New Music of The Blogosphere and Beyond

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Friday, October 21, 2005


Once in a while, you stumble on a show that, despite things like low crowd attendence and technical limitations, ends up being one of the most gratifying live experiences you could possibly hope to see. When music, comedy and theatrical entertainment combine, you get what they used to call hype in the 60s and early 70s. Hype now is referred to as a sort of pleasurable public tension at the outset of a new artist's career or the release of an anticipated album. Will the artist deliver? Are they really as good as everyone says they are? These questions somehow invaded the meaning of hype over its evolution from the 60s freak-out to the flow session to the popular culture expression it has become. Who knows, the word might have even meant something different in the 50s, if it was even around back then, but for now, we'll look at the performative essence of the word as derived from pop cultural manifestations.

As my old friend Chris McCullough of the legendary Winnipeg fringe-pop sax-rock group Junior Barnes and the Cadillacs tells me, "hype was something we used on stage as a way to keep the audience drinking. Basically, we were paid a cut of the bar tab, so we had to them buying beer. Nobody bought drinks during the music (which is still true- ed.), but we noticed they'd be splurging for change when we goofed of with them during our set. So we'd play six or seven songs and we'd spend the rest of the time doing 'hype'."

They invented characters like Dr. Faroukh, whose quest to hypnotize the audience enhanced the show with his bizarre but laugh-grabbing ice-breaking humour that said "don't take anything too seriously". The audience loosened up and bought beer. The band started making money again, but grew more creative with crowd gags as a result.

In my own time, I've witnessed some seriously well-executed hype. In 2001, I witnessed Pittsburgh's Grand Buffet out-spectacle Wesley Willis in Winnipeg., taping their heads together and performing coordinated dances to "power karaoke". HILARIOUS! Similarly, first time I saw The Barcelona Pavillion, I was impressed at how they could hold the crowd with really quick, wacky songs bumpered by nerdy but rousing hype.

Last night at The Boat was all hype by those standards...and oh yeah, some kickass music made it its way in there too.

It began with Pyramid Culture, a new four-piece "vocal" group singing odes to science and math under a light show while getting tipsy on Buckley's. Kat Collins and her three lady professors of the absurd made a great go of their twenty minutes on stage. A brief interlude of loud, unintended feedback broke the wall between the live engineers and the group in a very public and comedic display of informative science. How perfect it was for them to have beautifully seized the moment for such relief! I wish I had brought a date! She woulda liked it!

JEANS TEAM - Keine Melodien

Jeans Team are three dressed-to-party Berliners commanding tables of gadgets galore on stage. They brought with them a great professionalism and austerity that would break down about two minutes into every song, spiralling elegantly into almost vaudevillian performance art. Frontman Reimo Herfort danced perversely when he wasn't playing musical surgery with his Stylophone or teasing us with his thrusting key-tars. Henning Watkinson blasted dub-disco with his beat machines and kronked the occasional guitar line, while Franz Schütte layed sticks to racks of rhythm pads and sang punk songs into the mic. They drove a small number of audience members into a frisky frenzy of civil disobedience that saw them promptly removed from the bar. "Ve have some dancing people heir, ja?" said Herfort as master of ceremonies. "Everybody just kool aut!"


Finally, the muppetish rap group known as Puppetmastaz came out from behind a large screen to announce their North American debut. "Yo, this is our first time here, and this song is called 'We back'!" Dropping mad flows and sick beats, the trio composed of Jamaican aardvark Mr. Maloke, Snuggles the Bunny and Wizard the Frog put on a show that just cannot be out-triumphed.

The hype was all over the place. New characters were introduced nearly every song, along with appearances from famous dolls like Miss Piggy and a feisty light-sabre happy Yoda. Each core member of the group took part in a talent show while Snuggles actually showed us his foot moves on the top edge of the screen.

The masters behind the Mastaz even showed themselves in human form as TheSneaker Boots, a team of afroed lab coat-clad engineers who fix the occasional problems - y'know, pesky microphone generators and all! - and deliver a slammin' above the neck performace that was made all the more incredible by their unwillingness to show their whole bodies.

If ever there's a night you should be sorry you missed, it's this one. Next time these berliners come to Toronto, let's show them the same respect the Krauts gave us when our beloved Jake Fairley took his music to new levels over there. Let's sell their next show out.

Both Berlin groups can be found through Louisville Records, and they've got lenty of material available so indulge yourselves.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I have very little more to say other than that these songs are fantastic to dance around to in the basement or in the office.

The first three selections are from the Soul Jazz New York Noise compilation.

