at the festival, Barnett's return has already been announced, and she'll be back at Lee's Palace on October 25th.

Recording: Young Mother

Artist: Young Mother

Song: unknown*

Recorded at the MOCCA Courtyard (NXNE 2014: "Of Sound Mind"), June 22, 2014.

Young Mother - unknown

Given the amount of rancour that had surfaced between the festival and elements of the local DIY scene, it was somewhat amusing to see some of the latter gathered together at this "indie label fair" on the festival's final day. Organized by Sonic Boom and People Put Out Productions, this felt like it had its fingers a bit more firmly on the street-level pulse than a lot of NXNE doings. It was nice to see records and tapes getting purchased and there were some cool bands playing outside in the courtyard, which helped send the festival off on a happier note than it began on.

Since sax player Jason Wasiak moved away, Young Mother has been in various states of hiatus. But he was back in town as the band reunited for a couple appearances at NXNE. Keeping the brand alive, singer/guitarist Jesse Laderoute has shared some of the band's nascent recordings in the interim, but this "new" song shows that the well may not be totally dry yet.

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

Recording: Greys

Artist: Greys

Song: Chick Singer

Recorded at the MOCCA Courtyard (NXNE 2014: "Of Sound Mind"), June 22, 2014.

Greys - Chick Singer

Given the amount of rancour that had surfaced between the festival and elements of the local DIY scene, it was somewhat amusing to see some of the latter gathered together at this "indie label fair" on the festival's final day. Organized by Sonic Boom and People Put Out Productions, this felt like it had its fingers a bit more firmly on the street-level pulse than a lot of NXNE doings. It was nice to see records and tapes getting purchased and there were some cool bands playing outside in the courtyard, which helped send the festival off on a happier note than it began on.

Giving a push to their freshly-released debut long player If Anything, Greys were all over the place during the festival. As we speak, the band is taking the album on the road to the West Coast of the USA, but they'll be returning for a proper local release party at DIY punk space S.H.I.B.G.B.s on August 8th.

Recording: Zacht Automaat

Artist: Zacht Automaat

Song: unknown [excerpt]*

Recorded at the MOCCA Courtyard (NXNE 2014: "Of Sound Mind"), June 22, 2014.

Zacht Automaat - unknown [excerpt]

Given the amount of rancour that had surfaced between the festival and elements of the local DIY scene, it was somewhat amusing to see some of the latter gathered together at this "indie label fair" on the festival's final day. Organized by Sonic Boom and People Put Out Productions, this felt like it had its fingers a bit more firmly on the street-level pulse than a lot of NXNE doings. It was nice to see records and tapes getting purchased and there were some cool bands playing outside in the courtyard, which helped send the festival off on a happier note than it began on.

Do you like repetition? If so, these four bars may satisfy you greatly. Do you like repetition? Originally slated as a solo Carl Didur set, in a pleasant surprise this ended up being a ZA duo set, albeit one in a somewhat unusual fashion. Do you like repetition? With A laptop supplying a repeating four-note riff, synth/loop wizard Didur took to the drumkit, joined by Michael McLean on bass in a live recreation of a needle stuck in a record's looping side-closing lockgroove. Do you like repetition? Do you like repetition? Do you like repetition? Do you like repetition? DDo you like repetition? DDo you like repetition-ion? Do you like repetition? Do you like repetition?

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #53

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:

Habari Africa Festival (Friday feat. Wake Up Madagascar / Amadou Kienou / Black Bazar; Saturday feat. Toumkak Drummers / Donné Roberts / Tich Maredza Band / Mawa J and Rasselas / Henok Abebe and Fanieal Abraha / Songs of My Mother; Sunday feat. Afrafranto / Adam Solomon's African Jazz & Blues Trio / Nhapitapi Mbira) / Harbourfront Centre 2014-07-20 (Friday–Sunday — free!) [more info]

Poor Pilgrim Island Show 7 (feat. DOOMSQUAD / Spencer Burton / IC/JC/VC / Ark Analog / John Southworth / Carl Didur / Ivy Mairi & Sean Donald / Darbazi) / various locations, Toronto Island 2014-07-20 (Sunday – PWYC!) [FB event]

The action will be taking place by the water this weekend. It's a bit of a battle to get to Harbourfront right now, but it should be an oasis of wonderful music with the first-ever Habari festival, which pulls together nearly all of the best local African bands with a few special guest headliners. African music returns to the heart of the city! Not to be missed!

