After listening to Toronto band catl’s newest album Soon This Will All be Gone, I expected the frontman to be some wild man who would talk so fast I’d have a hard time keeping up. So I entered our phone interview with a bit of trepidation.
What I was met with surprised me.
Jamie is just a really laid-back guy, happy to answer questions about his band, and quick to chuckle during a conversation.
But that chill attitude is likely to change once he gets on stage at Phog Lounge on Friday night.
“It’s kind of a party atmosphere,” he says, “that’s kind of our thing. You know, the music is simple enough that people wanna dance to it, and that’s what we want.”
Jamie is one of three members that comprise catl. His job is mainly vocals and guitar, and he is backed up by Andrew Moszynski on drums and Sarah K handling vocals and any other thing the band decides to toss in.
Catl’s unique sound is largely defined by Jamie’s style of guitar playing, the product of an unfortunate accident.
“I actually picked up that finger-pickin’-country-blues-hill style back years back,” he says, “I hurt my hand really badly in an accident and I kinda had to change the way I had to play. It actually freed up the one damaged hand and made me play more with my right picking hand, so it’s kind of a forced entry into that situation.”
Jamie also credits his love of music from the 1920s and 30s for much of catl’s sound.
As much as a country band from Toronto might seem a bit odd, the frontman believes that where he calls home doesn’t matter, as long as he’s honest with his writing.
“I think everybody can relate to it. The morals, good and bad, or good and evil, it’s a light and dark kind of thing,” Jamie explains, “You can tell where we’re from, if you look a little further into the lyrics. Like, I do have those urban references in there for sure.”
The band’s most recent album was released in April, and half of it was actually recorded right across the river at Jim Diamond’s studio in Detroit.
“It’s great going down there, and he just has a sound, and we go in there and do our thing, and he does his thing, and that’s the way it comes out,” Jamie says of Diamond’s recording technique, “You know, his studio kind of sounds like it sounds, you know, we don’t have much input into that, we just write the songs and play the instruments, and I kind of like that relationship, and he knows exactly what he’s doing.”
For this weekend’s show, catl will be joined by Detroit music veteran Danny Kroha of The Gories, who will be opening the show with his traditional blues style. Kroha contributed some harmonica to catl’s latest record, and the band is hoping he’ll join them for a bit on stage, as well.
For catl’s first visit to Windsor in two years, the band is really hoping to see a good turnout, and promise to deliver a drunkenly good time to all who attend.
Catl and Danny Kroha will be playing Phog Lounge on Friday, November 9, 2012. Doors are at 10 pm, 19+ are welcome, and admission is $5 at the door.
The Montreal collective known nationwide as The Unsettlers will be playing an intimate showcase this Wednesday night at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) and if you don’t get your tickets soon, you may be on the outside looking through foggy Phog windows. This 10-piece gypsy symphony is coming in hot off the heels of critically acclaimed performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival as well as two solid performances at this year’s Festival Epicure into a venue that holds but 65 people. On past visits to Windsor, they’ve played far bigger rooms, but this time, things are going to get sweaty.
The Unsettlers are a hard band to categorize musically. With ten members adding their sounds (and with ten unique personalities attached), the band is like a jamboree of emotions, ranging from the whisky melancholy to the excitably gypsy. Somewhere between Tom Waits and Gogo Bordello, you’ll find The Unsettlers and even that description is pushing it. When the ashes settle, when you’ve run out of record store/radio created sub-genres of music (East Euro indie gypsy-folk swing?), all you’re truly left with is a sound that is 100% Unsettlers.
Two of the principle music writers have close ties to Windsor-Essex. Pianist Dustyn Lucas (who resembles a five and dime Schroeder from the Peanuts comics on his little piano) is from Kingsville and frontman B.W. Brandes is a long time veteran of Windsor’s music scene, toiling in the popular ’90′s band Big Daddy A & The Merves as well as serving as the bassist in the psychedelic rock supergroup The Golden Hands Before God… during their last year of playing and touring. But whatever their Windsor roots planted, it was their almost Muppet Movie travels that created the entity that is now the Unsettlers.
Gestated on the West Coast, where Brandes and Lucas teamed up with the lovely Genevieve Schreier and Brie Nelson as well as Sudbury native Santosh Lalonde, they relocated to Montreal where they picked up more members, swelling to the ten piece congregation of impressive musicians and even more impressive drinkers, creating a groundswell of music that is as undeniably infectious as the band is talented. They’re still touring promoting last fall’s ambitious and epic double CD Oil & Blood, a Coen Brothers-esque carnival ride of death, love and graveyards that served as a monstrously fun follow-up to the haunting self titled debut from a few years previous. In that the past few years, they’ve played countless shows and festivals (including this year’s Montreal Jazz Festival, several Montreal Fringe festival appearances, shows at the prestigious Montreal concert Osheaga, and a run playing at an actual carnival Quebec), recorded a live EP for CBC Radio (which essentially previewed some tracks for Oil & Blood mixed with some favourites off the debut), and played more shows in a year than some bands play in their career. And in between breaths, members of the band have created side projects (using principally each other) such as Brie Nelson and Her Other Men, Bad Uncle and Deer Ashes, Dear. This is a family who lives together and plays together. They know each other’s intricacies and delicacies so well, that they’ve created the perfect commune of music and social interaction.
