Concert Review: Wild Nothing, February 17th, Wrongbar

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – In a time where every up and coming buzz band is intent on creating abstract hookless unlistenable chill wave tracks, it has been refreshing to watch Wild Nothing‘s ascension to indie darlings. Undoubtedly influenced by the jangly hook laden melodies of new wave acts such as The Smiths, Wild Nothing has been riding a wave of momentum from their debut album Gemini – an album brimming with catchy dreamy choruses and an evocative longing sound that those eighties English bands had previously mastered. Ready and willing to take on the world, Wild Nothing took their act to a sold out Wrongbar on a rigid Thursday night and to quote the infamous Pete Doherty ” the world kicked back, a lot fucking harder now”.

Taking the stage at 11:30pm after a solid Abe Vigoda set, the band took the tiny Wrongbar stage to a great ovation. The ovation soon dimmed as the band spent most of their set battling their equipment. I’m not sure whether it was the equipment or the sound guy, but the band seemed mired in frustration the entire hour they were on, at one point of the set stopping a song completely halfway through and then restarting it from scratch. Any previous momentum gained by the band came to a complete halt at this point and the band then had to add crowd indifference alongside the sound guy to their list of problems. Sound problems aside, the band seemed content to let their music do the talking, rarely engaging the crowd besides the obligatory thank you remarks. This type of tactic might have worked in any other venue, but the Wrongbar is extremely small and intimate. The barely raised stage just begs for audience interactions and the lack of this seemed to once again dim the bands performance.

Having said all that, the songs, when working, sounded as good live as it did on album. Shimmering guitars weaved in and out of melodic choruses and songs such as Summer Holiday and Chinatown did make me feel glad I was able to make this show.

With all the technical difficulties and stage show drama (or lack thereof), it would be hard to classify this as a good show. However, good music is good music and everyone has bad days so I would be more than willing to check them out again the next time they are in town. You should too.

Wild Nothing – Summer Holiday by Surfing on Steam

SXSW Preview: Tahiti 80

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Toronto – With the recent popularity of Phoenix and some valerie bands, it would only seem natural for more French electro pop acts to come out of the woodworks. One of those bands that is enjoying a bit of a renaissance is Tahiti 80. If that name sounds familiar to you, that’s because Tahiti 80 was around when French electro pop bands first started invading the shores of America in early 2000s. Their single Heartbeat made them many fans in that era, as the effortless playful summer tones of that song was a nice contrast to all the other music that was popular at the time. You have probably heard this song. If not the original, then the popular Cornelius remix that exists.

Tahiti 80 – Heartbeat by Hipstersw/kids

Since that time, the band has released four more albums but were unable to obtain similar success on the rugged shores of America. The new infusion of French talent in recent years has once again opened the doors for Tahiti 80 to try to reclaim what once was theirs, if for only a fleeting moment.

The Past, The Present, and The Possible is Tahiti 80’s new album. Their sixth effort, the album is filled with electro laden, hooked fill indie pop tracks that brings in a nice warm current to the winter time air. I don’t know what it is about French bands, maybe it’s the wine, maybe it’s the cuisine. All their music sounds so effortless and fun. Tahiti 80s new album is no exception. While it’s easy to compare this band to current French pop kings Phoenix, one has to remember that these bands have basically been around for the same amount of time. Luckily for us, Tahiti 80 is touring North America this year and you can make these comparisons yourself!

Tahiti 80 will be playing SXSW. Here are their scheduled times:

03/16, SXSW: Official Showcase @ 512 Rooftop
03/17, SXSW: Trumer Pills Afternoon Social @ Klub Krucial (1:30pm)
03/17, SXSW: BUREX Party Brush Square (5:00pm)

They have other dates. None of which is Toronto, sadly. Since I’m so nice I called up all these clubs and got the set times for you.

03/09 CHICAGO, IL The Abbey (11:30pm)
03/10 NEW YORK, NY Mercury Lounge (11:00pm)
03/12 SAN DIEGO, CA Bar Pink (10:30pm)
03/13 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Rickshaw Stop (10:45pm)
03/14 LOS ANGELES, CA Troubadour (10:00pm)

Here is a video for their new single

Darlin’ (Adam & Eve Song) from Tahiti 80 on Vimeo.

