Friday, July 31, 2015

Recording: Brass Knuckle Sandwich

Artist: Brass Knuckle Sandwich

Songs: [second piece, in three parts]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There's Slow Burning Torch Series"), July 21, 2015.

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [second piece, part 1]

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [second piece, part 2]

Brass Knuckle Sandwich - [second piece, part 3]

This occasional series from Somewhere There gives younger musicians a chance to share their work while sharing the stage with longstanding members of the community, creating opportunities for interaction and inspiration. Marilyn Lerner (piano) and Nicole Rampersaud (trumpet) made a favourable impression when they teamed up earlier this year at the Somewhere There Festival. But with Lerner playing on Array's grand piano (instead of the Tranzac's console model) there were entirely new soundworlds opened up, including whole continents of subtle reverberations and opportunities for extended technique interventions. This recording is hardly adequate to capture the nuances of this quieter piece, but I'm presenting it here regardless as it was one of my favourite improvisations I've heard in the past while.

Recording: Broken Consort

Artist: Broken Consort

Songs: The Sylph/Great Dane [edit]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There's Slow Burning Torch Series"), July 21, 2015.

Broken Consort - The Sylph/Great Dane [edit]

This occasional series from Somewhere There gives younger musicians a chance to share their work while sharing the stage with longstanding members of the community, creating opportunities for interaction and inspiration. At this show, the emerging forces were represented by guitarist Mike McCormick's Broken Consort ensemble. Joined by Anthony Argatoff (alto sax), Robert Diack (drums), Andrew Furlong (bass), Morgan Gardner (trumpet) and Laura Swankey (vox), the crew tackled a series of McCormick's compositions. The material ranged over a lot of terrain, showing off a range of McCormick's stylistic preoccupations, many garnered from a term spent abroad in Europe. Special mention should be made of Swankey's wordless vocalizations, bringing to mind local favourite Felicity Williams, giving the songs a little extra elevation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Recording: Alaniaris

Artist: Alaniaris

Song: Cantabella

Recorded at The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), July 19, 2015.

Alaniaris - Cantabella

Michael Kaler, Ken Aldcroft, and Mark Zurawinski continue their ongoing monthly residency (on the third Sunday of every month), bringing their improvisor-sharpened skills to the surf-like grooves of Greek rebetiko. Intricate and punchy, it's hard not to punctuate the ends of the songs with a cheered exclamation.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Recording: Monomyth

Artist: Monomyth

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, July 18, 2015.

Monomyth - unknown

After maintaining the rigourous understated grooves as rhythm section of opener Nap Eyes, guitarist/vocalists Seamus Dalton and Joshua Salter of Halifax's Monomyth were in full-on end-of-tour goofin' around mode. Mixing tunes from last year's Saturnalia Regalia! with newer ones, there were plenty of in-jokes and goofy outros to go around. Lotsa good tunes, too, and a wider musical palette on offer than the pared-down psych-tinged pop on the album.

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

Recording: Nap Eyes

Artist: Nap Eyes

Songs: The Night Of The First Show + No Fear Of Hellfire

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, July 18, 2015.

Nap Eyes - The Night Of The First Show

Nap Eyes - No Fear Of Hellfire

Haligonian Nigel Chapman delivers songs with a dry, understated delivery, matching that with unfussy guitar and backed by a rhythm section composed of Monomyth's Seamus Dalton and Joshua Salter, who contribute a similarly straightforward foundation for the songs. That rigourous arrangement still leaves room for a lot of variation, and when they really into a groove, like set-closer (and album centrepiece) "No Fear Of Hellfire", there's a gorgeous Galaxie 500-ish bobbing undertow here. The very tasty full-length Whine Of The Mystic has just been re-issued by You've Changed, a pretty solid recommendation and vote of confidence right there.

Recording: Joyboy

Artist: Joyboy

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Smiling Buddha, July 18, 2015.

Joyboy - unknown

"We've been a band for a week-and-a-half. Thanks for having us." With that disclaimer, this quartet made their debut with a quick set to open a night of visiting Halifax bands. I can't say much about 'em besides that, although they do have a tune up on bandcamp. Crunchy guitars and plenty effects on the vocals, I've definitely heard less interesting sets from longer-established bands. Keep an eye out for further developments.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recording: Hooded Fang

Artist: Hooded Fang

Song: Miscast

Recorded at Mercury Social Club, July 17, 2015.

Hooded Fang - Miscast

Mercury Social Club, a new venture from the former proprietors of Saving Gigi has the potential to be another asset in the emerging cultural district on Geary Av. if it can be rescued from what sounds like an ongoing bureaucratic quagmire. In the meantime, it's being used as an occasional special event space, and in its current semi-refinished state, it feels something like hanging around in a reclaimed rec hall. A fairly wide space, there's a likeable amount of elbow room with a rough-hewn make-do charm. The sound's a little rough still at this point, and the room got hot like a sauna as the crowd built up, but I'm hoping there'll be a chance for this to become a regularly-functioning space.