And all of that is evident when you watch one of their shows. This isn’t just a group of ten musicians playing to check each other’s ego. Each note is carefully inserted, each line spit with the ferocity it deserves, each moment is fully and absolutely realized – this is a show. This is the way music was designed to be presented by people who enjoy each others’ musical company equally as much as they enjoy yours.
In anticipation of the rush of people expected, Phog is preselling tickets for this show, so one would advise you get there soon. Tickets are $10 each for an evening with The Unsettlers (no opening act, three straight hours of show) and it’ll be worth all the oil and blood in the country.
An Evening with The Unsettlers, Wednesday July 13, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), 9pm, $10 in advance and door, 19+
Playlist for July 6, 2011;
Dstruct.O – Nuclear War (Drumstep EP 02 – 2011)
The Unsettlers – Dead and Gone (Oil and Blood – 2010)
Justin Faubert – Mother Nature (Justin Faubert – 2011)
The Blue Stones – More to Life (The Blue Stones – 2011)
StateSideSin – River (The Windsor Zene December Sampler – 2010)
MicLordz and Sauce Funky – Why U So? (Funk You Up EP – 2007)
The Classix – Girl Like You (Live What You Love EP – 2011)
Blurt – Can You Feel It? (The Love) (The Upsides of Effort – 2007)
Falling with Glory – Fight with Honour (The Windsor Zene January Sampler – 2011)
Beijing Bike Club – The Past (The Windsor Zene January Sampler – 2011)
Radio Adelaide – Sex on the Side of the Road (…And On The Brighter Side of Things)
Weirdonia – Green Tables (Single – 2011)
TON – Gutting (Going Places – 2011)
The Nefidovs – Animal Love (Set Faces to Stunned – 2011)
Impending Doom – Aeon of Dreams (Cadeus Sacrilegae)
Faithful Unto Death – All Talk (Coming Home – 2011)
High Mother – Zombie Star (Gotta Get Love – 2011)
As far as exciting shows this week go, there are a couple, but only one has me crazy pumped.
Five Alarm Funk! This ten-piece funkily eclectic group hails from Vancouver, and will be taking over the stage (and then some) at Phog Lounge on Friday, July 8th. They’re playing Burlington on the 7th and London on the 9th, but are nice enough to be taking a detour to Windsor for your entertainment. This show will probably sell out, so advance tickets might be a good idea. You can get them at the venue for $12, or try the night of the show and pay $15. But whatever you decide, remember to bring your dancing shoes, as this is not a show that will have you leaning against walls with your arms crossed.
On Saturday Villains Beastro is hosting a free show with StateSideSin and Diesel Junkies, which is recommended because not only is the price right, the venue is stellar (I’m actually enjoying their atmosphere and Chicken Parmageddon Panini as I write this…) but the bands are good too! Groovy rock ‘n’ roll sure to entertain as the evil eyes of the cinema scoundrels that adorn the walls look on.
Tune in next Wednesday between 5 and 6:30 for more of what is happening in your local music scene.
“There is a direct line between My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Ringo Deathstarr. And it stops at Slowdive Central. If you retain any fondness for those three – and are mentally aroused by a spot of melody-heavy guitar pop – you will adore the ‘Starr” The Guardian (UK)
One of the most exciting sounds to come out of the UK at the tail end of the 1980′s and into the new decade of the ’90′s was the merging of noisepop (My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive) with the shoe-gazing (Chapterhouse, The Pale Saints), creating a new breed of noise-gazing (yeah, I totally made that genre name up). Bands like Spacemen 3 became Spiritualized, Primal Scream found its Screamadelica, and The Boo Radleys re-introduced us to “Lazarus”. And while some bands have touched on the genre in doses (such as Pink Mountaintops, The Besnard Lakes or Deerhunter), it’s never been so perfectly and deliciously replicated as by an unlikely band from an even unlikelier state (Texas). The Austin trio known as Ringo Deathstarr.
Currently on their first headlining tour to support their debut full length, Colour Trip (on Sonic Unyon Records), Ringo Deathstarr are no stranger to the road. They’ve spent the past few years honing their sound on tour with such acts as The Dandy Warhols, A Place To Bury Strangers, Black Angels, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of the Dead and The Raveonettes. And this Tuesday they chose Windsor’s own Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) as their area stop.