Meanwhile, Sunday sees one of the best days of the year out on the Island at the always-amazing Poor Pilgrim travelling festival, which finds intimate sets scattered around little nooks and crannies and makes sure you get home on the last ferry back to the mainland. The stuff that memories are made of.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Ken McDonald Quartet (The Imperative [Joe Sorbara/Jay Hay/Karen Ng]) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-15 (Tuesday)

Sheer Agony (Carl Didur / Sean Paul [Sexy Merlin + Elrichman] / Mega Bog) / Milk Glass Co. 2014-07-15 (Tuesday) [FB event]

KNOWER (Bliss Gloss) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-15 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents: An Evening with Rob Clutton, Germaine Liu & Chris Pruden / Array Space 2014-07-16 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Body Help (Bliss Gloss) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-16 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Silent Shout: Heat And The Pulse, Day 1 (feat. Zoo Owl [album release!] / Sexy Merlin) / Canton Chili 2014-07-17 (Thursday – Early Restaurant Show! Buffet dinner available!) [FB event]

DUST / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-18 (Friday – early!) [FB event]

Wavelength 606 (feat. Khôra / Dirty Inputs / Thom Huhtala) / 8-11 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

Silent Shout: Heat And The Pulse, Day 2 (feat. Ken Park [album release!] / Castle If / Mekele) / Milk Glass Co. 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

Simply Saucer [record release!] (PANIC / Key Witness) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

Wrong Hole [record release!] (Surinam / New Fries) / Smiling Buddha 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

BIG on Bloor Festival (feat. Andrew Cash, MP / Nhapitapi / Mas Aya + many more) / N----- Main Stage, 1141 Bloor Street West 2014-07-19 (Saturday – free! all ages! outside! street festival!) [more info]

Girls Rock Camp Toronto: Showcase Concert #1 / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2014-07-20 (Sunday – All ages! Matinée!) [FB event]

Alaniaris / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-20 (Sunday – Matinée!)

Build to Suit / Musideum 2014-07-20 (Sunday)


Add these to your calendar:

Ken Aldcroft & Scott Thomson / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-22 (Tuesday)

Field Trip Discovery Series III (feat. Grounders / Fresh Snow / Programm / Dirty Frigs) / The Garrison 2014-07-24 (Thursday – free with RSVP!) [FB event]

I Have Eaten The City [tape release! First official show at Ratio!] (Khôra / Fake Humans [Carl Didur/ Colin Fisher]) / Ratio 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Advance Base [formerly Casiotone For The Painfully Alone] (Omhouse / Our Founders) / Rancho Relaxo 2014-07-25 (Friday) [FB event]

Construction Vol 6 (feat. Beliefs / Elsa / You'll Never Get To Heaven) / Double Double Land 2014-07-25 (Friday – all ages!) [FB event]

Man Finds Fire Presents: Summer Sesh @ Geary Lane (feat. Bile Sister / Mimico / A K U A + art installations + "surprise pop up performances") / Geary Lane 2014-07-26 (Saturday – afternoon event!) [FB event]

B-17 (Twist / Seraphic Lights) / Junction City Music Hall 2014-07-26 (Saturday) [FB event]

DAS RAD (Cellphone / BattleWülf) / Imperial Pub 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Ketamines (Jay Arner / Jay Holy / Village) / The Cavern Bar 2014-08-09 (Saturday) [FB event]

Alvvays / The Horseshoe Tavern 2014-08-14 (Thursday) [FB event]

Ashkenaz Festival (feat. Lemon Bucket Orkestra / David Buchbinder’s Odessa/Havana) / Harbourfront Centre, W------ Stage 2014-09-01 (Monday) [more info]

Fucked Up (Vag Halen / New Fries) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2014-09-26 (Friday) [FB event]

Fucked Up (Alvvays / S.H.I.T.) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2014-09-27 (Saturday – matinée! all ages!) [FB event]


Community action corner:

Sign the petition to support the Great Hall's efforts to have its capacity increased The Great Hall is both a heritage landmark and a cultural landmark — a rare venue that has several distinct spaces that can be combined to make non-cookie cutter events like Long Winter work. As anyone who has been to busy events there over the past months knows, they've been having troubles with a reduced capacity, leading to lineups inside and out. In a just world, this sort of space would get capital grant money due to its historical and cultural importance, but in the real world, they need to fill the room sell some booze to keep the space viable — let the Alcohol Commission know that they have the community's support to get more people in their doors. This petition closes today, so get your name on it ASAP!


Bandcamp corner:

Calgary's Valiska has issued another mini-collection of gorgeous ambient soundscapes. The only thing to complain about here is the music's tantalizing brevity — I'd love to hear these tracks taking all afternoon to unfold. But if you like what you here, there's a whole lot more to explore.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Recording: ANAMAI

Artist: ANAMAI

Song: Dirt

Recorded at The Great Hall (NXNE – "Buzz Records Day Party"), June 21, 2014.

ANAMAI - Dirt

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Huren

Artist: Huren

Song: Pharmaprix

Recorded at The Great Hall (NXNE – "Buzz Records Day Party"), June 21, 2014.

