CD Review: Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications [2009, Rough Trade]

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Toronto – Anyone that knows me knows that I have obsessive tendencies towards the bands Suede and Pulp. Those two bands will always be 1a and 1b in my favorite bands list. So while you might think that I am being bias when saying the new Jarvis CD is fantastic, you are actually wrong, because the biggest fans are usually the harshest critics. “Further Complications” is Jarvis Cocker‘s second solo album, after the mild success of his 2006 offering. Sure he might be married with two kids and living in France, but Jarvis is still Jarvis (much like Manny is Manny) and once again his songs are peppered with razor sharp wit (“I met her in the museum of paleontology, And I make no bones about it”) , keen observations and still a bit of that outsider looking in mentality (“I will never get to touch you so I wrote this song instead”). It’s not until you start making sense of what he’s saying do you realize how much you miss witty lyricism’s in songs.

I never said I was deep, but I am profoundly shallow

Sound wise, this album follows a more straight forward rock and roll approach. A fair Pulp comparison would be some of the rockish tunes off This is Hardcore. It’s a bit glam, a bit frenetic and every bit sounding as good as any of his recent works. Songs like “Angela”, “Left Overs”, “I Never Said I was Deep” and “Fuckingsong” are all songs that I highly recommend.

Jarvis is supposedly playing Vancouver’s V-Fest in July. I pray he comes round to the East coast sometime this year (and reform Pulp for one of those cash grab tours)

The Shift

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Lets go Pens!!!!!!!

Over The Top Festival: Boys Who Say No, Oh No Forest Fires and Five Blank Pages [Mod Club, May 23rd]

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(Toronto) Ah yes, an early Saturday night show at the Mod Club. There is something weird about going to a concert when it is still light out and it’s too early to be drunk.

First up was Toronto band Boys Who Say No. I liked them. They have a kind of quirky shouting, talking and singing over strong riffs. Kind of like Los Campesinos!. As I was watching them I thought that they kind of sounded like the Lovely Feathers, then they announced that they were playing a show with them on June 6th at Lees. Makes sense.

Up next were Oh No Forest Fires. Now I know my mother told me not to judge a book by its cover, but I am going to anyway. So Oh No Forest Fires takes the stage and I see three dudes, wearing crappy jeans and plaid shirts, you know, the typical slacker rocker indy outfit. No problem. But over on the corner of the stage on guitar is a fourth dude who I can only describe as Ian Ziering-esk. Brock Swanek took the stage wearing a freshly pressed white V-neck T-shirt, a fake-n-bake tan, new white Italian sneakers, fancy jeans and a faux-hawk-mullet hair don’t. It looked like he was on his way to meet his girfriends parents for the fist time. I didn’t get it.

Musically, I’m not that into Oh No Forest Fires. Not yet at least. I’m sure they are all fine musicians and others seem to like them, but on this night I was so distracted by the glare off of Brocks’ shirt and shoes, I couldn’t focus on the music. Visually, the band had no coherency. Visual coherency is important.

You would think that at some point the other three members of the band would be like:

“Hey, dude, do you have to get a manicure, shave, and whiten your teeth before every show? And why do you smell like a pina colada?”

OK, I made the pina colada thing up, I didn’t get that close, but if I had I am pretty sure that Brock would have been all coconuts.

On another superficial note, lead singer Rajiv Thavanathan has a lovely head of thick black bushy hair. If I could grow it like him, I would. Now I must admit that I did find some pictures from an Oh No Forest Fires show that happened at the Horseshoe earlier this year where Brock looks much more respectful. HERE too. Maybe the Mod Club show was a one off for the guy?

The last band of the early evening was Five Blank Pages. This was billed as their last show ever. I thought that they might just be saying that as a publicity stunt to get more people out, but when all the band members parents and grandparents started rolling in half an hour before their set, I knew that the ‘last show’ claim must have been legit. We didn’t stick around, there was an hour of daylight to get out and enjoy.

CD Review: Passion Pit – Manners [2009, FrenchKiss Records]

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Toronto – If there was an awards season for blogosphere music, Passion Pit would probably win the 2009 award for most hyped band. Much like Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend and many others before, this Massachusetts band has been endlessly written about n recent times. To make the most of this situation, they have released their debut album “Manners” thru Frenchkiss Records. Before I review this record, lets see what Jarvis Cocker had to say about it:

This is basically DANCE by Justice, as played by born-again Christians

That quote is pretty dead on. However before you take that in negative light, realize that Justice is pretty damn good, and “born again Christians” just means the album is clean. Manners is a solid effort for a debut. It’s a bit top heavy I think (most of the tracks I like are at the beginning), but overall, Passion Pit has developed a nice happy pop rock dance sound. I don’t even know what kind of genre this music is anymore because it fuses so many aspects of different sounds. It’s got some of that group vocals ala Los Campesinos, its got the sound samples of kids singing ala Justice and catchy melodies of well, I don’t know. I’ve been trying to figure out what else they sound like, but I can’t quite place it. It’s all good though. Tracks like “Little Secrets”, “Sleepyhead’ and the Calvin Harris approved “The Reeling” are guaranteed to be on summer mixtapes somewhere.

Overall, a pretty damn good effort from a band that has only been around all of two years. Maybe next time they can find a more inspired choice for an album cover.

Passion Pit plays Lees Palace on June 16th.