In Review...The National, Avi Buffalo

>> Saturday 29 May 2010

The National
High Violet

Brooklyn-via-Ohio’s the National sure have the scene-setting, album-opening track down pat. The urgency of “Secret Making” (Alligator) and the stately elegance of “Fake Empire” (Boxer) prepped eager ears for the brooding sounds to come.

High Violet’s lead track “Terrible Love” earns a place next to its regal predecessors. As always, frontman Matt Berninger singular baritone is at the foreground, but it’s the calm-before-the-storm, distorted guitars, courtesy of brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, that escalate the tension to an almost unbearable degree. And it’s a testament to this band’s remarkable talent that the better tracks always, always keep coming. “Sorrow” is jittery mid-tempo fare; “Lemonworld” is moody post-punk; while the epic and upbeat fist-pumper “Bloodbuzz Ohio”is this album’s “Apartment Story”.

Five albums in and the National have unquestionably perfected their sinister, late-night, moody aesthetic.

Where will they go from here?

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 3.75/4.0
Choice Cuts: “Runaway”, “Terrible Love”, “Lemonworld.”
R.I.Y.D. Wilco, Joy Division, baritone-voiced frontmen
Label: 4AD

Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo are a very young quartet from Long Beach, Cali whose way with the song easily belies their age. Their eponymous debut, released on venerated label Sub Pop Records, is just bristling with bright and quirky, thoughtful and well-executed, indie-pop.

The brain behind the op is Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg, a recent high school grad well on his way to turning 19. Rounded out by keyboardist/vocalist Rebecca Coleman and drummer Sheridan Riley (both under 20), plus old man bassist Arin Fazio (21), these fresh-faced kids, much like their contemporaries the xx, shirk the songwriting expectations and preconceptions yoked to their tender years.

Whereas the xx excel in whispered and carefully checked pillow-talk, Avi Buffalo act their age, sounding uncertain of their future, yet content enough with their fun, sexed-up present, as on the delightfully barmy confessional “Summer Cum”.

If, by chance, you’re heading to Toronto for NXNE next month, make a point of checking these precocious younglings out. I know I will.

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 3.25/4.0
Choice Cuts: “What’s In It For?”, “One Last”
R.I.Y.D. The Shins, The Morning Benders, The xx…if they were summery and lively
Label: Sub Pop


In Photos...Xavier Rudd @ The Burton Cummings Theatre

>> Thursday 27 May 2010

Xavier Rudd
The Burton Cummings Theatre
May 26, 2010

(All photos by Daniel Camaclang)


In The Know...11 Questions With Nightwood

>> Wednesday 26 May 2010

Ascending Montreal indie-rock trio Nightwood are rolling through town not once, but twice next month. Their record: Carta Marina. Available: now.

First, they’ll perform a free, in-store set at Music Trader on June 9th @ 8 p.m. (sharp!), dazzle audiences out West for awhile, then return to Peg City for a gig at the friendly neighbourhood Lo Pub on June 19th w/ Winnipeg’s own Sit Down Tracy.

Comprised of Amber Goodwyn (guitars/vocals), Jeremy MacCuish (drums), and Erin Ross (guitars/vocals), Nightwood dabble in moody, raw, and inescapably contagious rock with some aggressive punk thrown in for good measure.  If you’re looking for more of those angry, melodic riot grrrl sounds of the late, great, and influential Seattle quartert Sleater-Kinney, Nightwood just might be the band for you.

Also, the band generously sent along two vinyl copies of Carta Marina (12") for giveaway exclusively to readers of Painting over Silence. If you’re interested, shoot me off an email (at the side) by Thursday, June 3rd @ noon with the subject line “Nightwood Record Giveaway” and your name in the email’s body. I’ll randomly draw the winners and contact the lucky pair sometime that same afternoon.

I recently corned the trio and asked them 11 interest/personality-revealing questions. Some of the wide-ranging topics mentioned: Bjork Videos, Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, sleep-inducing qualities of Lord of the Rings, and the power of flight vs. invisibility.