If those sounds weren’t enough to entice you, opening the show are Windsor’s own Cellos, a fairly new band (recently featured as an Emerging Artist here on TWZ) featuring three of Windsor’s most respected and accomplished players – Singer/guitarist Kyle Marchand (Orphan Choir, What Seas What Shores), bassist Joe Rabie (Surdaster, Red Rows, Star Trek: The Band) and drummer David Allan (Poughboy, Explode When They Bloom, Which Witch). These guys have developed a passionate and local following with only a handful of shows under their belt and their mesmerizing live show is creating a well deserved buzz.
This show by all accounts should be packed. Ringo Deathstarr are starting to gain some real indie buzz momentum that feels like what happened when bands like Tokyo Police Club or Arkells played Windsor. You could almost feel their stock rising as they were playing and deep in your heart you knew that the likelihood of them playing a venue as intimate as Phog Lounge (or even Windsor) are pretty scarce.
Do yourself a favour and cancel whatever plans you had for Tuesday night. Head to Phog for 9pm. And let your ears come on and feel the noise.
Ringo Deathstarr (Austin, TX) with special guests Cellos, Tuesday June 28, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), 9pm, 19+
Dave Russell – Toys (Unnatural Disaster – 2010)
Fresh Breath – Speed of Sound (The Speed of Sound – 2010)
Jordan Dollar – Flight (Move Forward II – 2010)
Acousticfire – Sorry Old Man (The Windsor Zene Sampler February – 2011)
Goliath – Facebreaker (Funweiser EP – 2011)
Assassinate the Following… – Sinful Beginnings (Assasinate the Following…)
Fuck The Facts – Fingers with Candy Tips (Collection of Splits 2000-2004 – 2005)
Tony Coates – Beautiful (2010)
Anonymous Bosch – Death, Metal, and Blues (Anonymous Bosch)
Awake to a Dream – Tainted (2011)
ATM – Crusty Barnacle (ATM/Gnarlie Murphy Split – 2010)
Shortcut to Last – It’s Not Enough (I Know You’re Not One For Serious Situations – 2010)
Riverside – The Best is Yet To Come (Newspeak)
Time Giant – Lobotomy (Grow – 2011)
Sewing with Nancie – Naïve (The Same Three Chords – 2000)
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Muscle Relaxants (Departing – 2011)
Lonesome Lefty & The Cryin’ Shames – Back to the Sugar Camp (Souvenir Album – 2011)
Yellow Wood – Be A Little Braver (Son of the Oppressor – 2009)
Yellow Wood – Picture (Son of the Oppressor – 2009)
And a few notes on the show;
Thanks to Dave Russell for the nudge towards his tunes! Anonymous Bosch did a similar thing this week as well, informing me of their newly-submitted album. There are a lot of CDs in our library, and I have yet to find the time to become familiar with all of them. Requests for music, whether they’re coming from artists or fans, are always welcome and appreciated. So what do you want to hear?
Anyone else interested in having their albums added to our selection of local artists can feel free to drop CD’s (or vinyl!) off at the station in the basement of the CAW Student Centre at The University of Windsor.
This past week I was in attendance at a number of sweet shows.
Last Thursday, which also happened to be St. Patty’s Day, I spent my evening at The Coach, and as my alcohol consumption went up, I remembered more. Yes, I know this makes no sense, but there it is. What this translates into is this; of The Kettle Black I remember a dude with a guitar, some black curtains, and weirdness. So, that is to say, not very much. On to Devilz by Definition, then. Metal. Lots of mids, high-pitched screaming. We’re getting better. So next came Awake to a Dream. A ukulele cover of The “Last Saskatchewan Pirate” by The Arrogant Worms, and I geeked out. Music from Sonic 2. I geeked more. It was awesome!
Sunday night was Shared Arms, Everyone Everywhere, and The All Night in an all-ages show at Phog. Pop-punk at it’s finest. The moshing had to be continually squashed, and the crowd sang as loud as the bands, even when they weren’t hijacking microphones. It made me really appreciate and wonder at the dedication of music fans in Windsor, that they learn the words to every single song of the local bands they love. It’s great to see, you won’t find it quite the same anywhere else.
Tuesday night was the debut of Cellos in the opening slot for KEN Mode. I unfortunately had to miss the first band thanks to work, but folks tell me it was quite the experience. My first encounter with KEN Mode was pretty damn awesome, but I don’t know how to describe it. They can’t be defined by a single (or even 3) genre. It was for sure heavy, and the mixing of an Orange stack with a Mesa head almost made me cry I loved it so much. Instead of trying and failing to describe this music, how about you just listen to it.
