Thursday, February 28, 2008

Searching high and low

Let's suppose you didn't grab a Hawksley Workman ticket in time (or don't like Mr. Workman's body of work). Perhaps Bronson Centre wasn't cozy enough for you? Then it's an evening of fun in the basement as 59 Argyle Ave. hosts its (probably, maybe) last ever house show tonight with Think About Life, Wax Attic and of course Fucked Corpse, shown below performing at Zaphod's back in October 2006.

Alternately you can take a biological and sociological field trip to Zaphod's and check out assorted flora and fauna with Montreal buzz band Plants and Animals, Poorfolk (that's them underneath at The Rainbow in June 2006) and Acres.

On Friday, you can see The Bushpilots at The Rainbow alongside The Bible Allstars and Lee Mellor. There's plenty of other stuff to see this weekend: On Friday you can see Amos The Transparent - shown below at an earlier gig - and Alex Newman at Zaphod's.

Also on Friday, you can see Laura Barrett, Kyrie Kristmanson and Glenn Nuotio at Mavericks. On the same night West Coast gals The Gruff perform at Irene's, with fellow country coaster Kent McAlister rounding out the bill. There's more western folk (or is that folksy westerners?) dropping in at Irene's the following day with Saskatoon twanger Shuyler Jansen and his spooky neighbours The Deep Dark Woods dropping in. Elsewhere on Saturday there's lots of rock at The Dominion with Good2Go (down below), four-stroke (down belower) and Captain Foxy.

Politique, Ladymilk and The Balconies play Zaphod Beeblebrox on the same night.
Sunday heats up with Sebastien Grainer et les Montagnes,(who put on an okay set at Bluesfest last year - I'm told they've done better); Hot Springs (performing at Irene's down under) and Hollerado at Zaphod Beeblebrox.

That should keep you busy. And me? Work, work, work ...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bit by bit

I took a few hours yesterday evening to check out a trio of new bands at the Zaphod's free showcase: The Increments, The Conservatory For The Regression Of Sound and ZingZing. Zing Zing is mostly one person, a female singer-songwriter who pitches her music somewhere between Julie Doiron and Blackavar. She had a drummer to accompany her who might have been a better complement if he'd used brushes instead of sticks. She finished things off with a "cheesy" - her description - love song that had something of a Jonathan Richman-esque flair to it.
The Conservatory for the Regression of Sound dressed up for the occasion in matching black outfits and ties. Five guys, three women. Two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, keyboardist, violinist, flautist and a guy who switches between acoustic guitar and keyboards. I don't think they're getting the best sound out of their full complement - their rhythm section could run away with the two guitarists and form a capable if occasionally schmaltzy rock band. The sound on their Facebook page is a bit more melancholy and spacious than their live output. As their sound gets together I hope the violinist, keyboardist and flautist get a little more room to operate.
The Increments finished things off. The trio includes Brahm Gawdan of The Red Arrows and sounds similar, with jangly 1970s post-mod pop guitar. Like The Conservatory they dressed up for the occasion, but in white shirts slack and ties. For the part of their set that I caught I thought they sounded a bit like The Wedding Present. I can see them on a bill with The Murder Plans.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A lot of balls

As I walked into Zaphod's last night, Eastborough was already partly into their set. Frontwoman Stefani Guzman already has a slew of CDs to her credit; her latest outfit includes Alumette Nina and Aedan Helmer (a coworker of mine, as it happens) on guitar, Paul Mahar on bass and Justin Purvis on drums. This was my first time seeing them live, and I was immediately struck by how well-suited they were to share a stage with The Polytones. Both bands are born out of similar streams of melodic pop, indie rock and punk. I think they might also appeal to fans of Rebekah Higgs or Tegan and Sara (though Eastborough has a folkier edge).
Shanker and Romps provided the sweet layer to the evening's musical Oreo cookie with their garage-influenced crunchy pop and songs about biking, wiggling, sock-repairing, kissing and just being too darn cute for words. They sounded particularly good through The Zaphod's sound system (actually, the sound was on form for all the bands this particular evening, to my ears).
The Polytones finished the night off with a very energetic set, with Lesia Manchulenko even bouncier than usual. As is their wont, the band decorated the stage with a seasonal theme - sparkly silver balls, white Christmas lights and a few bundles of those willow like plants with the flat shiny white leaves whose name I can never remember. Their next show is April Fool's at Mavericks, so you can probably expect harlequin masks and whoopee cushions next time.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Awaiting serenity

