Thursday, July 27, 2006

We're Imperial

My last blog post was a bit controversial with some people (and yes, I bow out at the point were it gets personal). I'm going to repost something I wrote a little while ago on a message board:

One of the things I've noticed in Toronto is the prevalence of, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all" when it comes to local music criticism. I was discussing this with another journalist on Sunday night, and he put it down to the simple fact that you really don't want to deal with someone you slagged off giving you the evil eye from the other side of the bar every time you go out. Nobody wants to name names, except in private.

While I can understand this sentiment, it seems to me a bit of honest criticism can go a long way towards leveling an uneven playing field. Marketing will give mediocre (or even bad) bands enough exposure to generate the sales and tour support for them to make it (Mobile, Pilate, Metric, Alexisonfire, etc.), while most local journalists run circles around saying any of them are crap. Of course, not everyone listens to reviews, but there are a hell of a lot of people who do, and one can argue that these are the very people who are buying records based around heavy rotation on MuchMusic and The Edge (which is bought, not earned).

If Emily Haines or Amy Millan wants to call you an asshole for saying their new albums are poor, tell them to write something better so you can give them the critical acclaim they want. I mean, why isn't there more local media pointing out that Live It Out is bad, and Bedouin Soundclash are not much better than Bootsauce? It seems to be the consensus elsewhere.


Although they've already toured with Weird War (ex-The Makeup) and !!!, San Francisco's Seahorse Liberation Army have yet to make a name for themselves outside their local scene. The lack of front-page exposure is surprising, considering they took responsibility for being the source of Paris Hilton's cell-phone leak (which, I suppose, is on the risky scale somewhere between claiming to be an Al Qaeda operative, and drinking a box of expired grape juice). Anyone know what a "conceptual art outlaw" is?

Regardless, take a bit of the aforementioned Weird War, mix in some of that !!!, add self-mocking socio-political commentary, wrap it up in Franco-synth-pop (with English lyrics), and you have Seahorse Liberation Army. I hear their six-member live show is impressive.

Thanks to ESB for the tip on this one.

Seahorse Liberation Army - Stockhousen For Little Girls That Wish [...]
Seahorse Liberation Army - Play Play Play
Seahorse Liberation Army - We Set Paris On Fire (Radio Edit)


Astute readers might notice Shout Out Out Out Out's full-length album has appeared in our "Best of 2006" sidebar.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Two Years Live

So, the AYF? two year anniversary passed with little fanfare.

However, it's never too late for a birthday (my father knows this), so I figure we can indulge in a celebratory post of live recordings we were listening to two years ago. Both of these bootlegs have been floating around the internet for - well - two years, but they're still a bit difficult to track down.

Featured here are two of our favorite musicians -- The Shins' James Mercer (thanks, Courtney), and Slowdive's Neil Halstead. The sets were recorded at the (surf/art-oriented) 2004 Moonshine Festival in Laguna Beach, California. Sound quality is great, and Halstead's rough start is endearing. He hits his stride on the last three tracks.

James Mercer live at Moonshine Festival (2004):

James Mercer - Intro
James Mercer - Caring Is Creepy
James Mercer - When I Goosestep
James Mercer - Young Pilgrims
James Mercer - Girl Inform Me
James Mercer - Won One Too Many Fights
James Mercer - Harvest
James Mercer - Pink Bullets
James Mercer - Gone For Good
James Mercer - Sphagnum Esplanade
James Mercer - The Past And Pending
James Mercer - New Slang
James Mercer - Saint Simon

Neil Halstead live at Moonshine Festival (2004)

Neil Halstead - See You On Rooftops
Neil Halstead - Two Stones In My Pocket
Neil Halstead - Driving With Bert
Neil Halstead - Sleeping On Roads
Neil Halstead - Who Do You Love
Neil Halstead - Yer Feet


Last week Metric curated an outdoor festival here in Toronto. Not being a huge fan of the music, I went to hang out with friends and drink (horribly overpriced) beer. Turns out free tickets and "VIP" wristbands were being given away like so many McDonalds Monopoly playing pieces (no doubt to bolster the relatively thin attendance).