THE BLOODS - Button Up

THE BUSH TETRAS - Can't Be Funky


The next two are new from recent records out of Toronto and Montreal respectively. The Barcelona Pavillion have risen to worldwide acclaim thanks to The John Peel Show and Steve Kado's tireless work with children, while We Are Wolves were thoroughly unmentioned by a heartless Chuck Klosterman.

THE BARCELONA PAVILLION - Masters of Our Feelings
* Buy It's Because of The Barcelona Pavillion

* Buy Non-Stop Je Te Plie En Deux

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Damo Suzuki

Derek Westerholm

David Byrne

A few years ago, I saw David Byrne in Montreal, and told myself beforehand: "If you're expecting a Talking Heads gig, you'll be dissapointed, so have an open mind."

Similarly, tonight I took the same approach at Lee's Palace with Damo Suzuki and members of Broken Social Scene, Lenin I Shumov and Do Make Say Think. I couldn't go into it with the idea that I was seeing a Can show. I was born far too late to enjoy Can live, but hey, the best part about Damo Suzuki is that when he goes from town to town, he plays a completely improvised set with a cast of fantastic local musicians. Every night must therefore be something totally new, and while his supporting bands come into the show in a more Canny state of mind, they're bound to break the chains and work some magic for an hour or so.

Damo has played Toronto before, about two years ago, with Johnny Dovercourt, Rob Gordon and Steve Kado making up parts of his improv band. Tonight, he had a slightly older band behind him, but the energy was quite fierce throughout and the music thoroughy challenging. Justin Peroff took the lead on drums with blasts and clangs, while Eugene Slonimerov kronked away on an incomprehensibly detuned guitar and Charles Spearin got creative with his trumpet, using a pint glass as a stop. Damo sings as youthfully as he did on those Can records. He can go on forever it seems with his on the spot story telling. It was great salvia comedown music, perfect for a quiet Sunday night after a weekend of pan-city music fever.

But I must say, this show came nowhere near to trumping Saturday night's Trinport show featuring an EP release party for The Creeping Nobodies. No Dynamics opened the show to an already packed house, playing a short but killer set that allowed us to enjoy them not just viscerally, but musically.

Meanwhile, The Nobodies are growing tighter and more entertaining to watch. While Derek has always been a charismatic performer, only recently had his fellow Creeps come out of their shells live. Sarah Richardson, usually the shy one who keeps to herself on keys, had some prime moments on vocals that did not go to waste, despite the difficulty in hearing her voice over the speakers. The vocal arrangements amongst the four mouths of the band was shockingly good from song to song. Never have shouts and hollers been so well thought out in this city.

But the highlight of the show was earlier in the set, when Derek let go of his inhibitions and pogoed through the crowd, laughing across a chorus in a sinister moment of ghastliness that bode well with the band's shadowy intensity. I'm not sure if these guys and girls are aware of how intelligent and sexy they are in their black dress and entranced expressions, but some serious brain-boners were had by many in the basement known as Club Trinport.

Their new vinyl-only EP, Half Saboteur is out on Rob Gordon's Bloodworks label, and here is a track off their site, as well as a tune from a forthcoming album...


Tune in this Friday at noon ET on CIUT for an interview with Derek conducted by our good friend Gabe Knox.

Of course, we musn't forget Old Time Relijun's headlining spot. It's rare that band with a sax and double bass can be so punky and spastic. Uz Jsme Doma and Shellac come to mind, but comparing them to those bands only diminishes their originality.

OLD TIME RELIJUN - Wolves and Wolverines
OLD TIME RELIJUN - Your Mama Used to Dance
OLD TIME RELIJUN - Tigers in the Temple

What a fucking unbelievable show it was. It gave us a good shake-up and such a thing only inspires more unforgettable live music in the almost never-ending story of what they like to call Torontopia.


LESBIANS ON ECSTACY - Pleasure Principle (One Speed Bike Remix)
NO DYNAMICS - I've Got You On My Mind
OLD TIME RELIGION - Tigers in the Temple
OLD TIME RELIGION - Your Mama Used to Dance
DEERHOOF - Rrrrrrright
DEERHOOF - Odyessey
DEERHOOF - You Can See
THE GO TEAM - Hold Yr. Terror Close
THE OCTOPUS PROJECT - Music is Happiness
DUNGEN - Ta Det Lugnt