Another thrill-filled weekend awaits Ottawans. Tonight Jim Bryson plays a rare Ottawa show at First Baptist Church with Steve Lambke of the Constantines (a.k.a. Baby Eagle). Blackball, (shown below) return to Irene's with Boom Creek.

Over on the other side of the Canal, The Most Serene Republic (shown below) and The Diableros turn Zaphod Beeblebrox into a hurricane of Canuck indie rock. Alternately you can catch Broken On Site, Set Fire to Wicker Park, From Day One and Lay Low, Aim High at Cafe Dekcuf or Clockstrikes Music at The Rainbow.

On Saturday Zaphod's hosts The Polytones, (show below) with well-dotted pancake lovers Shanker and Romps and Eastborough.

The same night The Unknown Wrestler, Rhume, ManPower and Micarza Camaro rock Irene's Pub for the Bytown Billionaires. Montreal power poppers Sonic Avenues will be ripping it up at the A&A Speedshop at 279 Flora (a house show) with Sweet Janes vets Holy Cobras and The White Wires. On Sunday The Universal Habit, Silvercade and Liquid Edge perform at Zaphod's.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Provincial and municipal

I don't get to see as many bands as I'd like these days so even the cruddy weather last night didn't stop me from slipping and sliding my way over to Zaphod Beeblebrox to watch a triple bill presented by i(heart)music and headed by The Rural Alberta Advantage. About two dozen people turned out - not bad considering the spirit-dampening and potentially bone-breaking freezing rain.
The first band on the bill was Kings of Lowertown, making their live debut. Simon Borer of Entire Cities described them as sounding like Dead Milkmen crossed with Bruce Springsteen. I can see how their rootsy side inspires the comparison with The Boss. Personally they made me think more of folks like Steve Wynn and Sean O'Brian, but with less jangle. I could see them on a bill with The Allrights or BushPilots with ease.
At first I was worried that Entire Cities would put paid to my brilliant theory about bands with City in their name. Then I realized that since it's "Cities" and not City it still stands. They blend a country-and-bluegrass influence with some noisy indie rockist tendencies. Like a few other Toronto bands, they seem to have a floating membership. This time around guitarist-vocalist Borer was accompanied by Josh Lyon on accordion (sustaining some teasing for abandoning his tots in Kingston to do so), banjo-playing cutie Tamara Lindeman (like Simon, also of the exceedingly swell Weather Station), Adorable bassist Brendan Howlett and Paul Banwatt doing double duty on drums. They put on an active show, which made me wish I had my camera back.
On to The Rural Alberta Advantage, who were as swell as they were at their Club SAW gig last year. Their set was kind of similar. Like Entire Cities, they have a new CD out - that's why they're on tour together (East Coast dates loom). All in all, a swell way to spend $5. As an added bonus, I didn't end up on my butt either going to or returning from the show.
Things should be a bit less treacherous tonight - and they'll cost even less than $5 since Someday This Will All Have To Be Fixed, That's The Spirit, Arms and Sleepers and Michael Munnik are performing for free at Zaphod's. Here's a photo of That's The Spirit, a.k.a. The Polytones' Ben Wilson, performing at Zaphod's in April 2006.

