Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Shoegaze Cover Night (Part 1)

Wednesday August 23rd 2006

NO FORMAT presents


Ian Worang (
Uncut / The Two Koreas) - Guitar
Kieran Grant (The Two Koreas) - Guitar
Jon McCann (
Nassau / ex-Guided By Voices) - Guitar
Ian Jackson (
The Diableros) - Guitar
Derek Tokar (Uncut) - Bass
Pete Carmichael (The Diableros) - Bass
David Gee (The Two Koreas) - Drums
Jon Drew (Uncut) - Drums
Stuart Berman (The Two Koreas) - Vox/Percussion


No Dynamics (11:00pm)
The Assistants (10:30pm)
Wyrd Visions (10:00pm)
Fjord Rowboat (9:30pm)

Musical interludes provided by

Design and visuals curated by

TRANZAC (292 Brunswick Ave., south of Bloor) (Toronto, Canada)

$8 in advance, and $10 at the door.

Tickets available at Rotate This and Soundscapes until night of show.

(Please note The Diableros will no longer be playing a solo set, but members of the band will be guesting with The Black Rabbit.)


Direct from my frustratingly slow Hotmail Live Beta inbox to you, are The Isles. A band from New York who - on this track at least - manage to sound almost entirely like The Smiths (without the reference coming off as a diss).

The Isles - Major Arcana

Next, I offer you one track from lost '80s post-punk forerunners, Blue Orchids -- with a write-up, and more music to follow.

Blue Orchids - The Flood


We hope to see some of you tomorrow night. Thanks for your support.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

All in threes

Fujiya & Miyagi are not Japanese, but British -- though like France's Colder, they sound German. Their new album, Transparent Things, is this year's model of motorik Krautrock precision.

Fujiya & Miyagi - Cassettesingle


Bossanova is not a bossa nova band; it's the alias of Vancouver's Chris Torrow, a well-connected indie-rocker with members of The New Pornographers and Black Mountain in his Rolodex. His debut album, Hey Sugar (released this past spring on the recently reactivated Teenbeat label) is an analog-synth-slathered update of Scott Walker-ian pop romantique, but the centrepiece track "Rare Brazil" finds him busting out the Teutonic funk moves of Low-era Bowie.

Bossanova - Rare Brazil


Velocette are not velocettes, nor are they even a band anymore. The long-lost Brit quartet's debut album Fourfold Remedy came out on Wiija Records in 1998 and the band promptly disappeared without incident. But in light of The Pipettes' recent grrl-group redux, it's an appropriate time for a reappraisal. Where the Pipettes proffer a more self-aware synthesis of The Supremes and Le Tigre, Velocette provided a more retro/reverential portrait of Spector producing Stereolab.

Velocette - Get Yourself Together

Friday, August 11, 2006

Heavy Brackets

So, Stuart took off to Chicago last week for what I think might have been the best weekend of shows Toronto has seen this year. From Land Of Talk last Thursday, to Oneida on Friday, Wolf Parade (with Frog Eyes, and Holy Fuck) on Saturday evening, and The Blow on Saturday night, it was a wonderful time.

Land Of Talk have been consistently great every time I've seen them, and this - an off night by their standards - was no exception. Locals The Ghost Is Dancing (who recently signed to Sonic Unyon) and Foxfire Forest kicked things off in pure indie-pop style. We have a nice little scene going on here, and it's good to see a younger generation of artists representing -- I mean, I don't think anyone in Foxfire Forest is over 21-years-old, to look at them.

Oneida absolutely killed it on Friday night. Amazing performance.

Wolf Parade put on the weakest show of all these bands -- hobbled by limited set time and my own high expectations (they offered up only average performances the last two times I saw them, so I was expecting the third time to be lucky). With the hour nearing 7pm, Frog Eyes began the show at (the college jock magnet that is) The Phoenix, followed by Holy Fuck. Wolf Parade closed things out, rushing through their set before the 9pm curfew. They managed to play a quick encore, much to the discomfort of the promoter -- if you book The Phoenix on a weekend, you have to be out of there before The Edge 102 dance party takes over at 10pm.

Following the oppressive atmosphere of The Phoenix, it was a relief to watch The Blow (see also: Y.A.C.H.T.) do her thing a few hours later. She coaxed the indie-rockers at Sneaky Dee's into dancing and even managed to do a little crowd surfing during her meandering, highly theatrical set. Canadancia is what she called it, and we thank her for that.

Overall a great weekend, capped off by good times at the bars and at home on Sunday night.


Cobras Cobras Cobras are a couple guys out of Victoria, BC, making (early) Liars-like noise, backed up by synthesized beats. The two tracks they've made available on their Myspace page show great potential, but they have no label, and no tour plans just yet. We'll have some more insider news on this band in the upcoming weeks.

