Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Study in Ketchup

Where to begin? Without boring you with too many silly personal details, I’m currently working two jobs while going to school. What can I say? You don’t do publishing for the money.

And Muse Ink isn’t the only thing I’m hustling to catch-up with. I’ve been scratching together my pennies for a few shows and accompanying CDs. So here we go. But first I’ll need to see some ID and check your person for drugs and weapons. No joke.

Oct. 3 2005
The Posies w/ Lou Barlow opening
Lee’s Palace.

It’s been maybe nine years since The Posies graced a stage here in Toronto. Same bar. Worse sound. Big apologies. This time great sound and big rocking show. Much of the set consisted of tracks from Amazing Disgrace with some of their classic early singles (“Suddenly Mary”) thrown in just for me. Relentless.True blessed-blue power pop. More dynamic than their records simply because they can throw themselves around the stage. The grateful audience loved it. And during the last encore, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow played in the audience—guitars, mics, and stands—with out bass or drums for much of it. Ah, so good. Just such a great sow.

Lou Barlow’s inclusion on the bill fit surprisingly nicely, too. Accompanied by tape loops, a keyboard, two mics (one with sound-effects), he provided a gentle lovely pop intro. Good songwriting and audience interaction. Quite nice.

CD? The Posies’ Jon Auer worked the merch table and kindly autographed a limited edition (#697) solo record called The Birthday Party. Sounds like he looked himself up to a four track and played acoustic versions of songs some of which I know (“I May Hate You Sometimes”) and others I don’t. Plus, he covers Big Star’s “Thirteen.” Yep, this was a happy surprise and a worthwhile experiment.

So all is right in Posies-land.

Oct. 9, 2005 (Turkey Day-eve)
New Pornographers w/ Immaculate Machine and Destroyer

I’ve seen the New Pornographers twice, each tour supporting each record. Maybe it was me, maybe the muddy sound, but somehow the sparkle was dimmed tonight. No one shook their snow balls (except for drummer Kurt Dahle; someone did something to his snow ball cause he was the most fun). They mentioned something about equipment going missing or getting stolen. Not sure about the story behind that. Maybe it was a bad night; they certainly weren’t mid-tour. Apparently they’re headed across the US then off to Europe. Technically they were great; no false notes. The between song banter was strained, but that happens. Maybe it was me.

I can’t say much about Immaculate Machine as I walked in just as they were wrapping up their set. Check our their Web site for more information about the poppy trio. Things that stood out: solid drumming and the keyboardist later played with New Pornographers.

Destroyer (Dan Bejar’s project—not the KISS cover band) are not my taste, as I soon found out. After hearing so much internet chatter about this band/guy, I was curious. Indulgent. Good guitarist, but inaccessible lyrically. My subjective two cents. Maybe I’ll give him another listen, but I suspect the work I’ll like most are those songs he contributes to New Pornographers.

So, yes, I bought Twin Cinema. Musically its holds up well to Mass Romantic and The Electric Version (the former being my favourite, I confess). There’s something else going on though. I hear a 70s pop sensibility eking through, which is new (“These Are The Fables” and “Sing Me Spanish Techno”). The layered harmonies that are so wonderful are still at work here(“Falling Through Your Clothes”) and there’s a Byrd-ish riff sneaking in “Jackie, Dressed in Cobras.” I wish they’d grace us with lyrics in the liner notes. Next time? Please?

Okay. Fed and watered on the West Coast.

Oct. 17 2005
Son Volt w/ The Fruitbats
Opera House

And so I come full circle to see a “reformed” Son Volt: Jay Farrar (vocal, guitar, piano, harmonica), Dave Bryson (drums), Andrew Duplantis (bass, backing vocal), and Brad Rice (guitar). I say “full circle” because during their heyday in the 90s, I was largely cut off from a lot of new bands (long stupid story, suffice it to say I was in self-imposed exile.) When I saw the listing I penned the date in my daytimer and bought a ticket. I confess to feeling a touch of “Janey-come-lately” guilt. I’m more familiar with Farrar’s solo stuff; indeed, I saw him perform a few years back. But who cares? It’s music and so long as you find out about a band and enjoy their music what does it matter when you start? So back to the show. Son Volt were tight, professional, and didn’t waste time on talk. Almost exactly 120 minutes filled with old, new, and solo (“Barstow”) songs.

Seattle’s Fruitbats opened the show (as they do much of the tour). Just as Son Volt was a band for it’s time, so too are these guys. Sparse enough twang to fit the bill, but don’t mistake them for “alt-(cringe)-country.” Indie pop without being twee. Think Shins with a banjo and lap steel. Don’t think soundtrack (ok, do, but you get my meaning; they won’t be on The OC anytime soon, God willing.)

Despite saving my coin for a Son Volt record, there weren’t any. This freed up fifteen bucks for the Fruitbats’ Spelled in Bones. To be fair, I’m only six tracks into it as I write this. So far so good. Not trendy. Very nice instrumentation, full and lush. No obvious coattails being trod on. But they DO have liner notes. With lyrics. Hey, Carl Newman get a load o’ this!

So that’s it. I’m caught up with live shows and putting a dent in my headphone time. Next is reading. Currently I crawl into bed with Neil Gaiman and his Anansi Boys. Hopefully, I can string something meaningful together soon. I’ve also been reading the paper every day, so beware: I feel a rant coming on.

Till then, thanks for visiting! We love you Richmond, Virginia! Whoo hoo!!

1 comment:

Steve-o said...

All right, a shout out!

Sadly, it looks like I'll be missing the NP's this year. I'm still on the fence about Son Volt though. Have you tried some of their older stuff yet? If you haven't gotten the new album, you might do better to start with [i]Trace[/i] or [i]Wide Swing Tremolo[/i]. I highly recommend both.

Anyway, keep writing. I might actually get around to reading one of those books you recommend after my workload lets up.