Friday, January 31, 2014

Recording: Woodsman

Artist: Woodsman

Song: Healthy Life

Recorded at Rancho Relaxo, January 29, 2014.

Woodsman - Healthy Life

Full review to follow. Celebrating a new, self-titled album, Brooklyn-via-Denver Woodsman succeed by not falling into any of the easy pigeonholes that instrumental bands can get trapped in. This set featured a soupçon of postrock friction (though without the clichéd build-up-and-explode) that sounded like the middle segment of a DMST track, a smidgen of psychedelic jam and (especially on this track) some krautrock propulsion.

Recording: Glass Tomb

Artist: Glass Tomb

Song: [second part]

Recorded at Rancho Relaxo, January 29, 2014.

Glass Tomb - [second part]

Full review to follow. Although previously rockin' a full band, this appearance of Glass Tomb was as a duo of Ayal Senior and Matt "Doc" Dunn. They also play together as Sacred Lamp, and it's perhaps instructive to think of this as the opposite end of the telescope — from back porch jams to cosmic raga infinity.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Recording: Drumheller

Artist: Drumheller

Song: Nguyen Ngoc Loan

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), January 28, 2014.

Drumheller - Nguyen Ngoc Loan

Full review to follow. The usual early and late sets were blended into one fine triple-header in the Southern Cross on Tuesday, with a couple members of Drumheller taking part in a pair of trios before the night's closing set. The last time I saw Drumheller play was doubly a special occasion: not only were they celebrating a new album, but guitarist Eric Chenaux (who has decamped to Paris) was in town to celebrate the occasion. The remaining quartet is still a working unit, however, as the set filled with six new pieces demonstrated. This one (from Nick Fraser) was my favourite — check out the gorgeous bass work here from Rob Clutton.

Recording: Clutton-Schilt-Segger

Artist: Rob Clutton/Rafi Schilt/Mark Segger

Song: [excerpt from second piece]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), January 28, 2014.

Clutton-Schilt-Segger - [excerpt from second piece]

Full review to follow. The usual early and late sets were blended into one fine triple-header in the Southern Cross on Tuesday, with a couple members of Drumheller taking part in a pair of trios before the night's closing set. Rob Clutton and Mark Segger played hosts to Zurich's Rafi Schilt, the night's musical guest, who played a fine tenor sax.

Recording: West-Wallace-Driver

Artist: Brodie West/Chris Wallace/Ryan Driver

Song: [excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), January 28, 2014.

West-Wallace-Driver - [excerpt from first piece]

Full review to follow. The usual early and late sets were blended into one fine triple-header in the Southern Cross on Tuesday, with a couple members of Drumheller taking part in a pair of trios before the night's closing set. Saxophonist Brodie West took part in the first set, joined by Ryan Driver (on his street-sweeper bristle bass) as well as drummer Chris Wallace, a newcomer to the scene who's back in Canada after spending some time abroad.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recording: Sexy Merlin

Artist: Sexy Merlin

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Handlebar ("Wavelength 585"), January 25, 2014.

Sexy Merlin - unknown

Full review to follow. When I first encountered Sean Dunel's solo project, I think I misconstrued it as a mere drumming exercise, with just enough of a melodic framework to hold things together. It wasn't until I listened to his very tasty Heater EP that I realized that he's dealing in carefully-crafted songs. And by now, his live presence has certainly caught up to that, allowing his Arthur Russell-ish avant-disco sensibility to seem a much a part of the proceedings as the can't-not-dance imperative.

[You can catch Sexy Merlin again at the next Long Winter show, on February 7th.]

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

Recording: Man Made Hill

Artist: Man Made Hill

Song: Wretched Seed

Recorded at Handlebar ("Wavelength 585"), January 25, 2014.

Man Made Hill - Wretched Seed

Full review to follow. Do you remember when you were a kid and you'd get a chocolate bar from the store but then you forgot it in the car and when you got back to the car it was all melted but you ate it anyway? This song is the musical equivalent — and an ideal pivot point between "Subtle Scum" and "Constant Touching".

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Recording: Poppy Seed and the Love Explosion

Artist: Poppy Seed and the Love Explosion

Song: In the Real

Recorded at Bovine Sex Club, January 24, 2014.

Poppy Seed and the Love Explosion - In the Real

Full review to follow. Fronted through various incarnations by Steven Bromstein, PSLE has been around since the early nineties, though it wasn't 'til '98 that they released debut album Days Dream of You. That might make the gap between that and the new Beyond the Seventh Sun less surprising. The new material is at its best when the band slows down and drifts along, stretching things out in unhurried bliss that recalls not so much the '60's psychedelia that the band name suggests, but slowburning 90's refractions of it.

[PSLE will be opening things up for The Dream Syndicate and Simply Saucer at The Garrison on February 8th.]

Recording: The Green Ray

Artist: The Green Ray

Songs: Nothing I Need + He Don't Care

Recorded at Bovine Sex Club, January 24, 2014.

The Green Ray - Nothing I Need

The Green Ray - He Don't Care

Full review to follow. With a few gigs under their belt, The Green Ray are becoming who they are a little more clearly. Garage blasts alternate songs between co-frontmen Jay Share-It and Pete Carmichael, offering a choice of bad ends — a switchblade against your ribs in the back alley or a stoned graveside augury.

[The Green Ray will be playing again this Saturday on the island at a very cool-looking day-long event/party.]

