Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recording: Toronto Homicide Squad

Artist: Toronto Homicide Squad

Songs: Fuck You North Toronto + There Are Gods Among Us

Recorded at June Records, February 15, 2015.

Toronto Homicide Squad - Fuck You North Toronto

Toronto Homicide Squad - There Are Gods Among Us

Their annual shared-birthday show turned into something a bit less overtly celebratory when Gideon Steinberg and Brandon Lim announced that this would also be the final gig for their harsh prog duo. The dissolution definitely wasn't so much a case of the creative well running dry, given that the set featured a bunch of new/unrecorded material from the band. That gave a slightly-painful sense of what might-have-been for the band's next act, with Steinberg offering a few more straight-up post-punk songs (such as class warfare jingle "Fuck You North Toronto") but all the best to both in their next stages and phases — Lim can still be seen wielding the bass in HSY, and Steinberg's stripped-down drum kit hints at more restrained adventures to come.

[The band's recorded legacy includes their Nein Bullets cassette as well as their Craft Singles release, both of which are available for free on their bandcamp.]

Recording: Brian Shirk

Artist: Brian Shirk

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at June Records, February 15, 2015.

Brian Shirk - [excerpt from an improvisation]

With bandmate John Prichard under the weather, this scheduled STÜKA set to open the afternoon turned into a solo excursion for Brian Shirk, armed with keyb, electribe and some pedals. The results could be filed under "harsh ambient" — slow-moving noise with enough of a musical arc to keep things engaging. This section mixes some creamier tones into the rumble'n'fizzle to close out the set.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Matthew Fava

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Matthew Fava, who (like a lot of folks) spends times in a couple different musical milieux. It took me far longer than it should have for me to realize that the bearded fellow behind the information table at New Music events and the new space-kosmiche-boogie bassist who suddenly appeared in Moonwood were, indeed, the same guy. The musically curious sort who doesn't even need an instrument to be fascinated by a sound, his list ranges into even more diverse terrain.

I ran into Joe at the Music Gallery the other day and during our brief encounter I mentioned how much I had been enjoying the celebratory playlists that folks were posting on MFS. He encouraged me to submit one.

Joe has captured so many remarkable performances. It was difficult to narrow my selections down to 6 when I had more than that from bands/artists beginning with the letter 'a'. The fact that other contributors have selected a few favourites made the process easier. You can trace histories in the events that Joe documents on MFS: artistic, institutional, cultural, personal. These are all shows that I missed, but artists who I have seen in other settings.

Happy birthday Mechanical Forest Sound, and thank you Joe– you are a cultural treasure, and I adore your t-shirt collection.

Feuermusik - Doppelspiel

I just as easily could have dropped a Canaille track in here, but I will simply say that Jeremy Strachan is one of my favourite people, and I got obsessed with Feuermusik from the moment their recordings came across my desk at CHRY 105.5 FM (where I used to be music director). Jeremy (reeds) and Gus Weinkauf (percussion) created an expansive sound together, and I am happy that this recording exists. Gritty, sparse, and highly imaginative.

Richard Laviolette & The Oil Spills - Funeral Song

Richard is an incredible songwriter. This is a rowdy number from All of Your Raw Materials, an album released about 5 years ago, which was re-issued by You've Changed. I was lucky enough to go on an adventure with Richard during the tour for this album. I drove to Guelph to pick up Richard and Sarah Mangle – I got to know them through my partner at the time, she is close friends with them both and orchestrated this car trip. We took a meandering drive up to Owen Sound for Richard's hometown show in the local bookstore. Unfortunately, we were supposed to pick up the PA system from the local music shop but it was closed by the time we pulled into town. Band mates from Guelph hobbled together a PA before making their trip up to Owen Sound, and although things got under way a little later than expected, it was an amazing concert. We wrapped up the evening with a game of scrabble at Richard's parents' place and they fed us pie and let us crash on the living room floor.

During the concert at the bookstore I had a big grin on my face when they played this song, and I really love the version that Joe captures here from the Out of this Spark Anniversary Show. I bet Joe did a little head bobbing and cracked a wide smile somewhere in there.

Germaine Liu - [excerpt from third piece]

I first became aware of Germaine Liu through her collaboration with Kit Wilson-Yang, and have since been more attuned to her output as a soloist and collaborator. Germaine is a highly resourceful, methodical sound maker. I was so pleased that Joe posted this recording. I have heard Germaine perform two solo sets with (un)modified snare drum, and getting a chance to listen back, itemize all of the textures, and plot the development of her musical ideas is wonderful. You can hear more from Germaine in the recording that Jonathan selected for his playlist.

Eamon McGrath - Signals

It was always a blast going to the National Campus and Community Radio Association Conferences. In the midst of all of the workshops, panels, concerts, and conversations, a representative from each radio station would distribute CDs of their local bands by stuffing them into oversized envelopes labelled with the call letters of all the participating stations - it was like valentines day in elementary school, but way less awkward. Someone from CJSR in Edmonton put an Eamon McGrath recording with a handmade case in the CHRY envelope. After I listened to Eamon's music I sent an email out of the blue to let him know I liked it and it was getting spins in Toronto. We kept in touch. He sent me a massive collection of his recordings. He came to Toronto on tour, and eventually moved to this city. Around the time that he released his Young Canadians album he played an acoustic set on the Night Shift (CHRY 105.5 FM, hosted by Luca Capone). I was mixing that night, and Eamon played Signals. Hearing the lyrics performed live, sending them out into the ether, was a great experience. This version with the full band captures his energy perfectly.