Cobras Cobras Cobras - Best Of The Best
Cobras Cobras Cobras - Payphone Jr.


A few hours down south (across the increasingly fortified U.S.-Canada border) are Nudge. This sorta-Portland, Oregon-based three-piece also rock the drum machines, but lay a much more delicate set of sounds over top -- managing to create atmospheric electronic music that is actually good (no small feat). Of course, that's not to say they don't get loud or pick up the tempo at times; be sure to check out the live recordings they have on their Myspace page.

Featuring Brian Foote of Audraglint Records (through which they are releasing their next short-format CD), Nudge are currently preparing material for a new album on Kranky, and have previously worked with left-field electro-indie label Tigerbeat6.

With vocals by Josh Blanchard of Plants, "Her Lips" is a real stand-out track here.

Nudge - Her Lips
Nudge - Blon
Nudge - Parade

See also: Strategy, another musical project of Nudge's Paul Dickow.


The Boggs just offered a new version of Arm In Arm (off their recently-released 12") for download. Excellent production on this one; nice remix from Shy Child.

The Boggs - Arm In Arm (12" Version)
The Boggs - Arm In Arm (Shy Child Remix)
The Boggs - The Passage


Watch Glissandro 70 live at Tranzac (backed by Jeremy Finkelstein of No Dynamics on drums). Thanks to Aperture Enzyme.


For those who are unaware of our policy for posting music, we get permission for about 75% of what you can download here, with the rest being (mostly) hard-to-find, out of print, or very obscure tracks. The trend at some "MP3 blogs" to make entire albums available for download (often prior to release) is offensive and inconsiderate to the artists they portend to support.

Please, before you offer the results of someone else's hard work for free over the internet, think twice about the context in which you do it.


That's it for another heavily bracketed update.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bedroom Creators

Now, more than ever, young passionate singer-songwriters are making music in their bedrooms. They lock themselves up for hours, play all the instruments, arrange and record it themselves and pass out CDs to their friends who pass it along to their friends who post it on the interweb. People who would never know about them become fans, and-- you know how it works.

This kind of indie success is what the many dudes I met while living in Brooklyn are quickly realizing. Nothing is stopping them from following their dreams of making quality music (often about sex, girls, parties, drinking and friends) and distributing it themselves.

There's something about recordings like these that can be captivating. Usually intimate and acoustic, one can't help being touched by the priviledge of listening to these seemingly inner thoughts put to music. And even though they may not be able to record professionally, their music is still reaching people by word of mouth. Isn't that the best way? It just makes it feel so much more personal.

Here are a couple artists that stand out to me, I hope you enjoy them too:

Sean Walsh is a 20-year-old New Jersey native who draws from influences like Hank Williams, M. Ward, Elliot Smith and Bob Dylan. Shifting between up-beat bar-dancing, beer-swigging, bro-hugging good times, and songs filled with insightful lyrics about love and relationships, Sean makes music that leaves you with a sense that he really understands the human condition.

Sean Walsh - Halfway Laugh
Sean Walsh - Wild Eyes

With sarcasm and wit matched by few of his peers, Miguel Mendez released his first solo album on I & Ear Records from Brooklyn. Also a member of Love As Laughter, Tiffany Anders, and J. Mascis, he's often compared to Beck, The Magnetic Fields and Neil Young. Close 'bros, Dios (Malos), did a cover of his song “You Got Me All Wrong”, and it ended up on “The O.C.", but don't let that scare you away -- his music is brilliant.

Miguel Mendez - You Got Me All Wrong
Miguel Mendez - Drinking Beers


I saw Land of Talk last Friday night at the Drake Underground. Looks like Cat Power might have a little competition when it comes to disarmingly awkward feminine appeal.

Whole Lolla Love

Stuart Berman was in Chicago last weekend for Lollapalooza, and has offered his thoughts on the festival. New posts from Lana and Greg (with music) this week.


Though only in its second year post-resuscitation, some people are already calling the annual Chicago edition of
Lollapalooza the northeast Coachella. But instead of mountains, you’re surrounded by skyscrapers — which, given Chicago’s architectural acumen, ain’t a bad thing. Having never attended Coachella, I can only say that Lollapalooza is among the most well-organized mega-festivals I’ve been to — even with some 50,000 attendees at Grant Park each day, I didn’t have to line up for the Porta-potties once, the beer line never topped 60 seconds, they have attractive on-site staff whose only job is to douse you with super-soakers, and the facing-stage set-up meant pretty much every set started on time (with the exception of Lady Sovereign, who apparently needed an extra 20 minutes to pick out her most regal set of track pants). And even with the likes of Blues Traveler and Matt Costa on the bill, the hippie quotient was remarkably low, which was refreshing following a weekend at Hillside.