Hooded Fang's latest batch of songs depend on an intricately speedy rhythmic attack while their live presentation tempers that with a certain indeterminacy. Which is to say that if in a sweaty-hot room the band was bit of a hot mess, it was the sort of hot mess that you'd want to take you home. Word on the street is that the band's new album is mostly done, so we'll see when it emerges — and who can fill the shoes of drummer D. Alex Meeks, heading off on educational leave.

Recording: Darlene Shrugg

Artist: Darlene Shrugg

Songs: Some Weird Sin [Iggy Pop cover] + National Security*

Recorded at Mercury Social Club, July 17, 2015.

Darlene Shrugg - Some Weird Sin

Darlene Shrugg - National Security

Mercury Social Club, a new venture from the former proprietors of Saving Gigi has the potential to be another asset in the emerging cultural district on Geary Av. if it can be rescued from what sounds like an ongoing bureaucratic quagmire. In the meantime, it's being used as an occasional special event space, and in its current semi-refinished state, it feels something like hanging around in a reclaimed rec hall. A fairly wide space, there's a likeable amount of elbow room with a rough-hewn make-do charm. The sound's a little rough still at this point, and the room got hot like a sauna as the crowd built up, but I'm hoping there'll be a chance for this to become a regularly-functioning space.

Fresh out of the recording studio cutting some tracks with Ben Cook, Darlene Shrugg were already preparing for their appearance at next year's Polaris gala. Rocking a set of heavy glam gems (single "Freedom Comes In A Plastic Card" was even aired twice to start and end the set) with swaggering confidence, this many-headed beast was working with focused determination. Besides the Iggy Pop title essayed here by Max "Slim Twig" Turnbull and Meg "U.S. Girls" Remy, the latter song comes with lead vox from Ice Cream's Amanda Crist. The sound on this recording's a little ragged, given the venue's limitations, and Carlyn Bezic breaks a guitar string during the Iggy tune, but driven on by Simone T-B's drums, these feel pretty satisfactory.

* This title is an educated guess and subject to confirmation.

Recording: Heaters

Artist: Heaters

Songs: two unknown songs*

Recorded at Mercury Social Club, July 17, 2015.

Heaters - unknown #1

Heaters - unknown #2

Mercury Social Club, a new venture from the former proprietors of Saving Gigi has the potential to be another asset in the emerging cultural district on Geary Av. if it can be rescued from what sounds like an ongoing bureaucratic quagmire. In the meantime, it's being used as an occasional special event space, and in its current semi-refinished state, it feels something like hanging around in a reclaimed rec hall. A fairly wide space, there's a likeable amount of elbow room with a rough-hewn make-do charm. The sound's a little rough still at this point, and the room got hot like a sauna as the crowd built up, but I'm hoping there'll be a chance for this to become a regularly-functioning space.

Having dug this Grand Rapids garage-punk trio in some backyard action not too long ago, I was looking forward to more of their psychotic reactions and Nuggets-y blasts. Leading off the evening, they brought a lot of energy to a room that felt far fuller and sweatier than it was when they started.

* Does anyone know the titles to these ones? Please leave a comment!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Recording: Zach Clark/Kayla Grant/Pedro Ferreira

Artist: Zach Clark/Kayla Grant/Pedro Ferreira

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Zach Clark/Kayla Grant/Pedro Ferreira - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

The night ended with this electronic exploration, with Mirrors bandmates Grant (vocal manipulations) and Clark (laptop) joined by Ferreira (laptop) for some oozing digital drift, sounding a bit like Blind Willie Johnson getting lost in cyberspace.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]

Recording: Ben Sirois/Andy Yue/Alex Fournier

Artist: Ben Sirois/Andy Yue/Alex Fournier

Song: [edited excerpt from first piece]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Ben Sirois/Andy Yue/Alex Fournier - [edited excerpt from first piece]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

Perhaps the most "standard" of the night's sets, this saw Sirois' virtuosic violin playing set against Yue's piano explorations and Fournier's extended techniques for double bass.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]

Recording: Heidi Chan/Alec Brady/Andy Dolgin

Artist: Heidi Chan/Alec Brady/Andy Dolgin

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Heidi Chan/Alec Brady/Andy Dolgin - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

This set might be the figurative "poster child" for the too-weird-to-curate virtues of this series. This mix of sousaphone, flutes and modular synth might not have been an intuitive combination, but there were some nifty results, with Brady performing some realtime manipulations on Chan's flutes while Dolgin added low end — and even some tapped percussion.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]

Recording: Michael Lynn/Neil Wiernik/Lara Solnicki

Artist: Michael Lynn/Neil Wiernik/Lara Solnicki

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Audiopollination 32.2"), July 14, 2015.

Michael Lynn/Neil Wiernik/Lara Solnicki - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This was the first night in this year's series of Audiopollination's "self-curation" project, where musicians are welcomed to sign up and improvise in a trio for a short set with... well, whoever else signs up. The format encourages wacky and counter-intuitive combinations, and a chance for musicians to experiment in directions they might not have otherwise explored. The series continues monthly until December.

The night's opening set saw Lara Solnicki (improvised vocals + prepared text) being backed by Michael Lynn (double bass) and Neil Wiernik (sonic manipulations via ipad), with the latter two following Solnicki's vocal cadences before she joined them in some more abstract excursions.

