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Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009
by Dave MacIntyre
The Twilight Sad + We Were Promised Jetpacks + BrakesBrakesBrakes / Words and Pictures by Dave MacIntyre

One of the greatest benefits of live band journalism/photography is the exposure you get to artists that are not yet in the mainstream. In most cases, these artists are opening acts who perform their hearts out attempting to make a lasting impression and ideally, warm up the audience for the acts that follow. Such was the case Saturday night at the El Mocambo in Toronto when the UK’s the Brakes (known as BrakesBrakesBrakes in North America due to a Philly based punk band’s claim on the truncated name) started the evening with an adrenaline boosting set of super-catchy pop songs. Fronted by former British Sea Power member Eamon Hamilton, the band formed in 2003 and has toured with the likes of Belle & Sebastian and the Killers, their experience evident both in ability and crow-pleasing interaction.


Next up was Glasgow’s We Were Promised Jetpacks, labelmates of the night’s headliner The Twilight Sad. The four-piece was immediately greeted by a wild group of cheering fans, whistling and clapping before they even had instruments in hand. They performed a tight set of shoe-gazey heart-felt melodies, all through which their fans openly sang along.


The room became electrified when headliners The Twilight Sad finally stepped on stage. After what I had just witnessed, I expected nothing short of an epic performance. Musically, the band sounded equally good live as when studio produced, covering songs from both Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters and the recently released Forget The Night Ahead, but their stage presence lacked the group unity the two previous bands exemplified. Band member interaction was virtually non-existent as each performer stood in expressionless stoicism throughout the entire show, with the exception of singer James Graham who, in his attempt to convey the angst and melancholy of the lyrics, sang on his knees and, at times, beat the drum set with his own stick. His whole performance felt too contrived, unconvincing and was more distracting than anything. Looking behind me to gauge how the rest of the room might be feeling, I wasn’t surprised to see the crowd had thinned considerably and those who were still there didn’t appear to be really into it either. By the end of the set, which concluded with a solid five minutes of feedback from the strings and Graham standing motionless staring off into space, I was ready to go home as well.


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Monday, Oct 12, 2009
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner

Rosanne Cash performed for a sold-out crowd Saturday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn to celebrate the release of her latest album, The List.  The album, like Ms. Cash’s own repertoire, spanning both genres and epochs, is a selection of songs from a list of 100 that her father, Johnny Cash, presented to her in 1973 as a rudimentary syllabus of country, or rather American, songs.  Her set drew heavily from the new re-interpretations while mixing in her own classics as well.  The crowd (equal parts inebriated yuppies and nostalgic boomers) was excitable yet polite, holding their collective breathes for poignantly delicate numbers like “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,” where her guitar danced and curtsied with John Levinthal’s, and “500 Miles.”  Other numbers like “Ode to Billie Joe” and “Motherless Children” became haunting spirituals over guitar, Ms. Cash’s strong vocals beguiling each with gentle vibrato.  However her set wasn’t all downbeat dirges and laments:  “Heartaches by the Number” possessed country-twang and “Radio Operator” imbued both her father’s ruggedness and army career.  The best song of the evening—and Ms. Cash’s proclaimed favorite on the The List—was “Long Black Veil,” its underlying darkness ruefully exhumed.  During the encore Ms. Cash drew from her father’s songbook, playing “Tennessee Flat-Top Box” and forgetting the third verse while her band vamped behind her.  It wasn’t a tell of her own age, but revealing her daughter’s request for a list of 100 essential songs was.


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Thursday, Oct 8, 2009
by Dave MacIntyre
Words and Pictures by Dave MacIntyre

After what seemed like an interminable wait for the sound check to complete, New York City rockers The Bravery took the stage to an anxiously waiting crowd at Toronto’s Opera House on Tuesday night.  It was well worth the wait.  The rich sound unleashed right from the get go was nothing short of monumental and worthy of a stadium-sized sound system.  Lead vocalist Sam Endicott strutted all over the stage sporting a white suit over a prison-stripe undershirt, completing the look with a white flower in his hair.  His voice was reminiscent of The Cure’s early era Robert Smith, a feature that complements the rock/electronica sound of the band.  It wasn’t until Endicott had half a dozen songs tucked away that he stopped to breathe and share with fans a story about the now-closed Brooklyn bar, Magnetic Field, a place the band once liked to frequent.  He added that their next song was about that place and launched into their hit “Believe” much to the delight of the wildly clapping crowd.  They kept the flow of songs steady and energetic for the rest of the set which included the current radio single “Slow Poison” as well as “Time Won’t Let Me Go”, and introduced some new material from their much anticipated upcoming album Stir The Blood.  An already great performance was capped off with a brilliant version of “Honest Mistake” and a short but sweet three-song encore.


Tagged as: the bravery
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Thursday, Oct 8, 2009
Words and Pictures by Rory O'Connor

No longer playing with the Licks, Juliette Lewis was in town playing a show with her new band,the New Romantiques, in support of their recent release Terra Incognita.  It was with a strong dose of curiosity that I found myself at the Bottom Lounge to see it.


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Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009
Pictures courtesy of HopeSandoval.com

Over ten years ago Hope Sandoval split from Mazzy Star but the distinctive voice that defined the music has followed her ever since.  Dreamy and feminine in all the right places, her lyrics tend to cascade down like raindrops on a windowpane.  Her work with both Mazzy Star and The Warm Inventions is an example of a slower psychedelic folk with a touch lo-fi done right.


The evening began with a moody jazz track as prolonged entrance music for the band.  When they did take the stage, the band stayed back in the darkness, letting the visuals of two film projectors do the work.  Sandoval’s lovely vocals floated above spinning ethereal bodies—dancing women whose dresses seemed to turn into flames. 


Sandoval, also remaining a mystery to the naked eye, was obscured behind shadows and her long dark locks.  She deflected attention, not even talking between songs despite the proclamations of love from audience members.  Her focus was entirely on the music.


Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions just released their second album, Through the Devil Softly, which they worked on with some notable musicians, including Colm O’Ciosoig of My Bloody Valentine.  Not surprisingly, the band focused on this album during their live set.  Highlights included “Wild Roses,” “Trouble,” and “For the Rest of Your Life.”  2001’s Bavarian Fruit Bread was presented to a lesser extent, with “Suzanne” and “Charlotte” feeling slightly transcendent.


Throughout, Sandoval’s vocals seemed to linger with the effects of the psychedelic guitars she was sandwiched between and, at times, unfortunately, not loud enough to overpower.  Individually she alternated between just singing and singing while playing the xylophone.  As her music conveys, if you concentrated hard enough you might have made out a look of longing when her eyes flashed through the darkness. 


While the cinematic images crept up and faded, it was difficult not to feel the impact of the songs that were longer and darker than most. 


After playing more than 60 minutes the band vanished quickly, and, for what seemed like ages, the packed audience clapped for their return.  Upon reemerging, they played a two song encore.  “Satellite” made Sandoval’s vocals even spookier and more effective with only half of the band present.  Returning to their first release again, the night ended with “Feeling of Gaze.”


Sandoval only two words to the audience the whole night were “Thank-You,” just before leaving.  And then she was gone.  While the crowd departed for the night, the house music played Johnny Cash’s “We’ll Meet Again,” which seemed nothing less than intentional.


Tagged as: hope sandoval
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