One more tangent, my daughter met Joe at the Bloor Christie Folk Festival last year following Eamon's set. Unfortunately, my daughter caught site of a kite and ran off so our conversation was brief, but I like that she knows a music community has more working parts in it than the musicians on the stage.

junctQín keyboard collective - Sonic Toys in Transit [excerpt]

Stephanie Chua, Joe Ferretti, and Elaine Lau are the trio behind junctQín (pronounced 'junction'). I wish they had been my music teachers when I was 4. They are wonderful people, and the only time they really show how weird they are is when they are performing (at least that has been my experience), and it is always memorable. They have taken programming a piano concert into all kinds of directions, augmenting their musical arsenal with toy pianos, thumb pianos, squeeze toys, customized tables, 8-bit glitched out circuitry, motion-sensor hand dances, mattress inflators, and more. In this recording, Joe captures their performance during Nuit Blanche several years ago. As Joe points out, it is a lower quality field recording, but coupled with his description of the space and his experience it is a great listen.

I also want to mention that Joe's entry from that night includes a great description of the Canadian Music Centre where I am currently employed. It is really special to read his reminiscing and recounting. Whether appearing in short or long form, Joe's enthusiasm for, and observations about music and its context, are refreshing.

$100 - Not For Me

I have written too much. I tend to ramble. This is a beautiful (at times hilarious) recording of a great song from a fantastic band full of stellar musicians. I don’t think enough can be written about Simone Schmidt, the words she sings, and the stories she tells.

Also: audience participation!

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Anni Spadafora

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from artist/DJ/musician Anni Spadafora, who plays no wave-esque rock in one of the city's best new bands, but who also has the name PAULINE OLIVEROS emblazoned on her guitar.

It was really difficult choosing only 6 recordings. So grateful for this archive, this wild attempt at throwing a net at this mess of a city. These are songs from shows I was at or wished I had been at. And a hint at some of the core people whose music urges me to listen deeper around these parts.

Nif-D - Centre of Gravity excerpt

Muskox - Buff Stop

AND THIS (sorry, I'm a cheat and a glutton)

Anagram - What a Mess

THOMAS - unknown

Alex Lukashevsky - Back to the River

Jesse Laderoute - Cassette Store Day [excerpt]

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Recording: Cellphone

Artist: Cellphone

Song: Dirt Angels

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Cellphone - Dirt Angels

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Mozart's Sister

Artist: Mozart's Sister

Song: Mozart's Sister

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Mozart's Sister - Mozart's Sister

My notes for this set can be found here.

Gig: Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3

Wavelength FIFTEEN – Night 3 (feat. Bart / Tenderness / New Fries / Fresh Snow / Mozart's Sister / Look Vibrant / Cellphone)

The Garrison, Sunday, February 15, 2015.

The three nights of this year's Wavelength festival were each loosely themed around the notions of "past", "present" and "future" and it was the third and final night of those that brought the most satisfaction. Focused squarely on emerging bands that are doing great work right now, this is the sort of show that could send people home with a new favourite band they'd be eager to see again. With an extended 4 a.m. last call, it was also a long night with bands on stage from 8:30 'til nearly three in the morning.

Getting things started, Bart packed a lot of music into less than a half-hour on stage. Led by Chris Shannon (ex-Elwins) and Nathan Vanderwielen (ex-Ruby Coast), the pair switched quickly from parallel dual vocal leads and doubled guitar lines to dartingly-interlocking bursts on both. They were backed by Hooded Fang's Lane Halley on guitar as well as Biblical's rhythm section (Andrew Scott and Jay Anderson). With the high vocals, shifting time signatures and fiddly guitar parts, there was definitely a prog rock thing at play here — but (as of yet, anyway) don't expect any side-long suites detailing Middle-earth battles. So far, their album cover style would probably be more pop-art than Roger Dean, reflecting their quick pop-structured songbursts — maybe let's call 'em "jukebox prog" for now. It's that spirit that sees four songs crammed into the twelve minutes of their début Bart by Bart 7". Heady stuff.

Listen to a track from this set here.

With only Steve Reaume's pixelated geometric abstractions lighting the stage, Chrissy Reichert (who performs as Tenderness) played a set focused on the new material that will be making up the project's sophomore album. There's a lot of variation within the cluttered bricolage of her dancefloor-friendly aesthetic, ranging from touches of hip-hop to galloping dabke beats to a gorgeous slo-jam that sounds like the last dance on the last night at church camp. I am admittedly a little partisan when it comes to the Reichert's work, so take it with a grain of salt, perhaps, when I say that this was the night's headliner-quality set.

Listen to a track from this set here.