Monday, January 27, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #29

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:

Eucalyptus [February album release residency!] / Hirut Ethiopian Restaurant 2014-02-02 (Sunday) [FB event]

Brodie West's Eucalyptus project started as a purpose-built ensemble to explore compositional and improvisory approaches in the context of calypso music. Over time, the group broadened its reach, taking in Ethiogroove and other sounds — but always with flexible, groovy superstructures. The band will be celebrating its new album Fascination In Sound by playing every Sunday in February at Hirut Restaurant, and you should plan to get out to at least one of these shows. The food is tasty if you want to eat, and it's just around the corner from Woodbine subway station.

And speaking of residencies, here's two others worth noting: Michelle McAdorey (fondly remembered for her work in Crash Vegas) will be showing off her new band and new material every Friday night in February at The Tranzac. These shows are in the early slot at Southern Cross, running from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. And also at The Tranzac, Allison Cameron has just announced a new monthly series of "improvised ambience" running on the first Sunday afternoon of every month, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The first instalment is this week on February 2nd.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Drumheller (Raphael Schilt [tenor saxophonist from Switzerland] with Rob Clutton/Mark Segger / Ryan Driver/Chris Wallace/Brodie West) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-28 (Tuesday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: New Music for Bassoon and Percussion / Walter Hall 2014-01-29 (Wednesday — matinée! free!) [more info]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Chamber Music of Gabriel Prokofiev I / Walter Hall 2014-01-29 (Wednesday – free!) [more info]

Edgar Breau / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-29 (Wednesday – early!)

Woodsman (Carl Didur / Glass Tomb) / Rancho Relaxo) 2014-01-29 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Animal Parts (Dear Sister / Ivy Mairi) / The Dakota Tavern 2014-01-29 (Wednesday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Chamber Music of Gabriel Prokofiev II / Walter Hall 2014-01-30 (Thursday — matinée! free!) [more info]

Bliss Gloss [Robin Dann/Felicity Williams/Thom Gill/Claire Harvie] (Triple Gangers) / Holy Oak Café 2014-01-30 (Thursday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Electroacoustic Music / Walter Hall 2014-01-31 (Friday — matinée! free!) [more info]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Karen Kieser Prize Concert / Walter Hall 2014-01-31 (Friday – free!) [more info]

Dust ["the quietest big band in the known world", convened by D. Alex Meeks] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-31 (Friday – early!)

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge 2014-01-31 (Friday)

IMBOLC: A Celebration of The Midpoint (feat. Castlemusic / Soul Sisters Supreme Redux v. 2.0 / Fiver / Petra Glynt / The Green Ray / The Dale Morningstar / Dune Buddies) / Algonquin Island Association 2014-02-01 (Saturday) [FB event]

Feast In The East 34 (feat. Holiday Rambler / Clara Engel / Moonwood) / Gerrard Art Space 2014-02-01 (Saturday) [FB event]

Mustache Rides' Farewell Show (feat. Pow Wows / New Swears / Mexican Knives / Tropical Dripps / White Spaces) / Izakaya Sushi House 2014-02-01 (Saturday) [FB event]

Allison Cameron and friends: This Afternoon's Ambience [improvised ambience — new monthly residency, first Sunday afternoon of every month!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-02-02 (Sunday – 1 p.m.–3 p.m.)

University of Toronto New Music Festival: U of T Jazz Studies Concert / Walter Hall 2014-02-02 (Sunday – free!) [more info]

Olenka (Jos. Fortin / Shawn William Clarke) / Holy Oak Café 2014-02-02 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Rival Boys (The Folk / Almighty Rhombus) / Clinton's 2014-02-05 (Wednesday) [FB event]

The Pinecones and friends ["Ooh!" LP release party!] (José Contreras) / The Piston 2014-02-06 (Thursday) [FB event]

Michelle McAdorey Band [February residency!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-02-07 (Friday – early!)

Michelle McAdorey Band [February residency!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-02-14 (Friday – early!)

Sphinxs [Farewell show!] (Wicked Witches / The Green Ray / Jay Holy) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-02-14 (Friday) [FB event]

Henri Fabergé On The Lamb ["a new punk rock opera of existential proportions"] / Buddies In Bad Times Theatre – Rhubarb Festival 2014-02-19–2014-02-23 (Wednesday–Sunday) [FB event]

Michelle McAdorey Band [February residency!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-02-21 (Friday – early!)

Michelle McAdorey Band [February residency!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-02-28 (Friday – early!)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recording: Spectrum

Artist: Spectrum Music [Homzy/Kesler Duo feat. Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras]

Song: The Seafarers [excerpt] (Composer: Shannon Graham)

Recorded at The Annex Theatre ("Atlas of Imaginary Places"), January 24, 2014.

Spectrum Music - The Seafarers [excerpt]

Full review to follow. Rather than just throwing some pieces together and calling it a concert, Spectrum does an admirable job of shaping their events around thoughtful concepts, and then composing new pieces to bring them to life. Their "Atlas of Imaginary Places" began as an opportunity to give violist Aline Homzy and pianist Andrew Kesler a chance to debut their expansive "Dragon Suite" (thirty minutes, played without sheet music!) and from there the Spectrum composers crafted some new pieces for the duo to play. They were joined throughout the evening by Felicity Williams and Alex Samaras, two of the most amazing voices in town.

