Joel Plaskett

CMW Review: Joel Plaskett, March 21, CN Tower

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | Leave a comment

The Joel Plaskett Emergency played the top of the CN Tower to kick off the five day music festival that is Canadian Music Week. Seeing one of my favourite Canadian bands in one of the most interesting of Toronto venues was certainly a highlight of the festival. We got to rock out while enjoying a panoramic view of the city and gorging on baked pastries. How sweet is that?

The band has been featured on CBC as they record a song every week for their latest album Scrappy Happiness. As one would expect, the audience was treated to new material from the album as well as classics from the Plaskett discography. It was a good show at a memorable venue, but with a 6 pm start time, it felt a little, well, early. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like with a later start time, some free booze a la SXSW, and maybe a few more die hard Plaskett fans.

Either way, it was a fantastic opportunity to see a band at the top of the world.

CMW Re-Cap: Fest Highlights

Posted on by guestwriter in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 6 Comments

Toronto–  So I think in the future when I say that my routine of little sleep and a lot of coffee will help me make it through CMW and work, I will think twice about the validity of that statement.  After a heavy schedule with CMW and work, followed by an even more insane week of work, I did not think I would survive until this weekend to write this.  Now with kangaroos, koala bears, the full selection of Tim Tam flavours, and lovely beaches on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about what to pack in one suitcase, and of course what Canadian music to preach to the Aussie office.  What better list to start with than with my favs from this year’s CMW.

1.   The Mountains and the Trees at Central’s Factor Breakthrough Session

I had heard of the Mountains and the Trees sometime last year, and was waiting for my opportunity to hear him perform live.  Hailing from Newfoundland, the Mountains and the Trees (a.k.a. Jon Janes), croons songs about things from his day to day life, to the lament of a person leaving his little town by the sea for better opportunity.  His performance was honest, humble and with heart—the type of show that sits you down, captivates you by story through song, and one which you find yourself humming along with, or tapping your foot to the beat of the drum.  Okay, so maybe a man who plays guitar, harmonica, banjo, and ukulele makes me weak in the knees, but there’s an earnest air to his overall performance which I think is rare.  The Mountains and the Trees embark on a UK tour in May, but will be back in Toronto for NXNE in June.  Highly, highly recommend you check him out if you are a fan of folk rock.

2. Jason Collett, Zeus, and Bahamas at the Bonfire Ball, Lee’s Palace

I’m already a big fan of Jason Collett, so when I went to show I thought I was going to see a regular concert, with each act taking its turn.  I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone was each other’s back up band and played a solid 3 hour set of each other’s songs.  Not ever having seen a show like this before, I was really impressed even with Jason Collett’s apologies as he told the crowd they were still learning each other’s songs.  If he hadn’t said anything I would not have known—their chemistry on stage and their never ending energy would have told you this wasn’t their first show but maybe their tenth.  Zeus was a lot of fun, with songs and performances that sometimes reminded me of the Beatles.  Bahamas was also fantastic and a great discovery for me.  As for Jason Collett, his set included a lot of songs from his highly acclaimed album, Idols of Exile (which was also fine by me, because they were all my favourite songs).  Overall, I had a great time, and it wasn’t just because of the three cups of coffee I had before the show!  You can also read Paul’s review here.

3. Jeff Martin at the Sirius Song Writer’s Café, Mod Club

Where has Jeff Martin been all these years?  Admittedly, I haven’t kept up with his music since the Tea Party—way back in my days from middle school and high school.  All I can say is that watching his performance at this age allowed me to gain a better appreciation for his level of musicianship.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  Read about his performance here, from Mark, my partner in crime.

4. Joel Plaskett at the Sirius Song Writer’s Café, Mod Club

If there is one country which loves Joel Plaskett more than Canada, it is Australia.  I probably won’t understand why they love him so much until I get there, but given his following I’ll spare the office the opportunity to listen to my rendition of Deny, Deny, Deny.  The audience was treated to an acoustic set backed by Peter Elkas, and within the first strum of the guitar he had the majority of the club singing along.  As mentioned in my CMW primer, I’ve seen him more times than I care to share, and in classic Plaskett tradition (which I can definitely attest to), his performance left yet another crowd yelling, screaming, and begging for more.  Read Mark’s review about Joel here.

5. Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines at the Indie Awards, Royal York Hotel

I think perhaps the Indie Awards deserve a spot alone.  Compared to last year, the show has certainly improved.  With a better line up and longer sets, everyone was able to enjoy performances from the likes of Plants and Animals, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines.  While I love Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines, I do feel they could have picked other slightly lesser known bands to promote in front of a live, radio, and video audience.  Nevertheless, Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines were outstanding and my favourites of the show.  I’ve seen each band many times, and both groups never fail to disappoint.

Honourable Mention:

Otter Petter at Central’s Factor Breakthrough Session

From Chicago, Otter Petter, plays sugar coated alt rock that’s reminiscent of Matthew Sweet.  Not always my cup of tea, I’ve heard a lot of bands try and do the same but failed to play music that could get me past thoughts and feelings of annoyance, headache, and the desire to stick a pen in my eye.  I find their music a good balance of guitar, harmony, and nah nah’s.  Songs are not too long and not too short, and leave you pretty satisfied.  It’s up beat feel good music.  So if you’re in the mood for sugary sweet indie rock, I would check out Otter Petter.

Best show: The Mountains and the Trees

Best show from a band you have never heard before: Bahamas and Otter Petter

Worst show: tie between We are the City and The Darcys (I’m sorry, I don’t want to be mean)

Best CMW moment: the return of Jeff Martin

Worst CMW moment: the asshole at the El Mo who would not stop farting while I was trying to take pictures of We Are the City.  That may have been why I disliked the set so much.  So sorry again.

CMW Review: Joel Plaskett, Mar 13, Mod Club

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – Ah Joel Plaskett. We here at the Panic Manual have a soft spot in our heart for Mr. Plaskett. So far we’ve covered three of his live shows (here, here, and here). I suppose that makes this number four. He played last Saturday night at the Mod Club, accompanied by fellow singer/songwriter Peter Elkas. It was rainy, it was windy, and yet still people lined up for the opportunity to hear just a tiny abbreviated set of Joel’s music. Now that’s dedication.

“Is there a reason you loves this town?” – crowd member
“There are many reasons I love this town. Damn.” – Joel Plaskett

What else can I say about this genuine east coast rocker? I suppose what’s just as impressive as Joel’s guitar and vocal skills is what he does to a crowd. His mix of talent, humble east-coast upbringing and down-to-earth attitude makes him an endearing personality and a crowd favourite. There’s just something about him that prods us fast-paced downtown urbanites to smile and let our shields down; for a second we resolve to be more civil to our fellow strangers in this wild concrete rat race. Granted, it’s a passing resolution at best. But thankfully Joel comes to town frequently enough to keep prodding us in the right direction.

Joel won the Indie music award for best solo artist of the year later that night at the Royal York hotel. It’s a well deserved award for standup Canadian artist.

2009: Jupiter and Beyond! (aka Paul’s faves)

Posted on by Paul in Everything, Year End Reviews | Leave a comment


Toronto – So 2009 was kind of a weird year for me.  While a lot of great music came out this year, it was also the year I became more apathetic about music for some reason.  It’s because of this that I actually had a bit of a hard time remembering what I heard and actually liked this year.  That said, here’s the stuff I liked the most this year, organized in the most arbitrary and illogical manner possible.


Grizzly Bear featuring Michael McDonald – “While You Wait For The Others”

 Veckatimest as a whole was a really great album that I dug a whole lot, but it was this version, released as a single, that really blew me away.  Grizzly Bear’s tune is made even more sublime with the addition of the king of smooth and yacht rock legend McDonald on vocals.  Maybe you think the original version with Ed Droste singing lead is the better song.  That’s what a fool believes, my friends … that’s what a fool believes.

