Posts Tagged ‘toronto’


April 1, 2012

Welcome to INAUDIBLE’s second installment of 5-10-15-20 in which I blatantly steal a feature from Pitchfork and ask fantastic people to talk about their musical love affairs at five year intervals. This second edition features Toronto based film editor/sound man/all around amazing dude, Stew Maclean waxing nostalgic about the songs and records that got him all fired up and ready to go.


Let’s Dance” by David Bowie

I remember my brother Bart and I dancing around to this song a ton, but waiting for it on that old late night music video show (would have been a Detroit station cause we didn’t have cable) or on the radio. This might not have been exactly at age five but it’s really close and one of my first music memories. My love for it stemmed from a mix of us making fun of Bowie a bit but also because I had never really heard a song like this before.

AGE 10

My oldest brother Jay was just getting out of a huge classic rock phase at this time and he gave me his old tapes that he didn’t listen to anymore. Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were my faves. I loved Zeppelin’s “Over The Hills And Far Away” from Houses of the Holy because of The Lord of the Rings, which I tried to read around this time but it was too difficult – instead the Ralph Bakshi animated LOTR movie was more up my alley. Also “Fairies Wear Boots” from Black Sabbath’s Paranoid was a song that Jay used to put on super super loud to pump himself up to write exams and the guitar really heated up my groin and it felt like it was something that I shouldn’t be listening to but that’s definitely what drew me to it.

AGE 15

This was another huge musical moment for me. Angel Dust by Faith No More. A couple of years before I had seen Mike Patton perform on Saturday Night Live and it was soooo cool. I thought he was the shit and Epic was a great album but Angel Dust blew it out of the water and I think I spent an entire year listening to this record. It totally changed the way that I looked at music because it was so different and it didn’t seem like an album because I never listened to it from start to finish (fucking tapes). It was also my third concert seeing them at State Theatre in Detroit and Mike Patton was still soooooo cool and I bought a shirt at the show and my parents never said anything about me walking around with a shirt that had angel dust written on it.

AGE 20

This was right around the time I started to become obsessed with the Morr Music label and that style of electronica. Arovane, Solvent, Phonem, Christian Kleine, Múm, The Notwist were all amazing! Also I remember going to bed every night listening to “Djed” by Tortoise on headphones from my boombox and I would always have great sleeps (man, whatever happened to those sleeps? The sleeps that dreams are made of Matt).

AGE 25

So obviously the electronic phase continued. I got into Boards of Canada from P-Dogg and Aphex Twin from Marc. I never did get to see any of those assholes live but I still loved ’em. They were both way different and way better and older than the other electronic stuff I was listening to. P-Dogg’s boundless enthusiasm for BoC was contagious and Marc would always say that Richard D. James invented a new style of electronic music. This was also right around the time that I started to move towards other genres of music and realized that guitars were still cool.

AGE 30

Having the luxury of Joaquim’s amazing stereo system that we rocked out to all the time helped me get into styles of music that I never thought I would. Genesis was the biggest and best of that time. The whole concept song/album thing really reminded me of the first time I heard Angel Dust by Faith No More. Also how fuckin’ cool was Peter Gabriel with the reverse mohawk hair? And listening to their live albums on vinyl on a $10,000 dollar stereo was a really easy sell.

It’s weird when I think about this list because there are a ton of other bands and musicians that I know I listened to as much if not more than the bands on this list but these are the ones closest to the age mark. Yes.

Ed: Thanks Stew!

Honorable Audibles as of late

August 20, 2011

SBTRKT – SBTRKT (Young Turks)

I slept on this one for a few months, but am glad I finally checked it out because masked beat-maker SBTRKT’s eponymous long player is an absolute grower, and features emotional vocals courtesy of collaborators Sampha, Roses Gabor, Jessie Ware, and Little Dragon. Even after first listen it’s obvious SBTRKT (real name Aaron Jones) spent a lot of time working with his talented vocalists, as the production is meticulous. It’s a soulful affair, working with elements of dubstep, drum and bass, garage, and bass music. Definitely one to check out before the summer’s through.