This piece by Shannon Graham is inspired by the board game Settlers of Catan, and standing on the balconies above the room, the vocalists act as the capricious Fates manipulating the efforts of those in the world below. Like a lot of Graham's compositions, it evinces a guardedly cautious sort of optimism, hopeful (but never quite convinced) that we will be able to complete our journeys.

It should be added that the Annex Theatre (where I'd never been before) was a definite selling point here — a large space, yet close in enough to be rather cozy, it felt like the ballroom of a haunted mansion, from the ornate stairways behind the stage to the giant chandeliers to the occasional mysterious creaking noise in the background. You can check it out for yourself on April 17th, when Spectrum wraps up its season with Early Expressions, which promises "contemporary musical interpretations of early human art".

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Recording: Doug Tielli

Artist: Doug Tielli

Songs: Cow Worries + With You and Without You

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, January 22, 2014.

Doug Tielli - Cow Worries

Doug Tielli - With You and Without You

Full review to follow. Although you might not know it when they start playing ambient mariachi and abstracted country songs, Doug Tielli's backing band (Chris Adiraanse, Bea Labikova, Raphael Roter and Heather Segger) are all sterling improvisers in the city's creative music scene. That gives Tielli a lot of leeway to play fast and loose with song structure without fearing the band behind him will get thrown off. The wonderful version of "With You and Without You" here forgoes the album version's more austere reverb meditations to become a warm hug of a wobbly singalong.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Recording: Cate Le Bon

Artist: Cate Le Bon

Songs: I Can't Help You + Sisters

Recorded at The Drake Underground, January 21, 2014.

Cate Le Bon - I Can't Help You

Cate Le Bon - Sisters

Full review to follow. Last time she was in town, Cate Le Bon was playing to a half-full Rivoli. Fast forward sixteen months and add in last year's Mug Museum and you can tell a lot more folks are listening, with the Drake Underground sold out (to an enthusiastic yet unusually attentive, no less!). With her mix of Velvets-y chug and psychedelic folk, this was a pretty great set, with Le Bon hitting the stage as a more confident frontwoman than previously.

Recording: Kevin Morby

Artist: Kevin Morby

Song: Harlem River

Recorded at The Drake Underground, January 21, 2014.

Kevin Morby - Harlem River

Full review to follow. Known for his work in Babies and Woods, Kevin Morby has struck out under his own name with his recent Harlem River album. The title track certainly has a bit of river-like momentum to it, trickling along at first before building up all kinds of momentum.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Recording: Jef Barbara

Artist: Jef Barbara

Song: Jef Barbara - Soft To The Touch

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room ("Silent Shout"), January 17, 2014.

Jef Barbara - Soft To The Touch

Full review to follow. The first time I encountered Montréal's Jef Barbara was intriguing, but, paired as it was with the pomp'n'gravitas of Yamataka//Sonic Titan there was a less sympathetic underlying vibe. But as part of a Silent Shout Saturday night dance party in a packed Silver Dollar, this was something else entirely, with the glammy grooves getting the crowd surging along. Barbara's gonna be back in town this week, joining Light Fires in opening up for JD Samson & Men at The Garrison on Sunday for what should be a spectacularly danceriffic night.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #28

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:

Doug Tielli (GREX) / Holy Oak Café 2014-01-22 (Wednesday – starts early!) [FB event]

Doug Tielli's Keresley imbues his singer-songwriterly tunes with the adventurous spirit he brings to his work as an improvising musician. Add to that the avant-meets-ancient voice project GREX and you've got a superb show — and an early night! Starts at 7:30, done by 9:30.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Cate Le Bon (Kevin Morby) / The Drake Underground 2014-01-21 (Tuesday) [more info]

Simeon Abbott & Mike Gennaro (Rob Piilonen & Co.) / Musideum 2014-01-21 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Justin Haynes/Brodie West/Andrew Downing / Hawaii Bar 2014-01-21 (Tuesday) [more info]

AIMToronto Presents The Mark & Heather Segger Curation Series (feat. Ladano/Labadie / Craig Pedersen Quartet) / Array Space 2014-01-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

Steve Raegele/Dan Fortin/Nick Fraser / The Tranzac (Tiki Room) 2014-01-23 (Thursday)

Tom and Pchx [Tom Richards and Andrew Pacheco play experimental sounds for drum machines, cheap plastic keyboards and bass] / Hawaii Bar 2014-01-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

Spectrum Music: Atlas of Imaginary Places / The Annex Theatre 2014-01-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Music in the Barns: Cinerama – The Music of Nicole Lizée / Artscape Wychwood Barns 2014-01-24 (Friday) [more info]

Steam Whistle Unsigned #28 (feat. Bravestation / Ark Analog / Doom Squad) / Steam Whistle Brewery 2014-01-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Mia Zabelka [Austrian experimental violinist] with David Sait/Nilan Perera/Bruce Cassidy / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-24 (Friday)

Poppy Seed and The Love Explosion [album release party!] (The Green Ray / George Westerholm) / Bovine Sex Club 2014-01-24 (Friday) [FB event]

The Big Sound / Adelaide Hall 2014-01-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Maggie MacDonald and Jenna Rogers / John Fluevog Shoes 2014-01-25 (Saturday – free! Afternoon show!) [FB event]

Wavelength 585 (feat. Jay Holy / Sexy Merlin / Ice Cream / Jics) / Handlebar 2014-01-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Festival Opening Concert (feat. Gabriel Prokofiev) / MacMillan Theatre 2014-01-25 (Saturday) [more info]

Perfect Pussy / Mexican Slang / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-01-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

Weyes Blood (ANAMAI) / Magpie Taproom 2014-01-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Walter Buczynski Birthday Concert / Walter Hall 2014-01-26 (Sunday — matinée! free!) [more info]

King Weather / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-26 (Sunday) [FB event]

Somewhere There Presents (feat. Heather Segger/Paul Newman / Mike Gennaro/Jay Hay) / Array Space 2014-01-26 (Sunday)

JD Samson & MEN (Jef Barbara / Light Fires) / The Garrison 2014-01-26 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Raphael Schilt [tenor saxophonist from Switzerland] with Rob Clutton/Mark Segger / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-28 (Tuesday – early!)

