Frankie Cosmos & Big Thief at the Adelaide Hall; Friday October 28, 2016

All my perfect nights happen without expectation. Catching Big Thief was a total surprise, as I only found out they were opening for Frankie Cosmos through a Facebook post I saw around 5:30pm. I immediately scrapped all my existing plans to make this early show work. I lightly checked out Big Thief after learning that my favourite artist of 2016, Lucy Dacus, very fittingly described Masterpiece as her favourite album of the year. Trusting Dacus’ judgment I felt compelled to go to the show.

They took the stage just passed 8pm. I knew to be there early because Toronto arts heroes Collective Concerts publicly posted set times, because of this I felt good investing my time to see the show, rather than guessing set times and the investment of the entire evening. High fives to Craig Laskey and company!

Four-piece Big Thief took the stage, but only Adrianne Lenker played the tune “Lorraine.” They followed it with the tune I found to be the most accessible tune, “Real Love.” Prior to the third song, I overheard the girl behind me whisper disappointedly to her friend that those were the only two songs she knew. I could relate, as I love the anticipation of waiting for a band to play your song and the disappointment of it not being played. Not being too familiar with Big Thief meant that I didn’t arrive to the show with big expectations for certain songs, but taking comfort in knowing it would be a good show. This is rare for me, but I felt compelled to be at this show.

Much like my whispering concertmate, I fell for the first two songs – “Lorraine” was slow and bold, demonstrating Lenker’s talent on the guitar and vocals. “Real Love” is a lively tune that has one of the most compelling driving guitar solos I’ve heard in a while, which they play briefly, launch back into the song and play it again – perfection. Guitarist Buck Meek and Lenker share the responsibilities of a lead guitar player feeding off of each other’s energy and musical cues. Meek, as his surname suggests, is a thin fella with a classy look and energetic stage presence. He’s twists, sways and spazzes more than anyone in the crowd, perhaps inspiring people to move just a bit more than they normally do. Meek played an incredible cover of a song by a band called Twain, comprised of Mat Davidson formerly of the band the Low Anthem. I didn’t grab the song name, but Meek bravely played it with no accompaniment, but with a heavy country drawl that worked real well for him.

My take away from this gig is the tune “Paul.” An emotionally-charged, heartbreaking tune about leaving someone, but includes all the messy bits in between. The song’s unusally structure ends on a second variation of the song’s chorus. I’ve listened to it about 15 times today. And if my word isn’t enough, indie heavyweights Pitchfork put forward glowing words about the song:

“The happier moments described here are understood to be almost hypothetical. Musically, that puts “Paul” in this midtempo middle-ground where the guitars sound incredibly wistful, with brief flashes of smoldering pain and twinkling hope. Maybe she made the right decision, cutting him loose. Maybe she didn’t. But at least we got this beautiful song out of it, about the struggle between the head and the heart.”

Knowing the set times, I ran some errands and grabbed a few drinks at my friend’s bar between sets. I managed to catch Frankie Cosmos last three songs. I took away three thoughts: cute, she looks like my dear friend Rita and if I made music it would probably sound like this. I’d definitely see her again and listen to some of her cute tunes, but she hadn’t left a mark on me the way Big Thief did. Prior to the last song, Frankie Cosmos frontperson, Greta Kline (daughter of actor Kevin Kline), told everyone that this was their last song and they should all go see her favourite band Kero Kero Bonito play the Velvet Underground. They did not play an encore.

Gush: Lucy Dacus (over and over and over and over again)

When I was in high school, like most kids, I kept up an agenda. I’d tattoo lyrics of my favourite songs all over my planner. Transcribing lyrics as I heard them without using the internet or album linings.

Well, yesterday I found myself doing the very same thing. Less of an angst-filled time killing activity, but more of an attempt to interact with Lucy Dacus’ beautiful album on a deeper level. I can’t get over how incredible Dacus’ words are and jotting them all down made me appreciate them even more.

NPR’s All Songs Considered personality, Bob Boilen, called Lucy Dacus the best new artist that he discovered this year [2016]. This is more or less what Bob Boilen said of Dacus and gushed particularly hard the perfect seven and a half minute tune, “Map on a Wall.”

The opening act for Julien Baker. She’s an artist called Lucy Dacus she’s from Richmond, VA, not too far from Washington, DC. And I didn’t know her at all and was completely blown away by her music… I was going to play the seven and a half minute song from her album titled No Burden, which comes out at the end of February. But I am going to play the one without any question that will get the most airplay and is the most catchy, wonderful song. Not the one that takes you down windy wonderful paths and so forths. The song I’m going to play for you is called “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore”


This took me a while, but here is my probably far from perfect transcribed lyrics of “Map on a Wall”:

Oh please, don’t make fun of me. With my crooked smile and my crowded teeth or my pigeon feet or my knobby knees well I’ve got more problems than not. But I feel fine and I made up my mind. To live happily feeling beautiful beneath the trees above the ground solid at the core.

Oh please, don’t make fun of me. oh you know I get frightened so easily and I’m all alone and the floor board creek. It’s those noises int eh dark. But I am alive and I made up my mind. To live fearlessly, running wild beneath the trees above the ground solid at the core.

Send my regards to the north my friend. I am built for the heat I regret to admit. my fear of freezing keeps me on my feet and so far my whole life is an unlucky street, they say you should take the credit when it comes but i believe in XX?

oh please don’t make fun of me oh I’ll try my best to tell it like it is. But i’ll bite my tongue and i’ll close my lips. When nobody wants to be ___. But here we are and something about it doesn’t feel like an accident. We’re all looking for something to adore and how to survive the bending and breaking.

I walked on to the ___ I was a child. but when did I realize that some ways ___ passed thousands of miles there are people like me walking on legs like mine. Coming closer or farther away. Coming to me to find my grace (?) hoping good comes from good and the good comes from bad anyway.

Oh please don’t make fun of me. With my heart of gold and my restless soul. Oh please don’t make fun of me. This smile happens genuinely. If you want to see the world then you have to say goodbye. Because a map does no good hanging on a wall. If you want to see the world then you have to say goodbye. Cause a map does no good hanging on a wall.

Gush: She & Him ‘Classics’

She & Him have changed their sound. They’ve always had a bit of the flowery, fifties class that Volume One‘s “Sweet Darlin'” did so well. It’s good, but I think things sound best stripped down and Classics does no such thing as it’s packed with bells and tons of string arrangements (see cover of “Fools Rush In”).

Deschanel and Ward are certainly channeling a vintage sweet sound that would make the cast of Singin’ in the Rain proud, but I doubt it will get much attention from today’s music lovers.

Anyways, I know I talked it down, but you should probably give it a chance yourself.

And bask in the album’s gorgeous artwork, which I just know will be made of the same weird smelling paper as this album… And I’m totally stoked to get a copy in my paws!

classics classics2 classics3

New tunes: Lila Ices ‘Ices’

Attention St. Vincent meet Lila Ices, your baby sister.

Check out her weird sounding, brand spanking new album. I haven’t decided if I like it much, but I can tell you I adore her tune “Love is Won.” That tune alone has given her album a good listen in my books. Catch the NPR First Listen of Ices before they take it down! 

Gush: Tycho ‘Awake’

I got into Tycho three years ago (!!) after hearing a friend’s mix in a car ride, which featured “A Walk.” I was enamoured by the band’s soft, yet complex sound. I spent late study nights listening to the album Dive and sometimes even drifting off to sleep.

I suspect Awake will be just as good to me. NPR’s still got it up, so do feast your ears on it.

Also, sorry to break hearts here, but Tycho’s Toronto gig appears to be SOLD OUT.

Tycho is California native Scott Hansen, who moonlights as ISO50 for his photography and design work. Check out the beauty and thoughtfulness that his new album has taken shape into:

(I’m happy to report, this will probably be one of my few vinyl purchases of the year. Unless the CD version looks like this too!)


Gush/Rant: Real Estate ‘Atlas’

I feel very robbed that the Real Estate album can only be advanced streamed in the US. I guess I should start downloading.

For the time being I have this live listen. Thanks NPR!

Note: I couldn’t get through it, there’s something awful about listening to something for the first time… live.

I take my rant back… IT’S FINALLY HERE!