Archive for March, 2010

Beach House at the Opera House in Toronto

March 31, 2010

30 March 2010

Beach House played to a sold out crowd at The Opera House in Toronto on Tuesday night and lulled us with hits from their newest album, Teen Dream. The best word to describe the capacity crowd would be sedate — they stood, unmoving, in typical unenthused Toronto fashion, as the duo with the addition of a live drummer, faithfully rendered their songs live. With eyes closed it was close to impossible to tell the difference between live show and recording, which isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes the joy of a concert is seeing the band jam out a little and reveal new twists and extended codas to favourite songs. Nevertheless, Victoria Legrand’s voice is absolutely stunning live — powerful and assured, yet restrained. I’m sure she can just belt it out if she really wanted to, and it would’ve been nice to hear a bit more of her vocal chops live.

I guess what I’m saying is I felt a bit disappointed, even though the show was totally great. They played just about every song off the new album, plus my personal fave, “Gila” off Devotion, but it simply wasn’t mind blowing. Perhaps, I was expecting too much from a band that writes quiet and sparse pop songs, but still . . . I dunno, maybe the blasé crowd also had something to do with it, or the fact that the sound guy needed to turn up the guitar a bit, or maybe I’m just a curmudgeonly sonofabitch myself, but overall I was underwhelmed.

Our generation’s two greatest forms of entertainment, films and concerts, are supposed to be engaging, unforgettable, thought-provoking, and reassuringly visceral collective experiences that change us, even if only a smidgen. And the best ones do in fact do this. Before the show I completely expected Beach House to be one of these “best ones” — where the crowd leaves the show slightly high, smiling, elevated beyond the normality of life and work and all the stupid stresses that come about in our personal day to day — but unfortunately all I wanted to do after the show was head to the bar for another drink.

Yet, as my friend Trish said as I complained to her about the lackluster crowd, good vibes are infectious, and I guess mine just weren’t reverberating loudly enough last night. Wow. Maybe that one too many drink I had after the show is also inflecting my opinion here. Who knows? I still love the album and the band, but I probably won’t pay 30 bucks to someone on Craigslist for a Beach House ticket again.

Good vibes to you all. Haha.

Hudson Mohawke at Wrongbar in Toronto

March 27, 2010

25 March 2010

Ross Birchard aka Hud Mo played to a wild and packed house at Wrongbar Thursday night. Returning to Toronto after two years for his proper Hogtown ‘debut’, the young producer (who recently released his full-length Butter on Warp), had the crowd acting as if they were at a rock concert. People were crowd surfing, moshing, jumping up on stage, and just going ape shit as he ripped through tracks from his last few releases. It was a great vibe and Hud Mo seemed totally excited at the capacity crowd’s reaction as he threw down his bass heavy crunked beats and “wonky” sounds. To be honest, I find Butter hard to listen to all the way through. It’s a really eclectic mix of almost too many things slapped together, however, it totally worked live, and I was glad I was able to catch this upstart musician at a small venue, cuz he’s about to blow right the fuck up.

A big props has to go out to local promoter and DJ mymanhenri who has helped bring some great talent to Toronto: Flying Lotus, Falty DL, Nosaj Thing, Mayer Hawthorne, Joker, DâM-FunK, and Hudson Mo are just some of the artists he’s helped usher in over the last year. He’s becoming known as a tastemaker around town and deserves all the cred he can get. Please keep it up my man! Good times all around.



March 22, 2010

Warp Records stalwarts Autechre return with their tenth, count ‘em, tenth album. Rob Brown and Sean Booth usher in the new decade with the complex and intriguing “Oversteps” — a melodic and strangely emotive record that emits far different sonic vibrations than the duo’s last three full-lengths.

There’s no conscious way one can fully understand the compositional mind of Autechre, you just put them on and know that patience will reward. But with this new album the duo’s vibe will immediately pull you in and have you convinced machines must feel love before opening track “r ess” is done. Their signature klings, klangs, and syncopated rhythms are in full effect here, and with repeated listens they become infectious, full of darkened corners strobed with light. Yet, one wouldn’t call this a beat heavy album at all, the tempo is more subdued and textured, which reveals a definite maturation of the duo’s sound and synthesis. All this to say for non-fans: this is Autechre’s most accessible album in over a decade, and for non-non fans: their most solid release since “LP5”.

Tracks “see on see” and “O=0″ are the most heartfelt electronic songs I’ve heard in quite some time. I have no specific explanation as to why, but they hit hard and true and feature those brief moments of light I was talking about amidst darker and more heady tracks like “ilanders”, “known(1)”, and the fantastic “Treale”. My cousin Chris said he was unsure what to make of “Oversteps” after his first playthrough, but after a few days and a couple more ‘relaxed’ listens he likened it to BOC meets Blade Runner. I find the comparison fitting, and highly recommend the album for all fans of more challenging electronic music.

Another win for Ae. Please play Toronto this year.


The Sashimi Mural

March 14, 2010


Queen Street West just east of Dovercourt

Rather than boarding up a currently abandoned storefront facade with eyesore plywood or covering the windows with garbage bags, the Lens Factory Gallery commissioned some local artists to create a piece of art to conceal the unsightly and make it something worth looking at. For years now, back alleys in Toronto have been hosting some of the most visually vibrant art being made, and with this storefront painting, which I have lovingly dubbed “The Sashimi Mural”, back alley art is brought right up to the front door. And I totally dig it.

From info I’ve gathered on the net, this piece is a collaborative effort from emerging local artists Alexa Hatanaka, Logan Miller, and Kellen Hatanaka, who are part of a collective known as Feed the Ponch. The work is really quite striking, but I think what I like most about it is the geometric shapes on the boy’s hands and face, and the rich complimentary colours of the salmon.

I’d like to see more of this kind of thing in Toronto and hope these talented young artists continue making art in my community. Click on the photo for a bigger view. That’s it, I’m out.

Pawel – Pawel [Dial Records]

March 6, 2010


Co-founder of Dial Records, Paul Kominek, has finally released a full-length under his Pawel moniker. The self-titled long player was years in the making, but well worth the wait, because it’s a surprisingly tight and refreshing collection of smooove tech-house beats reminiscent of Audion, Theorem, and his Dial buddies Sten and Pantha du Prince. This album grows on me with each listen and has been a daily staple on my playlist for weeks now.

Tracks like “Coke” and “Dawn” get things cooking with that classic Kompaktesque four on the four vibe that’ll have you up and groovin’, until he slows it all down with “Mate” — a beautifully atmospheric and subdued composition marking the album’s middle. Kominek then turns it right back up with “Muscles” and “Crillon”, the disc’s heaviest hitters, and closes shop with two excellent tracks: the emotive and pulsing “Kramnik” and the fantastic, vocally-charged, “Wasting My Time”, which may actually be the album’s highlight. Kominek’s music fits nicely in the space left open on Dial after Pantha du Prince’s departure to Rough Trade, and with Pawel’s debut sounding as true as it does, Pantha need not be sorely missed.

Check it and dance to it.