Turin Brakes Or Not Turin Brakes?

Posted on by Wade in Everything | 11 Comments

Picture it, Toronto, 2007. I am a youthful 29 years old and working at a brewery, giving brewery tours and delivering beer. One day I meet a guy at the bar with an English accent and we start to chat. He tells me that his name is Sam, he is in a band called Turin Brakes and that he is going to be in Toronto for a while. Being a music guy I think cool, then go home and try to look him up on the Internet. Funny thing though, I couldn’t find any mention of a ‘Sam’ related to Turin Brakes, or even a good band photo to back up his story.

Sam starts to hang around the brewery and makes friends with some of the other employees. Next thing you know I am celebrating my 30th birthday and Sam shows up at my party with some of my co-workers. I snapped the above picture of Sam at my birthday party. That is Ricky’s old kitchen (notice the gray bottle opener in the background attached to the wood trim). The summer fades away and so does Sam.

Next thing you know it is 2010 and Ricky is reviewing a Turin Brakes show. I was immediately reminded of Sam. I have since been able to find some decent photos of Turin Brakes and have started to question his story. Hmmmm…..

Here is an update…from 2014

Concert Review: Turin Brakes, May 20th, Mod Club

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 5 Comments

Toronto – Turin Brake has been around for ten years! Can you believe that? It only seemed yesterday when Turin Brakes came out of nowhere with The Optimist, a Mercury nominated album that brought us the songs Underdog (Save Me), The Door and the Road. Turin Brakes arrived at the height of the acoustic/moody movement in the UK, a time that also saw bands the like of Elbow, the Doves and Coldplay rise to the occasion.

I’ll be honest, I have not listened to much Turin Brakes since 2005’s Jackinabox, which coincidentally was the last album they toured in Toronto for. They have since released two more albums, including 2010’s Outbursts, which was released in March. I guess the band was in town to promote this new album, as well as celebrate ten years in existence.

Five years is a long time to not tour a city, especially one like Toronto, where bands visit left and right. You forget about Toronto, Toronto forgets about you. This was more or less the case at the Mod Club, where the venue was about 1/3 full. It is a shame. I mentioned to Paul that if Turin Brakes was an up and coming band from Ontario, their type of folk rock music would just slay Toronto. They would probably fill out the Phoenix. Instead, they are a ten year old band from England, so the crowd support was non existent. I guess it’s a matter of who you are and where you are from in the world of music.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with the show. The fans that were at the show were real fans. This wasn’t a show where random people who were curious in this band attended. This is a show where the real fans showed up and the band knew that. It led to a pretty relaxed and intimate vibe that was only helped by the the band’s casual approach and funny anecdotes. Sitting on stools with acoustic guitar, a real bass and sometimes a drum machine, the band played a 90 minute set that included all the hits including the songs mentioned above, Long Distance and the OC song Summer Rain. There’s something to be said about seeing a veteran band at work, one that has played their share of festivals and big concerts. Turin Brakes just had great confidence and comfort level on stage. I think for newer bands, a nearly empty crowd at a place like the Mod Club might be discouraging. Not Turin Brakes, noticing the crowd was pretty fa away, the band decided to sing the next song unplugged, forcing all the crowd to gather round. Needless to say, once they were there at the front, they did not leave. Classy.

New material was introduced through out the set, and it retained the the trademark Turin Brake sound – mellow out folkish tunes with good melody and strong singing. Olly Knight has a good singing voice, it’s quite unique and he uses his range well.

All in all, the show was good. The crowd there was quite happy and the two covers played – Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean and Chris Issac’s Wicked Games added a nice little twist to the set. The only criticism one could make about the show was that most Turin Brakes songs stick to a similar formula. It works for them obviously, but for a casual/new listener, the music can sound kinda same-y, which might be an issue for a 90 minute show. However, to the fans, nothing can be better.

ps. to the girl requesting “State of Things”, you might need to yell a little louder next time.

Sea Change- Turin Brakes by GoodSeedPR

Concert Review: The Buzzcocks, May 19, Opera House

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – I was considering going to the Fuck Buttons show instead of this one and found out after the fact that Ricky was indeed going.  After reading his review, I think i would have enjoyed that show (provided I had earplugs, that is) but I figured The Buzzcocks were playing and I always enjoy taking the opportunity to check out music legends whenever I can.  The Buzzcocks are a pretty seminal band from the U.K. punk scene of the ’70s, I like a few of their tunes, and I figure these guys ain’t gettting any younger, so why not check it out?  Besides, I can see Fuck Buttons next time they come to town (unless of course, they’re playing Sound Academy…). 