Araabmuzik – Electronic Dream (Duke Records)

I don’t even know how to classify this shit. Dirty trance electro hip-pop? All I can tell you is, Araabmuzik’s Electronic Dream offers up some of the most exciting tracks of the year. Does it border on cheesy at times? Hell yes, but that’s part of its charm, and the snare pops, dirty hip-hop drum programming, nods to AFX, and uber-crisp production completely make up for any weird trance-pop transgressions. For this listener, it’s one of the few albums that have really hit hard and kept its appeal after many listens. Worth checking out, no doubt!

For those of you in TORONTO, these two producers are playing a show together in November at The Hoxton. Check out the details of this not to be missed show right HERE! Cheers.

Wild Nothing at Wrongbar in Toronto

February 21, 2011

17 February 2011

Wild Nothing played their Toronto debut to a sold out crowd at Wrongbar and sounded almost as good as the fight I saw between a cat and a raccoon on the walk home. I was stoked to see Jack Tatum bring his bedroom project out into the world, but sadly he should have stayed home. I love his two albums Gemini and the Golden Haze EP, but unfortunately the live Wild Nothing experience only hampers what is a budding career and an impressive string of releases for the young musician.

Tatum records everything himself for his albums, where he is able to have complete control, but for the live show he recruited a band for the tour and they pretty much sucked. Sure they hit all the notes, but they were obviously still working out some kinks and the show was sloppy at best.

Worst of all: Tatum’s voice. Man, he truly CANNOT sing live. In his studio he can manipulate his voice and play with his falsetto, but on stage he was tone deaf, off key, and didn’t even dare try the high notes, going lower instead and sounding just plain bad.

I’d love to give the young band the benefit of the doubt, but after two failed attempts at playing “Gemini” due to sound problems and then trying it again for a third time I left, happy to be free to breathe in the crisp night air. What a let down. My advice is to stay home and listen to the albums instead and pray that Tatum rethinks his entire live show and reconsiders what it is he really wants to do with his Wild Nothing project.

The Besnard Lakes + Suuns at Lee’s Palace

February 9, 2011

It was a Montreal takeover at Lee’s on Saturday January 29th, as rockers The Besnard Lakes and emerging proggers Suuns played Toronto. It was a perfect storm of music and mayhem as several Aquarians (including myself) all convened at the show to conclude a week long celebration of birthdays. We missed opening act Valleys, but arrived just in time for Suuns, whose album Zeroes QC has been on heavy rotation on my stereo as of late. They played a tight set but I found the sound was a bit muddied, the bass too low in the mix, and the keyboards too loud, as if the sound guys had everything tweaked just right for the Besnards and didn’t want to touch the board for Suuns. Still, the young band were great and I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Sound problems were definitely not an issue for The Besnard Lakes, who played an amazing set, showcasing their 2010 release The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night. Halfway through their set, fuelled by Jameson and Redbull, I too began to think I was the roaring night and started to veer off into the world of savagery. Nevertheless, the show still absolutely rocked. Rich White’s guitar was tight and loud, and Jace Lasek’s voice was immaculate, as was Olga Goreas’ driving bass. The Besnard Lakes are one of the best live bands around, and overall you couldn’t ask for a better night of MTL rock and roll at Lee’s. Right, Stew?

*photos courtesy of Mateusz Garbulinski

Local Natives at The Mod Club in Toronto

October 22, 2010

19 October 2010

L.A. scenesters Local Natives played their Toronto debut to a sold out crowd at The Mod Club this Tuesday, and wowed with strong vocals and a tight live performance. The young band was brimming with energy and enthusiasm as they showcased tracks off of their critically-acclaimed album, Gorilla Manor.

The crowd sang and chanted along with the band, making it feel as if Local Natives were seasoned veterans in the scene, rather than rising stars on their first headlining tour. What impressed me most was their live vocal chops, as they effortlessly hit every note, whether in chorus or alone, reminding me at times of the powerful harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young — which is no small feat.

The band emitted an air of subtle class on stage, void of rock star status, letting the music speak for them, which I found very refreshing. Highlights for me were “Wide Eyes” and “Who Knows Who Cares” (which the entire crowd sang along with), their version of the Talking Heads hit “Warning Sign”, “Cards and Quarters”, and “Sun Hands”, which they played as their encore and brought the crowd to a frenzy.

