Monday, January 28, 2008

Mystery date

It's a Monday, and a little bird tells me that my camera, or a reasonable facsimile, may be returned to be in the near future. Yay! I'm working late seven days straight, so it's not going to be doing me much good (though I do have faint hopes of catching the last fleeting moments of the Rock'n'Roll Pizza Party at Baylon this Thursday so I can see one or more of Gunsmoke, Sedatives and The White Wires). As for tonight, you can catch The Imports, The Sunshine Project and The Epilogue at the Bytown Tavern. Until then, here's yet more archival rubbish to tide you over. The Mystery Girls at Mavericks in August 2004.

As I said way back when, they didn't make a great impression sandwiched between BBQ and Weapons of Mass Seduction. Last I heard of them was a 7-inch in 2005. The only member I've been able to track down (granted, I didn't look too hard) is Matt, who performs occasionally in company with the incongruously fragile Montreal folkie Laura Borealis.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Maximum crunch

As expected, Irene's was rocked and rolled by the one-two punch of Muffler Crunch and Maximum RNR. There was a slight delay before Muffler Crunch as Luc worked through technical difficulties involving his guitar. I'm not sure whether he fixed it to his satisfaction, since by its very nature he gets bucketloads of feedback from the battered acoustic, but I thought the MC2 sounded as solid as ever. As usual, the show ended with Luc standing on Angie the Barbarian's drums and sending much of the kit toppling over as the soundman scuttled in to save his microphones.
As for Maximum RNR, they ripped it up. I can't recall when I last saw them perform live - I think I've seen them at Babylon, but can't figure out if that was before or after their opening slot for Electric Frankenstein in June 2004. I may have to peruse my archives and see if I can find any Babylon shots. Hmm ... Anyway, they charged through a blazing set of twin-guitar rock that has the sizeable crowd thrashing about with some abandon. They also tore it up for a pair of encores.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's on

Friday the penultimate Rock'n'Roll Pizza Party at Babylon hosts Haligonian shoegazers Sleepless Nights, Flecton Bigsky - that's him below at an earlier Babylon show - and Psychic Hotline. Cafe DeKcuf has Never Perfect, Breaking Sundown, Sirens and Serenades, Arsonist and Bastard Maker.

On Friday Irene's gets rocked to its very foundation with a performance by Maximum RNR and Muffler Crunch, shown below raising hell at an earlier gig at that very same venue. Meanwhile, down in End Hits' basement you can catch A Common Misconception, Stoic Kid and Gen Lacroix. The Ethics bring their hazy pop to The Rainbow (after The Coggs' regular early slot) alongside Andrea Simms-Karp.

You can also see The Confessional at The Capital Tavern, which features musical accompaniment from accordionist Marie-Josee Houle for its Jan. 23-Feb. 2 run.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hell freezes over

When I arrived at Zaphod's around 9 p.m. Cross the Floor were already well into their set and my kneecaps were frozen solid from the walk over to Zaphod's. Brrr. CTF's sound is close to alt metal, but stands above the also-runs thanks to some good backup singing and a versatile bunch of tunes. Good dynamics from an outfit who understands it's best not to turn everything to 11 all the time, and a solid performance all-round.
There was even more jumping and bumping around from the Hellbros bunch for this show. It was their usually thrashy stuff with some extra-throaty singing. they had a rubber leg in handcuffs which travelled from Stabatron's microphone stand to Killbot's arm ("This is going to hurt" he observed) and then all over the stage.
Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah made me think of Zeke and Peter Pan Speedrock: Motor-rock overdose with some almost pop-punk vocals (or at least no cookie-monsterisms). Two members were also wearing Dwarves shirts. The it was out into the freezing cold once again.
Show reminder: It's ladies' night at the Rainbow with Unexpect, Echoes of Eternity and The Agonist. The long-haired dudes of Atma fill out the bill.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A double helping of hell

... Is what you'll get tonight if you head over to Zaphod Beeblebrox. "Sabbath Sundays" are hosting Toronto rockers Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah, local lads Hellbros and Cross the Floor.