As I entered the Opera House, openers The Dollyrots were already on.  They were certainly not terrible, but they weren’t great either.  They played bubblegummy pop punk that at times seemed to have more in common with Avril Lavigne than The Buzzcocks.  Maybe I’m being a bit hard on them.  I’ll admit that their stuff was enjoyable enough and at times it reminded me of the soundtrack to that Josie and the Pussycats movie starring Rachel Leigh Cook (That’s a good thing actually – I enjoyed that movie) but ultimately I found them a bit unremarkable.  It says something that their most memorable songs were covers of Melanie’s “Brand New Key” and Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.”  Apparently they’ve also appeared on The Price Is Right though, so that’s pretty cool.

As the Buzzcocks took to the stage, a friend commented, “We’re going from a band where the singer looks like she could be my daughter to a band where the singer looks like my dad.”  Yup, they’re old.  So was a pretty large percentage of the crowd.  I actually like shows like these, where I’m actually at the lower end of the age spectrum.  Plus, watching old people at punk shows is pretty interesting – especially the guy wearing a beret and leather vest who looked like a refugee from some ’80s Kurt Russell movie or something. (“Snake Plisken?  I thought you were dead!”)  But I’m not here to be a dick and make fun of what people were wearing.  If I was, I’d be writing for Vice magazine instead.  No, I’m here to talk about the music.

So, yeah, The Buzzcocks may be getting old, but they still rocked pretty hard.  It helps that they were mostly playing songs from their first two albums  – they played all the songs people would have wanted to hear and they played them with a fair amount of energy and stage presence.  Overall, it was a pretty good show and a good argument against there being a mandatory retirement age  for aging  musicians.

Concert Review: Fuck Buttons, May 19th, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 4 Comments

Toronto – I had no idea who Fuck Buttons were before a week ago, when a friend told me she was going to see them and said they were “awesome”. I made a mental note in my mind about the band and looked it up on Sunday. Fuck Buttons is a two piece electronic/noise band from Bristol and well, pitchfork loves them. Look at the rating for each of their two albums:

Tarot Sport – 9.0
Street Horrrsing – 8.6

9.0 and 8.6! Those numbers are unheard of in the Pitchfork universe. Thom Yorke could make an album with Animal Collective and it wouldn’t even reach those numbers. I decided to attend the show after a quick consultation with Panic Manual writer Paul, who was thinking of checking them out. He decided to go to Buzzcocks instead though.

I decided to go to the concert without listening to any of their material. It’s pretty rare for me to not listen to a band before I go to a show, that’s usually reserved for local music, but I was feeling particularly lazy that day so I figure why not?

This concert can be divided into two groups: those with earplugs and those without.

If you did not have earplugs: This concert was probably pretty painful for you. The band was extremely loud and you were probably one of those people making emergency earplugs out of tissue paper. Next time, bring ear plugs

If you did have earplugs?:
This concert was definitely interesting. I was surprised that an electronic band would play the Horseshoe Tavern. Call it marketing or whatever, but I am under the assumption now that all small electronic shows are going to be played at the Wrongbar from now on. It seems suitable, they have nice lights, a decent dance floor space and a smoke system. I’ve always reserved the Horseshoe for dirty rock and roll bands.

Listening to the Fuck Buttons play, I can understand why they chose the Horseshoe. They aren’t about the lights and the glamour. They aren’t about slick productions or fancy samples. They are about noise. Nitty gritty noise. To me, this band is about finding bits of melody and hope in the sea of chaos they create with high levels of distortion, reverb and just plain noise. There are definitely shades of My Bloody Valentine in their set, and maybe a dabble of Mogwai as well. The music is slightly abrasive and the pacing is not traditional. I am used to electronic shows where the buildup is obvious and the payoff is dramatic, but the Fuck Buttons provided little of that. Changes were abrupt and it was difficult to anticipate when the next change in noise/beats were. I guess it made you focus on the music quite a bit more then normal. At times, Benjamin John Power would leave his electronic devices to bang on the drums, but other then that there was no interaction with the audience.

Mostly, the music seems perfect for those nights when you are heading home after a late party, slightly drunk, slightly disjointed and you see those light blue tones in the sky and all around you reminding you that the next day is about to begin and the sun is about to rise.

Some of the darker/abrasive/industrial-ish songs also seems perfect for those clubs you see in those post-apocalyptic movies, where everything is dark and dingy and everyone is dirty and wearing makeshift armor. The Horseshoe was almost pure dark with the exception of four dimly lit stage lights, it set the tone for the show. I was ready to go fight some zombies afterwards.

Overall it was a fairly decent show. The place was about 2/3 full and people were generally confused as to whether to dance or head bob. The band played for slightly over an hour, ending the show with an abruptness that left the crowd in a bit of a daze. It only seemed fitting. A Fuck Buttons show seems like one where you just stand there and absorb the onslaught of sound. Processing will commence afterwards.

Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar by Robogeisha