Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Recording: Nicolas Buligan

Artist: Nicolas Buligan

Song: The Box v1 [first piece, excerpt]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), February 18, 2015.

Nicolas Buligan - The Box v1 [first piece, excerpt]

This new solo endeavour from the always busily-collaborating Nick Buligan sees his trumpet work extended through the deployment of a custom-created patch for Max 7. The cool element is that it's hands-free, allowing the player to stay focused on his instrument as the patch extends and decays his sounds across the stereo spectrum. It also left room for a fair amount of variability as Buligan experimented not only with some more straight-ahead playing (as heard here) but also clicks, pops, blurts and drones.

[You can listen to Buligan's full recording of the night at his bandcamp.]

Monday, March 2, 2015

Concert Listings Roundup #86

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.

Gig of the week:

Batuki Music Society presents the Sounds of Saba (feat. Fantahun Shewankochew with guest Netsanet Mellesse) / Alliance Française de Toronto 2015-03-07 (Saturday) [FB event]

There's a lot to like here, with a chance to take in a special-event show in the comfy & cozy theatre at the Alliance Française (just north of Bloor and Bathurst). A concert from Batuki Music is always an exquisitely-curated affair, and this should be no exception, putting Ethiopian krar master (and top showman) Fantahun Shewankochew in front of an all-star band as well as alongside singer Netsanet Mellesse. Want to expand your knowledge of Ethiopian music beyond those Éthiopiques compilations? You don't get a chance to see a show like this every day, so I'd recommend making plans for this one.

This week's noteworthy shows:

Michael Rault [tour kick-off!] (Blonde Elvis / Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs / BART) / Johnny Jackson 2015-03-02 (Monday) [FB event]

Look Vibrant (HUSH PUP / Omhouse / PEERS) / Smiling Buddha 2015-03-02 (Monday) [more info]

VCR (Warehouse / Anti-Vibes) / 8-11 2015-03-03 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's New Creations Festival: let me tell you (feat. Barbara Hannigan [soprano] / Ryan MacEvoy McCullough [piano] / pre-concert lobby performance by The Bicycle Opera Project) / Roy Thompson Hall 2015-03-04 (Wednesday) [more info]

Kyle Brenders Big Band / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-04 (Wednesday)

Limbo Limbo Land (feat. God and the Devil [hosts] / Prince Ness / Halcyon / Germaphobes) / Double Double Land 2015-03-05 (Thursday) [FB event]

New Civilization (Alex Lukashevsky) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-05 (Thursday) [FB event]

Sextet (feat. TorQ Percussion Quartet with Greg Oh and Wesley Shen) / The Music Gallery 2015-03-06 (Friday) [more info]

Nick Fraser Quartet feat. Tony Malaby / Array Space 2015-03-06 (Friday) [FB event]

Ultimate Painting (Army Girls / Bamboo / Deliluh) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-03-06 (Friday) [FB event]

Buzz Records Presents (feat. Bad Channels / Pissbowelking / AC) / Smiling Buddha [basement] 2015-03-06 (Friday) [FB event]

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's New Creations Festival: Written on Skin (feat. Barbara Hannigan [soprano] / Krisztina Szabó [mezzo-soprano] / Iestyn Davies [countertenor] / Isaiah Bell [tenor] / Christopher Purves [baritone] / pre-concert lobby performance by The Toronto Consort) / Roy Thompson Hall 2015-03-07 (Saturday) [more info]

The Catalyst Series: Skookum Sound System feat. guest artists Lido Pimienta and Sarah Yankoo / The Music Gallery 2015-03-07 (Saturday) [more info]

Nhapitapi Mbira / Musideum 2015-03-07 (Saturday) [more info]

Feast In The East 46 (feat. HSY / Shrines / Retired / We Are Not Who We Are) / Jam Factory 2015-03-07 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Band (LUKA) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-08 (Sunday) [FB event]

TOPS (Tasseomancy) / Smiling Buddha 2015-03-08 (Sunday) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents The Second Sunday of March: LOUD! vs. quiet (feat. WoodChopper's Association / DUST) / Array Space 2015-03-08 (Sunday) [FB event]

Continuum Contemporary Music: Continuum: 30 More! / The Music Gallery 2015-03-08 (Sunday) [more info]

Add these to your calendar:

Reminder: This post only contains this week's updates — the full listings can always be found over on the right-hand sidebar!

