Concert Review: Nicole Atkins & The Black Sea, February 26, The Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment

Toronto – Nicole Atkins certainly has quite the voice.  That was the main thing going through my mind as I watched the New Jersey singer perform with her band, The Black Sea.  Only being somewhat aware of her previous output and having not yet heard her recently released Mondo Amore album, I had nonetheless heard a lot of good buzz about her live show and Nicole Atkins certainly made an impression.

She impressed not only with her voice but with her songs.  Highlights were “Maybe Tonight,” “Oh Canada!” (not the National Anthem) and “Cry Cry Cry,” the latter being a song she co-wrote with Robert Harrison of Austin power poppers Cotton Mather.  She also played a cover of a Cotton Mather song, which I enjoyed as they’re a band that doesn’t seem to get that much recognition.  While were on the subject of cotton, the opening band was Cotton Jones.  Coincidence?  I think not.  It’s the cotton conspiracy, folks, and Nicole Atkins is right at the centre of it all!  Oh sure, she’ll try to lull you into a sense of security by complimenting the audience and saying it was “like playing to a sea of muppets.”  She’ll charm you with her story of getting a guitar signed by Ray Davies of The Kinks “… and the guy who was standing next to him” because she didn’t want that guy (who I assume was Davies’ guitarist or something) to feel left out.  But don’t be fooled.  She’s  … OK, I’m going nowhere with this “cotton conspiracy” angle, I made it all up.  Carry on, folks. 

Here’s the setlist for the night:

Cry Cry Cry by Nicole Atkins

SXSW Preview: Eliza Doolittle

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Toronto – With Lily Allen on the constant verge of collapse, it would seem that the door has been left wide open for many artists to capture the heart of the UK and indie nation with sharply written bubbly summer pop music. Enter Eliza Doolittle, a cute twenty two year old brunette whose pop songs seem to channel the good time vibes of 60s girl bands and motown while sounding somewhat modern at the same time. Eliza’s self titled debut record has already done extremely well in the UK charts and she is now ready to take her act to the shores of America. It looks like Austin, Texas will be her Normandy, only instead of blood and guns, she’ll be making a landing armed with a cheery voice and music perfect for spring.

SXSW Schedules:
Thu-Mar-17 Pure Volume House 504 Trinity Street – 3:00pm Capitol Idolator Party
Thu-Mar-17 Malaia 300 East 6th Street – 6:15pm Entertainment Weekly
Fri-Mar-18 The Belmont 305 West 6th Street – 8:00pm West Rocks
Sat-Mar-19 Tap Room 311 Colorado Street – 6:00pm Hotel Café / Official SXSW Showcase
Sat-Mar-19 Cedar Street Courtyard 208 W 4th Street – 8:00pm Steve Madden Party

Check out her hit single Pack Up

Eliza Doolittle – Pack Up
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Concert Review: Asobi Seksu, February 27, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 1 Comment

I sometimes wonder what factors are involved when bands/promoters/whoever schedules a show. Seeing as yesterday was Oscar night and a Sunday, I suppose whoever is responsible for Brooklyn’s nu-gazers  Asobi Seksu these days figured they’d go for broke in Toronto.  The result? A fairly poorly attended set, which has its advantages for someone like me.

Advantage #1:

No crowds, cooler temperatures, and a good view of the stage from the Horseshoe’s back benches next to the sound guy. I didn’t have to get up once, nor did I want to.

Advantage #2:

Nu-gazers blitz through sets at a breakneck pace. Songs flow from each other without a break, and I suppose that’s part of the genre that makes for a more compacted live experience. That said, there is not what I would call extensive, soulful conversations between musician and attendee. Given the nature of the set, this is just fine by me.

Advantage #3:

The band might be more likely to fly by the seat of their playlist pants. Though I doubt this was the case on Sunday night, I might venture to say that there was more off Fluorescence and less off Citrus (still my favorite album of theirs), but that’s neither here nor there.

If it feels like I’m running out of things to say here, it’s because I don’t see too much in the way of growth since the last time I saw Yuki Chikudate and company breeze through town. That in itself isn’t too bad – it’s just stagnant, kinda hanging in the air there. Given what little I’ve heard and read about Fluorescence, everyone has come to know what to expect from these guys.

It was a pleasant enough hour-long set that saved me from having to see Kirk Douglas’s potential collapse and revival through defibrillation paddles onstage, and Anne “horse head” Hathaway’s student council leader take on the Oscars (James Franco was so dull he warrants no mention). Though sadly, I did have to abandon a bag of cheesy poofs at the Oscar Party.

Me & Mary by Polyvinyl Records

SXSW Preview: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Oil portrait by Joanna Marie Care

Toronto – First of all, you know your band is doing something positive when someone does an oil portrait of you. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr is a two man project composed of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott. I had been receiving emails about the buzz that the band is generating since last June but because their band name reminded me of Dale Earnhardt, which reminded me of Nascar, I promptly ignored it. How stupid is that?

It was quite stupid. I rediscovered (or discovered?) this band whilst listening to a SXSW compilation. Amongst all the mediocre music you would expect from a compilation of a thousand or so songs, I was delighted to hear a catchy melodic track named Vocal Chords that evoked memories of jogging along the beach, buying a mango milkshake and eating an avocado sandwich. Of course, I have never done this before, but I can live vicariously through someone who has.

While it might seem like I’ve only been gravitating towards summery, breezy tracks that remind me of warmer times, one can’t deny this tracks overall quality. Many bands has done the whole “light folky pop backed by computer dance beats” tracks before, but few tracks come across as catchy as this one. The band’s debut album, It’s A Corporate World comes out April 26th and like all the other bands with albums out this year, they will be taking their show to SXSW. Here are the set time(s):

Wednesday March 16th, The Phoenix, 9PM

Check out the song I was talking about:
Vocal Chords-Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. by TimeOutNewYork