The picture above is Hellbros at Cafe DeKcuf in September 2006.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Batter up

I popped down to Irene's to see the debut performance of Shanker and Romps. Shanker is Patrick Shanks of a bunch of bands like The Knurlings, Holy Hell, Glads, Casey Comeau and The Half-Milers and The Solid Senders. Romps is Rebecca Comeau, sister of Casey. They hit the stage in matching polka dots, red neckerchiefs and red shoes (Chucks and pumps, respectively). While Patrick kicked out some crunchy, tremeloed sounds on his double cutaway goldtop Yamaha Judy, Rebecca kept the beat and sang Buck Owens. The songs were about wonderful pals, bike-riding, holey socks and pancakes. Crunchy and cute.
Krista L.L. Muir and Shane Watt were up next. Krista is best known for her alter-ego Lederhosen Lucil, but has turned in her synthesizer for a ukulele (she also had an Omnichord with her). I confess, I prefer strings to electronics, and I like her and Watt's singer-songwriter stuff quite a bit.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Get busy

Lots of fun shows on tonight. I plan to head off to Irene's to see Krista LL Muir, Shane Watt, and the pancakinest duo in Bytown, Shanker + Romps. I suspect a fair number of folks will head over to Zaphod's to check out Young Galaxy (that's them below last year) and Hollerado.

If that isn't enough, there's punk rock galore at The New Bayou with The Rookers, Machine Gun Dolly, The Sewer Rats, Nummies, The Dead End Kids, Vanier Shank, Everything Less and Obscene Bastards. j'envoie celebrate the release of their new CD at Barrymore's with My Dad Vs. Yours and sinequanon. Nothing Sacred, Ladymilk, Street Light Light, Make Your Exit and Amos the Transparent play something called The Liquor Store Party Bar. and last but not least, Hayden and Basia Bulat (seen below at last year's Bluesfest are playing First Baptist Church.

Hayden and Bulat have a second show on Saturday, but I gather both dates are sold out. Well, there's always Pascale Picard, That's The Spirit and The Wooden Sky at Zaphod Beeblebrox and From Man In Ghost, Everlea, The Masquerade Parade and Seconds Too Late at Cafe Dekcuf.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The rod squad

After Broadzilla stomped over the stage, The Demolition Doll Rods came up to do their thing ... these photos are runners up that didn't make the last post, so you can find out more with a quick click on the tag below. Here's a few more of Margaret, Danny and Christine "Thumper" Dollrod.

The Dollrods are on hiatus (at least) ... Danny decided to take a break and Thumper had a daughter. Margaret has played in Canada as a solo act a couple of times since, performing in conjunction with Bloodshot Bill. She's also played guitar for Circus Boy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The whole ma 'zilla

It's a little quiet out there right now - so here's some photos of Broadzilla performing at Mavericks to tide things over until Wednesday. The ladies in these photos are Rachel May on guitar and Kim Essiambre on bass. I only had one picture of drummer Angie Manley and I I already ran it, so you'll just have to click through the archives (or the label tag) to see it.

They were opening for The Demolition Doll Rods (of who more later). They're still going with the same lineup that played this show.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

About bloody time

Folks of the rock'n'rollin' persuasion will want to head over to the Elmdale House (on Wellington St. at Pinhey) to see Bloodshot Bill. That's him below sweating up a storm while opening for The Sights at the Dominion Tavern in June 2004. He has a new LP, All Messed Up out, and will be celebrating its release along with Full Blast, a split with the most banned band in the land, The Firejacks.

In other greasy news, Evil Farm Children are playing a late-notice show at Irene's. Ron Hawkins (formerly of Lowest Of The Low) and Mile Over Mecca play Zaphod's on the same day. On Sunday you can see The Queers, Riptides and The Creeps at Mavericks or go to Pub 101 - a venue on York St. I've walked by a bunch of times but never entered - and see Assembleme, Fire Heats Water, Killing for Friday.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

That eyrie feeling

It's a Thursday, and that means rock'n'roll and pizza at Babylon. The Mighty Eagle Band - depicted below at Zaphod's in May 2007 - will be shaking the joint to its very foundation in conjunction with The Holy Cobras.

