Sunday, June 17, 2012

One for the Ages - Bovine Sex Club NXNE

When people ask me what my greatest show of all time is, I am fortunate to have a knee-jerk reaction response.  In 2007, I saw a Pop Montreal line-up at Bar St. Laurent 2 that set the bar for live music for years to come. It was the combination of incredible bands, a great space, lots of beer and an X factor on the night that just made it incredible. While I need to give it a few days to settle in, last night's NXNE showcase at the Bovine is currently in competitive form to take down my long front-runner.

The night opened with Romeo Liquor Store, a band I'd been following for 2 or 3 years since stumbling upon them online. They've been around for almost a decade and I had thought they weren't gigging any more. Having to carry the load of an early set and a smaller crowd, RLS still put up a high energy set of in-your-face, no bullshit rock. Throwing in a Misfits cover and playing songs from their old and new repertoire, the Bovine's cherry was thoroughly popped for the night and she was ready for an evening she wouldn't soon forget.

Organ Thieves took over at 10pm, and were a decent surprise. I'd heard their name floating around for a while and had probably even listened to some of their recorded stuff, but this was my first time seeing them live.  They had a solid gritty rock sound that made me think of the Gaslight Anthem. Songs were great and you could tell by their tightness that that this was a band who'd put in their dues playing live. That said, what impressed me the most was the chops of their lead guitarist, Dave.

Oh and how the fun continued once The Mercy Now took over. Every time I see this band live, their sound gets tighter, their songs get better and their stage presence gets even more over the top. Kidnapping two girls who can't have been legally allowed in that bar, the boys rocked their way around, and off the stage with go-go dancers in tow. Russ' voice sounded like he'd been eating sandpaper and still amazingly keeping on key, the dual flanking of David Viva and Adam Burnett ripped through the air all the while with Lee Rogers struggling to hold this force of a band together with his mighty crashes.  It was beautiful, it was loud, it was rock.

Now, what favourite show of mine would be complete without the blues rocking of Little Foot Long Foot? The trio was as together as I'd ever heard them and Joan managed to play through an entire set without breaking her guitar over the head of the moron who was gangster-dancing along on stage. As Iain put it, "if you're too dumb to realize you're being mocked...get off the stage." Still, dancers aside LFLF brought the rock and lifted the room with the powerful duo of Joan and Caitlin's sirenesque voices. Don't worry Isaac, you still kicked ass and destroyed many ear drums.

AND LET THE BOOGIE BEGIN! Ladies and gentlemen, Flash Lightnin. Please allow your jaws to ease onto the floor. No matter how many times I see this band live, 2 things always happen: my body looses control to the boogie beat emanating off the stage and I get the urge to give up playing guitar after watching what front-man Darren Glover can do with the thing. He doesn't so much solo as he does dance with his guitar musically through each song and physically around the bar. Friends were wanting to leave, but I insisted we stayed to the end, knowing full well that FL would close with an ever-changing version of Hobo that always leaves me wanting more.

At 2pm there was a secret band.... but I didn't care. I wasn't about to let some wild card ruin my night of rock, so we left, grabbed late night lunch next door at Shanghai Cowgirl and cabbed our drunk asses home. Yeah, that was damned good night.

-Pure and unconditional; feels so untraditional; help me get my feet back down

Monday, June 11, 2012

0.62 Miles

Normally, I tend to not use this blog as a soap box for friend's bands.  My criteria for who I pick is pretty standard, regardless of whether I know you or not; you gotta be able to get inside my head and stick with me for a while.  As such, it was with great glee that I saw not 1 but 2 different bands formed of good friends over the weekend.  While I will soon tell you more about Harbinger, this week's slot is going to be won out by Kilometre, since I kinda owe Matt about a lifetime supply of high fives after recording both NR albums for table scraps.

The boys took to the stage at the Hard Rock on Friday night and while I am a consumate rock enthusiast, after the week I'd had, I could do little more than sit in the middle back and nod it elation (insert lame old man jokes here). Their set wasn't without technical difficulties (read: Mark Watts flying ass over tea kettle into a stack of amps and drums in the first song... MARK! You're supposed to do that at the END of the set :-P) nor without the issue that I like to call the 'Hard Rock' factor (an incredible phenomenon whereby, even with a $100k sound system and one of the best rooms in the city, the sound guy always seems to botch some element of the mix), but the boys still brought their A game after roughly a year away from the stage.  With new bassist Andrew McCready in tow, KM tore through song after song, mixing styles between hard rock, psychadelic prog, post hardcore, and even something a little sexy.

If you're wanting to see for yourself, take a listen below.  Since the boys are so nice, you can even download their 3 track EP for free! At minimum, listen to my favourite track, This City, Red, and forward to 3:08 to have your mind blown.

-God gave you a wiggle and gave you a shake, but he don't care about the moves you make

Monday, June 4, 2012

All just a game

I did something last week that I haven't done in ages; I bought a video game. The context around this action was very specific; I found a great website called Humble Bundle that packages together old games into a delicious little slice and sells them to individuals, giving a good deal of the funds to various charities.  This particular bundle contained some great indie games from a few years back that I had been meaning to check out.  I finally had a chance to play a few of the games over the weekend (Bastion is absolutely incredible) however, the surprising part was that so far, my favourite part of the bundle has been the soundtracks that were included.

Specifically, I have been listening with near obsession to the soundtrack from Superbrothers Sword and Sworcery. While incredibly impressed with the soundtrack, I soon learned why it was so good: they cheated.  Enlisting the help of the Juno-nominated Canadian songwriter Jim Guthrie, the game - already a unique, original take on adventure video gaming - is taken to a whole new level by Guthrie's clever use of the reimagined 8-bit genre. Delicate yet powerful, catchy while still being complex, this album sits as much more than a gorgeous ambient background to a fantastic game; it insists upon being a brilliant piece of work on its own.

My recommendation to you is this: check out the video below to hear a sample of Guthrie's work and see the incredible adventure put forth by Superbrothers, navigate to Humble Bundle, drop a bit of cash and get a few amazing soundtracks and games (the Bastion soundtrack is great fun too!).  Be sure to spend over $7.87 to get Basion too!  It's worth it.

-Despite myself... I look that way again