Clara Engel (Divine Circles / Gardener / Lunar Creature) / Ratio 2015-03-11 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Long Winter: Year Three, Volume Five (feat. Elsa / Bart / PANIC / Hank / Dreamsploitation / Not Of / ASMR Buds / Several Futures / Dirty Frigs / Fake Palms / Pins and Needles / Friendly Rich and the Lollipop People / Pretty Boys / Sweaty Fish) / The Great Hall 2015-03-13 (Friday) [FB event]

Kurt Marble [tape release!] (Germaphobes / Big Jrs) / Handlebar 2015-03-14 (Saturday) [FB event]

Father Murphy (Alpha Strategy) / The Cave 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

Bizzarh (VOTIIV / Over [Ex-Ten Kens, first show!]) / The Smiling Buddha 2015-03-20 (Friday) [FB event]

The Holy Gasp [album release!] (Ronley Tepper / Friendly Rich) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-03-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Killer BOB (Processor / Lice) / Double Double Land 2015-03-24 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Featurette (Deciduous / Tasha & The Sweet Talkers) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-03-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Crosswires (feat. Paul-Julien Tanti / Faiyaz & the Wasted Chances / Ugly School / The Jim Storie Juniors / Handlebar 2015-03-29 (Sunday) [FB event]

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Recording: Tim Crofts and friends

Artist: Tim Crofts/Ted Phillips/Nilan Perera / Tim Crofts / Tim Crofts/Nicole Rampersaud/Pete Johnston

Songs: [excerpts from improvisations

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 27.2"), February 17, 2015.

Tim Crofts/Ted Phillips/Nilan Perera - [excerpt from first improvisation]

Tim Crofts - [excerpt from solo piano improvisation]

Tim Crofts/Nicole Rampersaud/Pete Johnston - [excerpt from first improvisation]

An exciting night on this "bonus" Audiopollination, which featured three sets with pianist Tim Crofts, visiting from Halifax. The night featured a short solo set sandwiched in between some encounters with local improvisers — first with Nilan Perera (prepared guitar) and Ted Philips (cataRT) and later with Pete Johnston (double bass) and Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet). They each managed to push in separate directions under Croft's variety of techniques, including some tasty prepared piano work.

It's always exciting to have a chance to see creative musicians come to town to encounter old friends and make new musical connections — a difficult task at the scale this music tends to operate at. This show was made possible through the efforts of circuit, a "curated grassroots music performance network" that helps improvising musicians to tour across Canada's artist-run spaces. Clearly, this sort of cultural sharing is something we could use more of.

[The series continues tonight (Sunday March 1st) with Audiopollination #28.1 — that decimal point indicating multiple shows this month. The second isn't listed yet, but you can make plans for 28.3 (featuring Tiina Kiik, William Davison, Faster and Aalborggroup)]

Six years/Six pack: Andrew Pulsifer

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Andrew Pulsifer, a DJ, musician, and one of the forces behind Silent Shout — in other words, someone willing and able to challenge my (more or less perennial) rockist assumptions.

The first time I met Joe was at a sex club. The event was the first Silent Shout/Wavelength collaboration at Play, a failed attempt to turn the main floor of Wicked, a notorious swingers hang on Queen West, into a venue/club. I had been very familiar with Mechanical Forest Sound before the meeting, having in fact discovered multiple bands from the website, but Joe had never been to a Silent Shout show up until that point.