I almost didn’t go to this show due to an early morning, yet I was super glad I did, as it ended up being one of the best live shows I’ve seen this year, and at the same time reminded me how much I love Gorilla Manor. I’ve been listening to the album every day since the show, and have fallen in love with it all over again.

Funny concert moment: Singer-keyboardist Kelcey Ayer saying: “It’s great to be here in Vancouver!” and then quickly realizing his mistake and running red-faced off the stage . . . we’ll let it slide this time since his voice sounded so damn good during “Cubism Dream”.

Local Natives are definitely a band to watch because they are only going to get bigger and better. Awesome album and amazing show. Check ’em if you’ve yet to do so…

Sufjan Stevens at Massey Hall in Toronto

October 19, 2010

13 October 2010

Sufjan Stevens played the venerable Massey Hall in Toronto on Wednesday and skillfully showcased material from his brand new album The Age of Adz. Toronto was his second stop in a 23 city North American tour, that finds Sufjan and his band playing in beautiful historic venues across the United States. The tour will then move on to Australia and Europe at the start of 2011.

And what a spectacle it was. Flanked by two drummers, bass, guitar, keyboards, synths, horns, and two back-up singers/dancers (11 people in all on stage), Sufjan and his band held me in rapture from the opening moments of the 12 minute epic “All Delighted People”. Yet, it wasn’t until they played “Too Much” from The Age of Adz, that I became fully immersed.

The new material from Adz is above and beyond anything he has produced thus far, mixing folk, electronica, pop, cinematic orchestra and indie rock, and filtering it all through the sensibilities of a Broadway musical. So then for me, everything he played off of Adz was an immersive and amazing adventure in live music. In short, the new stuff kicks ass — it is inspiring, off kilter, and very emotional. The show was backdropped with an impressive visual performance as well, finding inspiration and using artwork from eccentric American artist Royal Robertson.

The Age of Adz is a brilliant and challenging album. Its production value is what makes it a challenge, as it’ll take a few listens for you to take it all in, but what makes it brilliant is that by the second listen, you’ll already find the melodies glued to your brain. You’ll wake up humming the chorus to “I Walked” and end up singing the coda of “Vesuvius” in the shower. The repetitive nature of the lyrics and the simple melodies hidden under the surface makes Adz a highly accessible album, yet some may still find it too “electronic” or “layered” for their tastes, but with repeat listens it is quite rewarding…

The album climaxes with the 25-minute “Impossible Soul”, which Sufjan dubbed a “love cycle”, as there’s 5 different movements within the song. And yes, they played it live, and barely missed a beat. “Impossible Soul” is my favourite song of the year, as it embraces and exploits practically every genre of the last 50 years — from 60’s rock to Disney-esque orchestra to hip-hop to techno to simple folk. What other song features a raunchy guitar solo, an inspirational sing-a-long, and some kick ass autotune? And more importantly, what other song smashes all these genres together and does it so effectively? I’ve yet to find any other. And the fact that they pulled it off so well live was absolutely fantastic. I was singing along word for word as Sufjan started up a little dance party on the stage.

Those who showed up actually expecting him to play old songs from Illinois and Michigan, when he had just released two albums of new material, seemed a bit disappointed to have to sit through an hour and a half of unfamiliar material, yet for me (who had Adz in my possession the minute of its digital release) it was hands down the best live show of the year.

*photos courtesy of Mateusz Garbulinski

1. All Delighted People
2. Heirloom
3. Too Much
4. Futile Devices
5. The Age Of Adz
6. I Walked
7. Now That I’m Older
8. Vesuvius
9. Get Real Get Right
10. Enchanting Ghost
11. The Owl and The Tanager
12. Impossible Soul
13. Chicago
14. Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
15. John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

