Thursday, August 31, 2006

No particular place to go

Things are going to be quiet on the photography front for the next little while - the only thing there's a chance I'll make before my next break from work barring a show from Starsailor on Monday is the Field Registry, Poorfolk and The Soiree at Irene's (even then, I'm gonna be late). Thus for the next week prepare to read my brilliant opinions on music and see mouldy old photos from the depths of my back catalogue.

I'm a big fan of freak folk acts like The Dave Redford Trio, Ben Chasny's Six Organs of Admittance, No Neck Blues Band and the older outfits from who they draw inspiration: Ed Askew, Incredible String Band, Simon Finn, Gary "Red Hash" Higgins, Comus and the like. Despite that, I've been late to the party when it comes to The Wooden Wand, a.k.a. James Toth, and his co-conspirators in the Vanishing Voice and Sky High Band. It's a pretty big party - I strolled over to the discography to see how many releases he had. About 46, including CDs, LPs, cassettes and CD-rs. This crew obviously adheres to the Acid Mothers Temple school of music production!
His solo album Harem of The Sundrum & The Witness Figg is his debut album, it's also the first one I picked up. Despite bearing the imprint of the 5RC label - which is also responsible for releasing works by bands like Deerhoof and Amps for Christ - it's fairly straightforward. There's a second guitar (I suspect multi-tracking). There's also a second, female voice for harmony - other than that it's just Mr. Toth sounding a bit like Devendra Banhart at his loneliest.
Another 5RC release, Gypsy Freedom, released earlier this year is a far less lucid affair - not that there's anything wrong with that. Free-jazz saxophonist and flautist Daniel Carter guests, and his tendency to wind along permeates the album. He teams with a female vocalist for a stripped-down sax and voice duet on opener Friend That Just Isn't So. That's a prelude to the No Neck Blues Band style free form folk of Didn't It Rain. Jangling bells, aimless flute, some bassy thumping and a stumbling raga figure will make you wonder if you haven't slipped a Cerberus Shoal album into the player by accident.
My favourite one is his recent Second Attention. A few facts about this album:
  • There's an ultra-echoey duel between guitar and organ on Portrait in The Clouds that makes 1960s garage rock sound hi-fi.
  • There's Bob Dylan-grade snark on the the spiritual putdown Crucifixion, Pt. II.
  • The cover appropriates the artwork from John Martyn's Stormbringer! (Pictured at right)
Apart from the various acts I've already cited, I'd recommend The Wooden Wand to anyone keen on Will Oldham's multiplicity of projects, Leonard Cohen, The Sun City Girls, Alphane Moon, Espers and Current 93. The incorporation of religious themes put me strongly in mind of Current 93's Black Ships Ate The Sky.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's a shock

These Electric Lives had some fun rounding out the bill at Zaphod's on Saturday. Unfortunately a good chunk of the audience who showed up to catch Embassies of Denmark decided not to stick around. Fortunately a few noisy types stuck around to scream on cue so it didn't seem like total desertion, and the band put on a jumping show. Unfortunately I couldn't catch any leaps from the riser due to slippery floor conditions but here are a few other pics.

Singer Mark Stanfield.

That rhythm section: Drummer Adam Balsam and bassist Gary Peter, Metric roadie extraordinaire.

Guitarist Bryan Lowe and keyboardist Griffon March.

More Adam!

More Griffon!

Faceoff action (I think somewhat obscured keyboardist Griffon is saying "Okay you guys, go back to your microphones ...")

Electric action!

A bit Cure-like; they say they like Interpol and Bloc Party and I can certainly hear that as well.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On your marks

This was the third go-round for Embassies of Denmark - I saw their premiere at Zaphod's back in March, and again at Civic Duty in April a few weeks later. Now here they are a few months on, still Pat, Bill, Mike and Eric, still dual vocal screamy melodic rock. This was a CD EP release show for them.

Bill shows off the upper thigh.

Eric at a rakish tilt.

Mike, slightly fuzzy.

Pat with some overly obvious shutter speed nonsense.

Diplomatic action!

I seem to recall some talk of a split with Black Actors ... don't know what happened to that.

Monday, August 28, 2006

They built this city on post-rock

City of a Hundred Spires ... I saw them a few months ago, also at Zaphod's, and admired their running about and post rock. They've built on the bedrock of Tortoise in much the same way that Mogwai have. They're in the same zone as Mono and like-minded acts. I notice that they posted one of the pictures from that show on their MySpace page with the caption "Looking like cocks at Zaphod's." Well, here they are looking less cock-like. I hope. Since they played on the floor and not the stage, the (lack of) lighting was making it hard to focus.