Up on the big stage, New Fries played a more focused set than when I last saw 'em on New Year's Eve, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily more straightahead, as there were still a series of gestures that seemed designed to destabilize the standard rock-show dynamic. Once again there was a bit of bait-and-switch at the outset, with Ryan Carley's weird fugue-y keyboard lead-in providing accompaniment for some jibbering crooning from bassist Tim Fagan.

Once Anni Spadafora (guit/vox) and Jenny Gitman (drums) kicked in, it lurched back into rock'n'roll mode as the band reeled off the tunes from their Fresh Face Forward (plus a new one!) in a fairly brisk manner. During closer "Plexiglass" (which received a freeze-frame two-chord breakdown that was longer than the song part of the song) a mysterious pale figure in a white gown emerged on stage and assumed a Jesus-y pose before slumping forward. It's art when deliberate gestures are offered without obvious answers, and punk as hell when a band is presenting music with their own coded massages on their own terms.1

Listen to a track from this set here.

Notwithstanding a special night of some live film accompaniment and suchlike, Fresh Snow have been keeping a lower profile since last summer's WL Island show. A split single (with Reel Cod labelmates Mimico) added a cover of "Mony Mony" to their repertoire, and word is that a new EP is in the can and being readied for release. The results of that time away from the stage were apparent in a set that featured almost entirely new material — perhaps considered enough of a novelty that the band presented it in a pretty frills-free manner, sans masks or any of the other dramatic devices they're known for. (Well, there was a fair amount of dry ice.) That left the focus on the music, and it sounds like there's a lot to look forward to as we wait on the band's next release.

Listen to a track from this set here.

I will confess that I initially approached Caila Thompson-Hannant's solo project Mozart's Sister with some probably-unwarranted baggage after having read that she had been a member of Shapes and Sizes — a band that I remember being utterly turned off by at a gig back in '07. That said, the first time I saw this project I was — if not overwhelmingly convinced — able to see that she's on to something in this incarnation. Dance-pop doesn't tend to do much for me, but seeing a second performance managed to push me towards begrudging acknowledgement of what Thompson-Hannant is up to.

It was also a chance to situate her on a spectrum of broadly-similar acts at the festival: next to the previous night's Lowell set, this looked like the work of a musical genus; next to the evening's earlier Tenderness performance, it felt a little tame. Thompson-Hannant's stage manner (complete with dance moves) is engaging and about half the material registered with me, so I'd say the performance netted out somewhere above the meh zone, even if this isn't something I'd go out of my way to see a third time.

Listen to a track from this set here.

That was the programmatic peak of the night, and not unreasonably a lot of the crowd headed home, leaving a lot more elbow room for Montréal's Look Vibrant, a young quartet radiating bouncy energy on stage. The band looked maniacally happy to be performing, and they got the crowd (about half of which seemed to be friends who came along up the 401) jittering along. Their hypercaffeinated tunes came across a bit like listening to a Todd Rundgren tape while mashing down the fast forward button, and while I suppose it was fun, it didn't register as my kind of fun. I wager I'll be more into the next wave of bands that some of these lads will end up in a couple years down the road.

Sending the night off with a roar, Cellphone took the stage at about twenty past two to an even more thinned out crowd. That didn't phase the band, who turned in a solid performance that was one of the best-sounding sets I've heard from them in a while. In the DIY spaces I've mostly seen 'em in, minimal PA scenarios tend to hide the vox and synth behind a wall of guit/bass/drums, but here there was a bit more balance that really showed off their unique thrash/new wave fusion. They seemed to be in the mood to play, and after announcing their last song a couple times they ended up playing on. Hopefully I will run into them in such circumstances again. Well, maybe not quite at three in the morning.

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 The set's other moment of punk rock instability came when a noted local musician (with a bit of a confrontational bent) made his way up to the front to tell the horde of photographers (who'd been swarming the front of the stage for the duration of the set) to get their damn cameras out of the way and let people watch the show. Clearly not recognized as someone who had probably played more Wavelengths than some of photographers had attended, he was treated with derisive scorn, and there was a brief moment of weird tension.

Six years/Six pack: Shawn Clarke

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Shawn Clarke, who I think I first met after he played beside a campfire in Dufferin Grove Park back at a Static Zine launch party. I mention that in part because that's the level of real-world, specific detail that you'll find in his songs, lifting them above generic singer-songwriter sentiments. There's also a craftsman's attention to musical detail on his recent sophomore album William that proves (as the list below indicates) he has more on his mind than just pleasantly-strummed guitars.

Timber Timbre - Trouble Comes Knockin'

I played on this! And I didn't realize that there was a recording. Now when I tell people I played saxophone with Timber Timbre I can say "Check it out! I have audio proof!". This show was something else. Taylor Kirk is able to captivate an audience in ways I could only dream of. I'd spend most of these shows with a huge grin on my face, like "I can't believe I'm here". Oh another fun thing, Joe posted this on my birthday!

Olenka Krakus - Flash in the Pan

I'm not on this. I played with Olenka frequently around this time, but for some reason I didn't make this gig. I played one show with the hybrid Autumn Lovers/Wilderness of Manitoba band at the Garrison, and it was a wonderful experience. This is really lovely, and more people should listen to Olenka, who I feel is one of the finest songwriters this country has.