[As always, you can hear full recordings from the night over at Audiopollination's bandcamp. The self-curation project continues at Array on Tuesday, August 11th, and Audiopollination also has a couple other gigs coming up: this Thursday (July 30th) at The Tranzac, as well as on Sunday, August 30th, with Montréal visitors Geraldine Eguiluz and Stéphane Diamantakiou.]

Concert Listings Roundup #107

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:

HPR Presents: SUMMER BASS 2K15 (feat. Bile Sister / Dohn Valley / Petra Glynt / New Chance & Friends / IC/JC/VC) / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2015-07-29 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Dress to sweat and put your dancin' shoes on as Healing Power takes over the Tranzac's Main Hall for this summer spectacular. Expect a lot of overlapping collaborations — Julie Reich brings both Bile Sister and her recent solo project Dohn Valley while Vic Cheong is playing a New Chance set as well as reuniting with Jennifer Castle and Isla Craig in "vocal yoga" trio IC/JC/VC. Plus Alex MacKenzie will be sporting some of her latest Petra Glynt styles.


This week's noteworthy shows:

KULTURE (feat. Hexzuul / Mandelbrut / [666] → [BITREDUCTION] → / Cassandra Marie Witteman / Ruin) / The Steady Cafe & Bar 2015-07-28 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Ton Beau String Quartet / Toronto Music Garden 2015-07-30 (Thursday – free!) [more info]

Audiopollination #32.3: Audiopollinating the Tranzac (feat. The Audiopollination House Band [Brian Abbot/Karen Ng/Kayla Milmine/Michael Lynn]) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-07-30 (Thursday)

Special Costello (Johnny de Courcy / Baby Cages) / Smiling Buddha Basement 2015-07-30 (Thursday) [FB event]

King Creep (Kurt Marble / The Sulks / Wave Of Terror) / Smiling Buddha 2015-07-30 (Thursday) [FB event]

The Hustle: Edition 7 (feat. Above Top Secret / Obuxum / Kirsch) / The Piston 2015-08-30 (Thursday) [FB event]

Stuck in the City presents (feat. La Misma / VCR / Detestados / The Chain / Tonkapuma) / S.H.I.B.G.B.'s 2015-07-30 (Thursday – all-ages!) [FB event]

Old Haunt (EONS / Andrew Huang) / Burdock Music Hall 2015-07-31 (Friday) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-07-31 (Friday)

Bad Channels (P0ST3R B0Y / Wearenotwhoweare) / Handlebar 2015-08-01 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Psychedelic Pig Roast [pig roast/live bands/tarot readings/all proceeds going to Sistering] (Fill Spectre / King Creep / Tragic Magick) / 60 Brock 2015-08-02 (Sunday – afternoon/evening event!) [FB event]

Nite Comfort 24 (feat. Para Palabras / Zachary Gray) / Handlebar 2015-08-02 (Sunday) [FB event]


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!

Track Could Bend #5 (feat. Ghostlight / Lido Pimienta / Slime) / Dundas Video 2015-08-04 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Mechanical Forest Sound presents (feat. Noordwiijk / Allison Cameron / Debashis Sinha) / Ratio 2015-08-05 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Freak Heat Waves (MIMICO / WHIMM) / Double Double Land 2015-08-06 (Thursday) [FB event]

Alex Moskos [of Drainolith, LP release!] (Brodie West + Fleshtone Aura / Stucco) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-08-07 (Friday)

ReOpen: Opening Party & Installation Launch (feat. L CON) / The Rhino (upstairs) 2015-08-08 (Saturday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents The Second Sunday of August (feat. Little Oak Animal [Robert Cruickshank/Dafydd Hughes] / Aorist [Kimberly Sutton/Rachel Devorah Trapp]) / Array Space 2015-08-09 (Sunday) [FB event]

The Burning Hell (L CON / Baa) / Junction City Music Hall 2015-08-12 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Stüka (Iris / Halcyon / Mimisiku / Reverse) / Smiling Buddha Basement 2015-08-14 (Friday) [FB event]

Habari Africa (feat. Ethio Zema + Fantahun Shewankochew) / Harbourfront Centre, W------ Stage 2015-08-15 (Saturday – free! early! 7:30 p.m.!) [more info]

The Sulks (Dories / Foam / Eyeballs) / Handlebar 2015-08-15 (Saturday) [FB event]

Bernice (Devon Sproule) / Burdock Music Hall 2015-08-16 (Sunday) [FB event]

The Channels (Crosss / Imaginary Flesh) / Handlebar 2015-08-22 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Famines (Century Palm / Dorothea Paas / Casper Skulls) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-08-22 (Saturday) [FB event]

Invocation TO presents: a very special secret meeting (feat. Pete Nolan [of Magik Markers/Spectre Folk] / Zachary Cale / M.Mucci) / Handlebar 2015-09-07 (Monday) [FB event]

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Recording: The Draperies

Artist: The Draperies

Song: [second piece]

Recorded at Ratio, July 13, 2015.