Fortunately BOSS makes their tuning pedals in white, so they show up well enough for autofocus to get a lock on. Jean-Michel Lacombe's shirt also helps.

Drummer Carl Cleroux.

Max Monast jumping about as usual.

Vinnie Boisvert rocks the hoodie.


The band has actually been around town because they've been recording up in Chelsea for the past two weeks. They're taking a short break, followed I hope by a CD release show in town.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Lives become electric

Interesting triple bill at Zaphod's this evening, starting with the post-rock of City of 100 Spires, moving on to the screamy punk of Embassies of Denmark and then These Electric Lives' Cure-influenced, Metric-lovin' post punk.

Those city boys set up on the dancefloor and beckoned the audience to come closer. Then they jumped around a lot and played fuzzy, Tortoise-inspired instrumental rock.

Embassies of Denmark got up on stage and did their thing in honour of the release of their new EP.

Finally These Electric Lives performed. Unfortunately a good chunk of the audience evaporated while they did, which was a pity, since they put on a good show.

I shall speak more of this later.
  • Show reminder: Vandelay, Dora and Planetary Confusion perform at End Hits; Gutter Demons, Urban Alien and The Sewer Rats perform at Cafe Dekcuf. You could probably see the former then skip over to see the latter if you felt so inclined, since show times are 5:30 and 7:30 respectively. Heck, you could also see The Flaps perform at Andrew Hayden Park earlier in the day and make it a threefer.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

On the road again

Yes, the posts are coming a little later in the day, aren't they? That's because I work late and get up around noon. The same could be said of Damo Suzuki, last seen departing the Avant Garde with merch in hand after his second gig at said establishment at about 1 in the morning. The show had been billed as a gig with the Unireverse, Radar and River City Junction. As I walked in the door Damo was already performing with a band I didn't know. According to Damo's website, it was The Ed Rowland Trio.

Besides Damo (under the hair), there was Robin Davies on guitar and Thomas Posner on bass.

Saxophonist Scott Douglas.

And drummer Andrew Letourneau.

So ... there are four people in the Ed Rowland Trio ... none of them named Ed. Those crazy jazz cats! Up next, another jazz trio, Radar. They did the best job of the night, I thought. The group's fondness for Sun Ra and improvisation dovetailed nicely with Damo's style. I imagine watching the Ed Rowland Trio's performance gave them a better idea of what to expect, too.

Keyboardist Jennifer Giles at left.

Linsey Wellman on saxophone, flute and wineglass.

Radar is usually a trio. Broscoe has a standing invite to play saxophone and clarinet - sometimes at the same time.

Drummer Rory Magill and Broscoe.

Finally River City Junction performed. They play classic rock with a few jazzy flourishes, letting Damo work around the riffs. It worked out pretty well, though I did think they had a bit of trouble figuring out how to conclude the second extended number.

From left to right, Jason Fryer, Tommy Joanisse and Trevor Grey.

Following Damo's set, River City Junction performed a few songs (including a Beatles cover, the name of which has gone clean out of my mind) with regular singer Caroline Addison to round the night off.

A good night. Also good cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The neverending story

Still on his "Neverending Tour," Damo Suzuki returned to the Avant-Garde for a trio of sets. He put on an amazing show last time he was in town. It wasn't quite as electrifying this time around, if mostly because one knew something of what to expect, but still very good. He had a pair of jazzy outfits (Radar and the Ed Rowland Trio) and River City Junction in the house. The Unireverse was also supposed to back him (as they did last time) but I didn't see them about, so unless they performed before I got there at 10 p.m. or so it wasn't so.

River City Junction also closed things off with a few songs. More on that and more Damo later.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Suicidal tendencies

Last band of the night was Death March Volunteers, who carried on the proud tradition of featuring people who were in other bands that played that night. The effort saved in shifting gear alone was amazing. In this case, the lineup was Justin and Rene from the Long Timers, Justin's gal Amy and Scott Terry of Andrew Vincent and the Pirates/Fucking Machines/Dreamcatchers/etc. They played a short set; they rocked, but with somewhat more restraint than say, Army of Saint Joan.

Justin! Again!

Rene! And Justin! Again!

Amy! Not again!

Terry was off with the Pirates at the Carleton Tavern, thus the DMV's late set time ... though I guess it also gave everyone a breather.

Volunteer action!

As I packed up my camera gear to depart, I overhead Justin remarking to someone else "It's loud, but not obviously loud. Okay, I guess it is obvious ..." True, that.