Naturally, I introduced myself to Joe and confronted him on what I thought was a grand injustice. Having a song posted on Mechanical Forest Sound was/is a seal of approval in my eyes, and I couldn't consider myself a complete part of the Toronto music community without a write-up (full review to follow) from the blog. After the conversation (in which, I distinctly remember Joe mentioning he didn’t like "laptop music"), we became good show friends. Show friends are people that you really only see at concerts, but are always a welcomed sight; a friendly face that you know you can always have a few shouted words of conversation with over glasses of beer while waiting for the next band to set up. Though, we almost ALWAYS disagree on what was the highlight of the night.

Majical Cloudz - Childhood's End

One of many times Joe and I disagreed. Though I worried about the infection I would get from sitting on the floor at Sneaky Dee's at 3 a.m. I thought it was a beautiful, fringing on transcendent performance. Joe dismissed it as "Coldplay for hipsters" outside afterwards.

Digits - Trans-Europe Express

Kinda cheating here, since I was involved in this performance (the drum solo in the middle is me!), but it was one of the most fun things I've ever done on stage, and I'm so glad that Joe was there to capture the one-time-only performance. Maybe I should have chosen a Digits song that didn't involve me, buuuuut, whatever. I'm sure he's fine with it.

Lido Pimienta - Jardines

Joe was the MVP journalist of the (Silent Shout curated) SummerWorks Music Series last year. Seeing his posts go up after what was one of the more stressful times for me in recent times was cathartic and a realization that it was a job-well-done. Also: Lido! C'mon! What a great show!

Blue Hawaii - In Two

Joe and I disagree part 2. I thought this set was one of the best raves I had been to in a long time, he was on the fence.

Ken Park - He Says I'm An Island (I Won't Try And Find Him)

Ken Park took over this slot last minute at the inaugural All Toronto's Parties, but what a set! Scott just played his last show using material from last year's phenomenal LP You Think about it Too Much at the Mimio release show. I'm so glad that Joe was able to capture one of his finest performances here.

Nature - Heater

Remember how awesome Nature were at the SECOND All Toronto’s Parties?

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recording: Toronto Homicide Squad

Artist: Toronto Homicide Squad

Songs: Fuck You North Toronto + There Are Gods Among Us

Recorded at June Records, February 15, 2015.

Toronto Homicide Squad - Fuck You North Toronto

Toronto Homicide Squad - There Are Gods Among Us

Their annual shared-birthday show turned into something a bit less overtly celebratory when Gideon Steinberg and Brandon Lim announced that this would also be the final gig for their harsh prog duo. The dissolution definitely wasn't so much a case of the creative well running dry, given that the set featured a bunch of new/unrecorded material from the band. That gave a slightly-painful sense of what might-have-been for the band's next act, with Steinberg offering a few more straight-up post-punk songs (such as class warfare jingle "Fuck You North Toronto") but all the best to both in their next stages and phases — Lim can still be seen wielding the bass in HSY, and Steinberg's stripped-down drum kit hints at more restrained adventures to come.

[The band's recorded legacy includes their Nein Bullets cassette as well as their Craft Singles release, both of which are available for free on their bandcamp.]

Recording: Brian Shirk

Artist: Brian Shirk

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at June Records, February 15, 2015.

Brian Shirk - [excerpt from an improvisation]

With bandmate John Prichard under the weather, this scheduled STÜKA set to open the afternoon turned into a solo excursion for Brian Shirk, armed with keyb, electribe and some pedals. The results could be filed under "harsh ambient" — slow-moving noise with enough of a musical arc to keep things engaging. This section mixes some creamier tones into the rumble'n'fizzle to close out the set.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Matthew Fava

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Matthew Fava, who (like a lot of folks) spends times in a couple different musical milieux. It took me far longer than it should have for me to realize that the bearded fellow behind the information table at New Music events and the new space-kosmiche-boogie bassist who suddenly appeared in Moonwood were, indeed, the same guy. The musically curious sort who doesn't even need an instrument to be fascinated by a sound, his list ranges into even more diverse terrain.

