Archive for August, 2009

Owl Farm Sing About Lobster

August 31st, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

“We sing about lobsters.”

“Is that something you relate to?” I asked.

“No, I don’t like songs about things.” Said Owl Farm founder Chris Lyon in a phone interview. “I prefer just abstract lyrics, nonsense. Like, I’m just really wary when people try and sell you stuff in their songs, like an attitude or something.”

I suppose it’s just a coincidence that the Kingston based Owl Farm’s eponymous debut album features songs like, “45 Seconds To Lobster”, “Lobster Stomp”, and their second album, Don’t Stop, begins with a tune called “Like Water For Lobster”. Or is it?

Nah, Owl Farm just seems to have a fun, goofy vibe inherent in their otherwise seriously well written songs, leading one fan to describe them as “a mix between Frank Zappa and Tenacious D,” according to Lyon.

Lyon began Owl Farm in Fall 2007, when a friend of his working at The Tragically Hip studio in Kingston let him come in and use the studio when no one else was using it.

“I’d go in there and lay down tracks and I’d write a bunch of songs. As the recordings started taking shape, I just talked to some friends of mine I’d played with over the years and they got on board.”

The first Owl Farm record featured Lyon playing most of the instruments. Once the full band was assembled, they began gigging and working on the second album, Don’t Stop, this time featuring everyone on their respective instruments. Since it’s release, Owl Farm have been touring around Kingston’s neighboring cities promoting Don’t Stop.

“It’s two hours to Toronto, it’s two hours to Ottawa and two hours to Montreal, so you can kind of play all three cities, and four including Kingston.”

On Wednesday the group will play their second official Toronto show, this time at Rancho Relaxo alongside Truman Peyote and Two Year Touqe. Perfect timing too, since the band just landed at number one on CIUT’s top 30. Pretty impressive, eh? Almost as impressive as…lobster…yeah…

Boston Spaceships

August 30th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This week’s band of the week is new but is basically just another project from an indie rock icon who’s been prolifically releasing work for the last twenty or so years. They’ve released two full-length albums (that kick ass) in something like a year and a half and they’ve got another one due in a couples months. This week’s band of the week is…


The indie rock icon in question is of course Guided By Voices genius savant Robert Pollard. For the last couple years he’s been relentlessly releasing solo-albums that have met with little enthusiasm from the rock community. The last two Boston Spaceships albums find Pollard not simply back in form, but (I’m gonna say it and I mean it) in better form than ever. True, GBV’s Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes and Mag Earwig are hallmarks of lo-fi 90s indie rock, but I swear the last two Boston Spaceships albums Brown Submarine and These Planets Are Blasted are better than anything I’ve heard from GBV.

Regardless of what pseudonym he’s writing under, Pollard is classic Pollard. His weird/awesome delivery, his wacked out wordplay lyrics and kooky hook-filled compositions remain unchanged, but with Boston Spaceships the songs are longer (2:00 minutes average) and more song-like than the fragmented 50-second GBV snippets. The fidelity is a little higher, but it never approaches “polished”, and the band behind him seriously knows how to rock (though with GBV, Pollard was often backed by some pretty strong musicians).


What’s always been great about Pollard’s work is that it basks in the glory, freedom and weirdness of rock and roll and never gets mired in obtuse experimentalism or passing trends. While the rest of indie-rock might be jerkin’ around with glockenspiels, computerized drum-machine beats, vocoders and sampling (and true, many artists jerking around with the aforementioned have produced some seriously cool music), Pollard’s just kept pumping out smashing riffs, infectious choruses and all-around damn good songs. While no one can ignore the change that comes with the passage of time, with enough talent and chutzpa, some can withstand it and still be awesome. Pollard and his Boston Spaceships so totally qualify.

Dinosaur Bones/Still Life Still at The Horseshoe, August 28th

August 29th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Last night’s Still Life Still album release show at The Horseshoe really did feel like a momentous occasion of sorts. The Horseshoe was packed, Kevin Drew was there along with most of the cooler people in Toronto and magic was in the air. Not to mention, I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many beautiful indie chicks in one room as I did last night. It was seriously like…damn. Even the show’s host People Of Canada joked at one point, “I was asked to host the Still Life Still show and I said, “Those are the guys that, like, all the beautiful girls come see, right? Yeah, I’ll think about it.”” So someone yells, “play the song you wrote for your girlfriend.” And he did (very cute song, btw).

