Small Sins | Land of Talk | Film School @ Mercury Lounge

Very quick catchy pop songs came from Toronto’s Small Sins, and I found them to be quite amusing but musically perplexing. Why did they need 5 people to play the simplest of songs and a guitar player that added just noise over the electronic melodies? The lyrics were downright childish and tended to be repeated over and over like a bad nursery rhyme. The keyboard solo at the end was funny but I’ll pass the next time these guys come around again.

When I found out that Land of Talk cancelled their Tuesday night show, I quickly got rid of my ticket and hoped that they’d be back for Thursday night. The trio from Montreal showed up with a short haired Elizabeth Powell. I’ve been crazy about this band ever since I got their EP and they get my vote for best new band of 07. The music is dirty and sexy and I tend to raise the volume whenever their songs pop up on shuffle. Their live shows are more sensual and moving as they hook you with the hypnotic drone of Liz’s voice and then attack with powerful post-punk guitar and bass hooks.

Holy Feedback Batman! Film School swings by from the west coast to give us their dreamy pop music. Although I could never really get into them since their SXSW days, their live set was much more exciting than their recordings. Their psychedelic songs have a gritty edge to them and the introduction of some female vocals added another, but not too goth-y dimension to the music. The music did set a wonderful wash of sound but after a few songs it just got to be a little monotonous and all the feedback made everything too muddy. Nevertheless, the new album is quite good and wouldn’t mind them entering into the soundtrack of my dreams (at least for a little bit)

Pictures from the show


New Buffalo | Stars @ Town Hall

I FINALLY get to see New Buffalo live. I’ve been obsessing over Sally Seltmann’s tender voice since her debut release. Her new album focuses more on piano and simpler melodies but has contributions with Jens Lekman, Beth Orton and Jim White. And boy was I elated when Jens quietly took the stage to play duet with her!! She only played a few songs to a small and timid crowd but what I heard was delightful, despite not playing “Recovery”.

Tonight was primed for Toronto’s Stars to play their lush songs about all matters of the heart, where lovers break-up, make-up, and have sex all night long. I still play Set Yourself on Fire and is one of my favorite albums of the past few years. The stage was beautiful, adorned with roses and paintings accompanied with a ligh setup that helped make the music more engaging. The crowd was awesome and the band played perfectly. You lose yourself when Torquil and Amy sing to each other as they gaze into each others eyes. The lyrical dynamism between the two is hard to find in many other bands. The band was extremely lively on stage and were very happy and proud to be playing in such a beautiful place in New York. Amy got a bit drunk off champagne during the show but still delivered an amazing performance. She even stopped the new song “Midnight Coward” because ‘it didn’t sound right’. Regardless, the never before played song was better the second time around and furthered my crush on her. They played until exhaustion and even when I thought Mr. Campbell couldn’t sing anymore they closed the night with an amazing performance of “The Night Starts Here”. They play again later in the month in Williamsburgh. Go and take the person you love or hate.

Pictures from the show.

Neimo | Why? @ Knitting Factory

I guess CMJ week is starting early with this sunday late night concert at Knitting Factory. The best part was that it was only 1 dollar, which is good as I’d rather not pay more than that go to that venue. Neimo from France opened up with their catchy rock overflowing with sexy lyrics about love and girls. They were very lively onstage and were entertaining to watch but got bored with the music as soon as I realized all their songs sounded the same.

Despite having various technical problems and going on late (expected from this venue), Why? treated us to their folky surreal pop music. They have a new album coming out so they debuted a bunch of new tunes and they sounded pretty good. The set wasn’t perfect but for a buck you can’t complain too much.

A few pictures from the show.

PJ Harvey @ Beacon Theater

Around my birthday there is always a great show to be seen. Last year was the Patti Smith‘s CBGB’s finale show. This year I was treated to a sold-out intimate performance by PJ Harvey. She is easily one of the best female performers of our day and she verified that tonight. Without the support of a band she played about 24 songs and seemed very relaxed and jovial, sometimes engaging with banter from the audience. I am amazed at her range of music from the quiet songs found on her new album White Chalk to the distortion rock songs of “Man-Size” and “Snake”. She jumped from instrument to instrument and sometimes playing and looping several at the same time. The lighting and set stage made her seem like an angel and the set was a mix of new, old, hits, and unreleased songs. A memorable and brilliant performance.

Jimmi’s pictures from the show. (coming soon….)

Kronos Quartet | Erik Sanko @ BAM

The BAM theatre was a perfect setting for this eclectic program of work. The show started with Kronos Quartet performing Amon Tobin’s “Bloodstone” on digitally altered stringed instruments. By blocking certain sensors the band manipulated various loops that constructed the song consisting of various samples from their past recordings. It took me awhile to figure out what was happening and it was a weird coincidence that I had just picked up Amon’s new album the day before.

The Quartet then performed several songs to Dear Mme, a 20-minute music-theater piece staged and composed by Erik Sanko. I’ve only known Erik through his musical work in Skeleton Key, but I was blown away by the elaborate show he put on.

After intermission the stage was set for the US premiere of Uniko composed by Kimmo Pohjonen and sampling artist Samuli Kosminen. Pohjonen’s manipulation of the accordion was incredible and unexpected. His composition accompanied with the innovative sounds of the Kronos Quartet created an absolutely breathe taking performance. The performance took me to another world and its moments like this that makes me appreciate the power of live music. The music had such a dynamic range, going from ethereal soundscapes to triumphant explosions of sound. Although Kronos Quartet have been hit or miss with me in the past years, this performance was easily one of the best showings I’ve witnessed from them and one of the best shows of the year.
“Kalma” video (from Uniko) w/ Kronos – Live at Helsinki Festival 2004

Bowerbirds | Mountain Goats @ Bowery Ballroom

Bowerbirds have been popping up on my radar for quite some time as they have been touring a lot and releasing some really nice music. Coming from North Carolina this trio plays simple but enjoyable tunes and their live set is faithful to the recordings. They swing by again for CMJ.

It’s always a guaranteed good time when the Mountain Goats come to town. I especially enjoy his “in between albums” shows where he tends to play a lot more older and obscure tunes from his large repertoire. John and Peter seemed a bit more animated this time around and felt this was one the best shows yet. They played some songs never played before and even one that Peter took for his own band. Although I didn’t recognize many of the songs, his lyrics are so poignant and heart felt that you can’t help be swept away in its narrative. John was on fire as he danced around the stage and even head butted Peter at one point. He broke a string and reminded the old fans on how back in the day that would be the end of the show. Luckily he had another guitar handy and delivered a bunch more tunes and 2 incredible encores.

Pictures from the show.