The Draperies - [second piece]

This quickly-assembled evening came together to take advantage of expatriate Eric Chenaux's presence in town, continuing this project's recent pace of annual-ish concerts. Mixing Chenaux's masterful guitar abstractions with Ryan Diver's analog synth and Doug Tielli's trombone, this one actually saw Tielli eschew his horn to kneel beside the exposed piano frame at the back of the room, singing wordlessly and plucking on the strings as if it were an especially metallic-sounding harp. Chenaux added little swells of feedback while Driver waited, listening for a spell before adding some subtle zworps.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Recording: Troubleshooting Trio

Artist: Troubleshooting Trio

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There's Second Sunday Series"), July 12, 2015.

Troubleshooting Trio - [excerpt from an improvisation]

Quite literally the three people behind the monthly laptop-improvisation "troubleshooting" residency at The Tranzac (monthly on the first Wednesday, next instalment on August 5th) this set saw Cory Latkovich, Lisa Conway and Nick Buligan perform realtime manipulations with their Max and PD patches, extending their instruments into abstract space.

[The next show in the Second Sunday series (Aug. 9th) will pair Robert Cruickshank and Dafydd Hughes's audio-visual project Little Oak Animal with NYC visitors Aorist.]

Recording: Nidus

Artist: Nidus

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at Array Space ("Somewhere There's Second Sunday Series"), July 12, 2015.

Nidus - [excerpt from an improvisation]

This trio of Marc Couroux, Matthew Ramolo (of Khôra) and Jason Doell specialize in a certain form of sonic-overlap-unto-synesthesia, often making it tough to decode which sound is coming from whom — and then extending that smeary mixture over longform improvisations. This particular extract sounds like it might be an archaeological reconstruction of the Cylons' equivalent of the blues. [P.S.: the group — Nidus, not the Cylons — has a bandcamp now, so keep an eye on that space for further developments.]

[The next show in the Second Sunday series (Aug. 9th) will pair Robert Cruickshank and Dafydd Hughes's audio-visual project Little Oak Animal with NYC visitors Aorist.]

Friday, July 24, 2015

Recording: The Highest Order

Artist: The Highest Order

Song: I.O.U.*

Recorded at a Wade Avenue studio, July 11, 2015.

The Highest Order - I.O.U.

Tuning up before a slot at a large, out-of-town corporate festival, The Highest Order reconvened on stage for the first time since last September. This semi-advertised basement studio party was an opportunity for the band to unveil a set stuffed with new material before a friendly crowd. Jeff Bierk's hand-crafted projections and DIY laser show set the stage for the band's psych-twang, and the set showed there's a lot to look forward to, besides the one new song that has shown up in a video

* I'm pretty sure this is the title that was called out at the start, but I'm treating is as not 100% confirmed for now.

Recording: New Chance

Artist: New Chance

Song: Lifted by Love [k.d. lang cover]

Recorded at a Wade Avenue studio, July 11, 2015.

New Chance - Lifted by Love

This basement party saw Vic Cheong bathed in lasers as she offered up this early k.d. lang tune, which in her hands becomes transformed into a surging dancefloor groover.

[New Chance will be opening things up tomorrow night (July 25th) at Ratio, as well as taking part in the Healing Power Summer Bass spectacular next week.]

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Recording: Above Top Secret

Artist: Above Top Secret (feat. Lido Pimienta)

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre – Lakefront Terrace ("Harbourfront SoundClash" finals), July 11, 2015.

Above Top Secret - unknown

Harbourfront's SoundClash contest has always seemed like a bit of an odd beast to me. Stuck with the baggage of a million cruddy Battle of The Bands, the whole thing feels vaguely opaque. (Who's behind this, and why? What's being judged — a band's conceptual "talent", or this particular live performance? How are the winners picked? If the festival brags about the quality of its judges, why does it keep them anonymous? Does the online balloting really matter, or is it populist window-dressing? Should online voting count when almost no-one saw the actual competition? Doesn't that inherently favour the net-savvy, or bands with pre-existing and motivated fanbases, who will click on a vote link spread through social media?) I'd never gotten involved with the whole event before, but given the undoubtable across-the-board quality of the five finalists this year, I decided to check it out.

Another weirdness: given the not-insubstantial sum invested in prize money, one would have thought this would have been set up to garner as much attention as possible instead of being tucked away. Shuffled into the Lakeside Terrace on a busy weekend, the performance environment discouraged passers-by from stopping to check it out, and was more than a little sterile — but at least it was equally so for all of the bands. That said, it also gave everyone a chance to play in a technically-controlled environment, and the three sets I saw all sounded very good. (Note to Harbourfront: this is a really nice room to see a band in — why not host some gigs here on non-super-busy summer weekends?) Rather than a contest to win the affection of the masses, the vibe here was old-fashioned "industry" — a closed-off showcase for artists to impress a secret cabal. It's to the musicians' credit that they still managed to spark some energy and give good performances.

Something old/something new here, as this was the first formal gig for electro-dub feminist hip-hop crew Above Top Secret. But they're no newcomers, having been on the scene for several years as Abstract Random before a membership change led to a re-think/re-brand/re-launch. Debuting a full set of new material (only single "Ghost" has had a public airing), core members SunSun and Ayo Leilani were joined by Brandon Valdivia on percussion — and on this song by vocalist Lido Pimienta. There were "personal" songs about friendships lost and other emotional travails as well as some very strong political ones, including the stark electro-blues posted here. In a city where the police murders of Andrew Loku and Jermaine Carby remain virtually unaddressed, the opening here ("this ain't a game / they're out for blood") feels raw and immediate before turning (with Pimienta's plaintive backing vocals) to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women. This was powerful stuff, and a very worthy winner of the contest's first prize.