Rather than rip into what I heard that day (I missed Land Of Talk, the only band I'd wanted to see), I'll offer you a glimpse into what kills me about the music industry:

As I left the show, Emily Haines (singer for Metric) dropped into an anti-commercialism/anti-marketing rant during a breakdown in set-closer, "Dead Disco" -- she went on about "not being marketed to," and sounded very teenage and angsty. So, here I am still within earshot of the venue, watching a guy in a Porsche drive out of the parking lot. We're surrounded by jocks and young scenesters, and music industry types, and being handed all sorts of useless merch and flyers -- and she is ranting against corporate marketing? It's like anti-commercialism is part of the m.o. for these fashion/style-driven bands. Ironic? Yes.

To put it in further perspective: this is coming from the same band who has a touring stylist and had bottle service in their VIP lounge at the after-party. Thanks guys.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Here come the Worm hits

Watching Ladyhawk Friday night at the Rivoli, I was reminded of a band that I had first seen on the same stage some 10 years ago: Silkworm. Both bands favour a form of frayed-nerve indie-rock that balances out the fuzz-pedal outbursts with wide open space, and both deal in the sort of bald, biting lyrics that can sometimes make them sound like assholes, even though we're always on their side of the argument.

For the uninitiated: Silkworm released several albums on such venerable labels as Matador and Touch and Go (many of which were recorded by Steve Albini) and were essentially Pavement's soul brothers, though their pop discord owed less to the Velvets/Sonic Youth school and more to Crazy Horse/Minutemen. Silkworm and Steve Malkmus even formed a supergroup of sorts called The Crust Brothers, ostensibly for the purpose of playing drunken Dylan covers, as documented on 1998's cheekily titled Marquee Mark.

Despite their formidable credentials, Silkworm were a mostly unknown quantity, even by indie-rock standards; the aforementioned gig at the Rivoli in '96 was attended by 50 people (and the 50 quietest people in Toronto at that), which was particularly shocking to me as, at the time, I assumed every band signed to Matador were rock stars. (I even felt compelled to go up to the band after the show and apologize for the muted reception.) The closest the band ever got to superstardom was when guitarist Andy Cohen filled in for Bush's Bigel Pusford for a few stadium gigs. But even if fame (or, heck, even a Magnet cover story) eluded them, you got the sense this band would be around forever, churning out solid albums so long as their day jobs allowed them the time.

Sadly, it was not to be: just over a year ago, on July 14 2005, the band's drummer Michael Dahlquist was killed in the most horrible of accidents -- the car containing him and two workmates was blindsided by a suicidal motorist who struck their car with the intention of ending her life. Dahlquist and his friends, John Click and Dougas Meis, were killed on impact. Crazy driver woman, of course, lived — though her modelling career is probably finished.

Dahlquist became the second person I've ever interviewed to pass on. In tribute to a good man and his band, here's a small sample of Silkworm's greatest shoulda-woulda-coulda-been contenders.

Silkworm - Never Met a Man I Didn't Like
Silkworm - Treat the New Guy Right
Silkworm - Drunk

Saturday, July 15, 2006

That Cat's Something I Can't Explain

You know the drill: rock legend dies; spend rest of week revisiting the catalogue and sifting through assorted ephemera. Like this, Syd Barrett's high school photo (courtesy of Ben Rayner, whose dad was in Syd's class). You'll find the young madcap three rows down from the top, fifth from left.

Syd also had a friend who witnessed his first acid tip, realized it was going to be a historical event, and decided to film it. And in a strange bit of synchronicity, news of Syd's death coincided with the arrival of the new Sadies "live at Lee's" album, In Concert Volume One (out August 8), featuring a cover of the Floyd's "Lucifer Sam," with guest Gary Louris on vocals. That this week also saw the release of Pink Floyd's wholly unnecessary Pulse DVD was not an uncanny coincidence, just merely pathetic.