Friday the 25th is a very busy night in the Windsor music scene, but I’ll give you the rundown on my show of choice (and believe me; it wasn’t an easy one). At The Blind Dog you can see Silver Glory, Awake to a Dream, Nuclear Sunrise, Bleach, Jonas & the Massive Attraction, and Anonymous Bosch for only $10 (with the purchase of an advance ticket). A night of rock’n’roll at it’s finest. Pretty stoked for this one.
But any show you choose in Windsor this weekend, whether it’s Tony Coates at Taloola, Fuck the Facts at The Coach, or Freedom Within at Trees, it’s gonna be great, because Windsor fans are half the fun of these shows, and they’re sure to be packing each one of them.
And as an extra special tip, if you tune in to the show next Wednesday between 5 and 630 you’ll have a chance to win a pair of tickets to the upcoming Perpetuate CD Release Show with Baptized in Blood and Betrayer. That’s right, free tickets to a sweet metal show. What more can you ask for?
A long time ago, in a skate park far far away, there was a band named Blurt. They were fun, energetic punk rock that had soundtracked more house parties than Pearl Jam “Ten” did in the early 90′s. The undisputed kings of the all-ages shows, they brought a more mature craftsmanship to a genre known more for its menace and lack of musicality. The Blurt song “Kingston Forever” is still a classic Windsor punk song.
But for whatever reason – be it timing, or perhaps a desire for something slightly different – Blurt never fully exploded in Windsor’s larger musical spectrum, despite countless out of town shows and a legion of underage die-hard fans. Finally, the band – consisting of Jesse Fellows on vocals and guitar, Joey Acott on bass and Anthony Maniscalco on drums – dissolved.
Fellows and Acott remained musically active together and the itch to write and perform shone through again and they recruited drummer Mat Stewart and create a new beast. The magnificent Shared Arms.
With a new name, their direction and attitude grew. No longer the skate punk of their youth, the songwriting matured closer to Mike Ness of Social Distortion in melody, but still retaining the piss and vinegar that dripped from their brows from their gestation years in Blurt. Like a punk Phoenix from its own ashes, they rose with a punk rock wrecking ball that is as polished as it is dangerous. If Orphan Choir was the punk scene’s Beatles, Shared Arms would have to be its Rolling Stones (Shared Arms are actually share the same label as Orphan Choir, Tragicomedy Records, run by Orphan Choir’s Jim Meloche and Shared Arms’ Acott).
Still playing in support of last year’s Ill Sessions, Shared Arms has been gaining the praise of the national music media as well, with a glowing review for their latest record by Exclaim! Magazine, Canada’s premiere independent music magazine. Reviewer Aaron Zorgel called the release “a collection of extremely impressive, diverse, interesting and inventive punk songs” and that the band “are one of the best active punk bands in Canada”. Zorgel went on to conclude that Shared Arms “are skate punk revival that will show even the most jaded ’90s punk fans that this music still has a place in the Canadian punk scene.”
Here’s a fan video taken from the last time they played Phog. A packed house.
Well, Shared Arms returns to Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) this Sunday night for what seems to be yet another great Sunday showcase at Phog Lounge (with recent success with Rah Rah and the upcoming Rural Alberta Advantage). For those of us who have Mondays off, it’s nice to have a great option for live music on a Sunday night.
As you can see by the video, their shows get full. And this Sunday’s special early show (it’s all-ages, so it has to be over by 11pm) will be starting at 9pm (doors are around 8pm) with a $5 cover.
Shared Arms with special guests Everyone Everywhere and The All Night, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Sunday March 20th, all-ages, 8pm (show starts at 9pm sharp, over at 11pm), $5 at the door
In what he hopes to be the first of many, he’s launching a symposium for discussion and brainstorming, simply asking “What does music mean to you?”. These pow-wows are scheduled to happen once a month, presumably all in the intimate four walls of Phog Lounge.
The idea is to have guests each month, from national touring acts to local musicians, and in Hargreaves’ words “to talk about favourite songs, song writing, and overall values in music. The goal: to hear as many perspectives as we can on music, and how it plays a role in our lives, why we think it’s good, and why the hell we care about it so much.”
It will be a way for musicians to interact on a grass roots level with the music audience and determine what is it that makes you come back to their shows? Why do you choose to follow one band or musician more than another? How can we as music fans save the music industry from becoming a Walmart rather than a L’Ouvre?
The guests for tonight’s debut are Stefan Cvetkovic (who plays solo under the name Efan! and also plays alongside Hargreaves in recent XM Radio Verge Artist of the Year winners Michou) and Martin Schiller, whose credits currently include What Seas, What Shores, 87 Things For The Future, Poughboy and Star Trek: The Band.