Colin Stetson - Judges

I've never had the chance to see him live, but the music of Colin Stetson really gets me excited. Never happy just playing the notes, Stetson explores the endless sonic possibilities that can be found in, on or around the bass and baritone saxophone.

Jennifer Castle - How or Why + Make a Man

Pink City was my favourite album released in 2014. Poignant, concise songwriting. It was really the most... for lack of a better word... "Adult" record I heard all year. "How and Why" is a great example of her talent as a songwriter. Here it's coupled with "Make a Man", a song I wasn't all that familiar with before, but really enjoyed.

The Weather Station - Seemed True

I initially checked this one because I thought "Oh could this be an unreleased Weather Station song?!". And I guess when Joe recorded it, it was. It's actually a tune called "Seemed True", it can be found on her lovely EP What Am I Going to Do With Everything I Know. But, wow, what a beautiful singer/songwriter/guitarist Tamara Lindeman is. She breaks my heart. Every. Time.

Tim Hecker - [excerpt]

This is something. I feel like Hecker is one of the most important musicians working in Canada today. I don't have a lot of objective reasoning to back that statement up, I just sort of feel it. Picking one of his tunes was tough, Virgins was my late introduction to his work, so "Prism" would have been a good choice... but I've been listening to Ravendeath a lot lately, so there's that... ultimately, I went with these "Excerpts from a live music score", because it really captures what makes Mechanical Forest Sound special. Joe was able to capture something here that you can't find anywhere else.

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recording: Fresh Snow

Artist: Fresh Snow

Song: Mony Mony [Tommy James and the Shondells cover]

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Fresh Snow - Mony Mony

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: New Fries

Artist: New Fries

Song: Water & Water

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

New Fries - Water & Water

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Tenderness

Artist: Tenderness

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Tenderness - unknown

My notes for this set can be found here.

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

Recording: Bart

Artist: Bart

Song: Multiply

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Bart - Multiply

My notes for this set can be found here.

Six years/Six pack: Ian Chai

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Ian Chai, the organizational force/grim taskmaster behind Buzz Records.

I promised myself that these selections wouldn't be an incestuous circle jerk: I failed spectacularly, but it wasn't for lack of effort.

As I worked my way through the voluminous pages of MFS, I was truly struck by how many amazing and formative moments I had shared with Joe. And as the years have passed, I've come to consider him not so much a friend, but rather a plausible alibi for my whereabouts.

Here's to 6 years and many more, Mr. Strutt!

ANAMAI - 50% Pizza

While it’s difficult to ignore the jackass yammering before the song begins, dude was right about one thing: this became a single.


Odonis Odonis - Blood Feast

An oldie but a goodie – you're listening to the live debut of their new sound rig at our Krampus party. It was so loud that at least 5 beer bottles vibrated off the merch table and onto my lap.

The Beverleys - Bre's House

We literally signed the band a couple days before this show, annoying many who thought they'd be attending the release party for their EP.

Hussy - Tarter Mouth

Remember when HSY was Hussy? And the song was called Tarter, not Tartar, Mouth? And Jude sang the tune? And Anna and Kat weren't in the band? Jude's going to be mad I posted this one.

Hut - On Parole

In many ways, this set was ground zero for my start in the music industry – so many feels – ask me about it sometime.

Weaves - Take a Dip

The Long Winter started taking fire code/capacity regulations seriously after this one – rager.

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Concert Listings Roundup #85

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:

Music Africa: Black History Month 2015 (feat. Afrafranto) / Gladstone Hotel 2015-02-28 (Saturday – free!) [more info]

People who ask me things like "who are the best bands in Toronto?" often seem confused when my list includes this under-appreciated group. Ghanian expats who play a mix of palmwine and highlife, there's an incredible level of musicianship here (some of these musicians also played in the famous African Guitar Summit project) and it's dance-y fun throughout. This is also your last chance to check out this Black History Month series from Music Africa, the folks who put on Afrofest.

This week's noteworthy shows:

Un Blonde (Yàocavé / Century Palm / Sexy Merlin) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-02-24 (Tuesday)CANCELLED [FB event]

Salvation Fundraising Campaign Wrap Party [feat screening + live sets by Jahmal Padmore / Bodies That Matter / Slime) / Handlebar 2015-02-24 (Tuesday) [FB event]

SUUNS (Disappears) / The Garrison 2015-02-25 (Wednesday) [more info]

Healing Power Records presents (feat. Zone Support [album release!] / Tax Haven) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-02-25 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Pneuma Ensemble / St. Michael's College 2015-02-26 (Thursday – free! early!) [FB event]

Girls Rock Camp Toronto After School Party Showcase Concert / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2015-02-26 (Thursday – PWYC! all ages!) [FB event]

Kaki King (Loom) / Geary Lane 2015-02-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Queer Songbook Workshop – Billy Strayhorn (feat. Dan Fortin/David French/Thom Gill/Alex Samaras/Shaun Brodie) / Holy Oak Café 2015-02-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Mimico "Incantations" album release show (feat. ZONES / Bodies That Matter / Ken Park) / Smiling Buddha 2015-02-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

John Kameel Farah [solo harpsichord] (Araz Salek [solo tar]) / Ratio 2015-02-27 (Friday) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-02-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Ken Aldcroft's Convergence Ensemble / The Imperial Pub 2015-02-27 (Friday) [more info]