University of Toronto New Music Festival: New Music for Bassoon and Percussion / Walter Hall 2014-01-29 (Wednesday — matinée! free!) [more info]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Chamber Music of Gabriel Prokofiev I / Walter Hall 2014-01-29 (Wednesday – free!) [more info]

Animal Parts (Dear Sister / Ivy Mairi) / The Dakota Tavern 2014-01-29 (Wednesday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Chamber Music of Gabriel Prokofiev II / Walter Hall 2014-01-30 (Thursday — matinée! free!) [more info]

Bliss Gloss [Robin Dann/Felicity Williams/Thom Gill/Claire Harvie] (Triple Gangers) / Holy Oak Café 2014-01-30 (Thursday) [FB event]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Electroacoustic Music / Walter Hall 2014-01-31 (Friday — matinée! free!) [more info]

University of Toronto New Music Festival: Karen Kieser Prize Concert / Walter Hall 2014-01-31 (Friday – free!) [more info]

Dust ["the quietest big band in the known world", convened by D. Alex Meeks] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-31 (Friday – early!)

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-31 (Friday)

IMBOLC: A Celebration of The Midpoint (feat. Castlemusic / Soul Sisters Supreme Redux v. 2.0 / Fiver / Petra Glynt / The Green Ray / The Dale Morningstar / Dune Buddies) / Algonquin Island Association 2014-02-01 (Saturday) [FB event]

Afrofest's Black History Month Concert Series (feat. Adam Solomon) / The Gladstone Hotel 2014-02-01 (Saturday – free!)

University of Toronto New Music Festival: U of T Jazz Studies Concert / Walter Hall 2014-02-02 (Sunday – free!) [more info]

Eucalyptus [February album release residency! Every Sunday!] / Hirut Ethiopian Restaurant 2014-02-02 (Sunday) [FB event]

Long Winter: Year 2, Volume 4 (feat. The Bicycles [performing Young Drones (!)] / Teenanger / Alvvays / HSY / Not the Wind, Not the Flag / Farang / Sheezer / Hassler / Ark Analog / Gingy / Smartboys / Sexy Merlin) / The Great Hall 2014-02-07 (Friday) [FB event]

Afrofest's Black History Month Concert Series (feat. Madagascar Slim) / The Gladstone Hotel 2014-02-08 (Saturday – free!)

Diane Roblin and Happening / Musideum 2014-02-08 (Saturday)

Eucalyptus [February album release residency! Every Sunday!] / Hirut Ethiopian Restaurant 2014-02-09 (Sunday) [FB event]

Darlene Shrugg [Tropics + Ice Cream + U.S. Girls] / Double Double Land 2014-02-14 (Friday) [FB event]

Afrofest's Black History Month Concert Series (feat. Resolutionaries Marimba Band) / The Gladstone Hotel 2014-02-15 (Saturday – free!)

Toronto Homicide Squad (Sharing) / The Press Club 2014-02-15 (Saturday – free!) [FB event]

Eucalyptus [February album release residency! Every Sunday!] / Hirut Ethiopian Restaurant 2014-02-16 (Sunday) [FB event]

No One Receiving [not a gig — a play by and featuring the very rock'n'roll Maggie MacDonald] / Buddies In Bad Times Theatre – Rhubarb Festival 2014-02-19–2014-02-23 (Wednesday–Sunday) [FB event]

PyPy (Omhouse / B-17 / Bad River) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-02-21 (Friday) [FB event]

Afrofest's Black History Month Concert Series (feat. Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble) / The Gladstone Hotel 2014-02-22 (Saturday – free!)

Mystic Triangle [Tape EP Release!] (Ken Park / Beard Closet / Nyssa) / Handlebar 2014-02-22 (Saturday) [FB event]

Eucalyptus [February album release residency! Every Sunday!] / Hirut Ethiopian Restaurant 2014-02-23 (Sunday) [FB event]

Flowchart [a performance series featuring artists working in different media – music + dance + more] (feat. Victoria Cheong / Amelia Ehrhardt / Steve Kado) / Venue TBA 2014-02-27 (Thursday) [FB event]

Flowchart [a performance series featuring artists working in different media – music + dance + more] (feat. Julia Male / Bridget Moser / Liz Peterson) / Venue TBA 2014-03-20 (Thursday) [FB event]

Flowchart [a performance series featuring artists working in different media – music + dance + more] (feat. Jonathan Adjemian / Meryem Alaoui / Barbara Lindenberg) / Venue TBA 2014-04-10 (Thursday) [FB event]

Afrofest / Woodbine Park 2014-07-05–2014-07-06 (Saturday + Sunday)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Recording: Michael Keith and friends

Artist: Michael Keith and Bob Vespaziani / cheryl o

Songs: [first piece with Bob Vespaziani, part 1] + [excerpt from first piece with cheryl o]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination #14.1"), January 14, 2014.