The event begins at 8pm tonight and it’s free to all those who wish to attend.
Not just because the band in question, Vancouver’s Five Alarm Funk, had a standing room only show last time they brought their 10-man ensemble through Windsor, but because, well, there’s ten of them. Ten. But with a sound as eclectic as it is huge, you’ll soon discover that each member is as essential as the next, despite the fact that their guitar neck is poking your poutine or the bass player keeps drinking your pint of Stonehammer. Tonight, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West)’s dance floor will be a series of fleshy undulations.
Five Alarm Funk are a hard band to categorize. Their horn section will automatically have people clamoring they’re ska, but I don’t exactly hear a full on ska sound. It’s about as ska as Frank Zappa was funk. Zappa was funky at times, sure, but I don’t think you’d ever find Zappa in the funk section. Five Alarm Funk are an ensemble of music enthusiasts but perhaps also musical nihilists. They take a multitude of genres, dismantle them piece by piece, then reconstruct a new monster using only the parts they deem the tastiest.
Choreographed dance moves with explosive stage energy propel this show, as the band, touring in support of their third and latest album, Anything is Possible, will undoubtedly spill from Phog’s cozy stage to the floor, where it will only be a matter of time before it’s full of the writhing sweaty music fans that Phog has honed and nurtured.
In short, get ready for another of Phog’s crazy dance parties.
Opening up the show are locals The Nefidovs.
Five Alarm Funk with special guests The Nefidovs, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Wednesday March 9, 9pm, 19+
One of the ways you can tell a scene is on the up is when the venue’s genre lines are blurred. When you see metal guys at pop shows, or folk singers at punk shows, etc., it’s an indicator that people are transcending genre preference for talent preference, which translates that the scene is healthy.
One of the venues that subscribes to this is Phog Lounge, who in the past year have added a lot more acts outside their norm, such as hip-hop, metal and punk rock. This Thursday marks a full on punk show of varying degrees, led by a couple bands from Montreal.
Old School Politics are a Quebec punk-pop band who have been around for about six years and though they may have started rough around the edges, they’ve polished up quite nicely. Their sound is reminiscent of California punk like NOFX, pre-Dookie Green Day or early Blink 182. And while vocally they remain in the safety of the pop-punk melodica, at times their guitars stray to the outer rim where they tread just a little bit into the Bad Religion marshlands (such as on the track “Got It”). Their sound is that of a punk band growing up, when the anger is turning into joy of playing well crafted songs instead of just making a racket, when the revolution is more about positive empowerment than just reckless abandon.
The Hunters are another Quebec punk band whose sound reeks of a found maturity. The punk angst is still there but their musical appreciation is akin to Windsor’s own Orphan Choir, in that it seems to have amalgamated their original punk rawk DIY ethic and absorbed in other found music stylings into their pantheon. Their sound swirls with throw back sounds that are as much The Clash via Combat Rock as they are street punk. These guys have been work horses the past few years, sharing the stage with many of punk rock’s heavy weights, such as Bad Religion, Agnostic Front, Anti-Flag, The Casualties, Mustard Plug, Subhumans and more, including a stint on the Vans Warped tour.
Opening the stage are two local punk bands from different sides of the street. The Nefidovs are one of the scene’s fast rising star (they’re on the February FREE Music Sampler), incorporating a punk rock credos with a ska vibe and one hell of a live show (as witnessed last Friday when they opened for the Benito Band and FourLetterWord at The FM Lounge). Starting things off are The Rowley Estate. Think if Orphan Choir had stayed more traditional head on street punk with a touch of the Oi! gang vocals. These guys are still running on piss and vinegar and sometimes you need to be reminded of what it meant to be punk rock in the first place.
This is a great line-up that shows four very different punk bands at different stages of their development, which will only benefit them all. The veterans will feel the hunger of the young ones nipping at their heels and reminding them of their roots, while the younger bands will see the result of what a good polishing can do to any genre.
Old School Politics and The Hunters with special guests The Nefidovs and The Rowley Estate, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Doors 8pm, 19+, $5
As someone who’s spent a fair deal of time in Hamilton, I’ve often felt like Steeltown is like a sister city to Windsor (if the sister was on a mountain). Both are tightly linked to its strong union and blue collar work ethic. Both people are hardened to the realities of fluctuating and crippling unemployments which have forced the community to embrace one another with an iron clad sense of loyalty.
