Whereas in April I could barely find enough songs to put together a short mix, this month I left out a ton in order to keeps thing brisk and well-paced. May was a great month for music and for myself. I went to Washington D.C. and New York and though I didn’t see any live bands, I found out about a bunch just by going to the record stores in the places and picking up weeklies and stuff. Anyways, here’s the mix, I think it’s a pretty good one.
So No Joy have a new EP on the horizon epically titled Negaverse! It drops June 19th and the first track “Junior” is out on the internets.
Originally I thought No Joy were like a totally boring band (the bad kind of shoegazers that thinks the effects are more important than the melody) but I think after seeing them at last year’s NXNE I realized that they’re like so cool that they can actually get away with having barely any melodies. “Junior” doesn’t really change this, but it does sound uber cool like most of their other stuff, just by like sheer virtue of stylishness. Better even. Maybe I’m just a sucker for those noisy guitars and sheened-over female vocals.
I think the EP will probably be like a refinement of what we heard on the album. More pedals. Mores style. Whatever. I’ll download it and listen to it while running on the ellipticals.
This is a cool shoegaze band. Some of the girls in the band are pretty sexy. Or at least the sexy hair obscuring their faces makes me imagine that their faces are correspondingly sexy. Their music is pretty sexy. The band of the week is…
Sooo, I don’t know what the deal was, but somebody or other in the band was from Montreal and someother person or persons was/were from L.A. or they were separated for a while or something. I don’t really know. Anyways. They made some cool videos and songs and put out a solid album on Mexican Summer (solid label) and now they’re hot shit.
As a self-professed shoegaze-nut, I was intrigued by the band at first but thought that they were a little too pedal-heavy and melody-lite, as I’ve often complained of the first wave of post-Loveless shoegaze bands of being. However, they were really fucking cool, both in sound and in visual style. So I watched the new videos when they came out and downloaded the album. Because it’s so murky and the melodies aren’t uber strong it was at least good for when I read on the treadmill, it kind of just blurs and such.
Then I saw the band @ the Silver Dollar during NXNE a couple months ago and thought they were really cool live, so I went back to the album, looking for a little more. And amazingly I found it. And now I think the band actually has some pretty cool melodies and that they’re one of the best shoegaze bands around today. And that’s a pretty decent compliment cuz there are a lot of killer shoegaze bands around right now (Memoryhouse, Deerhunter, School Of Seven Bells, Wild Nothing, etc.).
Anyways, this will be my last Band of the Week ever unless there’s some kind of protest to let me know people are reading these, cuz I monitor what gets hits and what doesn’t and though I always hoped that these kind of personal-style band of the week entries would be something to make the blog stand out a bit, but these days I find it just a kind of chore that rarely gets much attention, so maybe it’s time to make a change…If you’ve enjoyed them and would like to see more, let me know. If not, I suppose no one will miss them.
This year’s NXNE festival was phenomenal. The movies and conferences could’ve maybe been just a little, tiny bit better, but the bands were a knock out of the park. My only complaint would be that there were too many awesome bands. I had to make some tough choices. But that’s what a great festival should be like: an overbundance of awesome. And that’s what this year’s NXNE was. And the amazing weather didn’t hurt either. Here are are writeups for each day of the festival:
Another awesome day of NXNE. Although perhaps we didn’t see as many awesome bands (or, more accurately, bands as awesome) on Friday as on Thursday, a good time was still most definitely had by all.
Marc: I started my day of NXNE-ness with some films from Australia at the National Film Board Center. Shout outs first and foremost go to The Bedroom Philosopher‘s hilarious LATFH-worthy music video “Northcote (So Hungover)”. Amazing.
After that there was some mildly funny short called The Game and then they screened Rainman Goes To RocKwiz, a great, short documentary about Mark Borebach, a 40-year-old man with Asperger’s Syndrome who can remember the Australian singles chart placings from the entire 1980s. People can ask him to tell them the top five for the first week of April 1983 and he can toss ‘em off like nothing. He competes on an Australian game show called RocKwiz and wins, but more interestingly, he writes and records Daniel Johnston-like music and draws pictures of the dreamworld he inhabits when he goes to sleep, in which he is a rock star who controls the media and has a family. When he goes to sleep in his dreamworld, he wakes up in the real world and vice-versa. Pretty headtrippy stuff, but very interesting, and Mark himself appears as a very benevolent and intriguing character.
The next film on the schedule was6Ft. Hick: Notes From The Underground, a documentary about the wild Australian garage-rock band of the same name as they tour Europe. This film was actually kind of disappointing, as the band’s music is kind of lame and even their wild stage antics are shamelessly Iggy Pop-derived. Footage of the band’s two frontmen brothers doing weird performance art in their younger days was far more fascinating than anything the band did in the more recent years shown in the film.