Michael Keith and Bob Vespaziani - [first piece, part 1]

Michael Keith and cheryl o - [excerpt from first piece]

Full review to follow. Though I had never caught him playing before, guitarist Michael Keith has a good name in Toronto's improvised music community. This edition of the Audiopollination series saw him and Bob Vespaziani as featured performers playing in duos, both together and with a couple guest artists. Keith had a couple tricks up his sleeve (including some prerecorded sounds courtesy of his phone and some nifty amp effects) but largely relied on savvy craftsmanship to being bring different textures to his set, from knotty note clusters to bluesy grooves. These selections see him paired with Bob Vespaziani on wavedrum and Cheryl Ockrant (who performs as cheryl o) on cello. As always, you can check out the whole carefully archived performance, and once again, I'll mention that if you want to hear some cool improvised music (with improvised live visuals!) in a casual setting, you really should really come check this monthly series out — next one up is February 11th.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Recording: The Ryan Driver Sextet

Artist: The Ryan Driver Sextet

Song: Birds in Spring

Recorded at Array Space, January 11, 2014.

The Ryan Driver Sextet - Birds in Spring

Full review to follow. If you've ever looked the window and lost track of time as your daydream thoughts spun pleasantly away from you, then you already know what Ryan Driver's new album is all about. Consisting entirely of songs from the pen of local composer Stephen Parkinson, they tend to be in the lonely boy/falling in love/feeling alright vein of many a standard. The album (a double on wax) also contains ten songs in seventy minutes, so each one has time for his sterling band (including Rob Clutton on double bass, Nick Fraser on drums and Brodie West on alto sax) to stretch out. The live experience is now slightly different than what we hear on the album: not only has the band grown to include new vibraphone textures from Michael Davidson, but Martin Arnold's guitar work pushes against the songs a little more, with touches of gentle distortion more in the foreground. All of these musicians play in groups employing more "outside" approaches to improvisation, so it's interesting to contrast how working within these structures doesn't so much constrain them, but force them to find the means to get the music across within the tunes' languid drift.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Recording: Princess Century

Artist: Princess Century

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 2, Volume 3"), January 10, 2013.

Princess Century - unknown

Full review to follow. With jam-packed rooms and three stages going at once at a few points, there's just no way you can see everything at a Long Winter any more. You just have to sorta dive in and see where the current takes you.

Maya Postepski closed things out with a late-night set of dance tunes that she claimed to have put together just that afternoon. At first, possibly near exhaustion from the length of the night I sort of shrugged it off, but as the set progressed things got more inneresting. By the end, not only were the tempos chugging, but Postepski amped up the melodic sensibility, with this closing section of the set working as much as a tune as a dance groove.

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

Recording: Weaves

Artist: Weaves

Song: Take a Dip

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 2, Volume 3"), January 10, 2013.

Weaves - Take a Dip

Full review to follow. With jam-packed rooms and three stages going at once at a few points, there's just no way you can see everything at a Long Winter any more. You just have to sorta dive in and see where the current takes you.

Playing to a sardine-packed Conversation Room, Weaves blasted and rumbled the crowd with their wriggly popsongs, each received like an old hit. "It's, like, noise-soul!" shouted the dude behind me to his friend.

Recording: The Hidden Cameras

Artist: The Hidden Cameras

Song: Carpe Jugular

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 2, Volume 3"), January 10, 2013.

The Hidden Cameras - Carpe Jugular

Full review to follow. With jam-packed rooms and three stages going at once at a few points, there's just no way you can see everything at a Long Winter any more. You just have to sorta dive in and see where the current takes you.

Getting ready to launch new album Age (out next week!) Hidden Cameras were the night's surprise headliners. Their main set was short, but was devoted to playing the bulk of the album, a welcome chance to hear the new stuff delivered with slightly giddy, spontaneously go-for-gusto verve. The songs will get a little smoother, but it was great to hear them sounding still like fresh works-in-progress. This one in particular sounded like a hit, a bent disco jam that had the dancefloor quaking.

Recording: Isla Craig

Artist: Isla Craig

Song: Messages

Recorded at The Great Hall ("Long Winter: Year 2, Volume 3"), January 10, 2013.

Isla Craig - Messages

Full review to follow. With jam-packed rooms and three stages going at once at a few points, there's just no way you can see everything at a Long Winter any more. You just have to sorta dive in and see where the current takes you.

Celebrating having a song released on the free 7" being handed out at the gig, Isla Craig put together something of a special lineup for the night. Lately she's been performing with her Soul Sisters Supreme (Ivy Mairi, Tamara Lindeman, Daniela Gesundheit, Felicity Williams), singing unaccompanied to highlight the beautiful mystery of their combined voices — but this night also saw a backing band of old friends and collaborators (Colin Fisher, Brandon Valdivia, Scott Peterson and Chris Sandes) to add some extra oomph to the sound. It was a successful experiment and no surprise that these musicians have an easy chemistry from frequently playing together (in Prince Enoki's Insect Orchestra, New Civilization and many other combinations and permutations), although there was also the sense that if the band had a few more gigs together, they'd really gel into something special. That doesn't seem to be in the cards for the moment — Craig has announced a winter break from performing to focus on writing new material for awhile — but don't rule out the possibility of seeing this super-combo on stage again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recording: Paul Newman and friends

Artist: Paul Newman with Karen Ng / Joe Sorbara / Heather Segger

Songs: You May Attend a Party Where Strange Customs Prevail [excerpt] / Ant Farm + The Third Language [from "Large Solo Piece no. 1"] / When I Die, Who Will Be There to Count the Rings? [excerpt]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There: Paul Newman's 50th Birthday"), January 8, 2014.