As for later in the week: On Tuesday you can see Patrick Dolan , formerly of In Search of '75, and Andrea Warren at the Avant-Garde Bar; Wednesday The Raynes will be dropping into Zaphod Beeblebrox alongside My Tiny Circus and Amanda Bon. Thursday a vast horde - including Tanya Janca, Dog Park Radio, Riishi & Tim, Bruce Boris and Solomon Moon - descend on The Montgomery Legion on Kent St.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Here come the lies

Here comes the weekend! The long weekend if you get Family Day off. The midweek doldrums are soundly broken on Friday with a host of shows. Brendan Flynn and the Terrible Liars and Adam Puddington Band are performing at Babylon - a similar lineup graced the stage back in February 2007 when I snapped the pic of Brendan (and Matthew from Acres) below.

Of course there's lots of other stuff to see: Captain Foxy and Enemies and Allies play End Hits; Dry River Caravan and Marie-Josee Houle perform at the Avant Garde Bar; Zaphod's hosts much rock and rolling with Kid Sentiment and Four 'N' Giv'r.
On Saturday Nina Nastasia makes her return to Ottawa - that's her below playing the Birdman Stage at the 2003 Bluesfest. Male Nurse opens the show at Mavericks.

She's not the only thing happening at Mavericks - Cancer Bats, Boar and Inire will be performing there earlier in the day. Upstairs at Cafe DeKcuf you can catch HandHeld, Farler's Fury, The Valveenus, Snatchback and Beef Blood. Zaphod's features Two Hours Traffic, Trevor James & The Perfect Gentlemen and My Psycho Ex. Lastly, over at Club SAW you can thrill to the sounds of Pysiedius, We Were the Fires of Rome, There Were Thousands, Today I Caught the Plague and Addaboe - I guess the bands with long names balance out the ones with short 'uns. Speaking of Club SAW, back in July I saw a very nice show with The Rural Alberta Advantage. - captured below, of course. Yes, that is one-half of Woodhands in the middle. RAA are back in town on Sunday, this time at Zaphod's with Entire Cities and Kings Of Lowertown.

Down in End Hits' basement you can see The Sleep, Return to Strength and Dead Winter. In late-breaking news, The Coggs, Bear Claps and Tonk & The Honkys play the Mercury Lounge.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Working for the weekend

It's Monday, and that means excitement! Well not really. Actually it means folks heading back to work after a weekend of debauchery, or in my case returning to work after a weekend of work. But for those of you who are free and broke, there's a couple of shows of interest: Ukrainia! is performing at The Manx (that's most of them, and a few audience members, at Barrymore's in September 2006).

Over at Zaphod's a trio of As The Poets Affirm alumni perform as Videotape alongside The John Punch Band and Psychic Hotline. Like The Manx show, there's no cost to get in, so you can save your cash for the bar.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Night time is the right time

A few months ago - April 2007, to be precise - I got my first look at The Allrights, Jon Kiely of Harshey's new band, at Cafe DeKcuf. They're heading back to the Cafe for their CD release shindig tonight. Even better, they're sharing a bill with Camp Radio. Yay! Well, yay for you, anyway - I'm working that night (is there an echo in here?).

But wait! There's more! Jane Vain and The Dark Matter and Sedrick perform at Zaphod Beeblebrox. Down at Irene's, Ben Wilson of The Polytones dons his That's the Spirit mantle along with guest Greggy B and The Flats. The Murder Plans are also a great way to kill time (sorry, couldn't resist) at The Elmdale Tavern, with Eastborough and Greg Jansen.
On Saturday, there's more CD releasing to be had with Jesus Mullet at Babylon. Similarly inclined rockers Mighty Eagle Band and Garaga round out the marquee. Over at the Elmdale Tavern, Evil Farm Children and Lefty McRighty will offer some unholy combination of twang and rock. You can also see The Reason, The Saint Alvia Cartel and Brights at Zaphod Beeblebrox. There's also a great big helping of assorted punkitude at Mac Hall (in the Bronson Centre) with Ion Dissonance, Rose Funeral, Salt The Wound, The Agonist, Deadwalk, Darkness Rites, Hello Terror, Greta Knights and Shortline Hero.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