Terror Lake (Persian Rugs / Hurricane & Able / Planet Creature) / Magpie Taproom 2015-02-27 (Friday) [FB event]

The Ethnic Heritage Ensemble [Kahil El'Zabar/Ernest Khabeer Dawkins/Cory Wilkes] / blakbird 2015-02-27 (Friday) [more info]

Lesionread (Zoo Owl / Mystic Triangle / Poster Boy) / Smiling Buddha [basement] 2015-02-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Secret Broadcast (Green Rays / UKAE / The Cool Hands) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-02-27 (Friday) [FB event]

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's New Creations Festival: A Mind of Winter (feat. Barbara Hannigan [soprano] / Jonathan Crow [violin] / pre-concert lobby performace of Claude Vivier's Cinq Chansons by percussionists David Kent, Mark Duggan and David Burns) / Roy Thompson Hall 2015-02-28 (Saturday) [more info]

Old Haunt (Babel / Beard Closet) / The Tranzac (Tiki Room) 2015-02-28 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Overnight [ex-Plumtree] / Catriona Sturton [ex-Plumtree] [double album launch!] / Holy Oak Café 2015-02-28 (Saturday – early! plus afterparty/late Overnight set at Duffy's! ) [FB event]

Marker Starling Band / Holy Oak Café 2015-02-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Hurricanes Of Love (Holiday Rambler / Elrichman / Little Howlin Wolf) / Ratio 2015-02-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. Greys / Teenanger / Beliefs / Fake Palms) / Johnny Jackson 2015-02-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Skydome Hotel (The Island Years / Modern Collins) / Array Space 2015-02-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

No Angels Dancing / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-01 (Sunday – matinee! 1 to 3 p.m.!)

ANAMAI (plus "huge Buzz Records Merch Sale") / June Records 2015-03-01 (Sunday – free! early!) [FB event]

Audiopollination 28.1 (feat. Bill Gilliam/Glen Hall / Michael Snow/Diane Roblin/Nobua Kubota / Michael Snow/Diane Roblin) / Array Space 2015-03-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

Show Me Your Boogie Blobs (feat. Mike Smith/Kieran Adams/Josh Cole/Shaw-Han Liem) / Holy Oak Café 2015-03-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

Nite Comfort 19 (feat. Gabe Knox / Club Vandal Renegade) / Handlebar 2015-03-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

PPOP Presents (feat. The Dories / WHIMM / Wolfcow) / Johnny Jackson 2015-03-01 (Sunday) [FB event]

Add these to your calendar:

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

Look Vibrant (HUSH PUP / Omhouse / PEERS) / Smiling Buddha 2015-03-02 (Monday) [more info]

Buzz Records Presents (feat. Bad Channels / Pissbowelking / AC) / Smiling Buddha [basement] 2015-03-06 (Friday) [FB event]

Radik Tyulyush and Tanya Tagaq / Aga Khan Museum 2015-03-06 & 2013-03-07 (Friday & Saturday) [more info]

Audiopollination 28.3 (feat. Aalborggroup / John Gregg/Tiina Kiik / Faster / William Davison and Maxwell Boecker) / Array Space 2015-03-16 (Monday) [FB event]

TWM/iM (feat. Fort York / Beams / KUMONgA / Last of the Bandits) / Gladstone Hotel 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

The Holy Gasp [album release!] (Ronley Teper & The Lipliners / Friendly Rich & The Lollipop People) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-03-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

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

Jared Brown (TV Sets) / Handlebar 2015-04-15 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Biblical (PANIC / Overnight) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2015-04-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Meandering Streams of Consciousness / Array Space 2015-04-27 (Monday) [FB event]

METZ / Lee's Palace 2015-05-01 & 2015-05-02 (Friday & Saturday) [FB event]

The Weather Station (Myriam Gendron) / The Great Hall 2015-05-14 (Thursday) [more info]

Community corner:

There will be more information about these upcoming events coming soon, but I thought I should mention that you should make a note in your calendars for these upcoming special events:

  • Thelonious Monk Marathon at The Tranzac, Saturday, March 21, 2015 – 1.p.m. to 1 a.m. feat. Evidence [from Montréal], Michael Davidson, Hat & Beard
  • Riverrun Marathon 2.0 at Beit Zatoun, Saturday, April 25 – 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  • National Drone Day Saturday, May 9, 2015 at TBA. few details as of yet, but save the day!

Six years/Six pack: Jakob Rehlinger

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Jakob Rehlinger, who plays in Moonwood and Babel (and Tranzmit and Reverend Moon and probably secretly on other things) and also releases "music for and by weirdos" on the Arachnidiscs label. Despite releasing albums encased in foil, plaster and mud, he has not yet won any "best packaging" Junos.

Before I met Joe, I asked someone who this "Metal Sound Whatsit" guy is. They said, "You've probably seen him at shows, he's kind of aloof, he's kind of abrasive."

When I met him months later there was definitely an awkwardness between us, but I didn't find him abrasive at all. Instead, as our initial greetings sputtered and died on the Holy Oak's floor, I found him to be a kindred spirit. A kindred socially awkward spirit taking refuge on the island of misfit toys that is Toronto's underground music scene.