I ran into Joe at the Music Gallery the other day and during our brief encounter I mentioned how much I had been enjoying the celebratory playlists that folks were posting on MFS. He encouraged me to submit one.

Joe has captured so many remarkable performances. It was difficult to narrow my selections down to 6 when I had more than that from bands/artists beginning with the letter 'a'. The fact that other contributors have selected a few favourites made the process easier. You can trace histories in the events that Joe documents on MFS: artistic, institutional, cultural, personal. These are all shows that I missed, but artists who I have seen in other settings.

Happy birthday Mechanical Forest Sound, and thank you Joe– you are a cultural treasure, and I adore your t-shirt collection.

Feuermusik - Doppelspiel

I just as easily could have dropped a Canaille track in here, but I will simply say that Jeremy Strachan is one of my favourite people, and I got obsessed with Feuermusik from the moment their recordings came across my desk at CHRY 105.5 FM (where I used to be music director). Jeremy (reeds) and Gus Weinkauf (percussion) created an expansive sound together, and I am happy that this recording exists. Gritty, sparse, and highly imaginative.

Richard Laviolette & The Oil Spills - Funeral Song

Richard is an incredible songwriter. This is a rowdy number from All of Your Raw Materials, an album released about 5 years ago, which was re-issued by You've Changed. I was lucky enough to go on an adventure with Richard during the tour for this album. I drove to Guelph to pick up Richard and Sarah Mangle – I got to know them through my partner at the time, she is close friends with them both and orchestrated this car trip. We took a meandering drive up to Owen Sound for Richard's hometown show in the local bookstore. Unfortunately, we were supposed to pick up the PA system from the local music shop but it was closed by the time we pulled into town. Band mates from Guelph hobbled together a PA before making their trip up to Owen Sound, and although things got under way a little later than expected, it was an amazing concert. We wrapped up the evening with a game of scrabble at Richard's parents' place and they fed us pie and let us crash on the living room floor.

During the concert at the bookstore I had a big grin on my face when they played this song, and I really love the version that Joe captures here from the Out of this Spark Anniversary Show. I bet Joe did a little head bobbing and cracked a wide smile somewhere in there.

Germaine Liu - [excerpt from third piece]

I first became aware of Germaine Liu through her collaboration with Kit Wilson-Yang, and have since been more attuned to her output as a soloist and collaborator. Germaine is a highly resourceful, methodical sound maker. I was so pleased that Joe posted this recording. I have heard Germaine perform two solo sets with (un)modified snare drum, and getting a chance to listen back, itemize all of the textures, and plot the development of her musical ideas is wonderful. You can hear more from Germaine in the recording that Jonathan selected for his playlist.

Eamon McGrath - Signals

It was always a blast going to the National Campus and Community Radio Association Conferences. In the midst of all of the workshops, panels, concerts, and conversations, a representative from each radio station would distribute CDs of their local bands by stuffing them into oversized envelopes labelled with the call letters of all the participating stations - it was like valentines day in elementary school, but way less awkward. Someone from CJSR in Edmonton put an Eamon McGrath recording with a handmade case in the CHRY envelope. After I listened to Eamon's music I sent an email out of the blue to let him know I liked it and it was getting spins in Toronto. We kept in touch. He sent me a massive collection of his recordings. He came to Toronto on tour, and eventually moved to this city. Around the time that he released his Young Canadians album he played an acoustic set on the Night Shift (CHRY 105.5 FM, hosted by Luca Capone). I was mixing that night, and Eamon played Signals. Hearing the lyrics performed live, sending them out into the ether, was a great experience. This version with the full band captures his energy perfectly.

