Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ne-nah, nenah-ne-nana

Menomena had a couple of hard acts to follow, and unfortunately things started going wrong from the start. The band neglected to sound-check prior to the show, there was a good 30 minutes between LOT getting off the stage and Menomena getting underway and by then Zaphod's transformation into a dance venue was only 10 minutes away and Brent Knopf's microphones still weren't working. A debacle was only prevented by the granting of a time extension and a decision to share a microphone with Justin Harris. The band then proceeded to rip into their songs with gusto. The microphone switching didn't seem to pose any particularly hardship for the band. Harris already switches between bass, sax and guitar while playing more bass with a Moog footboard, so multitasking is presumably second nature by now. They definitely seized victory from the jaws of defeat, and played an exhilarating set.

Justin Harris takes his turn at the microphone.

Knopf in a rare moment when his head wasn't blocked by his own (nonfunctioning) microphones.

Danny Seim, world's tallest drummer and baby blue xylophonist.

I'd call this singalong action, but once again - mic not working.

More Danny!

Menomenaic action!

The whole lot, as seen over the xylophonic vista.

Guitar-and-foot-pedal action!

Knopf shakes it a bit. I think by this point one of his microphones had been rendered usable. Huzzay!

The band's loop-heavy songwriting style (a consequence of using that self-written computer program) gives many of their tunes a danceable edge. Harris announced the last song with "Here's your fucking dance party!" and the crowd went wild. As the well received set came to an end, one drunk guy tried to climb on stage. You know a pop band has broken through when it starts attracting inebriated halfwits.
  • Show reminder: Muffler Crunch and Good 2 Go rock the Dominion Tavern; The Coggs, Autobahn and The Mighty Eagle Band perform at Zaphod Beeblebrox; Trevor Alguire and The Jason Kent Band play Irene's.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Electrik and company

TGIF - and I'm not just saying that because it's the only day I got off work this week. I went off to Zaphod's to see The Polytones put on one of their rare-as-hen's-teeth performances and get a look at General Electrik, of whom I knew naught. I also paused to admire the artificial foliage with which someone decorated the front of Zaphod's stage. Must be spring!

First up, General Electrik - I was very, very impressed. Excellent indie pop, a few country flourishes and super harmony work.

And as before The Polytones were excellent.

All told, a very sharp example of the musical craft Ottawa is capable of.

Talk of the town

Land of Talk formed in Montreal a few years back. They went into the studio with The Besnard Lakes' Jase Lacek (like 95% of the Montreal bands I've listened to of late) and emerged with Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, a well-lauded seven-song EP. The band's tomboy indie rock didn't win over every listener, but I thought their performance was an energetic divider between Field Music and Menomena. I can imagine the band appealing to P.J. Harvey fans.

Singer-guitarist Elizabeth Powell is the trio's motive force. At times during their robust set I thought she sounded a bit like Cat Power (a comparison I gather she's heard before).

Powell eyeballs Bucky Wheaton's drumming.

Bassist Chris McCarron gets into it.

Rhythm section action!

Talkative action!

The whole lot!

And some last-minute looming.

An album has been recorded and is slated for release in 2013 (or perhaps earlier).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Outstanding in their field

For sheer accumulated buzz-band points I suspect Ottawa will have a hard time topping the Field Music/ Land of Talk/Menomena bill at Zaphod's March 24. All three groups have acquired considerable attention from the indierati and could easily have attracted a good crowd as headliners. Sunderland's Field Music were up first. A poppy trio, they're often compared to XTC (as I noted last time, I thought they sounded like they listened to quite a bit of Skylarking). I imagine if they'd come along 25 years ago they'd be on the Postcard label. They have their own sonic signature, though. Listening to their new CD Tones of Town, the vibraphone seems to make a frequent appearance (and is it just me, but has their been a sudden resurgence of vibes, xylophones and marimbas in popular music?). The band is also long on charm, putting on a cheery "short set of short songs" interspersed with witty banter: "They must have been big hits in Sunderland ... well, my mum liked them." They also navigated the loss of a bass string with aplomb.

First up: Keyboardist Andy Moore, who also functions as musical director.

Peter Brewis is also the founding drummer of Brit combo The Futureheads.

His brother David, who switched off on guitar and drums with his brother.

The ol' switcheroo.

The whole lot!

Drumalong action!

Field action!

David sings!

And again!

They're a cheery lot, this crew.

Big finish!

A super opener.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

They're out there

Crowded Skies graciously deferred their set until after Casey's, and put on a robust performance. No Neil Young cover this time, though an audience member did try to get them to play a Brian Setzer song - this is what happens if you have a Bigsby-equipped guitar, I guess. "You might try The Rainbow. I believe they occasionally play covers there," was John Trude's reply.

Jeremy Brisebois breaks out the harp.

John Trude, in one of many non-Brian Setzer-covering moments.

Sebastien Dupont.

Jordan Potechin.

Crowded action!

Singalong action!

Big finish!

The whole lot!

Their next show is May 11 at Irene's.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Town and country

Once upon a time it seemed like I was seeing Casey Comeau and one or more of her compatriots in The Centretown Wilderness Club (or her old outfit, the Half-milers) playing shows in one of several outfits, but I've barely laid eyes on any of 'em (barring crossing the occasional path at other people's shows) for nigh on nine months. I'd make mention of some gig, but was never quite free to attend myself. Fortunately opportunity struck a couple of nights ago when Crowded Skies put together an evening of country rocking. I missed openers Violet Lyal, but did catch most of the Club's performance.

Casey and Richard.

The audience amuses Marie-Josee Houle (who has a new CD of her own out, I should mention).

I turned the flash and shutter speed down in order to catch VJ Daisy's backdrops. It didn't work.

Aalya and Dietrich.

Other side of the stage action!

Overhead action!

The whole lot!

They play next at Irene's April 13 with the Jupiter Ray Project.
  • Show reminder: Embassies Of Denmark play Cafe DeKcuf with The Great Plains and Rebekah Higgs.