The Sadies - Lucifer Sam (Pink Floyd Cover)

Friday, July 14, 2006

This World Is A Warm Sunny Park

First off, I want to thank Greg for inviting me to write for AYF? What an honour, for real. As I get my bearings in a new city (Toronto), you'll be hearing about my observations on an obssessive culture, be privy to my taste in music, and hear gossip stories from my adventures as they unfold. There's no format for what I'll deliver to you, with only one rule: NO MADONNA! (Except, maybe a good remix will come out and I'll be able to pass it along? Please? [No Madonna! No Madonna remixes! Why do all girls love Madonna? -Greg]) Yes you're going to get all this - sprinkled with sarcasm and wit - so here we go.


Lately I've been reading a lot about a band called Oh No! Oh My! (enter clever joke about their name here) on countless blogs (dating way back to January). Garnering the same type of buzz that brought CYHSY to the lips of every indie-internet-junkie-hipster, this band is not necessarily unique amoung their peers, but they have managed to apply fresh perspective to a tired genre.

Comparible to bands like The Magnetic Fields, The Shins, and Belle & Sebastian, listening to Oh No! Oh My! leaves us noticing the little things in life that so often pass us by. "Walk In The Park" has quickly turned into my very own personal theme song with lyrics like, "nice day for a drive-by shooting," making even the most sadistic actions appear pleasurable. Kind of fucked up, right? Well listen to the song, and you'll be bouncing along the street thinking to yourself, "I wish I had my gat..."

Oh No! Oh My! - Walk In The Park
Oh No! Oh My! - Jane Is Fat

You Ain't No Picasso recently featured Oh No! Oh My!'s WOXY session.

They play Thursday July 13th at the Insound Pre-Siren Fest party at Supreme Trading in Brooklyn (aka The 2nd Annual SHORTS ONLY Party).

The rest of the tour dates are as follows:

07/14/2006 - El Mocombo, Toronto, ON - w/ The Big Sleep, Professor Murder
07/30/2006 - Southgate House, Cincinnati, OH - w/ Camera Obscura
08/03/2006 - Kuyahoga Festival, Cleveland, OH - w/ Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth
08/05/2006 - Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL - w/ about 300 other bands
08/06/2006 - The End, Nashville, TN - w/ Lylas and General Sherman
08/19/2006 - The Opolis, Norman, OK
08/22/2006 - The Independent, San Francisco, CA - w/ Let's Go Sailing, TBA
08/23/2006 - Amoeba Music In-Store & Secret Acoustic show, Los Angeles, CA
08/24/2006 - The Echo, Los Angeles, CA
08/25/2006 - Spaceland, Los Angeles, CA
08/26/2006 - The Casbah, San Diego, CA - w/ Jeremy Enigk
09/06/2006 - House of Blues, Atlantic City, NJ - w/ The Flaming Lips
09/07/2006 - University of Vermont, Burlington, VT - w/ The Flaming Lips

Thursday, July 13, 2006

We Multiply

AYF? covered Birmingham/Rekjavik/London-based (sic) Fields back in January of this year. They recently released a couple new songs for download, both of which live up to the high psych-pop standards we expect from the band. Now if only they'd tour Canada instead of Japan.

Fields - Charming The Flames
Fields - Heretic


The Boggs' latest 12" came out yesterday. It should be available from their label, Say Hey Records, once they update the site. Remixes from Shy Child and Glass Factory (Chris Zane) are included with this one. See our post from Monday/Tuesday for background information on The Boggs.

Oneida's new LP was also released yesterday. You can catch them live on Friday August 4th in Toronto, as part of the Bummer In The Summer Festival at The Boat. Prepare to be impressed.

Oneida - Up With People


NO FORMAT presents

(Part 1)

Wednesday August 23rd 2006


The Diableros
No Dynamics
Wyrd Visions
Fjord Rowboat

Musical interludes provided by Chromewaves

More info, and our special guests to be announced soon.