If Lollapalooza was short on personal discoveries — most of the newer acts were scheduled pre-2pm and were, therefore, missed by those of us who were busy doing lunch runs to White Castle — it did provide the surreal experience of seeing perennial club-level acts receive stadium-sized receptions that would seem otherwise unattainable given their modest record sales. The prevailing theme at this year’s Lollapalooza seemed to be “respect your elders,” even the ones who once told you to “kill yr idols.” Line of the weekend goes to Kim Gordon, who introduced Sonic Youth’s final song, “Shaking Hell,” with: “this one was written before most of you were born.” The moment was as endearing as the song itself was feral: when Sonic Youth were playing the same track 23 years ago for a crowd of 20 in some East Village scum bucket, did they ever imagine that some day it would go over with a cameraphone-waving festival crowd of 20,000?

If Sonic Youth seem nonchalant in their role as parallel-universe festival gods, The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne is, of course, having the time of his freakin’ life, and the time of yours as well. Save for “Vein of Stars,” the Lips’ set list offered few surprises, and after seeing the balloon/streamers/aliens/Santa/nun puppet routine (if such a procession could be called “routine”) a few times, the old-school fan in me wishes Coyne would delve deeper into the canon rather than use up another five minutes of their limited set time trying to coax an extra sing-along chorus to “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” However, the man did score the second best line of the weekend: “We first played Lollapalooza in 1994, with all these great bands: The Breeders, Nick Cave, Guided by Voices… shit, even the Verve were pretty good then.”

But moreso than a coronation for alt-rock's ruling class, this year's Lollapalooza represented the complete, end-game convergence of subculture and corporate branding. The early '90s Lollapaloozas proved that various rogue alt-rock factions could be merged into one giant ambiguous mass (read: demographic) of "otherness"; now those "others" are in their 30s with day jobs and can afford wireless service and gaming consoles . Where the old Lollapaloozas simply had a "second" and "third stage," now it boasts the "AT&T Stage" and the "PlayStation Stage" and the "Bud Light Stage." (Can you guess the name of the only brand of beer available at Lollapalooza?) Not that this should come as any kind of shock — we've been inundated with Xtreme! marketing for a good decade now — but the interesting thing is, at this point, nobody really cares. Aside from a few cheeky comments from Built to Spill and Sonic Youth (Lee Ranaldo: "This one's for all the Bud Light drinkers!"), the brands were as much a part of the festival venacular as "beer tent" and "sun stroke." Ultimately, it's the cost of putting on an event of this magnitude (130 bands in 3 days over 8 stages). Much like the Toronto Jazz festival, which lives and dies by whatever corporate sponsor can ensure its existence each year, Lollapalooza's mandate of presenting emergent indie-rock/rap artists in a populist environment requires a lot more than Perry Farrell's utopian intentions to keep it going. "Hey, you gotta pay your dues/ before you pay the rent," Steve Malkmus sang 12 years ago on Pavement's "Range Life." Now, just substitute the second half of that statement with "before you get your complimentary pair of Adidas."

And hey, after standing for 8 hours a day, much of it on concrete, we're not about to turn down some quality footwear. To recap Lolla's top stories: Sleater-Kinney’s set — one of their last before their imminent break-up — was bittersweet, but the repertoire skewed too much to last year's Woods tour setlists to qualify as a career-capper. Cover me: Calexico paid tribute to the recently deceased Arthur Lee with their Nicolai Dunger-assisted rendition of “Alone Again Or”; Ryan Adams pulled off a jam on Sonic Youth’s “Expressway to Yr Skull” that actually didn’t suck; and The Raconteurs made David Bowie’s “It Ain’t Easy” sound like it was written for them, though the band still come off more like Jack White and his pals dicking around in their jam space than a real threat. Memo to Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch: go to a barber, now (but thanks for closing with “Carry the Zero”). Queens of the Stone Age’s “Song for the Dead” still kills even without Dave Grohl or Mark Lanegan. There are more people who care about Death Cab for Cutie than you could possibly imagine. Kanye West looks really short from 50 yards away. Stars’ Torquil Campbell had the best T-shirt of the weekend: “I Miss Grant McLennan.” (Worst T-shirt goes to the one Stabbing Westward fan left on Earth.) Secret Machines should just play "First Wave Intact" for their entire set. And the third best line of the weekend goes to the New Pornographers’ Carl Newman: “You may not realize this, but our songs have more time signature changes than Coheed & Cambria’s.”

But for the final word, we turn to the thousands of Broken Social Scene fans who screamed for 10 minutes for an encore that wasn’t to be, due to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ encroaching start time. Cries for “ONE MORE SONG!” turned to “WE’RE NOT LEAVING!” and then finally “FUCK THE PEPPERS!,” as that band’s tour manager allegedly denied the request for a set-time extension, presumably because the world needs longer bass solos. Really, it’s a metaphor for life: you try to do your best and change the world for the better, but The Man still keeps you down with bad white funk.