So it’s no wonder that Hamilton’s Wax Mannequin has been so embraced by Windsor music lovers. He tours Canada relentlessly (and more recently with forays into Europe) and he always makes sure that Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) is one of his tour stops. Sometimes several times a year. In fact, I’d wager he’s played Phog more regularly than some Windsor bands. He’s like if Henry Rollins or the New York’s David Johansen had chosen to follow Woody Guthrie or Tom Waits rather than heavier rock and roll. A frantic and captivating showman with a true sense of life in his lyrics, his website states that “(he) now finds himself a forerunner in a strange new movement: roaming recluses and attention-seekers — solo-performers, equipped with laptops, damaged instruments and decaying minivans, making new sounds, informed by hard travel and rough living.”
He’s bringing along a friend from Guelph by the name of Jenny Omnichord, which is the stage name used by multi-instrumentalist Jenny Mitchell when she’s not playing with the bands, Barmitzvah Brothers or The Burning Hell. Under her solo guise, Jenny has released several albums and an EP, as well as the collaborative children’s album, Charlotte or Otis: Duets for Children, Their Parents and Other People Too, which featured collabrations with Andy Magoffin (Raised By Swans, Two Minute Miracles), Wax Mannequin, Shad, Kim Barlow, Ida Nilsen (The Choir Practice, Buttless Chaps), Old Man Luedecke and Tony Dekker (Great Lake Swimmers).
But a word to the wise. If you’re even remotely interested in checking this out, get there early. Wax Mannequin’s legend proceeds him at Phog and more often than not, his shows are packed and sold out by 11 o’clock. So unless you want to be left out in the cold trying to peer through foggy windows (no pun intended), I’d suggest you set 10pm as your target time to avoid missing any of the show…and getting in.
Wax Mannequin with special guest Jenny Omnichord, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), 9pm, 19+
Raised By Swans have done something that a vast majority of Canada’s independent touring acts seem to avoid doing – consistently return to Windsor. While this isn’t always the case (Yukon Blonde, You Say Party! We Say Die!, The Pack AD and various others do indeed make the trek back as geography allows it), the startling reality is that Windsor is just a little too far from London and a little too close to Detroit for many touring acts to consider. And sometimes, the finickiness of Windsor’s music patrons can leave a bad taste in the band’s mouths if they do (witness the ten or eleven people who showed up to see Tokyo Police Club at Phog several years ago, mere months before they played Coachella).
But Raised By Swans are not one of those bands. They’ve been consistently playing Windsor’s stage since the days of the Avalon Front, playing the first PA Festival (a joint music festival of the Avalon and Phog that became a precursor to the now annual Phog Phest), and when the Avalon closed down, they simply made Phog their new Windsor home. Originally formed as an outlet for former Gandharvas bassist Eric Howden to showcase his own material in 1998, it wasn’t until 2005 that he was able to commit full time to the project. Assembling a full band, they finally released their debut album, Codes and Secret Longing, in 2005.
Howden isn’t the only member with veteran Canadian indie rock status – bassist Andy Magoffin (Howden plays guitar and sings in RBS) is the mastermind behind Two Minute Miracles and is a critically acclaimed producer of such bands as Great Lake Swimmers and Constantines and drummer Brady Parr played in the ’90s indie band Salmonblaster. These guys are consummate professionals and musicians who have as much respect for their craft as their audience does.
Currently touring to support the long overdue and highly anticipated second release, No Ghostless Place, this quartet is sure to pack a venue the size of Phog on credentials alone. The new album is a gorgeous songbook of indie dream pop and gorgeous indie soundscapes akin to bands like Besnard Lakes, Great Lake Swimmers and Young Galaxy.
Joining them on their current tour are Toronto’s Pink Moth. These guys are a little more upbeat, with more of an Arcade Fire or Guillemots feel – its still got that dream pop feel but with just a hint of carnivale. They’re a great compliment to Raised By Swans sound.
Opening the show is Windsor’s Two For The Cascade. Drawing on experimental sonics and oft-forgotten articles of sound to augment more traditional instruments, Two For The Cascade’s true strength lies in the darkly awkward pairing of the two voices. Like painful longing or a haunting realization of the truth, Two For The Cascade is the legitimate sound of True Love: it is an epic reminder that quite often you must endure the tidal crashes of the darkness to bathe in the golden beacon of the sublime. At times, hopelessly romantic and painfully naive, at others, brutally honest and starkly aware. But no matter the tone of undercurrent, there is always the resonance of hope in that distance. That regardless of time, space of occurrence, true love will outlast all tragedy. Utilizing such items as Moogs, Theramins and iPhones to flesh out their soundscape, Two For The Cascade have been one of Windsor’s most unique acts.
Raised By Swans with special guests Pink Moth and Two For The Cascade, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Saturday February 19, 9pm, 19+
Friday’s show at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) could potentially one of the sleeper hits of the year. Not that it’s the best line-up of music that Phog will ever put on in 2011, but in that it’ll probably be grossly under-attended yet everyone who was there will have been blown away and will rave endlessly to everyone who wasn’t there how dumb they were for missing it (although I’m hoping I’m proven wrong and it’s packed).