Monday, October 10, 2005


An exciting month for music in Torontopia continues. The Fiery Furnaces, Dungen and Damo Suzuki ft. Broken Social Scene play Lee's, while The Creeping Nobodies are set to release a new EP at Trinport this Friday. The Constantines, Controller.Controller, The Deadly Snakes, Tangiers, Metric and BSS release albums to the world under higher expectations than ever, and seem to deliver. Since the beginning of the month, we've had shows from (amongst many) The Blow, Weird War, Peanuts&Corn, North of America and of course, the Gulf Coast benefit with The Deadly Snakes, The Hidden Cameras and The Sadies. Some great parties are shaping up, like Goin' Steady's Monster Mash at The Boat, while the noisier crowds are planning another illegal/undisclosed location shaker in the city's fallout of industrial spaces. It's impossible to forget the array of shows upcoming: Wolf Parade, Son Volt, Wanda Jackson, Franz Ferdinand, The Roots, The Mountain Goats, Feist and The Sun Ra Arkestra will plack houses throughout the city. Every night has a show worth checking out. Last year, Carl Wilson referred to it as "Toronto Rawktober" or something to that effect, and it's likely to be the same, if not better, this year.

Of course, WHY?'s show at The Horseshoe last night was poised to be a great one, despite the predicted lack of attendance due to Thanksgiving day celebrations. The forty people in attendence were right to miss out on turkey, which can be purcahsed from a supermarket, baked, basted and stuffed at anytime. Instead of mashed potatoes, string beans and oozing gravy, those of us at The Horseshoe were treated with mashed beats, bending strings and gravy-toned organs. Yoni Wolf's Anticon All-Stars, including his brother on drums, hummed, clapped and beat-boxed through a set that mixed in WHY?'s side-project mateiral with new music from his new disc, Elephant Eyelash. The band played competently and dynamically, taking turns at different roles with Yoni as the sort of poet master of ceremonies who only occasionally played keys and bass. A brief but unexpected drop-in by a man in what can only be described as a a Caveman Frankenstien costume (makeup and furs altogether) added the appropriate absurdity and comedy to the show. "I'm totally peaking," said Yoni to an amused and somewhat bewildered crowd. "Everyone, please welcome Buck '65!"

WHY? - Rubber Traits


THE BLOW - Hey Boy
HANK COLLECTIVE - Heswall Diesel
WOLF PARADE - Modern World
WHY? - Rubber Traits
WHY? - The Hoofs
WHY? - Yo Yo Bye Bye
SHY CHILD - Sunshine
TOM VEK - Nothing But Green Lights
DUECE - What I Hate Most is Hip Hop
LES SULTANS - Je t'aime bien
LES SULTANS - Il n'ya rien au monde que je ne ferais pas

Friday, October 07, 2005


Expensive Shit, Captain Easychord and Nunk's fantabolus shimmy-sham has come to an end, going down in memory as
probably the most consistently excellent dance parties in the city. Neither expensive nor shitty, the party represented the rising spirit within Toronto that seeks to invite anyone-and-everyone rather than "anyone-who's-anyone" to the "hey come hear this" party. For many of Toronto's night children, Expensive Shit was their first exposure to discotron remixes, dancehall bumps, grime struts and Baile funk jams all under one roof (or "groove if you wanna get cheesy about it), genres that would otherwise be segregated along scene lines or exclusively spun by touring DJs during rare visits. Though the party will be missed, i'm confident that with the end of Expensive Shit, something similar in spirit but altogether new in content or theme will fill the void. We've come along way from The Dance Cave, so let's keep at it, because we all know that ideas never really do run out so long as there's people to think them up and act upon them.

I ran into Dan from No Dynamics in the parking lot, who broke out his laptop, neither to play minimalist techo nor look at "tentacle porn" as Eugene from Lenin so eloquently put it, but to pass me a copy of the new No Dynamics EP, which I could rave about until well after people stop listening to me.

It's damned incredible how much force they can pack into audio recordings nowadays without really having to get too high tech. Jeff McMurrich, who produced and engineered the session, is no stranger to high wattage, having recorded with acts like the notoriously loud I Can Put My Arm Back On You Can't and the almost unrecordable Martin Tielli side project Nick Buzz. Add to that his more mainstream experience with groups like Rusty, The Monoxides and Danko Jones and you've got the best guy for the job; after all, he's taken Toronto's most explosive live band and gave them a professionally recorded twist without containing or restraining their most intense and boisterous moments.

