CMW Review: Noel Gallagher and His Birds, Sony Centre, May 3

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Noel G as you may know, was one of the two G brothers that composed of the known members of Oasis. They broke up awhile ago and we have all yet still to recover.

In between now and when they reunite at Coachella in a few years, we have the distinct pleasure of watching their solo acts. I have yet to see Beady Eye, but on the strength of Noel G’s latest pretty good effort and dirt cheap stub hub tickets (21 dollas for amazing seats!) I convinced myself to go out yet another night.

Sunday night’s Noel G show showered upon me a whole wreath of emotions. This is normal for an artist of such magnitude, but I was still surprised. Here are the feels that I experienced on Sunday night, and why I experienced it. That’s all I’m gonna give you this post.

Humor – Noel G’s a funny dude. Besides making fun of a dad for being cheap or yelling at a guy for wearing flip flops, you can see Noel still hasn’t stopped being a bit of a prick at his old age. Best line of the night was him saying “If you bought tickets to tomorrow night’s show…it’s gonna be the exact same as tonight’s show!”

Serenity – Champagne Supernova. Such a great track. I think everyone in the crowd was a bit uptight until Noel G busted out this track about twenty minutes in. Then the theatre lit up and everyone sang along with Noel G. The visualizations for this song was like a Windows 95 screensaver too, so that took everyone way back.

Annoyance – What’s with the crowd. Middle aged drunk Englishman yelling out random stuff for no reason through out the show. We get it, you are English, you are rowdy, you like football. Why do you yell? You think Noel G’s gonna change his set list cos you screamed out MOOOOORRRNNNNIIING GLOOOOORRRYYY at him? You gotta be off your bollocks you wanker. Go sit back in your seat, have a cup of tea and think about leaving the house.

Boredom – I enjoy Noel G’s latest record, but something about his live show made a lot of his songs sound very … similar. I think it’s the drummer. He plays the same beat for every song, and Noel G follows a very traditional way of song writing – verse bridge chorus repeat. On their own, the sounds are good but together, they melt together. It’s like a fondue – you can have ten different types of cheese that on it’s own or as part of a cheese plate, taste differently. You put them all in a bowl and melt the shit out of it, it’ll taste like cheese.

Happiness – Don’t Look Back In Anger is a wonderful sing along and a happy time for everyone. It’s a special tune and just a reminder of how wonderful everything was back in the day, which leads me to my last emotion …

Anticipation – I appreciate Noel and Liam branching out on their own to explore their own lives but sooner or later, they’ll realize the error of their ways and reform. I’ll be there when that happens, singing my heart out.

CMW Review: The Blancos, May 8, Handlebar

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A friend sent me a message after seeing The Blancos on Wednesday night. All she said was “Silliest/worst band ever.” That’s enough of an endorsement for me and so, after seeing that the band was playing Handlebar the next night, I was there. I have to say I agree with her assessment, although I did actually sort of enjoy these guys in all their horribleness. And I’ve got to say they’ve got a unique sound. They’ve certainly got the market cornered in … whatever it is they do. The best way to describe it is being somewhat like the singer from Kings Of Leon if he dropped the band and teamed up with a DJ.

The real magic of a Blancos set comes in the stage banter though.  Here are just a few samples of the words of wisdom offered up by the duo during their set:  “How many people up in here like to smoke weed?” “This song’s called ‘Out of my Mind’ … ’cause we out of our minds!” “I’ve got a day and a half left here. I’m gonna have me a good time. Can I have an amen?” “We have an EP out on Soundcloud … smoke weed to it, fuck your girl to it, whatever.”  And of course, “Bitch, I’m in Canada!” There was also a song about turning 21, “getting drunk and starting fights” and the occasional wanky guitar solo peppered into their set. They ended things off with a plug for their show the following night: “Tomorrow we’ll be at the Bovine Sex Club. I don’t know if they have sex there but it’s in the name.”  After some guy in the crowd shouted out that they have  Jäger on tap there, the singer responded, “That’s baller.”