Paul Newman and Karen Ng - You May Attend a Party Where Strange Customs Prevail [excerpt]

Paul Newman and Joe Sorbara - Ant Farm + The Third Language

Paul Newman + Heather Segger - When I Die, Who Will Be There to Count the Rings? [excerpt]

Full review to follow. Tenor saxophonist Paul Newman has been celebrating his birthday for the past several years by curating a concert for Somewhere There, but for his fiftieth he pulled rank and assembled a night to play four of his larger-scale compositions, each with different accompanists. With many collaborators in the crowd, it was a befitting celebration, birthday cake included.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Recording: Donlands + Mortimer

Artist: Donlands + Mortimer

Song: So Wary

Recorded at The Drake Underground ("Elvis Monday: Dorian's Birthday"), January 6, 2014.

Donlands + Mortimer - So Wary

Full review to follow. Taking a stage a year to the day since their last gig, D+M's appearance (at Austra bassist Dorian Wolf's birthday celebration) felt like a reunion for friends who are often spread out across the globe these days supporting their many other projects. That low-intensity level of activity is, however, disproportionate to the quality of the material here — there's songs in the repertoire on a par with anything else you might hear from Steven Foster (of Omhouse) and Carmen Elle (of DIANA/Army Girls).

Recording: Tasseomancy

Artist: Tasseomancy

Songs: Black Milk + What Life Must I Lead?

Recorded at The Drake Underground ("Elvis Monday: Dorian's Birthday"), January 6, 2014.

Tasseomancy - Black Milk

Tasseomancy - What Life Must I Lead?

Full review to follow. Although Sari and Romy Lightman have kept up work on their band in between bursts of touring the world (as members of Austra), I hadn't checked in for a little while, so it was exciting to realize that they had not only a setlist chock full o' new tunes, but have actually put some of them out there on an already sold-out tape release, which I can only imagine will also form the spine of their next album. Musically, it seems like they've let the sunshine in a little bit on the new tracks compared to the goth-gloom that pervaded Ulalume, with a corresponding brightening of their sonic palette. They've been experimenting with steel drums for a while now, but Evan Cartwright's deployment of them here really gives these songs a distinct feeling.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #27

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:

Opportunity Café: Closing Party (feat. Fresh Flesh / Ken Park / Ice Cream) / Oz Studios 2014-01-16 (Thursday) [FB event]

This week-long pop-up salon has featured everything from craft sales to communal N64 competitions, and is going out with a boogie bang.


This week's noteworthy shows:

Audiopollination #14.1 (feat. Michael Keith and Bob Vespaziani with Kyle Macdonald / Cheryl O / William Davidson) / Array Space 2014-01-14 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Justin Haynes/Brodie West/Andrew Downing / Hawaii Bar 2014-01-14 (Tuesday) [more info]

Aurochs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-14 (Tuesday – early!)

FIDLAR (HSY) / Soybomb HQ 2014-01-15 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Emergents II (feat. Ensemble Paramirabo / Christopher Willes) / The Music Gallery 2014-01-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Silent Shout: The Class Of 2014 (feat. Jef Barbara / Bizzarh / Nyssa / Lido Pimienta / Twist) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-01-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Yuck (Alvvays / Elsa) / The Garrison 2014-01-17 (Friday) [FB event]

The Jim Jones Revue (The Millwinders / Dany Laj and The Looks) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2014-01-17 (Friday) [FB event]

Audiopollination 14.2 ["a night of electronic ambience"] (feat. ABA / NAW / Ted Phillips and Glen Hall / Tired Wires) / Array Space 2014-01-17 (Friday) [more info]

Mark Pesci presents: The Class Of 2014 (feat. Cellphone / Dirty Frigs / Dilly Dally / Crhymes / Red Mass) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-01-18 (Saturday) [FB event]

Alaniaris / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-19 (Sunday – afternoon set @ 3 p.m.!)

New Music Concerts feat. Motion Ensemble: From Atlantic Shores / The Music Gallery 2014-01-19 (Sunday) [FB event]


Add these to your calendar:

Justin Haynes/Brodie West/Andrew Downing / Hawaii Bar 2014-01-21 (Tuesday) [more info]

Steam Whistle Unsigned #28 (feat. Bravestation / Ark Analog / Doom Squad) / Steam Whistle Brewery 2014-01-24 (Friday) [FB event]

The Big Sound / Adelaide Hall 2014-01-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Weyes Blood (ANAMAI) / Magpie Taproom 2014-01-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

Edgar Breau / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-01-29 (Wednesday – early!)