The aspect where we're not kindred spirits is how Joe actually likes going to shows. Lots of shows. He seems to somehow enjoy leaving his house and mingling with people and making friends. As a misanthropic introvert with an acute social anxiety disorder, I don't relate to this attitude. I'd much prefer to stay in the comfort and safety of my home.

But being a nuanced sort of fellow, there's plenty of great shows I do regret missing. Thankfully, Joe manages to go to almost every single one of them and later, in the protective solitude of my home, I can experience these shows after the fact and decide if my regret is warranted or if I'd dodged a bullet.

So when Joe, chief archivist on our island of misfit toys, asked me to select six MFS recordings to commemorate his six years of archival study I said, "Yes, of course."

It slowly dawned on me I hadn't thought this through. There's over a thousand-million songs posted. So many great recordings. How do you choose? It's impossible. Therefore I'm not going to dig deep. These are six relatively recent shows I was curious about and regretted missing out on once I heard the recordings.

Germaine Liu - [excerpt from third piece]

I've been curious to see Germaine Liu for some time. Since Nick Storring recommended her to me, I think. Well, I still haven't and I'm even more curious.

Saltland - Hearts Mend

I considered taking my chances walking down that "creepy rape alley" (as I've heard it called) that is Geary Lane for this show since I'd put out a split tape a few years ago featuring Khôra and Nick Kuepfer. But this Saltland recording is what made me regret missing the show.

DUST - [excerpt from an improvisation]

I've been meaning to see DUST at D.Alex's behest for as long as it's taken him to stop bothering to invite me to their shows. I didn't know about this one. I'm sad I missed this magic. It must've been immersive from the vantage point of sprawling out on Ratio's floor.

VOTIIV - All to Take

VOTIIV played in the Conversation Room at the Jan 9th Long Winter a few sets after my band, Moonwood, did. Like jerks, we were long gone by then. I was well on my way to a crowd-induced nervous breakdown by that point and I'm not sure I could have handled this kind of intense EBM pummelling. But I'm glad I got to hear it after the fact.

Mirrors - [excerpt from an improvisation]

I didn't know about this show until Joe pointed me towards this recording, Which is bloody fantastic. Mirrors might be my new favourite Toronto band.

Matt "Doc" Dunn's Galactic Jazz Band - [second excerpt]

This is one I knew would be fantastic. What a line-up of players. Apparently it was fantastic. Damn.

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Recording: The Acorn

Artist: The Acorn

Song: unknown*

Recorded at SPK Polish Combatants Hall ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 2"), February 14, 2015.

The Acorn - unknown

My notes for this gig can be found here.

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

Recording: Del Bel

Artist: Del Bel

Songs: The Stallion + Let's Stay Together [Al Green cover]

Recorded at SPK Polish Combatants Hall ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 2"), February 14, 2015.

Del Bel - The Stallion

Del Bel - Let's Stay Together

My notes for this gig can be found here.

Recording: Last Ex

Artist: Last Ex

Song: Flûte Magique

Recorded at SPK Polish Combatants Hall ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 2"), February 14, 2015.

Last Ex - Flûte Magique

My notes for this gig can be found here.

Bonus: Exclaim! used my audio with the footage they shot at this show, so you can watch another song below:

Recording: Ginla

Artist: Ginla

Song: We're All Floating

Recorded at SPK Polish Combatants Hall ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 2"), February 14, 2015.

Ginla - We're All Floating

My notes for this gig can be found here.

Bonus: Exclaim! used my audio with the footage they shot at this show, so you can watch another song below:

Gig: Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 2

Wavelength FIFTEEN – Night 2 (feat. Ginla / Last Ex / Del Bel / The Acorn / Lowell)

SPK Polish Combatants Hall, Saturday, February 14, 2015.

The Present is an uncertain place, lacking the hopeful glow of The Future and the retrospective adjustability of The Past. The middle of three nights of the Wavelength festival — thematically split into Past, Present and Future — was no less so, feeling a little inadequately stirred up. Which is to say, that although I liked most of the bands on the bill on their own merits, juxtaposed against each other the night's curation felt too safe, lacking any sudden left turns.

Maybe that notion of safeness was also lingering in my mind after the afternoon's artist talk with Art Bergmann, who complained about the suffusion of bland "beigeness" in the world at large. So, yeah, on the whole, this night was a little too beige.

There were good vibes in the room, mind, and it's always nice to be able to take in a show at the Polish Combatants Hall, where even a healthy crowd (as this gig had) meant you'd still have some elbow room, and the high walls behind the stage also make it an excellent canvas for General Chaos' visuals. I was glad to see that there were heaps of young first-timers out at this all-ages show, even if the big draw for them turned out to be a fairly uninterestingly generic pop singer.