One more tangent, my daughter met Joe at the Bloor Christie Folk Festival last year following Eamon's set. Unfortunately, my daughter caught site of a kite and ran off so our conversation was brief, but I like that she knows a music community has more working parts in it than the musicians on the stage.

junctQín keyboard collective - Sonic Toys in Transit [excerpt]

Stephanie Chua, Joe Ferretti, and Elaine Lau are the trio behind junctQín (pronounced 'junction'). I wish they had been my music teachers when I was 4. They are wonderful people, and the only time they really show how weird they are is when they are performing (at least that has been my experience), and it is always memorable. They have taken programming a piano concert into all kinds of directions, augmenting their musical arsenal with toy pianos, thumb pianos, squeeze toys, customized tables, 8-bit glitched out circuitry, motion-sensor hand dances, mattress inflators, and more. In this recording, Joe captures their performance during Nuit Blanche several years ago. As Joe points out, it is a lower quality field recording, but coupled with his description of the space and his experience it is a great listen.

I also want to mention that Joe's entry from that night includes a great description of the Canadian Music Centre where I am currently employed. It is really special to read his reminiscing and recounting. Whether appearing in short or long form, Joe's enthusiasm for, and observations about music and its context, are refreshing.

$100 - Not For Me

I have written too much. I tend to ramble. This is a beautiful (at times hilarious) recording of a great song from a fantastic band full of stellar musicians. I don’t think enough can be written about Simone Schmidt, the words she sings, and the stories she tells.

Also: audience participation!

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Six years/Six pack: Anni Spadafora

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from artist/DJ/musician Anni Spadafora, who plays no wave-esque rock in one of the city's best new bands, but who also has the name PAULINE OLIVEROS emblazoned on her guitar.

It was really difficult choosing only 6 recordings. So grateful for this archive, this wild attempt at throwing a net at this mess of a city. These are songs from shows I was at or wished I had been at. And a hint at some of the core people whose music urges me to listen deeper around these parts.

Nif-D - Centre of Gravity excerpt

Muskox - Buff Stop

AND THIS (sorry, I'm a cheat and a glutton)

Anagram - What a Mess

THOMAS - unknown

Alex Lukashevsky - Back to the River

Jesse Laderoute - Cassette Store Day [excerpt]

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Recording: Cellphone

Artist: Cellphone

Song: Dirt Angels

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Cellphone - Dirt Angels

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Mozart's Sister

Artist: Mozart's Sister

Song: Mozart's Sister

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Mozart's Sister - Mozart's Sister

My notes for this set can be found here.

Gig: Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3

Wavelength FIFTEEN – Night 3 (feat. Bart / Tenderness / New Fries / Fresh Snow / Mozart's Sister / Look Vibrant / Cellphone)

The Garrison, Sunday, February 15, 2015.

The three nights of this year's Wavelength festival were each loosely themed around the notions of "past", "present" and "future" and it was the third and final night of those that brought the most satisfaction. Focused squarely on emerging bands that are doing great work right now, this is the sort of show that could send people home with a new favourite band they'd be eager to see again. With an extended 4 a.m. last call, it was also a long night with bands on stage from 8:30 'til nearly three in the morning.

Getting things started, Bart packed a lot of music into less than a half-hour on stage. Led by Chris Shannon (ex-Elwins) and Nathan Vanderwielen (ex-Ruby Coast), the pair switched quickly from parallel dual vocal leads and doubled guitar lines to dartingly-interlocking bursts on both. They were backed by Hooded Fang's Lane Halley on guitar as well as Biblical's rhythm section (Andrew Scott and Jay Anderson). With the high vocals, shifting time signatures and fiddly guitar parts, there was definitely a prog rock thing at play here — but (as of yet, anyway) don't expect any side-long suites detailing Middle-earth battles. So far, their album cover style would probably be more pop-art than Roger Dean, reflecting their quick pop-structured songbursts — maybe let's call 'em "jukebox prog" for now. It's that spirit that sees four songs crammed into the twelve minutes of their début Bart by Bart 7". Heady stuff.

Listen to a track from this set here.

