Monday, April 20, 2009

Toronto Local Music Update: Hot New Release by The Artful Vandelays

The Artful Vandelays, a talented & inventive local band have released their new EP, Four Ring Circus.

The buzz on the EP is growing & I have this to tide me over as I've been keen on seeing the band live for months. The 4 songs therein bear soothing & ambient soundscapes tastefully juxtaposed to a kind of high-tension post-punk rock.

I remember hearing shimmering intro of Pyramid Scheme on their website about a year ago when I first learned of TAV. That shimmer gave way to a tide of energy that captured my interest & I began to follow their path. Now having the chance to give the disc a thorough listening, I'm sure other three songs you'll find on Four Ring Circus are easily as alluring. The sound is intricate, beautifully layered, and definitely powerful.

Live performance is still on the plate especially after a tease like Four Ring Circus. There is a progressive flavor to the band not unlike The Mars Volta. As the band continues to grow, I see it drawing attention from many sources and I I'm glued to see how they evolve.

The EP is well worth the $5. Grab it at their next live show. You'll likely see me there.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Am I the Only One Who Realizes?

Jane's Addiction.

Arguably one of the most important bands for exiting the glam-rock era of the 80s. Sex and drugs were definitely still on the plate of rock n' roll relevance, but it was Jane's Addiction that cut away from the conspicuously consumptive & redefined the primal purpose of rock music.

I was not on top of this notion in the late 80s & early 90s while it was happening. Rather, it's something I slowly learned as my musical tastes refined over time. I blame a rather sheltered upbringing. :P That said, I still listen to their early works frequently.

4 components offstage, each a contributing factor to the dysfunction & complete lack of stability. Barely even able to record in the same room. Onstage & on the first five releases (from 1987 - 1997), each an irreplaceable piece of history.

Let me say that last word again. History. You see, I understand that consumers, tv & radio demand that each great band (& many terrible bands) get over their bullshit & personal drama long enough to poop out one last money-maker. It is the gross way of things. Yet Jane's makes my point clear: Some bands should not bother.

Jane's Addiction is currently committed to co-headline with another early Lolapalooza giant, Nine Inch Nails. Visit the NIN site & you'll be gifted with a downloadable preview of what is in store. Now, it's not all bad. The first track in the folder, "Chip Away" is a delightful fire-dance sounding piece. One I haven't heard. Further, you get a re-recording of the early Jane's icon, "Whores". Also fabulous. Almost. Wait… Whores has been redone in a different key. So has every early Jane's song I can find live performance of. It seems Perry's voice is old or gone enough that he needs it filed down. Yuck. It's fine for the recording, but every live piece I can find that was made in the last 60 days carries the gross taste of music lover's disappointment. This is not Jane's Addiction anymore. Do you get exactly how phenomenally his voice used to soar? If not, listen to them now & then go find Kettle Whistle as the basis of your comparison of what live Jane's Addiction really sounds like. Hardly a handful of singers since have even come close.

"Jane’s Addiction Rip Through Early Catalog at SXSW" That is the very generous headline attached to that new live link by Rolling Stone. I've seen it & I don't see what the big deal is. The delivery is tired at best. Trent Reznor never stopped in the last 20 years & is only now appearing to slow down. What's Jane's excuse? Heroin says a Toronto local old enough to remember what it was like to actually attend the first Lolapalooza. I don't have the facts, but you might see why I criticize this atrocity so harshly.

We can thank Trent Reznor for stimulating the original members JA reunion - an impressive feat considering bassist & founding member Eric Avery has refused to play with the band for 18 years. Alas, it is to no avail.

On a side note, Streetsweeper, ex RATM guitarist Tom Morello's latest effort, is also on the NIN|JA bill. It's fucking boring and about as much of a let down as Audioslave - another post Rage farce. It's not that I need more Rage. That was done & great. Finished. It's that the music since is simply terrible & uninspired. Keep trying.

Either way, save your money this summer for seeing local & smaller acts. You can probably see 10 to 20 for the price of the NIN|JA Tour ticket - with beer money left over.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Live Performance Review - ADA & The Isosceles Project

The Pre NXNE party at El Macambo last Thursday (29th) featured ADA, The Isosceles Project & Brown Brigade in that order.

I expected a good show. I'd done my homework about ADA and was excited to see them live—complete the circle of what drives me to be such an audiophile.

Deni & I walked into the club & straight upstairs. We easily found a table, bought some insanely overpriced swill and sat down. We had little to say to each other even though we were enjoying each other's company, & so we watched our surroundings take shape for the evening. The staff for the club, a young man, was carrying tables & chairs every which way. Normally this isn't very interesting. Yet it became so when we noticed that he was moving things back to their original position... Odd. Perhaps he was trying to look busy.

They also had a live painter on the stage. Likely an OCAD student. She was painting a woman in a sparkly dress... A decent painting certainly, but watching it take form wasn't especially riveting.

Right about the time we start to get bored due to the schedule delays, ADA begins sound checking. "finally..." we thought. It would have been nice if the DJ turned off his music for this, but no. The band ripped through half a song and the sound was excruciating. The levels were right fuct & penetrating my brain. It hurt. With that, Deni & I were suddenly very skeptical. Of the sound guy more than the band, but we only had to wait another few minutes before we found out if our fears of enduring a bad show were grounded in reality.