They have another Babylon nightclub show lined up Feb. 9 with The Jesus Mullet (which I believe is the first time the two bands have shared the stage, strangely enough). Also on Thursday you can observe Doll at the Algonquin College watering hole The Observatory along with Toronto psychobillies The Creepshow.
On Friday you can sample punk rock aplenty over at Cafe DeKcuf with International Maniac Institute, Fleeba, Contrabandit, the hotly tipped Critical Convictions and Head Down. You can also catch Econoline Crush and A Plot Against Me at Zaphod Beeblebrox. EC have reformed and a new album will officially emerge in a few days. The Brothers Chaffey are playing at The Black Sheep Inn with John Allaire. Shawn Tavenier and Silver Creek release their new CD with Amos The Transparent and Tympanic at Barrymore's.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Up the hill

Folks with the time and means can head up into the hills to see Sarah Hallman - depicted below performing at Club SAW in July 2007 - at The Black Sheep Inn.

The Soiree round out the bill.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Frozen in time

It seems kind of slow around this time of year, but perhaps that's because the promo people are on vacation, along with most of my brain. There was a couple of shows I would have mentioned on Thursday and Friday I would have mentioned if I hadn't forgotten about them (that is, Brock Zeman at Irene's) or if I'd known about them in the first place (Evil Farm Children, among others, at Mavericks). Tonight RadioDazed play their last show - one of the twins is bound for the West Coast - along with Garaga and Hotfix at Babylon. Sunday you can check out BlackShips, Barn Burner and BOAR at End Hits. And now to dress up this barebones post, here's a couple of pictures of The Willowz performing at Babylon a couple of years ago.

The band got a lot of props for their latest album Chautauqua (released in March 2007) and is embarking on a tour of France in February.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Perhaps it's best

The year will soon be a goner, so it's time to post the oft-dreaded (by readers, mostly) "Best Of" list. I've already yapped about stuff I liked a lot this year, here and elsewhere, and things are bound to get a bit repetitious, but here are my faves, arranged thematically by month for no good reason at all:

A cruel and frosty January: Wolves in the Throne Room get the No. 1 spot for producing two fine albums. Granted, Diadem of 12 Stars was actually released in 2005, but it only had a chance to spread its wings beyond its Cascadian origins this year. Two Hunters is also fine; it isn't as immediately satisfying as Diadem is, it's still my fave metal album released this year.
The runners up:
I bought quite a bit of metal this year, so it's a long list. The superb Weakling CD, Dead As Dreams, (which has been around a while); Monarch!'s Dead Men Tell No Tales; Watain's Sworn to the Dark; High on Fire's monstrous as usual Death is This Communion (even if it was only a cruddy, skipping promo); black metal from Furze and Striborg ... I also dug into Judas Priest's back catalogue - if I buy any more I'm going to start having flashbacks to high school.

A short, crisp February: I don't know how much noise HTRK has managed to make on this side of the Atlantic: I got a copy of Nostalgia via, the British indie music website for which I sometimes write. It's wasteland music of a high order from Australian expats living in Berlin. I was perhaps being a bit overwrought when I described it as "black and white film, empty factories, desolation. It’s a cold wind blowing through an abandoned industrial park" and "a superb premonition of doom" but I still say they're a good act to hunt down if you like Joy Division or Die Haut.
The runners up:
I have to point people in the direction of Celebration's The Modern Tribe. Like HTRK I was tipped to this band by a review copy. It's intense keyboard-driven new wave throb with one of the most versatile vocalists around. Exclaim! gave them an exclamation-pointed review, Matthew Pollesel stuck them on his 2007 best-of list and Arthur just published a fulsome interview with them (you can probably grab a copy at Sounds Unlikely). Also worthy are Atavist's II: Ruined - it starts off a bit silly but finishes strong and whichever Nadja release came out this week.

An oddball March: I'd never heard of Sapat before I bought Mortise and Tenon, but figured since it was on the newly resurgent Siltbreeze label it would be worth checking out. Their weirdo backwoods trance is one of the most singular psych rock offerings I've heard in a last few years. Synth jams meet banjo scraping and full-tilt boogie and it all sounds great. These guys remind me of Sunburned Hand of the Man in all the right ways.
The runners up:
Speaking of whom, is Fire Escape a fab album or what? (That's a trick question, the answer is not "or what.") A couple of freaky, limited edition vinyl albums also tickled my fancy. The Christian Family Underground is a No Neck Blues Band offshoot and sounds like it. Jackie-o-Motherfucker's Freaker Pipe is a slayer as well. And Loren Connors' Gift of the North Star is as special as all the folks say. Hopefully it will be released on a larger scale so regular folks can take a listen (and by regular, I mean a larger number of weirdos). Citay's Little Kingdom is more direct but still has that special, otherworldly quality in its grooves.