[As part of their prize, ATS will be given the chance to play on Harbourfront's big stage on September 8th. Before then, you can catch them next Thursday (July 30th) at The Piston, and also playing a late-night set at Camp Wavelength on Friday, August 28th.]

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

Recording: Digits

Artist: Digits

Song: Street Violence

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre – Lakefront Terrace ("Harbourfront SoundClash" finals), July 11, 2015.

Digits - Street Violence

Harbourfront's SoundClash contest has always seemed like a bit of an odd beast to me. Stuck with the baggage of a million cruddy Battle of The Bands, the whole thing feels vaguely opaque. (Who's behind this, and why? What's being judged — a band's conceptual "talent", or this particular live performance? How are the winners picked? If the festival brags about the quality of its judges, why does it keep them anonymous? Does the online balloting really matter, or is it populist window-dressing? Should online voting count when almost no-one saw the actual competition? Doesn't that inherently favour the net-savvy, or bands with pre-existing and motivated fanbases, who will click on a vote link spread through social media?) I'd never gotten involved with the whole event before, but given the undoubtable across-the-board quality of the five finalists this year, I decided to check it out.

Another weirdness: given the not-insubstantial sum invested in prize money, one would have thought this would have been set up to garner as much attention as possible instead of being tucked away. Shuffled into the Lakeside Terrace on a busy weekend, the performance environment discouraged passers-by from stopping to check it out, and was more than a little sterile — but at least it was equally so for all of the bands. That said, it also gave everyone a chance to play in a technically-controlled environment, and the three sets I saw all sounded very good. (Note to Harbourfront: this is a really nice room to see a band in — why not host some gigs here on non-super-busy summer weekends?) Rather than a contest to win the affection of the masses, the vibe here was old-fashioned "industry" — a closed-off showcase for artists to impress a secret cabal. It's to the musicians' credit that they still managed to spark some energy and give good performances.

The room's clean sound suited Alt Altman's sleek electropop very well, and (with the assistance of synthologist Dan Miller) he delivered a technically-impressive performance. But even though Altman took advantage of the wireless mic to shimmy around on stage, the brightly-lit room with a small, seated crowd definitely worked against the late-night decadent-disco vibe that his music usually evokes. A bit of a draw, then, but the strong material definitely came across well enough.

Recording: Ronley Teper's Lipliners

Artist: Ronley Teper's Lipliners

Song: Love

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre – Lakefront Terrace ("Harbourfront SoundClash" finals), July 11, 2015.

Ronley Teper's Lipliners - Love

Harbourfront's SoundClash contest has always seemed like a bit of an odd beast to me. Stuck with the baggage of a million cruddy Battle of The Bands, the whole thing feels vaguely opaque. (Who's behind this, and why? What's being judged — a band's conceptual "talent", or this particular live performance? How are the winners picked? If the festival brags about the quality of its judges, why does it keep them anonymous? Does the online balloting really matter, or is it populist window-dressing? Should online voting count when almost no-one saw the actual competition? Doesn't that inherently favour the net-savvy, or bands with pre-existing and motivated fanbases, who will click on a vote link spread through social media?) I'd never gotten involved with the whole event before, but given the undoubtable across-the-board quality of the five finalists this year, I decided to check it out.

Another weirdness: given the not-insubstantial sum invested in prize money, one would have thought this would have been set up to garner as much attention as possible instead of being tucked away. Shuffled into the Lakeside Terrace on a busy weekend, the performance environment discouraged passers-by from stopping to check it out, and was more than a little sterile — but at least it was equally so for all of the bands. That said, it also gave everyone a chance to play in a technically-controlled environment, and the three sets I saw all sounded very good. (Note to Harbourfront: this is a really nice room to see a band in — why not host some gigs here on non-super-busy summer weekends?) Rather than a contest to win the affection of the masses, the vibe here was old-fashioned "industry" — a closed-off showcase for artists to impress a secret cabal. It's to the musicians' credit that they still managed to spark some energy and give good performances.

Sometimes a Lipliners show can be a party, with a talented pick-up band learning songs on the fly while the singer vamps (and dashes from the stage to serve drinks!), everything teetering on the edge of falling apart in the most awesome manner possible. For this show, Ronley Teper called in her A-team of backing musicians and kept things fairly steady, playing some of the band's older, well-established material. That solid foundation left a lot of room for Teper to let her radiant personality shine, joking, ad-libbing, talking to members of the audience, and even taking to the floor to encourage a singalong. Singing sometimes like a grumblin' and moanin' Howlin' Wolf, and sometimes like an innocent waif, Teper's material isn't easily pigeonholed. This set (a short thirty minutes for a band that could go for hours if they felt the urge) pulled from both ends of the spectrum, but in this sedate environment, the quieter stuff (like this, and its companion "Faith") really shone, feeling like soundtrack-of-your life moments that you could imagine playing as you walked along the lakefront, slowly pulling back from your own heart's lament into a gigantic crane shot revealing everyone singing along. [This set won Teper second place in the competition.]