A couple hours later I went over to the Kapisanan Phillipine Centre For Arts and Culture for Snakes And Ladders‘ barbecue showcase show where I met up with Gold Soundz team-member Danny Burger. I only had time to catch the end of TOPS‘ set and the first song of Moon King‘s, unfortunately. TOPS (formerly Silly Kissers) are a great, kind of colourful, indie-pop band from Montreal with a strong synth presence. They’re signed to the solid Arbutus label. Moon King, the new project of Daniel Woodhead and Maddy Wilde (both formerly of Spiral Beach), playing their ‘third first show’, sounded a little on the rough side for their first song, which was partly for reasons due to the technical sound, but as we were leaving, the levels were better for the second song and things started to jell a bit more. I wish we could’ve stuck around for more, since they clearly have a number of great songs as one can tell by the EP and single up on their bandcamp, but we were already running late for our next event.
Colour Me Obsessed is a film about the legendary 80s rock band The Replacements, a band that made several widely-acknowledged classic albums but never had a hit or sold all that many records. The film documented the history of the band with reflections on the band and their work from friends, fans, and rock critics. Unfortunately, as interesting as the things everyone said were, the lack of any band music, videos of the band, interviews with any of the original members (three of the four of whom are still alive and hopefully well), and even more than a handful of photographs, severely weakened the film. It was borderline painful to hear all these people talk about certain songs and albums and not be able to hear even a snippet of the song, or even see the fucking album cover! And all the great stories you hear about the band getting crazy onstage would’ve benefitted infinitely from some – any – footage. All in all, the film was dissapointing because of that.
Assunta: I went to see the film (Colour Me Obsessed) for a little bit, but I’ve known about Art Brut for so long now and never seen them live, so I left early to catch some of their set. When I got to the Mod Club, the band was onstage but not playing; an omniscient voice was narrating a story about the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Turned out it was singer Eddie Argos, just chilling amidst the crowd, vividly telling his story. At one point he got everyone around him to sit down and then jump up altogether. It was great. Oh, there was music also.
Eddie Argos is a funny guy and as his Van Gogh museum story shows, he likes to tell his little anecdotes but it gets repetitive. Live, however, his knack for entertaining fully works in the band’s favour. While Eddie by himself was captivating enough, the other band members were fun to watch also, with everyone getting really into whatever they were playing. Also interesting – at the end, Eddie asked everyone to put up their hands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show where everyone, including the last row and the sides, participated, but here it happened.
After their set, I biked to Lee’s Palace for Dirty Beaches, who I was really excited to see. Of course, the place was packed, given the buzz he’s been getting. Maybe I expected too much, or my slightly drunken state ruined it for me, but I was not impressed. In fact, I found his performance really depressing. On record his music fosters a tranquil sense of nostalgia, but live that feeling was cancelled out by Alex Zhang Hungtai’s strange performance. The way he was standing there in the middle of the stage, fully immersed into his music, he looked like he was 30 years older, disillusioned from several divorces and too much alcohol. He looked like the kind of guy that would hang around Clinton’s: a sad figure holding on to his music and disconnected from the outside world. Yeah, makes for a great atmosphere…This was a rare instance in which I preferred the record over the live performance. It might have been just me, but he simply lacked the force needed to capture peoples’ attention. His voice was also pretty drowned out by the guitar, which was unfortunate; his Elvis-y voice is one of the best things about Dirty Beaches.
Marc: With some time to spare before Swervedriver – my one must-see band of the night – we stopped over at Cameron House to see Montreal’s Pang Attack, a solid three man band fronted by Alexander Hackett that sang sophisticated pop songs cloacked in a shoegazey aesthetic.
After their set ended we continued on our route to The Great Hall (where Swervedriver was playing at 12:00), making a detour up and going into The Garrison (where Assunta met up with us again) to catch some of Braids‘ set. I’ve always thought the Montreal samplegazers were overrated since first seeing them as unknowns playing a Wavelength Sunday show years ago and I still think so. Performance-wise they were fine playing to a packed house, but their songs just don’t have strong enough melodies to hold my attention. We left after a couple songs.
I was under the impression that Swervedriver were a little known band from the 90s that kind of got passed over in their time despite one kickass classic album (1995′s Mezcal Head) but apparently they’ve got a shit load of fans in Toronto (almost all probably over 30, at least) because The Great Hall was at capacity, and that’s not a small venue. After a couple minutes in line we got in and squeezed to the front. The band looked aged, but respectable. Although they were for the most part solid performers, they played very few of their best songs (e.g. the ones off the aforementioned album) and I was kind of feeling of a just-another-day-on-the-job vibe emanating from them; this definitely was not the unwashed-looking young badass shoegazers from the 90s I wanted to hear. To make an unfortunate fan insider pun, it did seem as though the band had lost that feeling…
Ending the night with another shoegaze band, No Joy‘s 2:00 AM performance at the Silver Dollar was great. Lots of noise. Lots of sex appeal from the two bad-ass hipster-looking chicks with long, blonde hair obscuring their faces. Few melodies to get in the way of the onslaught. Usually I’m a stickler for melody (see Braids‘ set review above), but No Joy is just really fucking cool. I like them. A couple of us actually thought their performance was the best of the night.