Future Force consists of two members of the now defunct Electric Badness (see previous AYF? post). TJ and Noah have fashioned some solid motorik-inspired electro-disco for their first couple of releases as Future Force; the percussion has a good low-end thump, and the synths bounce along nicely. I'm posting the slightly more amped Alex Costa remix of "Night Pony" here. It's been floating around on a few other blogs, but it deserves the extra coverage.

Future Force - Night Pony (Alex Costa 8Bitz Remix)

Check out TJ's blog, American Athlete.


You will notice posts on AYF? are now listed under various people's names. Please be nice to Lana and Stuart.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Time Has Passed

It has been a month since the last proper AYF? blog entry. A lot has happened in that time.

Our Man Man show was very successful, filling The Silver Dollar with a happy, receptive audience. The Ghost Is Dancing were a great opener, and everything went smoothly. Thanks to all who came out, and a big thanks to the person who recorded a few tracks from Man Man's set and put it up on YouTube. Suckingalemon has some photos of the night.

YouTube: Man Man - Video 1 (Live at The Silver Dollar, Toronto)
YouTube: Man Man - Video 2 (Live at The Silver Dollar, Toronto)


NO FORMAT and Lipp Service took advantage of our friend Juan MacLean's Harbourfront show in Toronto last Friday, and set him up with a DJ gig the day before. This time it was at The Beaver; a very small bar down on Queen Street West run by Will Munro. Huge thanks to Mikey and Jaime for playing music and helping make this a great night. We had about 150 people in a space designed for 60.

This was the first time Serato gave me problems during a set (partially the result of skipping needles and my own stupidity), but even with some technical difficulties, the dancing didn't stop.

I took off to Montreal with The Juan MacLean for their show at Club Soda last Saturday -- now it's Monday and I'm back in Toronto, still recovering.


The Paper Cranes debut EP peaked in the top 10 on the Canadian college/indie charts. Their tour was a success, and we'd like to give thanks to everyone for your couches and support. We can now announce our UK 7" release coming up after this summer on Longest Mile Records. US distribution for the Veins EP is forthcoming, as is a full-length CD in 2007.

In the meantime, Vitaminsforyou finished off his remix of "Milk Run" today. The "Milk Run (And A Stick Of Butter Holiday Remix)" comes off like Black Dice meets balearic beat, and is one of my favorite tracks VFU has done.

The Paper Cranes - Milk Run (And A Stick Of Butter Holiday Remix)


I've been sitting on a couple of bands for the last month. The first to get written up are The Boggs.

Fronted by Jason Friedman (who has flitted between Berlin and New York over the last few years), The Boggs' current incarnation features members from a few respected indie bands, amongst them Enon, and Love As Laughter.

Their sound veers from intense and percussive ("Forts") to dissonant and spastic ("Remember The Orphans"), all while retaining a desperate, tightly wound sense of purpose. This is some of the best new music out of New York.

The Boggs - Forts
The Boggs - Arm In Arm
The Boggs - Remember The Orphans


Speaking of New York, I had a chance to see TV On The Radio at their free Prospect Park show in Brooklyn (with Voxtrot) a couple weeks ago. The guys have developed their live performance, and are obviously now used to a big stage and a big crowd. Great presence.

We hit Lansing-Drieden and Grizzly Bear at The Bowery after TVOTR; another good show. Funny how people are so split on L-D's secret image thing. I think it's funny. Are the vocals canned? Hard to say, but the mics were definitely live between songs.


Thanks to everyone who asked when AYF? was coming back -- I told you we would. Maybe more than five of you even stuck around.

Lana is going to help out with some writing, as is Stuart (who is now a regular
Pitchfork contributor. Feel free to hate on him for his association. Just kidding. We like PFM and plan to attend their festival this month.)


If you haven't yet heard the new Jarvis Cocker track, you really should. Accompanying the song here is Billy Childish/Thee Headcoats' vicious rant against the corporate music establishment (thanks to Gary for this one, and congratulations to his band who probably love the music media these days).

Jarvis Cocker - Cunts Are Still Running The World
Thee Headcoats - (We Hate The Fuckin') NME