The show is highlighted (but not encompassed) by headliner Invasions, from Toronto. These guys have a great sound, taking parts from various overused genres (psychedelic, garage rock and 70′s punk) and merging them into a great nostalgic vibe that feels like someone else but is comfortable enough to not having you care. At times they sound like a fuzzier Television, or a more melodic version of The Horrors, or even an edgier Young Rival. Or if Windsor’s Years of Ernest were more 70′s New York City CBGBs in delivery. They’re currently touring to support their new 7″ EP, Covered in Jewels, and we’re one of the first stops on the tour.
They’re bringing along with them a fellow Toronto band, Give Us The Daggers, Invasion’s label mates on White Girl Records. These guys have a slightly more indie pop feel to them, perhaps more akin to a more streetwise Amos The Transparent or what Broken Social Scene may sound like if late 70′s Iggy Pop sang for them. These guys were the Exclaim! Magazine Critic’s pick at Candian Music Week in 2009, and have had similar impressive showcases at NXNE and Pop Montreal.
The local opener on this bill couldn’t have matched more perfect than Olympia. Although a relatively new band on the scene, it’s comprised of some veterans, as their members have played in such local juggernauts as The Dead’s Elite and Who Shot JR? But the sounds they were known for are barely audible in this formation – the thrash metal and aggression have been replaced by a structured mastery of great rock and roll riffs and angst ridden melody. And they pull it off fantastically. It’s got a lot of guttural grunge overtones in it, sounding like lost recordings from TAD or some other unknown Seattle band from 1989 (they must be keenly aware of this as well, as they even have a song called “Sub Pop Wiki”), with a hint of that local dirty blues metal sound that bands like Explode When They Bloom and Death or Comber have pulled from. It’s a maturation process that have seen bands like The Reason or Orphan Choir seam from a seemingly hardcore place and mellow out without losing any of their credibility. They’ve just taken the lessons learned in past projects and emoted it differently with the same success.
This is going to be a night of a lot of energy and emotionally charged post-modern rock that is going to surprise a lot of people. I hope this show gets the attention it deserves because if it’s not packed this time around, I would suspect that in six months time, this same bill will be lined up out the door.
Invasions with special guests Give Us The Daggers and Olympia, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Friday February 18, 9pm, 19+
Originally from Owen Sound, Ontario, Graham Playford travelled throughout Canada and the U.S. before finally settling on Montreal as the locale to work on his music. His voice and arrangements are reminiscent of the kind of Canadiana that usually finds home on Six Shooter Records – it almost has an Alberta feel to it. He definitely has the confidence and weight of a troubadour that has seen a great many places and probably seen his share of heartaches and triumphs.
As Canadian as Playford feels, his Montreal travelling partner Shane Murphy sounds like the epitome of Americana – he sounds like every honest part of Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle and John Prine. It’s a working man’s roots, country that stopped short of heading into the malls and becoming new country, or the farthest ghost town in the old West that rock and roll would stick it’s dirty boots into without actually becoming country.
The local on the bill is Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, fresh off a high octane closing set last week, opening for another set of Montrealers, Random Recipe. If last show was any indication, they do well with folk from Quebec. If these guys end up closing out the night (which I would expect may be the case as the other two are playing solo from what I understand) it will be a great compliment and release. Two very sincere songwriters pleading their lives through melody and song followed by a dirty Windsor rock and roll dance party.
Graham Playford, Shane Murphy and Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Saturday February 12, 9pm
For those used to Phog Lounge’s more traditional sounding bands – indie pop or Canadian roots – you’re in for something a little different this Friday night. The multi-talented songstress Paisley Jura of Halifax brings her Paisley Jura Quartet (and 200-year-old double bass) to Phog Lounge as she tours across Canada in support of latest album, Time Is How You Spend Your Love. Her sound is difficult to define – somewhere between Joni Mitchell jazz years, Emmylou Harris and Holly Cole and even that isn’t entirely accurate. Let’s see if her press bio can shed a bit more light:
Paisley’s songs are hooky vignettes with twists of sophisticated harmony and subtle orchestration that steadfastly refuse categorization. She flips easily between Canadian folk, cabaret, jazz, Celtic, country and pop, tying it all together with her compelling lyrics and rich vocals. You can hear the wide palette of Brahms, Sibelius, Bach, Stravinsky, Mahler, and Kurt Weill contrasted with the simple stories of Johnny Cash or Emmylou Harris. Her voice has the innocent quality of a young Ella Fitzgerald; her songs can mimic the open acoustic jangle of Pat Metheny Group; the rawness of Tom Waits; or the directness and later experimentation of Jane Siberry, Joni Mitchell and Bjork. She is, according to The Globe & Mail, “an old-soul chanteuse with savvy pop sensibilities.”