CMW / SXSW Preview: Austra

Posted on by Ricky in Canadian Music Week, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Toronto – Watching the The Wedge last night, I was fully introduced to Austra, a new band featuring talented singer Katie Stelmanis. The song played was called Beat & The Pulse. The song was very appropriately named, as it had a ridiculously dirty beat that instantly captured my attention. Combined with Katie’s tremendous, sometimes haunting vocal work, this is one mesmerizing tune. The video captured the essense of the song nicely, coming across as a mix of a risqué American Apparel commercial (pointed out by Melody from Singing Lamb) and a scene from those illegal night clubs in Eastern Europe. You can watch the video here.

Austra’s debut album Feel It Break comes out May 17th on Paper Bag Records in Canada and on Domino Records everywhere else.

They will be playing at the Wrongbar on March 10th for Canadian Music Fest

The event page for that show is here

Their official showcase at SXSW will be March 17th, Emo’s Main Room, at 9:00 PM, although I suspect they’ll be playing 5 or 6 other shows like every band who makes it down there.

Austra – Beat & The Pulse (Extended Version) by DominoRecordCo

SXSW Preview: The Dears

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

Toronto – Between Paul Giamatti blessing the city at the Golden Globes, Karkwa winning the Polaris and little known local band Arcade Fire (who?) winning the record of the year at the Grammies, you can say that the city of Montreal has had a pretty good recent run. FINALLY, they are getting some international attention for what I can only assume is a pretty decent arts and music scene. Of course, anyone who knows anything about Canadian music will have known that this has been the case for a long time. One of my first introductions to Montreal bands was The Dears, a band I first saw all the way back in March of 2003, right about the time No Cities Left was released. I didn’t know anything about the band at the time, as I was still deeply entrenched in the “only will listen to UK stuff” phase, but my friend Nick was able to drag me out to this affair on the promise of a few free beers. They played in front of maybe 30 people at the Power Planet, a small bar in the heart of the University of Alberta campus. I was impressed by the aura of drama surrounding their sound, as well as Murray Lightburn’s ability to just belt it. I picked up that album after the show and was impressed at their orchestral dark take on lovey pop music. It was almost like a UK band. Anyone listening to Canadian music at the time was probably in love with the single Lost in the Plot.

Since that time, the band has changed dramatically. With a revolving door of musicians, the bands encountered some difficult album releases. 2011 marks the release of the fifth album band the band, an album titled Degeneration Street. The album marks the return of members of Patrick Krief, Rob Benvie and Roberto Arquila, three members who had left prior to the release of Missiles. Given Murray Lightburns’ well known volatile personality, I very much imagined the scene where Murray brings his pals back in for this album to be like this:

Murray would then turn around, see Patrick, Rob and Roberto there and exclaim “You guys are here! you guys are here!” followed by the three saying “We were always here, Murray. We’ll always be here”. A group hug would happen before they retire to Murray’s loft and spend the afternoon listening to Morrissey albums.

Degeneration Street is the band’s fifth album. Upon initial listening – it’s good. It eschews the weaker elements of the Dears (lack of focus, indulgence) and focuses on the best elements of The Dears – grandiose dramatic pop powered by Murray Lightburn’s soulful voice, which somehow treads the thin line between desperation and hope. The album sounds tighter and richer then all previous efforts. My friend Dwayne has been quite insistent that this album will be The Dears comeback album, and after an initial listen, I would have to agree. Mired in difficulties with previous releases, Degeneration Street appears to be a large step forward for this band.

Of course, you can decide for yourself check out The Dears in person at SXSW, where the band will be playing various shows, including the Dangerbird showcase on March 18th.

For those of you in Toronto, the Dears will be involved in some sort of chat tonight with music journalist Jon Dekel at the Drake. Facebook event here

They also made a homemade video for their song Omega Dog, it’s posted on this site called “you” tube. Check it out here

Here are some tour dates, I guess

March 4th Sugar Victoria, BC
March 5th The Venue Vancouver, BC
March 7th Crocodile Café Seattle, WA
March 9th Slim’s San Francisco, CA
March 10th The Troubadour Los Angeles, CA
March 17th SXSW Austin, TX
March 18th Dangerbird Records Showcase Austin, TX
March 19th SXSW Austin, TX
March 20th SXSW Austin, TX

Oh yeah, hate to whore it out like this, but feel free to vote for us as your favorite Canadian music based blog for CBC Radio 3’s Searchlight poll here.