Woodsman (Zacht Automaat / Glass Tomb) / Rancho Relaxo) 2014-01-29 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Mustache Rides' Farewell Show (feat. Pow Wows / New Swears / Mexican Knives / Tropical Dripps / White Spaces) / Izakaya Sushi House 2014-02-01 (Saturday) [FB event]

Tinsel Teeth (White Ribs / Foam / Pretty Mouth / tig.erve nom) / Measure 2014-02-06 (Thursday) [FB event]

Anenon (Lina Allemano’s Titanium Riot) / The Music Gallery 2014-02-08 (Saturday) [more info]

Soupcans (Surinam / Cellphone / Huren) / The White House 2014-02-08 (Saturday) [FB event]

Toy Piano Composers: To Be Announced [new works by Jason Doell / Sophie Dupuis / August Murphy-King / Robert Taylor / Tyler Versluis) / Heliconian Hall 2014-02-08 (Saturday) [FB event]

Returning Current (feat. Katherine Payne & Daniela Gesundheit) / The Music Gallery 2014-02-22 (Saturday) [more info]

LAL (Dub Fantasy) / The Music Gallery 2014-03-01 (Saturday) [more info]

"A Percussive Evening with Jean-Pierre Drouet" / The Music Gallery 2014-03-02 (Sunday) [more info]

The Two Koreas [10th-anniversary spectacular! / The Piston 2014-03-06 (Thursday) [FB event]

Emergents III (feat. FAWN / Michael Vincent ) / The Music Gallery 2014-03-14 (Friday) [more info]

Gaudeamus: Deconstructed [2 sets of improvised music, including comprovised works by Michiel van Dijk, Koen Kaptijn and Allison Cameron] / The Music Gallery 2014-04-03 (Thursday) [more info]

Gaudeamus: Reconstructed (feat. Continuum’s ensemble with The Array Ensemble) / The Music Gallery 2014-04-04 (Friday) [more info]

Henry Grimes (Aurochs) / The Music Gallery 2014-04-11 (Friday) [more info]

Noam Bierstone, and Bryan Holt: fulltreffer / The Music Gallery 2014-04-12 (Saturday) [more info]

Continuum: By Other Means / The Music Gallery 2014-05-04 (Sunday) [more info]

Jerusalem In My Heart (Steve Kado) / The Music Gallery 2014-05-09 (Friday) [more info]

Emergents IV (feat. Thin Edge New Music Collective / Jason Doell & Germaine Liu) / The Music Gallery 2014-05-15 (Thursday) [more info]

Dave MacKinnon and Rob Cruickshank: 100 Years of Hugh Le Caine ["Celebrating the 100th birthday of the founder of Canadian electronics"] / The Music Gallery 2014-05-30 (Friday) [more info]

The Unbearable Lightness of Bass (feat. Prince Nifty / Sunclef / Bile Sister) ["Three flavours of bass music designed for the Subpac, a wearable subwoofer"] / The Music Gallery 2014-06-06 (Friday) [more info]

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Recording: Thom Gill

Artist: Thom Gill

Song: Single Girls [Ronley Teper cover]

Recorded at Holy Oak Café ("Toronto Does Toronto 3"), January 5, 2014.

Thom Gill - Single Girls

Full review to follow. Once again the Holy Oak invited some of the best Toronto songwriters of right now to pay tribute to their local musical heroes, with their choices ranging from past to present and from the familiar to the obscure. As far as I can tell, there's a lot more water in this well, so hopefully the series won't end here.

Thom Gill heard Ronley Teper play this song at the Tranzac — y'know, once, a few years back. Sometimes that's all it takes to give a song a foothold in your mind, and now here he's re-animated it, combining Teper's incisive wit — cutting yet sympathetic — with his own soulful delivery.

Recording: Simone Schmidt

Artist: Simone Schmidt with Doug Paisley

Song: Smoke [Crash Vegas cover]

Recorded at Holy Oak Café ("Toronto Does Toronto 3"), January 5, 2014.

Simone Schmidt - Smoke

Full review to follow. Once again the Holy Oak invited some of the best Toronto songwriters of right now to pay tribute to their local musical heroes, with their choices ranging from past to present and from the familiar to the obscure. As far as I can tell, there's a lot more water in this well, so hopefully the series won't end here.

Simone Schmidt (of One Hundred Dollars, and, more lately, of Fiver and The Highest Order) joined forces with Doug Paisley to rustle up the ghost of Handsome Ned — and also to revisit this song which she first heard in her older sister's music collection. Michelle McAdorey, the voice of Crash Vegas, is still writing some great songs. She has a new album on the way and you can hear some of those songs at an upcoming residency at The Tranzac, coming every Friday night in February.

Recording: Chris Cummings

Artist: Chris Cummings with Ryan Driver

Song: Double Suicide [Sandro Perri cover]

Recorded at Holy Oak Café ("Toronto Does Toronto 3"), January 5, 2014.

Chris Cummings - Double Suicide

Full review to follow. Once again the Holy Oak invited some of the best Toronto songwriters of right now to pay tribute to their local musical heroes, with their choices ranging from past to present and from the familiar to the obscure. As far as I can tell, there's a lot more water in this well, so hopefully the series won't end here.

Sandro Perri provided one of the highlights of the previous T.O. does T.O. night, and here Chris Cummings (who records as Marker Starling) got some help on backing vox from Ryan Driver for a stripped-down take on this number from recent classic Impossible Spaces. There's a new Marker Starling album on the way, so keep an eye out once spring rolls around.

Recording: Lisa Bozikovic

Artist: Lisa Bozikovic

Song: I Wanna Go Home [Party Time cover]

Recorded at Holy Oak Café ("Toronto Does Toronto 3"), January 5, 2014.

Lisa Bozikovic - I Wanna Go Home

Full review to follow. Once again the Holy Oak invited some of the best Toronto songwriters of right now to pay tribute to their local musical heroes, with their choices ranging from past to present and from the familiar to the obscure. As far as I can tell, there's a lot more water in this well, so hopefully the series won't end here.