Huren - Pharmaprix

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: STÜKA

Artist: STÜKA

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall (NXNE – "Buzz Records Day Party"), June 21, 2014.

STÜKA - unknown

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

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

Recording: Ancient Ocean

Artist: Ancient Ocean

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall (NXNE – "Buzz Records Day Party"), June 21, 2014.

Ancient Ocean - unknown

My quick notes for this set can be found here.

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

Currente calamo: NXNE 2014 (Saturday)

NXNE 2014 (Saturday, June 21, 2014)

While these shows are fresh in my mind I want to get some quick notes down. In the fullness of time there might be a more complete accounting of the night that'll include more details and additional recordings.

From the department of I'm-getting-too-old-for-this-shit, I made a conscious decision to shift my NXNE plans to more of a start early/end early schedule. There were a couple appealing daytime Saturday options, but this Buzz Records day party was an easy pick for me. Buzz Records is getting some, er, buzz for the way their bands mix sweet pop hooks and abrasive noise, but this show served to remind that their interest in the latter isn't merely superficial. This was foregrounded by making the day a two-stage affair, with "rock" bands on the Great Hall's main stage alternating with noisier fare in the Conversation Room.

12:45 p.m.: New Positions @ The Great Hall (Conversation Room)

I arrived in time to catch New Positions — or at least theoretically I did, save for the fact that the security guards on duty were enforcing (with somewhat unnecessary zeal) a no external food policy, so me and my breakfast poutine had to pause in our sloppy embrace before I could duck in to catch Neil Rankin (also of Gay) and C. Jude (also of HSY) chugging out some sludge-noise. A very thin crowd at this point consisted mostly of people from other bands — but fortunately they were spared the sight of poutine.

1:10 p.m.: Mexican Slang @ The Great Hall (main stage)

Moving into the main hall, Mexican Slang played to a handful of folks now straggling in. Despite struggling with the NXNE backline — singer Annabelle Lee was unhappy with the tone of the rented amp and a kickdrum pedal died a couple songs in — the band was in fine form, showing off their tasty concentrated grunge-rock tunes. [Inside the Velvet Castle, the first full-band effort after Lee's initial salvo of solo EP's, is now imminently available.]

1:40 p.m.: Ancient Ocean @ The Great Hall (Conversation Room)

Back outside the Conversation Room, a small crowd gathered to chat as an undifferentiated drone seeped out from inside. Once it changed enough that I realized someone was playing, I wandered in to find one man with a guitar, playing as his analog synth burbled in the background. This was Brooklyn's John Bohannon, who plays as Ancient Ocean, and was the day's biggest discovery. As unrushed as his project name would indicate, Bohannon let his pieces unfurl in the musical equivalent of geological time. Many of the people that were willing to attune themselves to this were soon sitting on the floor, soaking it in. There were shades here of our own local Khôra, although this was somewhat less rigorously structured. Really lovely stuff.

Listen to an excerpt from this set here.

2:10 p.m.: Weaves @ The Great Hall (main stage)

There was a healthy crowd now on hand to check out Weaves, fresh off opening at Massey Hall and getting a lot of attention at the festival. Showing off their flexibility, they started with a languorous take on "Crumble" before they, too, experienced some technical difficulties in the form of a broken bass string. Once they were revved up, however, they demonstrated both their musical nimbleness and the sense of off-kilter joy they generate playing live. There was even a brand new song ("Birds and Bees") with some nice crunchy bite to it. As vocalist Jasmyn Burke shouted "fire it up!" to lead off closing song "Motorcycle", it felt like this was, indeed a powerful machine.

2:50 p.m.: STÜKA @ The Great Hall (back of main hall)

While that set was proceeding, there was some action behind the crowd as the second "stage" was shifted from the Conversation Room to the back of the Main Hall. Given there was a fairly minimal setup (plus the fact that as an all-ages event the bar was closed) made this work, and it served to put the "pop" and "noise" even closer together. Electronic noise duo STÜKA made things in the room less comfortable with some hard shards of distorted synthbursts, unintelligible vocals and feedback. (The latter was provided, at one point, by mic-ing what looked like an old milk can.) Deliberately non-tuneful, this was like a shot of espresso in the middle of the day's proceedings — wake the fuck up and pay attention! [You can sample some of the band's sounds on their bandcamp.]

Listen to an excerpt from this set here.

3:20 p.m.: HSY @ The Great Hall (main stage)

Vocalist/guitarists C. Jude and Anna Mayberry would both be playing the smaller stage with their other projects on this day, but they had a respectable crowd on hand as their main project HSY took the main stage. The sound was a bit off as they started — all thudding drumpad and static-y vox — but once that was reined in the band's proper dissonance took centre stage. Not unwilling to let song structure slide into a sludgy pit, the band can also reel off a catchy number (like the singalong-worthy "Slimeball") when they want. Given the random festival gear/backline variance this wasn't the band at their sonic best, but performance-wise, it was quite right.