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Recording: Mdou Moctar

Artist: Mdou Moctar

Song: two unknown songs*

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage), July 11, 2015.

Mdou Moctar - unknown #1

Mdou Moctar - unknown #2

Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar is best known for his appearances on Sahel Sounds' Music from Saharan Cellphones compilations, where his guitar work is accompanied by drum machine rhythms and auto-tuned vocals. (A fuller approach emerges on the recently-released Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai soundtrack.) In a live setting, the music was presented in a more straight-ahead manner, with Moctar backed by a rhythm guitarist and a (rather excellent) drummer. That put this gig closer to what you might hear from, say, fellow Nigerien Bombino, with songs stretching out and settling into some amazing grooves, pulling off this amazing trick of having huge momentum while holding steady melodically. Moctar didn't accompany that with a flashy stage show (dancer nothwithstanding), but this was extraordinarily accomplished for one so young — it's hard to fathom to think how much more he might develop yet.

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Recording: Operators

Artist: Operators

Songs: I Die* + True

Recorded The Garrison ("Wavelength 674"), July 9, 2015.

Operators - I Die

Operators - True

I've generally been a casual fan of Dan Boeckner's various projects, so the first year with his new group Operators largely went under my radar. But, recalling that he can invest his live shows with no small amount of energy, I resolved to use this Wavelength-affiliated energy drink showcase to see his latest unit. Joined by Devojka (synths) and Sam Brown (drums) (plus, on a few songs, by Dustin Hawthorne, formerly of Hot Hot Heat and Beliefs, on bass) Boekner pushed further in the synth-heavy direction he'd begun to explore in Handsome Furs, treating the crowd to some throbbing disco-rock selections. Fresh off some time spent recording with Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh for their debut full-length, there was a lot of material in the set newer than the group's EP, including the first one here, which Boekner explained as "another song about psychedelic abuse in a small town."

* Thanks to Charles for passing along the title to this one!

Recording: Most People

Artist: Most People

Song: Falling Apart

Recorded The Garrison ("Wavelength 674"), July 9, 2015.

Most People - Falling Apart

One of those slightly-weird gigs, this had Wavelength's imprimatur, but was primarily executed as a corporate branding event. That created an inherently-awkward vibe, but the cheap-entry-with-RSVP format did create an incentive for the crowd to arrive early and be dosed with a couple quality local acts. For Most People, adding a third member hasn't so much thickened their sound as add new ways to keep Brandon Gibson-DeGroote and Paul McEachern busy, and that joyfully hectic we're-doing-stuff element is key to their charm as a live band. They mixed a couple older tracks with a run-through of their still-newish EP and looked to be having a helluva time doing it, striking poses and warning the audiences before each song's "sad part".

[Most People are putting together What Fate Awaits Them?, a special one-night-only spectacular for SummerWorks that will see them joining forces with MATROX. It's on Sunday, August 9th, and not to be missed.]

Recording: Wish

Artist: Wish

Song: unknown*

Recorded The Garrison ("Wavelength 674"), July 9, 2015.

Wish - unknown

One of those slightly-weird gigs, this had Wavelength's imprimatur, but was primarily executed as a corporate branding event. That created an inherently-awkward vibe, but the cheap-entry-with-RSVP format did create an incentive for the crowd to arrive early and be dosed with a couple quality local acts. Still packing their set with material from their forthcoming second album and beyond, Kyle Connolly and co. played a brisk set consisting of a couple longer rave-ups mixed with more compact gems. This one packs a lot into its two-and-a-half minutes, including some quality backing vox from bassist Emily Frances (also of Milk Lines) and a wistful instrumental break.

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

Monday, July 20, 2015

Concert Listings Roundup #106

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:

Event Cloak (Jeffrey Alexander / Love Thy Will Be Done [Thom Gill & Band] / New Chance) / Ratio 2015-07-25 (Saturday) [FB event]

a certifiable Big Event at ratio sees what should be an impressive headlining set from Montréal's Nick Maturo, who records crystalline synthscapes as Event Cloak. His work has the stamp of approval of being on the excellently-designed Orange Milk label. But local heads will also be flipping to see Love Thy Will Be Done, which is Thom Gill's post-THOMAS reincarnation with an all-star backing crew. There'll be some sweet grooves from New Chance as well. Not to be missed!


This week's noteworthy shows:

Brazilian Money (Marriage / Jaunt / Trim Hogs) / Smiling Buddha 2015-07-20 (Monday) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents The Slow Burning Torch Series (feat. Brass Knuckle Sandwich / Broken Consort) / Array Space 2015-07-21 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Bruce Cockburn / Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage) 2015-07-21 (Tuesday – free!) [more info]

Panamania (feat. Jay Douglas & the All Stars / Charles Bradley & his Extraordinaires / Antibalas) / Pan Am Park 2015-07-22 (Wednesday – free!) [more info]