Although I believe Wednesday is the first official day of NXNE, yesterday was the first day I really got to enjoy, and it’s the first day that the thing really takes over the city. And it was beautiful, all the musicians in town were out walking the streets, going from venue to venue, show to show. So many amazing bands were playing that we all had to make some tough decisions (Gauntlet Hair, Lower Dens, Fucked Up and No Joy all at the same time! Gahhhh!!!). Anyways, here were the shows and events I did end up seeing.
Marc: My day began with two conferences, the first of which was Ideas Chasing Money Vs. Money Chasing Ideas with Baris Karadogan of Hip Digital and Garo Keresteci of FUSE Marketing. In short, the whole thing felt a bit like this. I don’t think I got too much out of it. The second conference I went to was HootSuite – Building A Brand, which kind of fell flat. The presenter, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes, couldn’t make it to Toronto so he did his presentation via Skype or some online video thing. The connection was bad, and to add to the difficulties, the conference in the next room was judging songs on their radio playability and blasting each track so loud that we couldn’t even hear Holmes when the connection did come through. And even then, most of his presentation seemed kind of like, “We did this and that and paid attention to users and monitored their response…” I wouldn’t exactly call it a revolutionary presentation, but Hootsuiteis something I’m definitely going to look into more, so I got that out of it.
First show I went to of the day was Fucked Up‘s free Yonge and Dundas performance. And it was amaaazziiiiinnnnngggg. As usual. This was the first time I saw them play the new songs off David Comes To Life and they were huge and awesome and the crowd loved them. People knew the words, were moshing like crazy, crowdsurfing – it was nuts. As always though with hardcore shows, everyone was really nice, if somebody fell, ten people were reaching out to pick them back up and throw them back into the mayhem. Abraham came out into the crowd and everyone was hugging him, rubbing his head, just giving him a lot of love. It was awesome. But Fucked Up are always amazing. It’s too bad their set was short and I missed half of it by coming late
After that I was planning on hitting up The Dodos show at the Phoenix but had to wait around for a friend at Yonge and Dundas, so I watched OFF‘s set in the meantime. Lead singer Keith Morris of Black Flag/Circle Jerks fame looks pretty grizzled, but him and the band were huge and played a very solid set. At one point he made a point of calling all people in politics evil, which is pretty classic, but a little ironic considering his band was playing a festival that probably gets a considerable amount of government funding. Anyways….After that I made my way over to the Phoenix as planned (although delayed) for Deerhoof‘s set.
The place was pretty packed. Deerhoof (a four-piece at the moment) looked really cool onstage, with each member doing their own thing, moving around, keeping things lively, nobody really stole the show from any of the other members, it was a true group effort. That being said, drummer Greg Saunier was hilariously animated on drums, and his slow. shakey. stage banter…was very…funny…too…Okay, maybe he did steal the show a bit. The set as a whole was superb – the band sounded powerful, fun, and the instrumental interplay between members was a great thing to see live.
After that, guest writer Assunta and I trekked back to the downtown core to check out the Lefse Records showcase at The El Mocambo, since we blog about and sometimes interview and even book bands they and their PR/management company Banter Media And Management send us emails about. Though we missed Chicago’s A Lull, we got there just before lo-fi San Diego psych-rockers Tape Deck Mountain went on. While they were setting up we went to grab pizza, but by the time we got back they were on their last song (we were only gone for 20 minutes, it was a pretty short set). It was a pretty cool song though, and sounded really big and noisy and blissed out.
Next up was Colorado ‘buzz-band’ Gauntlet Hair, who came on to a now-packed (before empty) house and announced that they were drunk, tired and worn out but whatever. Though at first I think the sound guy was having trouble with the electronic drum kit they played, two songs in everything came together and the band’s killer mix of gorgeous Cocteau Twins-esque effects-crazy guitars, sharp melodies and deep, bloopy electronic-drums drumming sounded awesome. Their shirtless drummer was also pretty hilarious.
Tonight, scuzzy post-punk/shoegaze Toronto band Portraits are playing a digital EP release show at Tiger Bar with Odonis Odonis, Hellaluya and Sexy Merlin. Should be a kick-ass show, and they’ve put together a kick-ass mix of shoegaze, punk and post-punk from the last four decades to both soundtrack and celebrate the night.
1. The Buzzcocks – Orgasm Addict
2. Odonis Odonis – Blood Feast
3. Lowlife – Eternity Road
4. Felt – Cathedral
5. Secret Shine – Loveblind
6. The Jesus And Mary Chain – Never Understand
7. No Joy – Heedless
8. My Bloody Valentine – Want
9. The Cure – All Cats Are Grey
10. Dirty Beaches – Sweet 17
11. Girls – Carolina
12. Sonic Youth – Kissability
13. Young Prisms – Breathless
14. The Smiths – The Headmaster Ritual
15. Tamaryn- Love Fade
16. Atlas Sound – Bite Marks
17. Slowdive – Blue Skied An’ Clear