I am soooo sorry I missed Boxes and Bags, if anyone doesn’t know that they’re awesome at this point then just know that they are awesome and you should totally go to their next show cuz it’ll be awesome.
I made it in time to see Dinosaur Bones and they played a solid set. Not as good as their incredible NXNE performance but still very solid. After the set I was talking to lead singer Ben Fox for a bit and all these girls kept coming over to talk to him so I had to head off and bug other people between sets (like Simone from Audio Blood Media – btw, did you know she just can’t resist guys with beards? I mean, take a look at her ex…)
Still Life Still’s crowd was huge and impenetrable. The band played a pretty sick set. “T-Shirts” and “Pastel” in particular had the crowd going nuts, jumping around, dancing onstage, doing a little moshing at the front, it was intense. They played some strange, slow song for the encore that ended with everyone singing along with a line that was something like, “you should’ve fucked me.” They really did look like rockstars up onstage, it felt like they’d “made it” to some extent. It was a beautiful thing to see them get to where they deserved to be after 10 years together.
After the show a bunch of us made it over to Ben’s place around Dundas West where everyone chilled, talked, danced, broke bottles, wore cool hats, and played Snakes and Ladders.

The Balconies/The Magic at The Horseshoe, August 26th

August 27th, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

I left the house at about 6:50 hoping to get a haircut at Yonge and Lawrence cuz my Jew-fro is starting to fro out at the sides. I got down there to find the place closed, as I should have expected it to probably be at 7:30 pm on a Wednesday. I was also planning to go postering for my show on Sept. 2nd but that got moved to today also because someone told me to go to a copying place that was also closed and so I should just go tomorrow (which is now today). So yeah, nothing got done. So now on to my night: my choices were Sneaky Dees for What’s Poppin’ or Horseshoe for The Balconies, who’s myspace I had checked out and been impressed by. Guess which won?

The Balconies, unfortunately, did not quite live up to my expectations. The band plays a high-energy, dancey kind of indie-rock that kind of reminded me of Bloc Party except toned town a couple notches, no crazy digital beats, and with a chick singer (someone is calling this comparison ridiculous). As everyone knows, having an even somewhat-attractive female lead singer is probably the smartest thing any band can do. It’s just like bam! Instant publicity. But finding a legitimately good female singer is only a couple notches under finding like The Holy Grail or The Ark of The Covenant. And American Idol has only made things so much worse by making the standard for “good singing” abominable. The problem with The Balconies and the vast, vast majority of other female-led rock bands is that their singers sound too calculated, their singing doesn’t sound “real” or characteristic enough, but too traditional and with the edges roughed out. And what happens when you take that factor out of the equation, when one of the two dudes in the band sing? They sound great. When one of the dudes takes over vocal dudes The Balconies sound like a kick ass indie rock band. And the fact that the dudes in the band have kind of weirdish, unconventional voices makes it even better because they sound characteristic.
Someone’s gonna give me shit for that.
The Magic were incredible. They’re a seven-piece and they looked like they either couldn’t quite agree on what to wear or they all just wore whatever they felt like but they had to wear something interesting. One guy was in a suit, the girl was in like cool indie-rock attire, one dude was wearing…I have no idea. Take a look.
Below this he was wearing some kind of gold, glitter band around his waist, skinny jeans (were they jeans, actually?) and little heeled boots.
Anyways, the music was really, really good. They had complex, RnB-style dance rhythms and a multifaceted aesthetic with elements of indie-rock, tropicalia, soul and funk. The lead singer was hopping around singing, squealing in falsetto and generally acting very Prince-like. This is a really cool, interesting band and as weird as they may be in look and sound, their music was very accesible and – I hate to state it like this – “catchy”. Guh…


August 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

This band of the week are a bunch of boys from this great city of ours, Toronto. Made up of several talented persons who have been working around the scene for quite a couple years, this band is finally ready to raise themselves up to meet the national (and hopefully, soon, international) consciousness as a musical force to be reckoned with. With grand melodies and an even grander name, the band of the week is…

Primarily Mike O’Brian and Carlin Nicholson, Zeus’s most impressive resume listing would be that they were (are?) Jason Collett’s backup band, which likely had something to do with them being signed by Collett’s surrogate-family label, the always-incredible Arts and Crafts.
The magic behind Zeus’s music is that they have managed to nimbly keep their sound from falling into easy categorization, straddling the line between indie-pop and a retro-rock. Sure, the first thing you think when listening to Zeus is, “oh, Beatles”, but no, they’re actually much more than that. They’ve got charm, they’ve got a style of their own, they’re not afraid to dabble with interesting sounds and semi-psychedelic textures, and their sound never feels too soft or cushiony, but instead, has a roughness to it lacking from the best power-pop bands (New Pornographers, pretty much).
This year Zeus released a solid five song EP called Sounds Like Zeus to significant critical acclaim. Their commercial interests can’t be hurting too much either considering I waited two hours to get into a Zeus show at the Dakota Tavern a couple weeks ago…and yeah, simply never got in due to the place being at capacity. Supposedly A&C; labelhead Jeffrey Remedios didn’t even get in either, actually. Someone told me that….
Recently, their song “Fever Of The Times” (which is now my favorite song by the band) appeared on the latest Arts and Crafts sampler CD, listed as being from their forthcoming full-length due in late 2009. I can’t wait to hear it.
You can hear and purchase the Sounds Like Zeus EP here.
(Photo by Pete Nema)