With only Steve Reaume's pixelated geometric abstractions lighting the stage, Chrissy Reichert (who performs as Tenderness) played a set focused on the new material that will be making up the project's sophomore album. There's a lot of variation within the cluttered bricolage of her dancefloor-friendly aesthetic, ranging from touches of hip-hop to galloping dabke beats to a gorgeous slo-jam that sounds like the last dance on the last night at church camp. I am admittedly a little partisan when it comes to the Reichert's work, so take it with a grain of salt, perhaps, when I say that this was the night's headliner-quality set.

Listen to a track from this set here.

Up on the big stage, New Fries played a more focused set than when I last saw 'em on New Year's Eve, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily more straightahead, as there were still a series of gestures that seemed designed to destabilize the standard rock-show dynamic. Once again there was a bit of bait-and-switch at the outset, with Ryan Carley's weird fugue-y keyboard lead-in providing accompaniment for some jibbering crooning from bassist Tim Fagan.

Once Anni Spadafora (guit/vox) and Jenny Gitman (drums) kicked in, it lurched back into rock'n'roll mode as the band reeled off the tunes from their Fresh Face Forward (plus a new one!) in a fairly brisk manner. During closer "Plexiglass" (which received a freeze-frame two-chord breakdown that was longer than the song part of the song) a mysterious pale figure in a white gown emerged on stage and assumed a Jesus-y pose before slumping forward. It's art when deliberate gestures are offered without obvious answers, and punk as hell when a band is presenting music with their own coded massages on their own terms.1

Listen to a track from this set here.

Notwithstanding a special night of some live film accompaniment and suchlike, Fresh Snow have been keeping a lower profile since last summer's WL Island show. A split single (with Reel Cod labelmates Mimico) added a cover of "Mony Mony" to their repertoire, and word is that a new EP is in the can and being readied for release. The results of that time away from the stage were apparent in a set that featured almost entirely new material — perhaps considered enough of a novelty that the band presented it in a pretty frills-free manner, sans masks or any of the other dramatic devices they're known for. (Well, there was a fair amount of dry ice.) That left the focus on the music, and it sounds like there's a lot to look forward to as we wait on the band's next release.

Listen to a track from this set here.

I will confess that I initially approached Caila Thompson-Hannant's solo project Mozart's Sister with some probably-unwarranted baggage after having read that she had been a member of Shapes and Sizes — a band that I remember being utterly turned off by at a gig back in '07. That said, the first time I saw this project I was — if not overwhelmingly convinced — able to see that she's on to something in this incarnation. Dance-pop doesn't tend to do much for me, but seeing a second performance managed to push me towards begrudging acknowledgement of what Thompson-Hannant is up to.

It was also a chance to situate her on a spectrum of broadly-similar acts at the festival: next to the previous night's Lowell set, this looked like the work of a musical genus; next to the evening's earlier Tenderness performance, it felt a little tame. Thompson-Hannant's stage manner (complete with dance moves) is engaging and about half the material registered with me, so I'd say the performance netted out somewhere above the meh zone, even if this isn't something I'd go out of my way to see a third time.

Listen to a track from this set here.

That was the programmatic peak of the night, and not unreasonably a lot of the crowd headed home, leaving a lot more elbow room for Montréal's Look Vibrant, a young quartet radiating bouncy energy on stage. The band looked maniacally happy to be performing, and they got the crowd (about half of which seemed to be friends who came along up the 401) jittering along. Their hypercaffeinated tunes came across a bit like listening to a Todd Rundgren tape while mashing down the fast forward button, and while I suppose it was fun, it didn't register as my kind of fun. I wager I'll be more into the next wave of bands that some of these lads will end up in a couple years down the road.

Sending the night off with a roar, Cellphone took the stage at about twenty past two to an even more thinned out crowd. That didn't phase the band, who turned in a solid performance that was one of the best-sounding sets I've heard from them in a while. In the DIY spaces I've mostly seen 'em in, minimal PA scenarios tend to hide the vox and synth behind a wall of guit/bass/drums, but here there was a bit more balance that really showed off their unique thrash/new wave fusion. They seemed to be in the mood to play, and after announcing their last song a couple times they ended up playing on. Hopefully I will run into them in such circumstances again. Well, maybe not quite at three in the morning.

