Thursday, June 23, 2005
Emma Pollock Signs to 4AD & Lovely Leslie
Physical State: weak
Mental State: loopy
Music: Feist - Live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic (in Real Video)
Fashion sense: white t-shirt, tan shorts
The voice of The Delgados for me was always Emma Pollock, so I was quite disappointed when they announced their breakup early this year. But thankfully Emma will go on as a solo artist it appears. She has now signed to 4AD so this should prove to be a very interesting relationship. 4AD is the home for some of my favourite bands with Mojave 3, Mountain Goats, Blonde Redhead and the new Minotaur Shock on the roster among others. She will continue to run the Chemikal Underground label that she founded with her fellow Delgados. Sure it would be nice to hear more of the Delgados (especially since their last release, Universal Audio, demonstrated their magnificent pop focus that seemed to be emerging) but some things don't last forever.
I also have a link above to a live solo session with Feist from Morning Becomes Eclectic with Nic Harcourt which is a show that I am listening to on a daily basis these days and thoroughly enjoying. Nic programs his own music and there is such a wide range of styles and something for everyone. Cool tunes and he lives in LA, man what a dream that would be. Now KCRW has video of their in-session performances, the Smoosh one is very charming. Leslie Feist it appears is a very busy woman these days. This session showcases Leslie at her best (with her voice taking centre stage and a Ron Sexsmith cover to boot).
3 cheers as well for the CRTC finally coming to a decision and allowing satellite radio into Canada. Now radio won't suck as much. Speaking of sucking. I am all for a Live 8 concert coming to Toronto and think that the cause is very important. Why then do they roll out the same tired old roster of bands to support this thing? Can you really see the Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Randy Bachman and Celine Dion on the same stage and think it represents the face of Canadian music taste? Where are Death From Above 1979, The Arcade Fire, The Dears, Broken Social Scene or maybe even a Leonard Cohen or Neil Young? Where are the urban artists like K-OS and others. In the UK you have Pink Floyd reforming for this show. At least last year's SarsStock had The Flaming Lips. I think many indie bands in Canada would jump at the chance to support something like this. I recall the original Band Aid concert having some edgier fare but then that was the 80s right? Maybe I'm thinking too narrowly.
Monday, June 13, 2005
Kicking it live: The Grates (top) and Montreal's Pony Up!
Physical State: hot, Hot, HOT!
Mental State: sluggish
Music: Black Mountain - s/t (damn awesome!)
Fashion sense: white t-shirt, black shorts
This year's NXNE (North By Northeast) Music Festival was a bit lacklustre for me with a few exceptions. Mostly I spent time in lines trying to get to see bands rather than seeing them. As an example, on Friday night two friends from Ottawa and I stood outside The Gladstone Hotel trying to get in to see the much-hyped and Runaways by way of Blondie all girl band Magneta Lane from Toronto. (My advice, don't see Toronto bands at NXNE when they'll be playing in the next few weeks, I'll never learn). Well when we arrived there (almost a half an hour before the show) we were greeted by the thing that's becoming really annoying at the fest as the years go by, the dreaded industry pass vip line. I say line but it's more like "oh industry pass? Your majesty, go right in you won't have to wait one minute". So a hyped-up show gets a huge lineup for a small venue with real music fans standing in line getting more and more frustrated by the minute as pass holders get in before them. These record executives and "industry people" (this is all a relative term when one person has the pass and their entourage of 5-6 Williamsburg wanna-bes tag along and all get in before us). I call bullshit on this cronyism trend and the security people who put up with these ego-centric assholes who act like children if they don't get their buds in. If you have a pass you get in before the wristband people, fine...them's the rules. No wristband or industry pass...back of the line kid! I don't care who you're here with or who you know (or say you know). One thing I also realized while standing in this line is that you shouldn't go see a band that gets written up in the Now magazine as the critic's pick, it almost guarantees you'll be screwed for entry. I say go see that hardworking little obscure band from Japan and have some fun instead. It's better to get caught unaware and have an adventure. Also you shouldn't go see a band that are playing anywhere near the Drake Lounge (where industry pass people emerge from, go check out your band for 5 minutes and then shuffle back to the Drake to drink more record company-expensed martinis). Jeez if you're getting into a bar to see a band with your pass then give the band some respect and stay for a few songs will ya? A lot of the pass holder people I saw were from Much Music (and when was the last time that Much Music gave two shits about indie rock...oh yes their token 1 HOUR every week called The Wedge, right I forgot). The VIP "scene" aspect of the fest really ruins it for the people who are geniune and open-minded music fans who just want to discover new artists. Ultimately it's these average joes like me who buy this indie music over J-lo, so we deserve some respect too.
But I digress. As sad as it is sometimes when you're a fan of a band and really want to see them at the Festival and can't because you aren't "moving units" of Shitney Spears, every once in awhile you catch a break and you DO get to see some damn fine talent. Case in point. I was caught totally unaware by a little band from Brisbane, Australia called The Grates who totally kicked my ass and made up for this generally very uneventful festival. They seem to be a bit famous back home, down under. I'm not suprised by this. This young trio are akin to The Yeah Yeah Yeahs in their spirit and and energy and still young enough to not have Brooklyn stylists dressing them as they pull sly rock moves. Sorry Karen O you rock and I love ya but you've got it all down to a science now methinks. It's refreshing to see a fresh young band just doing their thing and kicking your ass in the process.
These kids just enjoyed every moment of their time on stage and it made it fun for people watching the show. Patience, The Grates lead singer, may take the indie rock crown for the performer who has the most energy I have ever seen all while maintaining the most endearing smile as she shook around like an electrocuted cat. If you have a chance to see this young band before they grace the cover of Spin and end up doing 1 million dollar videos with David LaChappelle, go see 'em. I have never been as impressed by a band who had such a good time just "living in the moment". I also think their songs kick ass in all their ragged, unpolished glory, totally free of posturing and bullshit. They're doing it because it's fun, not because they need to prove anything. These guys were tight and were the perfect band that lives up to the spirit of what NXNE is supposed to be all about: the discovery of new and interesting talent that are looking for distribution deals. The world is going to be a better place when more people can hear The Grates I believe. You heard it here, these kids will be big.
At the same time I would like to give a nod to my new favourite all-girl band of the moment from Montreal, Pony Up!. I found them very endearing if incredibly Cub/ALL Girl Summer Fun Band/Tiger-Trap like. Montreal, qu'est-ce que le fuck? Why do keep turning out so many cool pop gems lately? Must be something in the poutine, n'est-ce pas? Maybe it was the a/c in the club (a very welcome relief) or their simple yet cutely off-tune songs but I was in love that night. Pony Up! made my NXNE experience this year a bit more memorable too and I overheard a guy behind me saying as I left "I saw 6 bands so far tonight and these girls were better than all of them combined." True dat.