April, looking up: Shearwater's Palo Santo was originally released in 2006 and then expanded for 2007. The album is an uncanny crossbreeding of Radiohead, Jeff Buckley and Okkervill River (with which it shares a member or two). The haunting vocals and spare Americana are just the thing for overcast days. Like a few other entries on this list, it also made me hunt down their other albums (albeit with less success).
The runners up: Nobody came even close to tugging at the old heartstrings to the same degree, but for prettiness, I'll rate Panda Bear's Person Pitch and The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse close by. Damon & Naomi seemed to have slipped off the radar for a lot of folks. That's a shame, since Within These Walls is their best yet. I'm also digging the guitar splendour of Alcest's Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde, which heads deep into shoegazer territory. I bought it because of the members connection to a French black metal outfit, but as far as the sonics go, it's all My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.

A bouncy May: Spoon get on the list for their latest sterling effort, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. As I've mentioned before, I got Girls Can Tell when it came out in 2001. I seem to recall liking it quite a bit, but it was pushed aside after a few months by other purchases - I was on more of a garage rock kick back then. Not so for Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - I still listen to it all the time, and its raspy vocals and abrasive pop smarts pushed me to acquire all the Spoon albums I didn't have.
The runners up:
I liked The New Pornographers' The Challengers more than a lot of people did, but I confess to feeling a bit deprived in the bouncy pop division this year. Even Saturday Looks Good To Me didn't seem to hit the spot. Black Moth Super Rainbow's Dandelion Gum was jolly fun, but nonetheless I must give the silver to Field Music's Tones of Town (also a swell live act, as noted earlier).

June turns on the heat: Rock Dream was one of two albums featuring the team-up of Japanese psych monsters Boris and noise master Merzbow I bought this year (the other was the Walrus/Groan 12-inch on Hydra Head). I also bought a bunch of other Boris things this year, but Rock Dream is the one I'm sticking with ... hmm, on second thought I'll say it's a tie with Rainbow, their team up with Ghost and White Heaven guitar guru Michio Kurihara.
The runners up:
All the other Boris albums I bought this year, and all the Acid Mothers Temple stuff ... heartiest regards also go to Mammatus for their appropriately named blown-out California psych-rock opus The Coast Explodes. It was also cool to see the return of George Brigman, the man behind cult album Jungle Rot return with the very solid Rags In Skull. Weedeater's God Luck and Good Speed was amusing too, in a brain-damaged kind of way.

July goes crazy: I would probably buy a Royal Trux record if all it consisted of were druggy mumblings and random guitar noises - come to think of it, where's my copy of Hand of Glory? - but fortunately the latest offering from Trux offspring Royal Trux, Western Exterminator, is solid all the way through. It's a damn shame Neil Michael Hagerty has split from Jennifer Herrema to do his own thing, but she's definitely keeping the flame alive with this wicked slab of L.A. acid rock.
The runners up: The Wooden Shjips' album wasn't nearly as wiggy as most of the reviews might have it - it's just mighty fine psychedelic rock. Let us also praise Goon Moon's Licker's Last Leg, Queens of the Stone Age's Era Vulgaris and Monster Magnet's Four-Way Diablo.

A sultry August: There was no Drive-By Truckers album this year, but we have something just as good in Jason Isbell's Sirens of the Ditch and Bettye LaVette's Scene of the Crime. Both ex-Trucker Isbell and resurrected soul queen LaVette have Truckers aplenty on board. It's all soulful roots rock with killer guitar tone. Any DBT fan should pick up the Isbell album, any fan of gritty soul should love LaVette's.
The runners up: I got far less soul this year than usual ... I finally picked up Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings on Boxing Day and was a bit underwhelmed. It's good, but I'm just jaded after seeing her live show. In other Dap-Kings related news, I really liked Amy Winehouse's Back In Black.