 The Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”

 One of the catchiest songs I heard all year, the folks at Breakfast At Sulimay’s describe it best.  Probably totally inaccurate, but it’s the best review I’ve seen.  Also, it’s fun to say singer Angel Deradoorian’s name out loud.

Franz Nicolay – “Jeff Penalty”

The Hold Steady keyboardist (and king of moustaches) tells us the story of Jello Biafra’s replacement in The Dead Kennedys, who depite just being “that one guy from Philly” or “Jeff Whatsisname”  manages to get the punks singing along anyways.  It’s a song about the power of songs and the underdog getting his moment to shine. 


Jason Lytle – Yours Truly, The Commuter

Despite having really dodgy and questionable cover artwork, this is a really solid album. I’ve been a big fan of Lytle’s ever since the release of Grandaddy’s The Sophtware Slump … which I still can’t believe came out in 2000.  Man, I’m getting old.  Anyways, Lytle doesn’t break any real new ground here, sticking to his familiar bag of tricks (Neil Young-ian vocals, ELO-ish synths, lyrics about enjoying the weekend) but it works.  It’s more or less a Grandaddy album released under his own name, but I’m OK with that.

Converge – Axe To Fall

 Back in my younger days, I used to listen to lot of metal and hardcore.  I don’t listen to nearly as much as I used to, but I occasionally like the heavy stuff still, and hardcore legends Converge certainly bring the heavy on this, their seventh full length album.  A blend of blistering riffs (probably the catchiest Kurt Ballou has ever written), slower, sludgier tunes, the slow burning Tom Waits homage “Cruel Bloom,” and more guest musicians than you can shake a stick at (including members of Cave In, Neurosis and Genghis Tron), this is Converge’s most accessible album (relatively speaking … ’cause, y’know, it’s still full of screaming and really heavy guitars) and definitely one of their best.  Also, unlike Jason Lytle, Converge always has excellent album covers.

 Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love

The softer yin to Black Mountain’s heavy yang, Stephen McBean’s Pink Mountaintops project kick out the hazy psych/shoegaze/folk/pop jams.  On “Axis: Thrones of Love,” they swipe the Bee Gees line, “how deep is your love” and recontextualize it, making it seem a bit more like a challenge than a question. 

 Steve Earle – Townes

One of the best songwriters around pays tribute to his late friend and mentor Townes Van Zant and ends up making one of his best records.

 Joel Plaskett – Three

Another great songwriter, Plaskett was shortlisted for the Polaris prize this year but lost out to the more au courant (yet also really good) Fucked Up.  I think part of why he got passed over is because Plaskett has been consistently good over his last several albums.  But his new triple (!) album is excellent, full of his usual clever, rootsy songs.  He even incorporates some Celtic influence, which actually works well here.  I guess growing up on the east coast, all those flutes and stuff are part of your DNA or something.

Art Brut – Art Brut vs. Satan

Eddie Argos is a brilliant songwriter.  There, I’ve said it.  Like a British version of Craig Finn, Argos talks his way through his songs, filling in all sorts of details that I can really relate to – DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshake could have been written about me.  Alcoholics Unanimous not so much about me (at least I hope not), but I think many of us have been in the state Argos describes there too (“I’ve been up all night/I’ve been making mistakes/I’m hiding it well/But I don’t feel great”)

The Thermals – Now We Can See

Hutch Harris and his bandmates have brought another collection of brilliant, punky power pop.  While not quite as good as The Body, The Blood, The Machine, Now We Can See is full of instantly catchy tunes (try not to sing along with the “oh way oh ohs” in the title track)  Plus they always look like they’re having a lot of fun in their videos.

Wilco – Wilco(The Album)

Jeff Tweedy’s songs.  Nels Cline’s guitar.  The other guys’ general greatness.  ‘Nuff said.  Wilco are one of the greatest bands around.  Wilco will love you, baby.  They will love you long time.