Besides paying tribute to Jennifer Castle, Lisa Bozikovic played a song by her friend Emma Moss Brender who was in The Pining as well as having this solo project whose name was chosen with grim irony.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Recording: Mimico

Artist: Mimico

Song: Big Sis

Recorded at Gerrard Art Space ("Feast in the East 33"), January 4, 2014.

Mimico - Big Sis

Full review to follow. Not resting on the laurels of the fabulous tape they released back in May, word is that Mimico already have a new album in the can with plans of a vinyl release on the way. It'll bring some new faucets to their psych/prog/kraut sound — just you wait 'til you get a chance to hear the sludgy majesty called "Incantation". And for another new wrinkle, guitarist Jeremiah Knight (also of Ostrich Tuning) takes the mic for this one.

Recording: Bella Akira

Artist: Bella Akira

Song: Hot Knives

Recorded at Gerrard Art Space ("Feast in the East 33"), January 4, 2014.

Bella Akira - Hot Knives

Full review to follow. Imagine if Ian Curtis had gotten into the brandy and staggered off to the bathhouse, but got hit by lightning on the way there, developing the power to shoot glam-punk death rays from his eyes. Now imagine that as a band.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Recording: Blonde Elvis

Artist: Blonde Elvis

Song: Girls of Israel

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, January 3, 2014.

Blonde Elvis - Girls of Israel

Full review to follow. Boasting a reshuffled lineup with Planet Creature's Kristina Koski joining the fold on keybs and flute, Jesse James Laderoute has laid down his guitar to go full frontman. Cranking the fey up to eleven, it felt for a moment here as if his Pulp cover set had never ended.

Recording: Wish

Artist: Wish

Song: Slacker

Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, January 3, 2014.

Wish - Slacker

Full review to follow. The first time I saw this unit I was quite enthusiastic, and now further exposure has done nothing to dampen my sense that this group is right down my alley. The songs are good, but the band excels when they cruise into the shimmering/simmering extended instrumental passages. This set-closer brings to mind nothing so much as The Clean, both in Kyle Connolly's David Kilgour-ish vox and in the way his and Josh Korody's guitars play off each other in a manner that could enjoyably extend approximately forever.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Recording: Doomsquad

Artist: Doomsquad feat. Not The Wind, Not the Flag

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Recorded at The Art Gallery of Ontario ("Long Winter: AGO First Thursdays Takeover"), January 2, 2014.

Doomsquad feat. Not the Wind, Not the Flag - unknown

Full review to follow. The AGO's First Thursdays have been serving up local music as one segment of its interactive mix'n'mingle monthly series, while Long Winter has been curating DIY art alongside the concerts they've been throwing at the Great Hall. On paper it makes for an appealing crossover opportunity to combine the two. And while the LW crew brought some cool ideas (and a tasty mix of musicians) down to Dundas and McCaul, the execution was somewhat inelegant. Putting the headlining bands in galleries on the opposite ends of the 5th floor contemporary wing allowed for two distinct environments — and both sets were really good — but the experience was marred by making patrons wait in a distinctly unfun lineup to get there. [Given the recent capacity issues at the Great Hall as well, Long Winter is in danger of its brand becoming synonymous with waiting in line.]

Doomsquad took full advantage of this high-concept night to step up their set with something different. First and most plainly apparent, they constructed a sort of cagelike improvised tent structure that was covered in chicken wire, keeping the band at a cool remove from the crowd. And as the set went on, assistants slowly covered them with layers of plastic sheeting. (Whether this was meant to signify a post-apocalyptic hoedown, a Brechtian verfremdungseffekt or a tribute to Christo was left for the chattering classes to discuss amongst themselves afterward.) And sonically, the band got a boost from local free-improv godheads Brandon Valdivia and Colin Fisher, who helped them to stretch out their grooves so that the songs veered into a dark-edged, no-wave Fela zone — a strange but appealing sort of party.

Recording: Snowblink

Artist: Snowblink

Song: Something Wanted to be Wild Here

Recorded at The Art Gallery of Ontario ("Long Winter: AGO First Thursdays Takeover"), January 2, 2014.

Snowblink - Something Wanted to be Wild Here

Full review to follow. The AGO's First Thursdays have been serving up local music as one segment of its interactive mix'n'mingle monthly series, while Long Winter has been curating DIY art alongside the concerts they've been throwing at the Great Hall. On paper it makes for an appealing crossover opportunity to combine the two. And while the LW crew brought some cool ideas (and a tasty mix of musicians) down to Dundas and McCaul, the execution was somewhat inelegant. Putting the headlining bands in galleries on the opposite ends of the 5th floor contemporary wing allowed for two distinct environments — and both sets were really good — but the experience was marred by making patrons wait in a distinctly unfun lineup to get there. [Given the recent capacity issues at the Great Hall as well, Long Winter is in danger of its brand becoming synonymous with waiting in line.]

Once the hassle of getting upstairs was taken care of, Snowblink's set was an oasis of serenity. And, excitingly, after just a couple nods to their back catalogue the bulk of their set was given over to new songs. Still and always nominally a duo, the band is, at the moment, a six-piece, rendering it capable of delivering a heady sort of California soft-rock, powered by the intuitive hip-shimmy of age-old folksong groovewisdom. With its laid-back four-part harmonies, this one might be my favourite of the new stuff.