September strangeness: The first thing about the Psychic Paramount's Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural to grab me was the cover (I bought the LP, not the CD), the second was its completely nutbar Circle-on-acid psycho-blowout rock. Like the Spoon album, it made me want to get their whole catalogue, and I've subsequently picked up Origins And Primitives Vol. 1 + 2, which is a bit easier-going but quite enjoyable and their live European tour CD which is a swell racket all 'round.
The runners up:
The two actual Circle LPs I bought this year are also fine, but I think the double-CD reissue of Arkades just edges out Katapult. I've already said nice things about White Lichens. The Lichens collaboration with Cloudland Canyonis also really good. No Fun stalwarts Mouthus' Saw A Halo sometimes puts me in mind of Bailter Space. I'm starting to think that pretty is the new ugly.

A colourful October: I'm fond of massed vocal work - my CD collection has a corner dedicated to polyphonic works by groups like the Hilliard Ensemble and Oxford Camerata - and The Choir Practice's self-titled album fills a similar sonic space, even if its collective of West Coast indie poppers and rockers don't have the same chops (and I have some doubt I'll ever hear the aforementioned assemblies singing "Take off your clothes! Take off your clothes!" anytime soon). I'll also mention Choir member Ida Nilson's Great Aunt Ida, since I've fallen in love with How They Fly, released late in 2006.
The runners up: Plants and Animals, with/avec and Miracle Fortress's Five Roses. The time will come when the Polaris awards committee follows Secret City's A&R people around and just hands the award out to whoever they're having lunch with ...

November breeds a monster: Okay, part of Oshawa's high ranking in my esteem is no doubt because of how recently I've borne witness to Mongels' mighty stage show. Between even if I hadn't experienced the Montreal combo's rock power in person I think I'd be singing the praises of this swell offering.
The runners up: Yeah, I bought Pride Tiger's The Lucky Ones too, and it's nice and all, but it's so close to being a Thin Lizzy album I figure I might as well listen to Phil and the boys instead. For real rock there was loads of stuff closer to home: LPs from Four'n'Giv'r, Tokyosexwhale and The Fucking Machines - long live vinyl! Black Lips Good Bad Not Evil was a nifty offering. Of course, for real rock overkill there was no topping Kim Salmon's electric guitar orgy Rock Formation.

Snowfall in December: I love a good female vocalist, and one of my favourites is Marissa Nadler. She appeared on both her own third album, Song III: Bird On The Water and Mountain Home's self-titled effort. I liked Song III better by a bit - she's also a canny lyricist - but her voice is the main selling point.
The runners up: Nearly as entrancing is The Roches' Moonswept. I bought that along with a couple of used LPs after falling in love with The Hammond Song, first heard on the Oxford American's Music Issue sampler CD. Fern Knight and Megan Baird also released swell collaborative albums (with much overlap).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Stab and go

There was a good crowd when I walked into Zaphod Beeblebrox a few hours ago. I was expecting no more than a handful, but it looked like about three dozen people showed up to catch openers Sam Slick. They call themselves "Hardcore-influenced pop punk." They sounded more like pop-punk influenced hardcore to me. Gagner followed that with a goofy but entertaining set. Think of the most bombastic moments of Weezer with some Primus and Red Hot Chili Peppers thrown in. I think my sense of humour is a few ounces to dry to enjoy their act as much as the rest of the audience, but it was decent. I'd also suggest that if you want to wear rather careworn "grass" skirts on stage you shouldn't wear boxers under them. There was poppage (maybe it's a good thing I don't have my camera back). Stabby Dancers finished the night off. A really solid rhythm section (including a just-drafted drummer with very good beat-boxing skills) and some choice, heavily flanged guitarwork.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hustle and flow

They great photographic drought continues, so here's a photo of two-thirds of Get Hustle performing their agit-rock at Babylon in November 2005.

That was about the time the released Rolling In The Ruins - time for something new and a return visit from the Portland combo, yes?
  • Show reminder: The Stabby Dancers and Gagner play Zaphod Beeblebrox ... judging from their Myspace tracks it should be an interesting show for fans of scuzzed-up fringe pop music.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Pieces of eight

Barrymore's New Year's Eve party was pleasant enough, with capable performances by Gunsmoke performing in country-tinged rockabilly and Fiftymen playing a 22-song set of rock-tinged country. I'm not quite sure where the somewhat inflated ticket price went to (noisemakers, beads and paper hats can't cost that much) but it was a nice way to welcome in the New Year. My resolutions include practicing my guitar more and finally getting the folks who insured my camera to get off their rumps and get it repaired or replaced - it's been in the shop for two months now, for crying out loud ...