Opening the night was Ginla, a duo on their studio recordings but playing as a trio live with guit, moog and drums. Offering some hazy popstuff, the tunes as of yet offer a bit more atmosphere than hooks. Attending to their gear, there's not much showmanship, making them a bit more suited to the bedroom studio than the stage — although having the live drums in the mix adds a spark. The sensibility was also a bit too straight-ahead to really stand out, so hopefully there's a weird leap forward yet ahead for the group, though there's already potential on display here.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Last Ex is also a core duo performing live as a trio. Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield, who play together as members of Timber Timbre, started the project to further the work they did on an unreleased film soundtrack. Both of those touchstones are present on their album and in the material they performed live, though Last Ex hews more towards cinematic abstraction than anything you'd head on a Timber Timber record. Live, they were joined by Mathieu Charbonneau, who also plays with them in TT — though his former work in epic-instrumentalists Torngat is also a fitting sonic touchstone here.

Their set started a bit roughly, with Trottier having some guitar problems. Fairfield would also have some issues with his drumside synth, but when things were smoothed over, this was a satisfying set. Their expansive sound is a natural fit for Constellation Records, but their music doesn't have the grand sweep of, say Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Do Make Say Think, preferring instead self-contained hazily evocative sonic miniatures. There's also enough forward thrust for it to be more than just background-y instrumental music, but this was arguably not the best situation to spotlight that, as the crowd largely treated this as something to chatter over.

Listen to a song from this set here.

Del Bel's mid-bill slot also doubled as the album release show for their self-titled sophomore effort. That probably made it additionally frustrating for the band that their set was plagued with sound issues and technical difficulties, including a recalcitrant synth that was vexing bassist Tyler Belluz to no end. Even after a pause to set that right, the mix was still wonky.

But things improved as the band persevered, and at least the last few songs sounded pretty great. The icing on cake came when horse-stealing death ballad "The Stallion" was chased with a "schmaltzy" closing cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" — that juxtaposition perhaps getting to the heart of what makes Del Bel so appealing. And if nothing else, going out on a high note mostly obviated the memories of the rough start.

Listen to a couple songs from this set here.

A post-album pause turned into a few years of hiatus for Ottawa's The Acorn, with frontman Rolf Klausener devoting his energy to co-founding the Arboretum Festival and dance-oriented side project Silken Laumann. The rhythmic pulse of the latter seems to have stuck with him, as several of the songs in a set filled with new material were based around simple drum-machine beats. Those rhythm tracks seemed to keep both the tunes and the parka-clad Klausener rooted in place at first, but as he warmed up he stripped off layers and heaved some Valentine's Day condoms into the crowd. Some of the new material sounded a little staid next to the couple familiar ones that were mixed into the set, but it's possible that the new material will find its pulse in time.

Listen to a song from this set here.

The night was capped off by Elizabeth Boland, who performs as Lowell. (She was backed on stage by an un-introduced Matt Fong on guitar.) I'd say that her electro-pop stylings more or less missed the mark, but would also note they were exceedingly popular with the enthusiastic young crowd that was there to see her. Boland wobbled a bit when technical problems took her beats and vocals out of the sound system, but after being unsure whether she should retreat from the stage while things were worked out, she eventually managed to own the moment with the help of a megaphone and some crowd interaction. So points there for fast thinking and keeping things interactive, but there wasn't much to recommend in her songs.

That closed the night out on a rather beige note, but at least there was still the Future to look forward to.

Six years/Six pack: Jesse Locke

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Jesse Locke, a Weird Canadian, writer and drummer who I first met in person when he slipped some Tonetta in a DJ set.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Joe Strutt is the hardest working human in the Toronto music biz. Mechanical Forest Sound is a dizzyingly exhaustive archive of live recordings from left-of-centre shows, and I'm honoured to take part in this celebration of its sixth birthday. I typically spend time on the site listening to excerpts of gigs I was unable to attend, but for this post I’ve decided to write about six personal fave performances where I was there, mannn…

Simply Saucer - Mole Machine

The Saucer is one of my all time desert island top five bands. Since moving to Toronto, I've had the great pleasure of working with their original members on a few different projects, and it’s been a total blast hearing them tear through the songs that are embedded in my bones. This set at the Ty Segall after-party featured the band's CanCon superstar line-up of founding singer/guitarist Edgar Breau and bassist Kevin Christoff joined by The Killjoys' Mike Trebilcock on guitar/skull theremin and Blue Rodeo/The Garbagemen's Glenn Milchem on the skins. The Mole Machine reigns supreme!

Zacht Automaat - unknown

Zee almighty Hamilton-borne Zacht Automaat follow in the footsteps of Steeltown's O.G. electro-rockers Simply Saucer with their own baroque brand of lysergic liftoffs. I haven't missed a chance to see their twice yearly live shows, and it seems this set at Feast in the East's former Polyhaus venue was the first time both Joe and I were cleansed in their waters. Blah blah blah... Just listen in.

Tenderness - unknown

After a stretch spent in Winnipeg, Chrissy Reichert's recent return to Toronto has been a glorious thing. This gig on the first night of DDL's fifth anniversary weekend (capped off with a once-in-a-lifetime appearance by The Space Lady) served as the debut for her latest collection of block-rockin' devotional bangers, which have twisted and screeched into new shapes with each passing performance. I remain the number one Tenderness fan and can't wait to hear where these songs transport to next.

