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+