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 The set's other moment of punk rock instability came when a noted local musician (with a bit of a confrontational bent) made his way up to the front to tell the horde of photographers (who'd been swarming the front of the stage for the duration of the set) to get their damn cameras out of the way and let people watch the show. Clearly not recognized as someone who had probably played more Wavelengths than some of photographers had attended, he was treated with derisive scorn, and there was a brief moment of weird tension.

Six years/Six pack: Shawn Clarke

MFS has turned six! My introductory thoughts on this landmark can be found here, but long story short: I asked some folks to pick some of their favourites to help me celebrate.

Today's list is from Shawn Clarke, who I think I first met after he played beside a campfire in Dufferin Grove Park back at a Static Zine launch party. I mention that in part because that's the level of real-world, specific detail that you'll find in his songs, lifting them above generic singer-songwriter sentiments. There's also a craftsman's attention to musical detail on his recent sophomore album William that proves (as the list below indicates) he has more on his mind than just pleasantly-strummed guitars.

Timber Timbre - Trouble Comes Knockin'

I played on this! And I didn't realize that there was a recording. Now when I tell people I played saxophone with Timber Timbre I can say "Check it out! I have audio proof!". This show was something else. Taylor Kirk is able to captivate an audience in ways I could only dream of. I'd spend most of these shows with a huge grin on my face, like "I can't believe I'm here". Oh another fun thing, Joe posted this on my birthday!

Olenka Krakus - Flash in the Pan

I'm not on this. I played with Olenka frequently around this time, but for some reason I didn't make this gig. I played one show with the hybrid Autumn Lovers/Wilderness of Manitoba band at the Garrison, and it was a wonderful experience. This is really lovely, and more people should listen to Olenka, who I feel is one of the finest songwriters this country has.

Colin Stetson - Judges

I've never had the chance to see him live, but the music of Colin Stetson really gets me excited. Never happy just playing the notes, Stetson explores the endless sonic possibilities that can be found in, on or around the bass and baritone saxophone.

Jennifer Castle - How or Why + Make a Man

Pink City was my favourite album released in 2014. Poignant, concise songwriting. It was really the most... for lack of a better word... "Adult" record I heard all year. "How and Why" is a great example of her talent as a songwriter. Here it's coupled with "Make a Man", a song I wasn't all that familiar with before, but really enjoyed.

The Weather Station - Seemed True

I initially checked this one because I thought "Oh could this be an unreleased Weather Station song?!". And I guess when Joe recorded it, it was. It's actually a tune called "Seemed True", it can be found on her lovely EP What Am I Going to Do With Everything I Know. But, wow, what a beautiful singer/songwriter/guitarist Tamara Lindeman is. She breaks my heart. Every. Time.

Tim Hecker - [excerpt]

This is something. I feel like Hecker is one of the most important musicians working in Canada today. I don't have a lot of objective reasoning to back that statement up, I just sort of feel it. Picking one of his tunes was tough, Virgins was my late introduction to his work, so "Prism" would have been a good choice... but I've been listening to Ravendeath a lot lately, so there's that... ultimately, I went with these "Excerpts from a live music score", because it really captures what makes Mechanical Forest Sound special. Joe was able to capture something here that you can't find anywhere else.

You can always click on the tags below to look for more stuff from these artists. Has there been a half-dozen songs posted here that made an impact on you? If you'd like to get in on the action and make a list, feel free to send me an email: mechanicalforestsound@gmail.com.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recording: Fresh Snow

Artist: Fresh Snow

Song: Mony Mony [Tommy James and the Shondells cover]

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Fresh Snow - Mony Mony

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: New Fries

Artist: New Fries

Song: Water & Water

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

New Fries - Water & Water

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Tenderness

Artist: Tenderness

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison ("Wavelength FIFTEEN - Night 3"), February 15, 2015.

Tenderness - unknown

My notes for this set can be found here.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!