The Music Gallery's Departures Series (feat. Jessika Kenney & Eyvind Kang / Andrew Timar & Bill Parsons / Manticore) / Jam Factory 2015-07-22 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Tasseomancy / Burdock Music Hall 2015-07-22 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Sarah Greene presents (feat. Shawn William Clarke) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-07-22 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Live on the Patio (feat. Tamikrest) / Roy Thomson Hall Patio 2015-07-23 (Thursday – free! sets at 6:30 and 8 p.m.!) [more info]

Ringo Deathstarr (The Auras) / The Cave 2015-07-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

POP Montreal in T.O. (feat. Nancy Pants / Look Vibrant / The Nursery / Sasha Chapin) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-07-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

Freak Heat Waves (Fake Palms / New Fries / Vallens) / Smiling Buddha 2015-07-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

Bonnie Doon (Plasmalab / Dinosaur City) / Burdock 2015-07-23 (Thursday) [FB event]

Wavelength 677: Gardiner Museum's Doors at 6pm (feat. Fresh Snow) / The Gardiner Museum 2015-07-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Dawn of Midi / The Drake Hotel 2015-07-24 (Friday) [more info]

Nick Taylor & Friends (Emilie Mover) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-07-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Calvin Love (Blonde Elvis / Dirty Frigs) / Velvet Underground 2015-07-24 (Friday – all ages!) [FB event]

Zakary Slax & The Tritone Panthers [member of Astral Gunk! EP release!] (Paul Jacobs / Never Betters / Dream Date) / Handlebar 2015-07-24 (Friday) [FB event]

Girls Rock Camp Summer Showcase #2 / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2015-07-25 (Saturday – early show! doors @ 2:30 p.m.! PWYC! All-ages & Family-friendly!) [FB event]

Mike Gennaro/Simeon Abbott (Kosher Dill Spears) / Holy Oak Café 2015-07-25 (Saturday – early!) [FB event]

Sonny & The Sunsets (Sarah Bethe Nelson / BEDS) / The Silver Dollar Room 2015-07-25 (Saturday) [more info]

Kensington Rocks: Crosswires Edition (feat. Lucid Movement / Sundial / More or Les / Erika Werry and the Alphabet / Proof of Ghosts) / The "Kensington" Bike Rack [College & Augusta] 2015-07-26 (Sunday — daytime show, starts 1 p.m.! free! outside! all ages! random happenings!) [FB event]

Crosswires (feat. More or Les / Proof of Ghosts / Childs) / Handlebar 2015-07-26 (Sunday – PWYC!) [FB event]

Meandering Streams of Consciousness / Array Space 2015-07-26 (Sunday) [FB event]


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!

KULTURE (feat. Hexzuul / Mandelbrut / [666] → [BITREDUCTION] → / Cassandra Marie Witteman / Ruin) / The Steady Cafe & Bar 2015-07-28 (Tuesday) [FB event]

HPR Presents: SUMMER BASS 2K15 (feat. Bile Sister / Dohn Valley / Petra Glynt / New Chance) / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2015-07-29 (Wednesday) [FB event]

King Creep (Kurt Marble / The Sulks / Wave Of Terror) / Smiling Buddha 2015-07-30 (Thursday) [FB event]

Stuck in the City presents (feat. La Misma / VCR / Detestados / The Chain / Tonkapuma) / S.H.I.B.G.B.'s 2015-07-30 (Thursday – all-ages!) [FB event]

Audiopollination #32.3: Audiopollinating the Tranzac (feat. The Audiopollination House Band [Brian Abbot/Karen Ng/Kayla Milmine/Michael Lynn]) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2015-07-30 (Thursday)

Old Haunt (EONS / Andrew Huang) / Burdock Music Hall 2015-07-31 (Friday) [FB event]

Charles Barabé (J.S. Truchy / Black Givre / Khôra) / Ratio 2015-08-07 (Friday) [FB event]

Zacht Automaat / Double Double Land 2015-08-09 (Sunday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #33.1: Self-Curation Project Part 2 (feat. Diane Roblin/Francesco Saguto/Heather Segger / Conrad Gayle/David Shelly / Elliott Fienberg/Ken Aldcroft/Mike Daley / Olivia Shortt/max mceachern) / Array Space 2015-08-11 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Next Level Syndicate presents (feat. Wei Zhongle / Nick Storring Band / Bears & Children / Mirapolis) / The Cavern Bar 2015-08-23 (Sunday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #33.2 (feat. Geraldine Eguiluz/Zoe Alexis-Abrams/David Jones / Stephane Diamantakiou/Ken Aldcroft / Geraldine Eguiluz/Stephane Diamantakiou) / Array Space 2015-08-30 (Sunday) [FB event]

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Recording: Dr. Dunn & The Cosmic Range

Artist: Dr. Dunn & The Cosmic Range

Songs: [end of first section] + [third section]*

Recorded at Dundas Video (Track Could Bend #4), July 7, 2015.

Dr. Dunn & The Cosmic Range - [end of first section]

Dr. Dunn & The Cosmic Range - [third section]

It's always a treat to see Matt "Doc" Dunn in action, and even more so on this occasion with out-of-town guest Andy Haas joining in. His processed sax and ribbon synth — along with Isla Craig's wordless vocalisations and Brandon Valdivia's percussive touches — acted as foreground to the drone-y synth and keyb soundscapes provided by Dunn and Jonathan Adjemian. very lovely stuff — striving explorations for the modern urban soul.