Can I just say? Hole. E. Fuck. In addition to the magical & exponential improvement to the sound levels, ADA tore into their set with feverish & stellar charisma. It's very atypical to see all members of a band with an ability to add more to a performance than just a talent for playing their instrument, but all 4 of them were purely exciting to experience. ADA destroyed that place.

I was also please not only by their professional sound but also with an evident professional level of preparation. The guitarist was so into the intensity of the show that at one point *twink* shit... there goes a string (or a couple of them). But rather than freak out, no cool was lost as he quickly plugged in the next guitar he had waiting behind his amp. Though there was no guitar during that part, the band carried through without missing their groove. *whew* Fun to watch.

ADA's show indeed turned out to be that kind where I'm floored, blown away, whatever you call it.

After taking out a mortgage for another round of Labatt Blue, the Lady & I went downstairs to catch the next performance for the evening - The Isosceles Project.

When I started my pursuit of singing, it was right around the time that The Isosceles Project was considering a singer for their band. I found them on Craigslist and jumped on applying because they have a very attractive progressive intensity. Incidentally, they opted for a fully instrumental arrangement.

I had tried to catch The Isosceles Project live previously but for one reason or another, it didn't happen until last Thursday.

No mics in the way. No patch cables to trip over. This allowed the trio to trounce the stage in fits of rage & raw energy. They captured their young crowd. As much as this normally pleases me, I still found the music missing something. D & I agreed. Missing something in the highs. It felt like a great rhythm section with no accent. It didn't help that I was not familiar with any of the songs they played. In fact, what I know about progressive music this intense is that you have to have some familiarity with it prior to a live performance. I was constantly trying to follow the frequent changes but without ever hearing it before I started to get bored.

That all said, TIPs recorded files on the web are a pretty good place to bud from. I hope they grow there.



The Isosceles Project

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Lazy Sunday


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Artful Vandelays (New local music find)

In an age where nearly every new idea has been reduced, reused and recycled, I tend to experience great boredom and faint hopes when it comes to searching for new talent in the local Toronto scene. Still, I look, listen and leave the lights on for anything of real value.

This faint hope has paid off again and though this new act doesn't break new musical ground, it certainly has captured my attention with smart & talented arrangements. Evidently, two of my favorite bands, Radiohead & The Mars Volta, decided to procreate. The result is an exciting hopeful for doing serious damage on the college radio scene.

Meet The Artful Vandelays.

This finding came by way of a random cold-call MySpace friending to my personal account directly from the band. No doubt they looked at my list of favorite artists for ten seconds and took an educated risk.

Good call. I procrastinated for a while on the 'add' and considered ignoring or denying it. Small miracle that when I tried to rebuff the add, MySpace decided to have its usual & infuriating loading issues. Thus the invite remained until I returned to it this morning. What I found was a very pleasant set of songs, each dynamic & carefully written to find that 'hook' without going overboard. Solid Indie Rock. Simply put.

They have no regular online or Facebook presence as of yet :( That said, I submit that your venture to the darkside Myspace will be well worth the visit if the page loads properly. Fortunately for The Artful Vandelays, they didn't blingify their page into I'm-Never-Gonna-Load oblivion. So it shouldn't be a problem.

Below, I have provided information on their next show. Support local music and come to this very inexpensive show with me.

The Artful Vandelays

Jun 5, 2008 9:00 PM
Lee's Palace - 529 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Ontario

Cost : $5

19+ show
9:15 set time

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New post?! Music Review: EVIL TWIN CD Release party

Last Saturday, the girl & a friend and I went to the Evil Twin CD release party in the Annex. I'd tell you the name of the venue but I don't even want to give that establishment OR its management any kind of free press. They really don't deserve it. Evil Twin, on the other hand, seems to be a band that understands what it means to put the work in.

I've said it before. The draw of live performance in this over-saturated city continues to dwindle. Its disappointing to see such empty clubs for decent bands. Still, if nothing else, y'all are leaving these delightful findings all to myself. Thanks :) But keep in mind that if the shows you go to see are really lacking, then you need to find better bands. They're out there amid the chaos trying to vie for your attention and if you do love the live rock, than you really missed out last Saturday.

Evil Twin's set began 2 minutes prior to the end of my pool game and D & I hastily finished so that we could catch the action. The band opened with Ghost - their first track from their self titled debut album and one of my favorites. Out of the gate this band is tight and from that alone, its clear that great lengths were carefully spent getting the timing just right. Guitars in sweet harmony and synchronization raced across my senses and pushing behind them were the thundering rhythms - a brand of metal, despite so many, that can only be described as Evil Twin's signature style.

This stellar energy that the foursome shared and fed off of each other carried through the whole set and really livened up the otherwise sparse crowd. To do it for the love of music is what consistently makes a good show and Evil Twin delivers for their own satisfaction as well as the fans. It shows.

Support local music - buy the debut album.

EVIL TWIN website

Monday, January 07, 2008


To my friend Lance and his fiance, Amity. Their family has grown! Little baby Simone, welcome to this beautiful and ferocious world. Make it your own. I wish you health and growth :)