Mount Kimbie at The Drake Underground

October 2, 2010

30 September 2010

Dom Maker and Kai Campos, better known as Mount Kimbie, made their Toronto debut at the Drake Underground this Thursday night and did not disappoint. The young UK duo played a live set free of laptops, using a Native Instruments sampler, a Roland SP-555, and a KORG Kaoss pad, as well as, real guitar, synth and drums, they managed to create an interesting and varied live version of their clipped paced dubstep sound. Tracks like “Carbonated”, “Field” and “Ode to Bear” sounded great live, with tweaked samples, live instrumentation, additional beats, and deep bass. The opening seconds of “Maybes” sounded downright cavernous in the dark and packed Drake Underground, and the vocal samples swirled and panned around the room. The live version of “William” featured Dom singing the muted lyrics with his thick British accent, which I thought was a nice touch. Although their set was relatively short, and perhaps at times just a bit too low on the bpms for the ravenous crowd, it was great to see these guys play live in a small venue. Nice stuff.

Local hero mymanhenri got the show going, playing great tracks by all our faves including FlyLo, Floating Points, and Onra, who will also be making his Toronto debut at the Drake Underground on Oct 10th. Another one you should not miss. Check it.

Foals at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

October 2, 2010

27 September 2010

UK indie rockers, Foals, returned to Lee’s Palace on Monday in support of their sophomore release Total Life Forever and played to a sold out crowd. The band got off to a moody start with a somewhat choppy version of “Miami”, as it seemed to take frontman Yannis Philipakkis a couple tracks to get into the mood of the set. Also, guitarist Jimmy Smith suffered from constant technical difficulties with his guitar, which halted the momentum of the show on quite a few occasions. Still, Foals blasted through tracks off of Total Life Forever and Antidotes to the crowd’s delight. The crowd danced and screamed and sang along, reaching frenzy during the kick in “Spanish Sahara”.

I thought it was a good show, but wasn’t as impressed as I was after their first stop at Lee’s in the spring of 2008. And I’ll tell you why: firstly, they did not play “Black Gold”, which is my favourite song off of their new album, and arguably the strongest song they have written to date. Secondly, I found the show to go completely against everything the band has claimed they have become (more mature, dynamic, and understated) since the release of Antidotes. At this show, Yannis acted like a bit of a rockstar, kicking over mic stands and beer bottles, running into the crowd with his “wireless” guitar, jumping on the bar and (accidentally) smashing a light. Sure, it’s all good showmanship, but there was something in his overall manner and attitude that took away from the authenticity of it all. To me, it seemed like he would’ve rather been somewhere else. The rest of the band fulfilled their duties well, bass and drums as tight as ever, and keyboard dude still just as superfluous.

Lastly, and perhaps this is what irked me the most, was that instead of nurturing this new maturity and dynamism on stage, their live show was overly loud, prone to drawn-out jams, and at times down right sloppy. I had expected their live performance would have gotten tighter and stronger since their first trip across the pond, but instead they relied on older material and amplifier volume to fill in the blanks and in the end it fell flat. Nevertheless, Total Life Forever will still be up there on my end of year list and it was a good show, but Foals still have some growing up to do.


Peeping Tom, Stalking Stew

August 25, 2010

Once upon a time, my best friend Dave was friends with a really hot girl on Facebook. And one day while visiting Dave’s wall, I happened to notice a thumbnail image of this really hot girl. So I clicked on it. This lead me to her own personal page, which she had left wide open to the virtual world. Her name was Amy. She had long brown hair and blue eyes. I clicked on her photos and scanned through every one of them. I watched two years of her life flash by in grainy mobile uploads and over-exposed digital. I saw her at school in a dorm wearing sweats and a baseball hat. I saw her all stumbly on Bloor Street after having one too many at The Dance Cave. I saw her outside of Union Station in a big winter parka. I met her parents and her dog Barkley, and was given a tour of her childhood home from her Christmas trip to Saint John in 2008. I met her ex-boyfriend Brian. Saw them on a camping trip in Fundy National Park, saw them embracing in Times Square in the summer of 2009, I even saw them under the covers in bed. I was able to gather from her “likes” that she was a fan of graphic novels like “Tales from the Farm” and “The Walking Dead”. Her favourite TV show was “Battlestar Galactica” and she loved Sufjan Stevens. I knew her favourite coffee shop was Ezra’s Pound on Dupont. And I knew she had spent last weekend at the Arcade Fire show on Olympic Island. In just about every photo, Amy had a big toothy smile, which seemed to me to reveal a genuine happiness that I could easily idealize.