Opening up the show will be the sounds of Windsor’s own Kevin Echlin, a multi-instrumentalist who broke on the music scene about a year ago, and immediately impressed people with the maturity of his ear and crafting.
The Paisley Jura Quartet (Halifax) with special guest Kevin Echlin, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), 9pm,
Until very recently, I had no idea who Random Recipe were. But Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) usually doesn’t fail when it comes to bringing in some of Canada’s finest independent artists and history has proven that many of these bands who seem unrecognizable at the moment end up becoming huge national or international acts down the line (Tokyo Police Club, Holy Fuck, Great Lake Swimmers and Yukon Blonde are prime examples).
With artists like Janelle Monae bringing back true soul & R&B and integrating it with hip-hop beats and culture (thanks in many ways to Big Boi), as well as the influx of artists like MIA to the underground hip hop community, it has given hip hop room to breathe again and not take itself too seriously (like Jay-Z ) or not seriously enough (Ludacris) – it can bounce around the vibe of the music and provide the party again, without having to resort about smacking up “bitches”, showing off it’s bling or waving it’s gun around the room wondering who was going to lick it’s barrel.
Random Recipe seem to draw more from the Bedouin Soundclash meets Cibo Matto (with a hint of Erykah Badu) end of the spectrum more so than harder edged hip hop, but that is okay by me. Sometimes you just want to dance and have fun with music (wasn’t that the point in the first place?) and not have to sit at the bar and ponder the deeper meaning of it all. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Opening the show will be the eclectic rock stylings of Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, following their show at The Manchester the previous night.
Random Recipe with special guests Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Thursday February 3rd, 9pm
Michou are undeniably Windsor’s clown princes of pop. And by no means is that meant as an insult. They write catchy melodic indie pop gems that are as infectiously encompassing as the lyrics are intelligently cohesive, but it’s delivered with such a sense of innocence and sheer joy at playing music together – their chemistry is electric – as they do for other people. They have a sense of humour about themselves, as well as this business, but continue on with a methodical mandate to play as often and as many places across Canada as they can. From their humble start playing house shows and picking up opening gigs (or just showing up and playing off nights) at venues like Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), where they happen to be rolling in to on Friday night, or Milk Coffee Bar, to suddenly touring this Great White North, picking up slots on bills with bands like Death Cab For Cutie, Dashboard Confessional and Lights, Michou has come a long way in what seems like a rather short time. But perseverance has paid off – maybe not quite as financially as they’d like, but with the respect of the national music industry at least (which is a good start). They recently secured a spot on this year’s massive Edgefest concert in Toronto, featuring such international acts as Rise Against, A Perfect Circle, The Weakerthans, Tokyo Police Club and Arkells, as well as ex-Windsorites The Reason (formerly known as Sewing With Nancie). And if that wasn’t enough, they were most recently named one of the Top 5 Finalists for the XM Radio Verge Awards in Toronto in March, for Artist of the Year and Album of the Year, for last year’s bundle of pop joy Cardonia. Normally when they return to Windsor, they’re filling The Blind Dog or one of the other much bigger venues. But this time, they wanted to bring it all back home. To the little stage that launched them. For the people who provided the emotional catapult.
Opening the show will be the beautiful songs of Crissi Cochrane, a rising talent on the singer/songwriter circuit who moved to Windsor last year from Halifax, Nova Scotia. One of her compositions from last year’s release Darling, Darling, “Separate Cities”, leads off this month’s FREE Windsor Music sampler.
If you’re seriously considering going to this show, keep in mind they pack several hundred people into larger venues to see them in their hometown. Phog holds 65 people. You will want to be there early or you will be watching through steamy windows.
Michou with special guest Crissi Cochrane, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West), Friday February 4, 9pm, 19+, $5
This Thursday marks the return of Twilight Hotel to Phog Lounge. Although billed as being from Austin, Texas (where the couple does indeed now live), they originally hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba. These rootsy Americana sounding folks have made it a point to continually return to Windsor on every tour (and specifically Phog Lounge) due to the warm reception they’ve always received playing our fair city. They’re currently on tour in support of their latest album, When The Wolves Go Blind. Here’s the video for the same titled first single:
Opening the show is a real up and comer from Windsor’s singer/songwriter circuit, Tony Coates. A superbly talented musician with a powerful voice, Tony is gearing up a full band for this show, which will be exciting to see. If this new single is any indication, he could be evolving into the new Jacksoul…
Twilight Hotel with special guests The Tony Coates Band, Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) $5 cover at the door, 19+ show, Thursday January 27th.