From Down Under

Xavier Rudd seems to come through town a lot. Is it because he's a touring machine? Because he likes Ottawa? Probably both. I've seen him twice and enjoyed the music on both occasions. This time around he's playing the Bronson Centre for two nights with Mishka in support. I imagine it's sold out, but who knows, maybe there will be scalpers. I have two distinct memories of Rudd. The first, from his 2004 Bluesfest appearance, is him signing CDs and posing for photos with audience members for hours on end. The second is of being squashed like a sardine at his 2005 show at the Black Sheep Stage. Speaking of which, here he is performing at Bluesfest on that occasion.

Don't forget to wear tie-die, eh? Elsewhere on the entertainment calendar, you can see Hello Operator and Euphoria's Depression at Zaphod Beeblebrox on Thursday.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This wheel's on fire

My original plan this evening was to go over to Zaphod Beeblebrox to see Said Hell and Sister Suvi, then go to The Rainbow and see The Trudels make their debut alongside Gunsmoke and Reverb Syndicate, but I had such a busy day only about 50% of that plan came through ... and I was only about 50% awake for most of it. As expected, it was rowdy garage rock from Solid Senders Patrick Shanks (also of Shanker and Romps, The Glads, The Knurlings, et al.) , Mark McIntyre (Weapons of Mass Seduction, Four'n'Giv'r) and Eric Espig (Daydream Square), with drumming provided by Mike Sheridan (Golden Famile, Kepler, Centretown Wilderness Club). Just think of The Midways, but with more songs about having sex with your mom. Gunsmoke put on a fret-scorching performance, but by the time they brought the curtain down on their performance I was beginning to feel my eyelids beginning to drag, and I only stuck around for the first five or six tunes by The Reverb Syndicate. The Rainbow was pretty packed for this show, so the folks of the local roller derby league should be darn happy.

Friday, February 01, 2008

On the other side

After work I popped over to Babylon to see Gunsmoke perform at the Rock'n'Roll Pizza Party. A big crowd turned out for the Last Pizza Show - soon to move to the Bytown Tavern, if I hear things correctly - which doubled as a release show for Standard Issue No. 3. A nice way to spend a Thursday, but what to do this lovely Friday eve? I'm working, but if you aren't you might want to head over to The Rainbow and see The Grass - depicted below at an August 2007 show at Zaphod Beeblebrox - perform at The Rainbow with The Watters Brothers Rebellion. They shared the stage back in August with the Brothers Chaffey, who coincidentally enough also have a show tonight - at Irene's. If you're in a charitable state of mind, you can see Benefit of a Doubt, Tomorrow's Downfall, Symphony in the Stairwell and Full Blown Whores kick out the jams for the Children's Wish Foundation at Mavericks. The Scarecrowz, MoonMovement and Deadbeat Professionals play Zaphod's. The Adopted shake it up at Barrymore's.

As for the rest of the weekend on Saturday Ghoulunatics, Profugus Mortis, Insurrection and Remnants of a deity play Mavericks; upstairs at Cafe DeKcuf you can see ManKillsMan, Insect, Mekhaya and A New Renaissance. Sadie Hell, Sister Suvi and The Balconies play Zaphods. Most importantly, down at the Rainbow The Trudels make their debut - it's some former Solid Senders and a Golden Famile guy kicking out the frat rock in company with Gunsmoke - them again! - and The Reverb Syndicate. It's a benefit for the local roller derby. On Sunday, provided you get up early enough, you can see Jas Nasty, Autonomic, Tsunami and Seam at Sounds Unlikely, no doubt as part of their first anniversary celebrations. Later in the day, Clock Strikes, Tea For The Voyage, The Sewer Rats and Fleeba do battle at Cafe Dekcuf. If you're the sort of person who doesn't stop going out on a Monday, you'll want to check out The Golden Hands Before God at Mavericks - a great band somewhat reminiscent of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The City Above and The John Punch Band round out the bill.