Not three days later: turning around from the cash register at the bar I work at, there she was. Wearing the same green blouse I had admired so much in one of her recent photos. She smiled and asked for a gin and tonic. Her voice was gentle, yet dry, dusty. Like she’d just had three smokes. I blushed. Made her drink. Lemon instead of lime. I glanced at Amy’s face, wanting to see that grin again, the one from her photos, where she was all teeth and gums, and full of a brightness that I believed could illuminate even my worst thoughts. She tipped me 50 cents. “I uh, like your top,” I said, my face flushing crimson as she said thanks and turned away from the bar. I watched her join her girlfriend at a table by the front window, and felt like a peeping, perving Tom. A sleazy, stalking Stew. Because I knew this woman. This lovely Amy from Saint John. Or at least felt like I did. And she didn’t have a goddamn clue. All because I clicked on a tiny thumbnail image of her and then followed a series of clicks and links that were openly, publicly available to me on the world wide web. And although I was convinced that she could love me, there was nothing I could say to her in real life.

Thanks Facebook. You’ve become wikipedia for people I don’t know. Visual fodder for a laptop dream. Shame on us all.

POLVO at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

August 14, 2010

13 August 2010

Post rock legends, POLVO, played a tight set at Lee’s Palace on Friday night in Toronto, giving aging fanboys one last chance to get their rocks off to the twisted tunings and weirdo time signatures that made Polvo revered and adored in the mid-nineties. Polvo called it quits in 1998 after the release of their sixth album Shapes, but returned last year with the excellent In Prism, and luckily Toronto was one of the stops on their brief summer tour with Versus.

On paper this line-up is my high school wet dream: Polvo and Versus playing together! It seemed too good to be true . . . and in the end, it was. Versus’ drummer, Ed Baluyut, was a no-show because his wife had a baby, so the drummer for opening band Soft Copy filled in. Under the circumstances, he did a great job, but was obviously hesitant. They managed to play hits “Blade of Grass”, “River” and “Be-9” from The Stars are Insane, which ended up sounding pretty good, but overall it just wasn’t how I imagined it.

Polvo hit the stage next and were amazingly tight. Ridiculously tight. Hard to explain how good they were. They opened with an extended version of “Fast Canoe” that varied from the original but sounded fantastic. They debuted a new song, and played “The Pedlar”, “Right the Relation” and “Beggars Bowl” off of In Prism, “Thermal Treasure”, “Lazy Comet”, and “My Kimono” from Today’s Active Lifestyles, “Bombs that Fall from your Eyes” from This Eclipse, “Feather of Forgiveness” from Exploded Drawing, “Enemy Insects” from Shapes and other hits. In short, it was a great show. You really couldn’t complain.

But overall it made me feel strange. As if I shouldn’t be allowed to see Polvo again after all these years. They are a memory and should stay that way. All these reunion shows over the last few years have us churning up nostalgia in massive quantities, watching older versions of the heroes of our youth trying to relive the days of their youth — and even though it’s wonderful to be able to see your favourite band again, it’s just never quite the same.

Ian Cohen’s review on Pitchfork of The Suburbs by Arcade Fire says that the main focus of their new album is on the “quiet desperation borne of compounding the pain of wasting your time as an adult by romanticizing the wasted time of your youth.” There is something very profound in this quote that resonates with me, and my experience of seeing a decade older Polvo blast out the hits made me think of this. You see, I’m a sucker for nostalgia, a goddamn sap, I love to stir up old feelings that I can’t quite comprehend anymore, love to secretly get weepy over times gone by — but now as I’m figuring out how to step confidently into my early thirties, I feel it’s time to leave this old stuff behind, it’s time only for constant steps forward and further and onward.

Sure, it’s nice to go back every now and again, but that was it for me. The clincher. Seeing Polvo and Versus was the culmination of the very end of my youth. There. It is done. I am a motherfucking adult. Finally.

Thank you Polvo and Versus for helping me affirm this once and for all.