McMurrich and the band have created not a monster but a deep, heavy record that invites more than it isolates. Vanessa's voice, which usually cannot be mixed properly by most sound dudes on stage, really sticks out with McMurrich at the wheel, while the similarly underheard organ playing by Carl Didur soaks into the sound in a much more prevalent wya than on stage. "I've Got You on My Mind" might just be one of the best Canadian rock tunes on record. Sadly, my record player is broken so I can't enjoy it on vinyl quite yet, but he was nice enough to burn me some digi files. I'd post some, but one: it would prevent you from buying it, and two: it's too good for this blog.

But fortunately for you, he loaded the disc with other tunes from bands like Dungen and Quintron, who will both be in Toronto soon, so look for some of those tunes to pop up on the radio show and on this site over the next few weeks...or how bout now?

QUINTRON ft. Miss Pussy Cat - Place Unknown

When I heard that this guy has only been around for a decade or so, I wondered what cruel fate made it so that this dude wasn't around making music in 1981. He would have been a billionaire under those circumstances.
* Playing Nov. 5 @ The Silver Dollar w/ Miss Pussy Cat and possibly No Dynamics. This might possibly be one of the best shows you might ever see at The Silver Dollar.

DUNGEN - Ta Det Lugnt
I'd say this is some pretty weird shit for rock n' roll. The album is pretty unpredictable, hovering in the Super Furry Animals/Badly Drawn Boy vein at times and then doing completely different things other times. It's also really cool to hear a Swedish rock band sing in Swedish rather than affected British.
* @ Lee's, Oct. 11 w/ Mia Doi Todd

A playlist of today's show will appear tomorrow.

PS - I also 'eard some tings about a forthcoming semi-legal (and by that, i mean totally illegal) underground show in another abandoned building that will most likely be busted up like the last one, but it'll be fun anyway. I won't say anything about it until after I've attended, other than it's not too hard to find info for it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I was once painting a house and came across a closet with a box full of old t-shirts. The owner of the house passed the shirts around my crew, saying "here, have some free t-shirts for painting." I found a wikkid one that had this logo on it:

I was like, "D.R.I.! Cool! They must be some local punk band...like, one of their brothers must have made them this shirt or sumthin."

Of course, I was wrong. D.R.I. were the Dirty Rotten Imbiciles, an early 80's hardcore band from Houston who are apaprently pretty shit kickin. I came across a compendium double-disc of all their best stuff in the new releases section at my old radio station one day, and lo and behold, a glowing orb floated out from behind the shelf, hovered in front of me, and a buttn popped out of it that said "Hyperdrive, Please Press."

I got really scared, so I listened to two tracks and put the CD away. I declined to go on to the next level, on account of the button experience, but I dug "Commuter Man" and other fine, short songs from when hardcore was probably way better than it is now (I wouldn't really know, since I wasn;t quite born yet.)

But I swear, the band's magical aura continues to effect my life. God sends messages to the True Believers through my shirt. Everywhere I go with it, people throw endless accolades my way. I now know what the Virgin Mary feels like when her eyes bleed.

There are many who are not so perceptive to the prophetic image on my shirt. They continually ask me, "Stevos, what does that shirt mean? Does it say "dry", and if so, why?" But there are a few who know exactly what must be said, but it took me a while to figure them out...

For instance:

I walked out of a grocery store once, and this punk bum begging on the street sees the shirt. He says, "Dude, nice fuckin shirt!" and gives me a look that says, "It's ok, you don't have to give me change. You're wearing a D.R.I. shirt, that's good enough."

Another time, I was at a drum n bass show at The Gypsy Co-Op, and some gorgeous, tall girl the likes of which hadn't even spoken to me since high school said, "Dude, do you listen to D.R.I.?"

I was gonna give her the whole spiel, but instead I decided for simplicity's sake, all I would say is a non-committal "yes."

"True punk rock fans do exist!" she said. Sure! I'll go with that!

But the moment of realization came when I was walking through my old man's neighbourhood, a nice, upscale residential area full of families and yuppies who start families, dig? This rich surfer cat in his VW sedan, windsurfing board on the roof and a golden retriever hangin out the window, drives by and hollers, rock n' roll fist in the air, "Fuckin D.R.I., man!"

Either my shirt is holy, or these people are my angels. But God does use the shirt to bring about demons. I saw one once. It was a strange experience, and I can't remember where I was or what I was doing, but I remember the bearded fellow and his diabolic words:

"D.R.I.? Who listens to those guys anymore?"

I was about to throw it in his face. But I'm one of the chosen, faithful few. I turn the other cheek, man.

Fuckin short hairs, man!

D.R.I. - Commuter Man
D.R.I. - I Don't Need Society
D.R.I. - Violent Pacification

Fuckin long hairs, man!