[Track Could Bend #5 will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, August 4th. Full details coming soon!]

* Does anyone know the proper titles to these pieces? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Castle If

Artist: Castle If

Song: [excerpt from a drone improvisation]

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #4), July 7, 2015.

Castle If - [excerpt from a drone improvisation]

Tarkovsky's Solaris was being projected on the wall beside the stage, a coincidental but terrifically apt companion to Jess Forrest's improvised drone set, which led with a patient, slow build before heading off on its meditatively inquisitive way.

[Track Could Bend #5 will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, August 4th. Full details coming soon!]

Photo by Kristel Jax.

Recording: Doom Tickler

Artist: Doom Tickler

Song: unknown*

Recorded at Dundas Video ("Track Could Bend #4), July 7, 2015.

Doom Tickler - unknown

Leslie Predy led off this evening of musical explorations with the avant-howls of her Doom Tickler project. I'm not sure what this piece is "about" but it sounds like a recounting of an epic battle between marauding monsters and a rag-tag collection of brave, heroic kittens.

[Track Could Bend #5 will be at Dundas Video on Tuesday, August 4th. Full details coming soon!]

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

Photo by Kristel Jax.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Recording: Hassan Hakmoun

Artist: Hassan Hakmoun

Songs: [two unknown songs]*

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage), July 4, 2015.

Hassan Hakmoun - [unknown]

Hassan Hakmoun - [unknown]

It felt quite invigourating to get down to Harbourfront for the first time this summer — even more so given the delightful, construction-free streetscape that now greets visitors. And also a treat to see Harbourfront bringing in major international performers, such as Morocco's greatest star of Gnawa Sufi trance music. The music is driven by Hakmoun's sintir (or, gimbri, if you prefer), working like a bass and rooting the music in infinitely-repeatable basic grooves. There's plenty joy in repetition here, though the music was also driven by a drummer and percussionist, and embossed by guitarist John Lee, often adding subtly-psychedelic flourishes (but also knowing when to stay in the pocket with a funky catscratch rhythm). Hypnotizing and dance-worthy in equal parts.

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Recording: Within

Artist: Within

Song: Balkan Song*

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, July 2, 2015.

Within - Balkan Song

I didn't know anything about this band before hearing them play, and the sight of a familiar face at hand — Fresh Snow's Tim Condon — didn't provide any clues, given the different musical space he was operating in here. Offering up minimalist folk tunes delivered with Judith Muster's clear vocals, the band showed a sly propensity for both stretching out their silences and finding moments to insert a bit of subtle abrasiveness.

[Showing that this show's comfort with performing alongside more abstract, ambient sounds was no one-off, Within will be playing with FAVX (and Montréal's happymovie) on Saturday (July 18th) at the Monarch.]

* Thanks to Tim for passing along the title to this one.

Recording: BABEL

Artist: BABEL

Song: MAZE ["chant" excerpt]

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, July 2, 2015.

BABEL - MAZE ["chant" excerpt]

Having stepped into the maze not so long before, I wasn't expecting to share anything from this set. But this excerpt, leading with its slightly-discomfiting chant-loopage, sounds like something rather different.

Recording: Albert James

Artist: Albert James

Song: Some Things Borrowed*

Recorded at Holy Oak Café, July 2, 2015.

Albert James - Some Things Borrowed

I can't seem to dig up too much on Albert James — save for the fact that he's put out a couple songs on Hamilton's PERDU — but he fit in fine on this evening's bill, sharing elements of Within's abstracted folk and BABEL's instrumental experimentalism. Mixing ambient keyb textures to his guitar work, this melded its airy and rooted elements in a fairly pleasing way.

* Thanks to Trevor for passing along the title to this one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Recording: Tanya Goncalves/Marc Couroux/Cory Latkovich

Artist: Tanya Goncalves/Marc Couroux/Cory Latkovich

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge ("troubleshooting~ v3"), July 1, 2015.

Tanya Goncalves/Marc Couroux/Cory Latkovich - [excerpt from an improvisation]

As is becoming standard, this night of Troubleshooting ended with the guests performing together alongside one of the event's conveners — in this case Cory Latkovich on cello and PD patches. His sounds mixed in with Goncalves' rhythmic interpolations and Couroux's queasy listening deconstructions.

[Troubleshooting will return to the Tranzac on Wednesday, August 5th.

Recording: Tanya Goncalves

Artist: Tanya Goncalves

Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]

Recorded at The Tranzac's Southern Cross Lounge ("troubleshooting~ v3"), July 1, 2015.

Tanya Goncalves - [excerpt from an improvisation]

A new face to the Troubleshooting scene, Mississauga's Goncalves brought some serious computer music chops to the show, as well as a bit of a performative flair, plugging her laptop into a projector so the crowd could watch her (surprisingly engaging) real-time command-line modifications in her SuperCollider interface. In the true spirit of the series, this piece ended not with a graceful fade to mirror the elegant build that began the set but instead with a sudden halt as her system crashed. At Troubleshooting nights, that's not a bug — it's a feature. [The night also ended with a group improvisation, which you can check out here.]

[Troubleshooting will return to the Tranzac on Wednesday, August 5th.