This has got to be satire, right? These dudes can’t possibly be serious, can they? Except I think they are and really, that’s what makes it great. These guys are like the Rob Ford of music – utterly terrible, yet somehow thinking they’re awesome.  So yes, silliest/worst band ever, but still somehow compelling to watch.

CMW Review: Praises, Strands, Buddy McNeil and the Magic Mirrors, May 8

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These days, it’s practically standard operating procedure for members of Toronto indie bands to have one or more side projects on the go. In keeping with this, The Silver Dollar played host to two acts on the third night of CMW which featured members of other bands who have been making a bit of a name for themselves in the scene – Strands (featuring Jasmyn Burke of Weaves) and Praises (featuring Jesse Crow of Beliefs).

“This is a very minimal set. I am Strands … of the Weaves.” said Burke by way of introduction as she took to the stage. It was indeed minimal, just Burke and a sampler. The show started late, which was curious seeing as how I saw Burke soundchecking everything about 20 minutes before she went onstage, but The Silver Dollar has been known to run behind schedule at these club level festivals before, so maybe that was by design. Regardless, when Strands did get started, all was pretty much forgiven. She’s got an interesting sound, based mostly around looped vocal samples and minimalist beats and she made up for the lack of a band with some endearingly goofy dance moves onstage that mostly consisted of her shuffling back and forth. She ended things off with a reworked version of a Weaves song. Never having seen Weaves before, it felt a bit odd to be checking out the solo side project first, but it certainly got me interested in checking out the full band sometime soon.

Following Weaves was Praises, who offered up some poppy, shoegazey tunes.  While their original tunes sounded great, the moment that stood out for me was their cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which managed to sound both dirgelike and uplifting at the same time.  Definitely one of the highlights of the week.

Immediately before Praises and Weaves, I managed to see Buddy McNeil and the Magic Mirrors, a garage rock band from Montreal who were playing the 8:00 slot at Rancho Relaxo.  From past experience, I know that this often means playing to a sparse crowd, yet the Magic Mirrors played to a small but decent sized audience and impressed with some fun, straight up rock n’ roll that hearkened back to the sounds of the 1960s.  While McNeil and his soulful shout most often took the lead, it’s worth noting that all five members had a mic and each contributed vocals.  Near the end of their set, the drummer said to the crowd, “It’s not too early to dance,” and while no one really got out there and busted a move, there was certainly a little bit of head bobbing and foot tapping at the very least.  Good times.

CMW Review: Bronx Cheerleader, March 22, Rancho Relaxo

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If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if a band plays a showcase at a music festival and pretty much no one shows up, did they still make a sound? Most definitely … on both counts. Why would you think a tree falling wouldn’t make a sound? Seems like basic science to me. Unless you’re in space. In space, no one can hear you scream. Or fall, if you’re a tree.

But what about the band in question? Saint Catharines based Bronx Cheerleader were faced with the conundrum most bands will have to face at some point (unless you’re one of those bands who’s insanely hyped up before you’ve ever played a show, in which case you really should have faced this – it builds character or something), which is what to do when you’re playing to an empty house. In Bronx Cheerleader’s case, they did the only thing you really can do: play on regardless. The band for their part made the most of it, playing a solid set and having a bit of a sense of humour about the whole thing. “That was awesome by the way. That was the best version of that song ever. You guys are lucky,” said the bass player jokingly at the end of one song. But he was kind of right. I’d never seen nor heard of these guys before tonight and while it may not have been the optimal conditions, they sounded pretty good. Alternating between slightly shoegazey, psychey, trippier numbers and more straight ahead rockers, the band did make a good impression on me, especially when they featured the steel guitar.

It’s a shame when a band plays to an empty house, but better luck next time I guess. At least the band managed to escape the wrath of the endlessly entertaining Slagging Off, garnering a generally favourable review from the guy who hated just about everyone playing the festival.  So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.