4 p.m.: Huren @ The Great Hall (back of main hall)

At the back of the room, yellow police tape was strung from the PA monitors to the mic stand, but even without that, the crowd instinctively gave Huren some room. Huren is the longstanding solo electronic project of Toronto-via-Hamilton's David Foster, and is noteworthy as being the musical antipode of the more famous pop-kitsch producer/Mitt Romney fundraiser of the same name.

Foster performed with the sense of someone that is one hundred per cent committed to what they're doing, which is somewhat disarming in these times. In that regard, the performer that he brought most to mind was Corpusse — so full-on into it that at first it seems over the top, but then you realize that the performer is not fucking around. Topically, with his madhouse outbursts and polymorphous perversity, Man Made Hill also came to mind.

Foster was so into what he was doing that he almost pulled the plug after a couple songs, convinced that the sound system wasn't loud enough — although in the end he pressed on. I thought this was totally fantastic, even though much of the crowd seemed unsure how to react. When Foster pulled something out if his bag and rolled it down the floor, the audience peeled away as if it were a bomb. At the song's end I leaned in, only to discover it was a can of cat food. This was one of the high points of the day.

Listen to a song from this set here.

4:40 p.m.: Perfect Pussy @ The Great Hall (main stage)

As that finished, the room suddenly filled up, nearly to capacity. Ah, here was festival buzz in action, as the crowds were out to check out the much-discussed Perfect Pussy in person. The band had something of a rep — including a divisive Horseshoe gig the night before — for being something of an on-stage disaster, better known for the spectacle unfolding in their wake than their music.

With that in mind, this set was remarkable for (if perhaps all the less distinguishable for) it basic technical competence. There would be no instrument-breaking sulk-offs here, just a brisk set of quick punk/noise ditties. Though fairly vital, that made the band less distinct from whichever noisy grrlcore band you might want to name — that's not to say they're uninteresting so much as to note their fairly meteoric rise might overstate where they are in developing their own sound. There were some interesting textures from synth player Shaun Sutkus and vocalist Meredith Graves (in an incongruously sunny brightly-striped summer dress) was a charismatic frontwoman, often doubled over and looking like an olympic swimmer quivering and ready to dive into the pool to attempt to break a speed record. The set ended with most of the band breaking down their gear and departing while Sutkus pumped out noise drones and Graves sat on the stage floor to put her shoes back on.

5:10 p.m.: ANAMAI @ The Great Hall (back of main hall)

That instant full house melted away almost as quickly as it had showed up, which was a real shame as they missed another of the day's best sets with HSY's Anna Mayberry returning with her ANAMAI project at the back of the room. Playing electric guitar and backed by synth player David Psutka (who recorded her excellent EP), I should have realized something was up beforehand when I saw him passing a cable up to the main stage's sound tech on the balcony. When I heard a synth tone behind me, I momentarily thought it was the next band soundchecking before I realized that Pstutka had fed his gear through the room's main PA, giving the set a wonderfully weird and immersive quadraphonic sound.

The crowd that did stick around was quiet (and, in quick order, mostly sitting on the floor) as Mayberry unfurled her folksongs, including a few of her best ("50% Pizza", "Dirt") that are as-yet-unreleased in recorded form. An excellent set and there's clearly more wonderful things on the horizon for this project.

Listen to a song from this set here.

5:45 p.m.: Frankie Cosmos @ The Great Hall (main stage)

I had no idea who was up next on the main stage, as Frankie Cosmos were a late addition to the bill. On asking around, one factoid that I gleaned was that the band was fronted by Greta Kline, daughter of Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates. That admittedly set the bar low, as I was expecting something of a celebutante vanity project. The band quickly deflated any such preconceptions by knocking off a series of jaunty naive-pop songs. (On further investigation, the band is definitely no casual project, with a huge amount of music up on their bandcamp.) Light and breezy, this is the sort of stuff that can be easily rendered joyless and sterile if pushed toward popchart perfection — but as a slightly-shambly group leaping through two-minute bursts on stage, it was quite satisfying.

6:05 p.m.: Black Walls @ The Great Hall (back of main hall)

Black Walls works in exactly the opposite fashion, at its best when given patient time to unfurl under Ken Reaume's careful musical ministrations. Given a shortened set-time with the showcase winding down, Reaume looked a bit less than satisfied at having to trim down his setlist, but still managed to preserve the graceful architecture of his compositions — drawing equally from metal, folk and ambient spheres. After a full day's listening, I was quite satisfied to lay back on the floor and look up at the ceiling and just let his music unfold. A good comedown for a well-programmed day.