Matt "Doc" Dunn - [excerpt]

Doc Dunn is a dusty jewel in Toronto’s musical treasure chest, and sometimes you gotta dig deep to find him. This night at Double Double Land (starting to see a trend where I spend my time?) was the release party for his Tecumseth LP, with a dreamy performance joined by regular collaborators Jonathan Adjemian, Isla Craig and Brandon Valdivia. Imagine Loren Mazzacane Connors sipping from the cosmic brew of Alice Coltrane, or just ignore everything in this world entirely and float away.

Darlene Shrugg - Freedom Comes in a Plastic Card

Darlene Shrugg is the East Side all-star band made up of members from Tropics, Ice Cream and U.S. Girls. Their supercharged glam-stomp is one of the greatest things going in town these days, and "Freedom Comes in a Plastic Card" (there's yer song title, Joe) gets wedged in my head all the time. Bonus shout out to the rest of the Frankensteined collaborations at All Toronto's Parties 2: Bong Water, Abra Cadaver, Wildlife Rodeo, and a few truly fun sets I played myself.

Bile Sister with Chandra - Get It Out Of Your System

The shock of the new and a celebration of the shocking unknown came together for the reissue release party of Chandra's Transportation. Bile Sister's set of originals delivered the heat, but it was this truly rare onstage appearance from Chandra Oppenheim (running through songs she originally recorded in 1980 as an art-punk 11-year-old) that brought the house down. There's not much I can say to properly express my gratitude to Joe for capturing yet another fantastic night of music, otherwise lost to the sands of time and fading memories.

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Jonathan Adjemian

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Jonathan Adjemian. Before I knew him personally, he was a mysteriously cool dude (he'd been in Jon-Rae and The River, fer goodness sake!) in a poncho that you'd see off to the side of the room at gigs, reading novels in French. Once I came to know him, I discovered he was truly a gentle man and a scholar. You can catch him these days under his own name or as Hoover Party, busily making drones (not drones).

Digging through the MFS archives is a treat. Here's music from three shows I was at, and three shows I missed but enjoy imagining that I was there. The process made me feel old, though — lots of what I got excited about dragging up from the archival depths (Fox the Boombox, the Silt, Deep Dark United, etc.) turn out to date from a pre-MFS Toronto. Part of why it's nice to have this "service" of Joe's — it keeps things from falling entirely into "you had to be there" land. Still — good luck imagining Allison's dance, or the crowd chez Polyrhythmo, or that old 2011 feeling. Thanks to Joe for the memories and to everybody for making and continuing to make music, for the love of it, for whoever shows up and however little it pays. Makes this a nicer place to be.

Isla Craig - Parcel of Rogues

Allison Peacock & Alia O'Brien - unknown

Andy Haas - [excerpt]

Cheryl Duvall & Ilana Waniuk - Sonata No. 1 for violin and piano [final movement]

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - unknown

Jason Doell & Germaine Liu - Wild Bengal Tigers [excerpt]

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Luca Capone

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Luca Capone, who I met as Moonwood's drummer, but is also the host of The Night Shift (every Friday at midnight on CHRY 105.5 FM), a tale-spinner, and a general-purpose vault of musical knowledge.

If Joe Strutt is the Harrison Ford of the Toronto underground music community, then Mechanical Forest Sound is his Millennium Falcon. It is this grand vehicle of wonder that brings so much joy to Toronto music lovers. He is a relentless grinder who is intent on capturing the honest, beautiful, strange sounds of our city, and championing musicians who work just as hard to share their sounds. I support his endless mission, and I wish him, and MFS, all the best.

The Besnard Lakes - And This Is What We Call Progress

I had interviewed Jace & Olga a few hours earlier, and was over the moon because the interview went well. One of my absolutely favourite groups ever, putting on a beastly performance, on what was already a great night; I was on cloud ten.

Fond of Tigers - Pemberdunn Maples Wolfs (part 2)

I was really digging into alot of Drip Audio stuff during those days (Inhabitants, Tony Wilson), and the station had received FOT's latest, Continental Western, in the mail maybe a month before its release that September, and I fell in love with it. Someone at the station (It was probably Matt) kept telling me that the band was playing a show in Toronto really soon, but I completely blanked out. After listening to this recording, I truly realized how much of a clown I was for missing it.

Aline Morales - Juízo Final

I had seen Aline and her band put together one of the most incredible performances I've ever seen a month earlier at the Expressions of Brazil Festival at the Harbourfront. I thought, "I saw her last month, I should still go", but I didn't! Another mistake.

Bernice - Body Motivation

Another reason why Robin Dann & The Bernice crew is the most underrated band in the city. 'Nuff said. I honestly don't know what else to say. I'm desperate for a full-length from them.

Do Make Say Think - Anything for Now

Despite having my spot at the front of the stage obstructed by a jackass who proceeded to spend the entire set chewing out his date for not knowing anything about Mac Demarco, DMST was absolutely brilliant, taking my heart and soul on a rollercoaster ride, and setting my imagination on fire.

Elfin Saddle - unknown

The fusion of this performance and the scenery at Gibraltar Point had cast a spell on me. I was transfixed, hypnotized by their music; surrounded by the spirits of that old school, the light house, the setting sun and the swaying trees, I was swept away to another time and place that could only exist within the music of Elfin Saddle.

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: