Gush: “Sisyphus” by Andrew Bird

Sisyphus was a cruel Greek king who was punished to push a large rock up on a steep hill, only to find it rolling back on nearing the top. Ever since, he has been known for pushing the rock tirelessly till eternity (source)

I’ve been internet searching all kinds of album titles this year. This sweet little tune is the best thing I’ve heard in a while. From it’s “Let it roll…” bit, which I feel may reference George Harrison’s “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)” and to the Radiohead “Karma Police”-type piano layer. And the bass line reference I can’t quite put my mind on (I will report back on this later). This song is lush, as Andrew Bird so often does, but it’s fast-spitted words makes it more exciting and different.

This is a keeper. The album drops next week. I’ve ordered multiple copies to my beautiful record store. 

Gush: Saves the Day

I was fifteen when Saves the Day In Reverie came out and I fell in love. I’m nearly thirty and I still love the album. It was cute to hear this recent interview with my hero from my teen years. The interviewer apologized to Chris for trashing his album from over ten years ago – 

Going Off Track Person – “Hey, it took me like ten years, but I finally came around on In Reverie
Chris Conley – “No worries, man. I made a whole album that sounded like “Freakish””

Gush: Car Seat Headrest

I developed a weird love for the Cars’ song “Just What I Needed” last summer. I was in Detroit in the middle of the summer and I had the weird urge to hear it. It’s been a go-to happy tune of my song ever since.

I was very crushed to read about thousands of dollars of Car Seat Headrest gear being crushed to bits because of an unauthorized borrowed lyric by young Will Toldeo of Car Seat Headrest. He apparently had permission to use the music, not the words.

I got into this fella’s band pretty fast with the nineties sounding tune, “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales,” which reminds me a bunch of the build up in Nada Surf’s “Always Love.” Toldeo’s voice also sounds heaps like Beck. He’s playing Toronto in September with my artist of the year, Lucy Dacus. It’s going to be incredible.

Yesterday, I listened to a thirty-minute rave review of Car Seat Headrest’s album Teens of Denial

Gush: “Left-Handed Kisses” by Andrew Bird feat. Fiona Apple

I’m a pretty big Andrew Bird fan. I went through a bit of an obsessive phase over the song “Three White Horses.” Bird is an evolving artist. He does good work. This album’s a meta-love song featuring a gal who needs no introduction, but for blog purposes, Fiona Apple!

I’m anticipating, if it’s anything like the following teaser track, Bird’s new album Are You Serious to be country-kissed, but with more grit. This sweet tune reminds me a lot of two Sondre Lerche girl-guy duets (see “Modern Nature” and “Hell No”) and  and this Stars song.

Ty Segall Six: Tim Presley/White Fence

Tim Presley is White Fence. A sweet friend took me to see them play Toronto venue, the Garrison, back in 2014. I didn’t know much about them aside from the psychedelic-charged album, Hair, Presley made with Ty Segall in 2012. The album was meant to be a split EP, but turned into a collaborative album. Presley is currently touring with Segall as a guitarist in his band the Muggers. I am also super sad to find out that I missed opener Cait Le Bon open for his Toronto gig.

Like Segall, Presley seems to have an endless catalogue of music to share.

When Presley’s not making music as White Fence or touring with Segall, he has a dormant outfit, Darker My Love, and has played with the Strange Boys, the Nerve Agents and the Fall. Most recently, he’s started making music under the name DRINKS with Cait Le Bon. Back in 2011, Presley even started his own record label called Birth, to help release San Francisco musician, Jessica Pratt’s music. Presley’s a designer and makes all his album art.


I cannot get enough of this Kinks-like song. It’s so sweet and sooo sixties:

Concert Review: Sandro Perri at Burdock

It’s been five years since I saw Sandro Perri live. He was pushing his new album, Impossible Spaces, and had cool openers, Bry Webb and Ryan Driver. Apparently, opening act LUKA had roped Perri out to play the gig.

I was surprised to see the classy outfit Perri brought together. I don’t remember seeing him with a trumpet/flute accompaniment. Toronto musician, Ryan Driver played the flute with some of the worst wind instrument posture. As a former flute player, I was always told to keep a balanced stance that allows air to flow freely through your body. Driver’s legs were crossed, back hunched and head forward with a duck-like pull. I’ll admit Driver still sounded good.

Perri’s trumpet player, Nicole Rampersaud, made trumpet sounds I didn’t even know were possible. They weirdly blended and stuck out perfectly.

The set was short. He managed to play a few of my favourite tunes – Tiny Mirrors’ strongest tune “Double Suicide” was played second in the set. Perri told the crowd after playing the song that he tried to write a song about suicide. His drummer chimed in to say a young child told him that you can’t force a suicide – the audience awkwardly chuckled.

I was super excited to hear Impossible Spaces‘ nine-minute bleeding tune “Wolfman,” which has always had a certain likeness to Neil Young’s “Walk On.” The set followed up with a closing cover of John Martyn’s “Couldn’t Love You More.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard him tackle this cover, but it sure was lovely.

Concert Review: Riot Fest Denver, Colorado; Friday August 29-Sunday August 31, 2015

Canada is just a bit larger than the USA and is comprised of ten provinces and three territories. If we’re very lucky touring bands and festivals visit three or four of these major cities. Living in Toronto means that all bands that are touring North America will make a stop here. Famous live albums and films have been recorded here (see examples one, two and three). While we aren’t as lucky as our American neighbours to have so many concert options, we have it pretty good.

With this dink as the Mayor of Toronto from 2010-2014, we surprisingly saw some changes to the Toronto music scene in the duration of his reign. It first became apparent in 2012, with the birth of three new festivals – Toronto-born efforts Field Trip and Toronto Urban Roots Festival, as well as Riot Fest. The subsequent years led to repeat visits of these new festivals, whispers of Chicago’s Lollapalooza new music-focused positions created with the City of Toronto and one embarrassing SXSW visit by our former idiot Mayor. Our new Mayor, John Tory, seemed pretty surprised by the importance of the Austin music scene.

Music, culture and healthy communities is not a new thing (see Richard Florida for more on this), but what is new is we’re starting to see some sort of musical shift in Toronto. I credit this to a lively music scene, the few surviving concert venues and its status as the fourth largest city in North America.

Riot Fest is one of many festivals scheduled for early-September, one of the busiest times of year, with Just for Laughs comedy festival, Toronto Urban Roots Festival and The Toronto International Film Festival. Despite the fierce competition for festival-goers, Riot Fest has done alright. It expanded from a one-day festival in 2012 to a two-day festival in 2013. It downgraded locations from the downtown haunts of Fort York to the North York airfield, Downsview Park. I had high hopes last year in anticipation of carnival offerings with the larger festival grounds space, but I was welcomed to maximum carnival eats, but no carnival. Perhaps the carnies are exhausted from their two-week-long bender Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), occurring around Riot Fest time in Toronto.

I took to Denver, Colorado last weekend to get a feel for how Riot Fest works in the US. I was greeted to dust, heat and a sea of tattoos. The venue lived up to the festival’s “rodeo” handle situated on a property used for the world’s largest stock show held every January, showcasing 15,000 animals and a rodeo. Spaced appropriately so no two acts were playing too close to each other at the same time, something that Toronto’s venue gives no leeway to.

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To this blogger’s eyes and ears, Riot Fest Denver has a stronger line up with more indie acts, such as the Pixies, Modest Mouse, Nada Surf and the Get Up Kids. Toronto’s line up has the genre-diverse line up Denver has, but will draw fewer indie rock lovers. Riot Fest Toronto’s line up last year included Death Cab for Cutie, the National, The Flaming Lips and the New Pornographers, acts that would draw a significantly different crowd than the likes of this year’s roster.

Festival sets are challenging, as demonstrated by post-rock veterans, Explosions in the Sky. The band filed on stage as Alabama hip-hop artist, Yelawolf, was finishing up his set. Explosions guitarist Munaf Rayani used the lone mic on stage to remark that this is going to be a short set, so they have to make the most of it here. The band opened up with The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place album opener “First Breath After a Coma.” Mid-way through the song, Rayani’s amp gave, which put some roadies to good use in making a quick swap. Rayani was able to rejoin in the last minute of the song.

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Seeing Explosions in the Sky is an experience for the ears, but I look forward to the opportunity of watching how the music is made. With just three guitars, a bass guitar and drums, the band is able to swell and swallow sound on a dime. The band did their best given the circumstances. Major praise for plugging through the seven-minute set closer “Postcard from 1952,” which was poisoned by a two or three long toots from a moving train less than one hundred feet away from the band.

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I caught a delightful mid-day set from Welsh act The Joy Formidable. It was a throwback to 2011, as they’ve slipped off my radar since. It was great to hear they’re still fun and energetic. Leader of the pack Ritzy Bryan was the cutest gal at the festival in a conservative mod-style, mini-dress with black leggings. Bryan dropped about half a dozen curse words in cutely complaining about having to restart a song because of her bassist.

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Festival wildcard players, Nada Surf, played a mid-day set that would have put even the greatest Nada Surf fan to sleep. The night prior, I stumbled upon this article that was apparently written about Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws, which was all I could think about in watching the band play. The band introduced Doug Gillard as a new addition to the band, formerly of Guided by Voices.

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I was excited to hear Thrice live, a band I don’t think I’d pay to see now, but would be delighted to hear at a festival. Twelve years ago, you could find me wearing big headphones hanging on to every word of the album The Artist in the Ambulance. I had slowly made my way to the stage to find that their second song in their set was the title track from that very album. I dashed into the VIP camera section to snap photos, but mostly hang on to every word that left singer/guitarist Dustin Kensrue’s mouth. I was excited to find that most of the audience crushed to the front of the barriers hung on to every word too, allowing Kensrue to take advantage of full audience participation. The band was selling a shirt at the merch table that read: “Play Deadbolt,” which I found ironic as it was the sloppiest song performed in the band’s hour-long set.

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Seeing Conor Oberst his old rock outfit Desaparecidos in great form made me respect the guy musically even more. Conor’s scrappy, spit-filled vocals fit perfectly with the band’s sound. This set has seasoned me to dive right into their new album and a few festival shows in Toronto later this month.

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Philadelphia’s Beach Slang were my takeaway band from this festival. Upon taking the stage, singer/guitarist James Alex expressed his surprise by the hundred-person crowd at his feet. The band’s poppy-grunge sound and rough vocals are a bit reminiscent of the Replacements. Their fuck-all attitude also reflects Paul Westerberg and company, Alex declared to the crowd that this would be the most unprofessional set of the entire festival. Much the opposite, I was impressed by the band’s solid sound and performance.

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Gush: Best Coast ‘California Nights’

I think adulthood started for me around 2011. While I had lived out several years prior, 2011 was the year when the help decreased and I finished school. It was also the year when I missed Best Coast’s first Toronto gig as I was stuck working a Superbowl pub shift, but managed to catch them a month later in California.

I have really fun memories driving around LA cranking crazy for you in the Dodge Caliber I rented singing IIIIIIIIII-WAAAAANNNNNT-YYYYYOUUUU-SOOOO-MUUUUCHH at the top of my lungs (see this video). Ahhh sweet memories.

Now with a few low-fi groups with female singers on the scene, I think it’s harder than ever to create a unique sound. I’m excited by the fancy album cover of the new Best Coast album California Nights, I hope their sound matches up with its awesomeness. Sounds a bit Pink Floyd-psychedelic, it sort of works:

Hilarious google find when I was trying to locate the album cover of California Nights, I found Alvvays instead!

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Sharon Van Etten with Tiny Ruins at the Opera House; Tuesday October 7, 2014

I fell hard for Sharon Van Etten with the release of her perfect album Tramp back in 2012. This is her third time in Toronto since the release of Tramp and has since released the sweet album Are We There. I got my paws on Are We There the minute it came out, giving it a few listens, but not much more than that. It wasn’t until the day of the Opera House gig that I really gave it a listen. The album’s fuller and more thought through than its little siblings with a particular sadness Van Etten isn’t afraid to show.

Van Etten and company played an incredibly tight set. Van Etten’s banter is sweet and awkward. Her clothing is floppy and her hair is cut short like a little boy. Before she played the song “Break Me” she asked the audience if they’d buy a mug that read, “Break Me”. The audience seemed a bit confused as to why she’d ask. Much of her banter was run on sentences and incomplete thoughts – she had mentioned the name Randy and began listing off famous Randys she was familiar with. The audience yelled “Randy Bachman” in response and Van Etten very unfamiliar admitted she had no idea who that was. Guess Who mutters were yelled, but she didn’t get it.

The show was very much in promotion of her new album. She drew only two or three songs from the vault, one of them being a favourite of mine, called “Serpents” from Tramp. Surprisingly, it was the only tune from Tramp played the entire evening. Drawing from the 2010 album Epic, the band played the song “Don’t Do It,” which featured a very eerie acapella intro that reminded me a ton of Elliott Smith’s “King’s Crossing.”

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Despite Van Etten’s Instagram raves about New Zealand band Tiny Ruins, I couldn’t get into their live set. They sounded amazing recorded when given a pre-concert listen, but I found them to be a bit too snoozy. I spent their entire set recounting to myself all of the gigs I’ve seen at the Opera House in the past.

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Tennis at the Mod Club; Friday October 3, 2014

It’s a cute story how Tennis came to be… Singer Alaina Moore and guitarist Patrick Riley met in college, wed, sold all of their belongings and sailed along the east coast and then wrote an album. Their first album Cape Dory is sweet, beachy and full of surf beats, a sound the band has definitely strayed away from with their most recent release, Ritual in Repeat. I read an interview Moore had with Now Magazine where she said she stated:

“When we first started making music, our scope and abilities were very limited. I remember thinking at one point that the surf beat was my favourite beat, and why would there be any other rhythm in any song other than that beat?” says Moore.

“But by the time we were done touring that first record, I felt like I was going to kill myself if I had to hear it again.”

I bought the album five days before the gig to do some much-needed homework while supporting Sonic Boom’s big move to Spadina and Queen. I felt a strong love for some tunes and a dislike for others (namely, the likeliness of “Needle and a Knife” to Carly Simon’s “Your So Vain”). The album’s redeeming bits are the tunes “Night Vision” and the vintage sounding tune “Bad Girls.”

Super cheesy tune, “I’m Callin'” actually came off real slick live. Guitarist Riley started the beeping riff from the tune on the keyboard and made an awesome transition to continue the same riff on guitar. In my mind, saving (or distracting) me from the otherwise annoying, skippable song.

Moore was in good shape for this gig. The band looked a bit frazzled, declaring that their visit was only to be a two-hour stop in Toronto because of their gig in Cleveland the following day. Nearing the beginning of her set she sheepishly thanked everyone for being at the show over another gig that evening in town of a band she said she loved and would leave nameless (Beach House at Lee’s). Early Mod Club shows allow for doubling up, an absolutely likely reality of Tennis’ gig, as it was over by 11pm.

The set was very divided, the first half dedicated to their new album and the second half allowing for older tunes like “Marathon,” which Moore dedicated to the audience and one of my favourite tunes, “Pigeon,” both from their 2011 release Cape Dory. They only played a few songs from their 2012 release Young & Old – “Petition” and “It All Feels the Same” serving as the crowd shaking dance tunes.

Between my pal Natalie and myself, we had both watched Tennis play quite a few times in Toronto, but all on different occasions. She saw them with their early starts at the Drake and the most recent gig opening for Haim at the Kool Haus. I’ve seen them play the Horseshoe and the Phoenix. Apparently, the relentless band even played the Garrison somewhere in between, which neither of us attended… Pretty amazing. I guess touring has yielded an eclectic fan base comprising of a surprising number of men… Who knew?

Note Alaina’s short bob, very confident:

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