Here’s everything the very fun trio had to say:

1. Where are you right now?

Amber: At this very moment, I'm sitting on my back porch BBQing with my partner, watching cranes above us on their way to the Montreal river front. They're very solemn flyers, they seem to flap very seriously and don't swoop around or anything. I just got back from a wee vacation in the UK, so I'm a bit jet lagged which makes the whole setting all the more lovely somehow.

Erin: I just finished having a BBQ in the backyard with my partner and his sibs, having ignored the cranes flying above us on their way to the Montreal river front.  I'm now getting ready for an overnight shift at the diner.

Jeremy: A Cafe on Papineau and Mt Royal, stressing out about The Game.

Let’s talk music…

2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?

Amber: I'd have to say that PJ Harvey's Rid of Me had a pretty big impact. I was already listening to Patti Smith and some others artists with raw and direct playing and performing styles, but she really slew me. My first encounter with her was watching the music video for "To Bring You My Love" on MuchMusic as a young teen. The image she projected was very powerful and dark and resonated with me for a while until eventually I sought her work out in a mall music shop (this was before myspace and that kind of thing- folks my age used to record our favorite songs off of the radio onto tape cassettes!). When I first listened to her records in a store, I found that they sounded ugly and not that interesting, but later I returned and bought Rid of Me because I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something more for me there, buried in her songs. And of course there was, and much that I would later draw inspiration from.

Erin: Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream once rocked my walkman on repeat till the batteries would die and the tape would turn so slowly that the music would be octaves lower than the recording.  That album changed me.  I decided after seeing them live that I would start playing guitar.

Jeremy: A Day With Art Blakey convinced me that playing drums was the thing for me.

3. What was the most memorable show you’ve played so far?

Amber: Nothing too fancy for me- a show at the Montreal venue L'Escogriffe last summer was lots of fun! The stage is sort of non-existent and so lots of our good friends were circled around very close to us which is always kind of special and makes me feel like they're part of the show in an even more active way.

Jeremy: The Esco show was great, and we always seem to do well in Toronto. I'm particularly proud of some shows that are sparsely attended, but we play our hearts out and win over the few people in the room. Recent shows in Kingston and London come to mind.

4. Of the albums you own, which has the best cover art?

Amber: Outside of our own? Ha. For today I'll choose Kate Bush's The Dreaming. It makes me think of Maya Deren's films.

Jeremy: John Lennon's Rock 'n Roll gives me some pretty severe nostalgia for a time I never lived through.

5. What is your favourite music video?

Amber: I think Spike Jonze's video for Bjork's "Triumph of a Heart" was really fun. There's a human-sized cat in it!

Erin: Bjork's videos are all so incredible.  "Wanderlust" is probably my favourite.  There's also a giant cat in it.  Well, it sort of looks like a cat.  And I love Michel Gondry's videos as well.

6. Who is one producer, alive or dead, you’d just love to work with?

Jeremy: Dave Fridmann! Soft Bulletin, The Woods... such great drum sounds of all varieties.

And some hodgepodge…

7. What TV shows are you currently following?

Erin: Mad Men, True Blood, So You Think You Can Dance

Amber: L O S T

Jeremy: The Corner

8. What was the last great book you’ve read?

Jeremy: The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

Erin: The Tender Bar by J. R. Moehringer

Amber: The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film by Michael Ondaatje. I admit that I am re-reading Lord of the Rings but casually, most nights before I fall asleep.

9. PC or Mac?

Amber: Mac, baby.

10. What is your current ringtone?

Amber: Have never owned a cell phone.

Erin: Have never bought a ringtone.  I just have the old standard ring.  But my favourite ringtone that I heard someone have was "Final Countdown".

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or to turn invisible?

Amber: I think that flying would be harder to explain to people but it seems like it may be more fun than invisibility powers. However, being invisible might open up an array of interesting career opportunities that would help finance the band and stuff. Hmm. Invisibility.

Erin: I think having the ability to fly would turn you into a sideshow.  I would prefer invisibility, but I would have to have control over when it happens, lest I turn into Dr. Jekyll.


In The Future...The Flaming Lips! K'Naan!

>> Tuesday 25 May 2010

Adjust your September 2010 concert budget…now!

Legendary psychedelic rockers the Flaming Lips play the Burton Cummings Theatre on September 21st w/ extra special guest Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Presale starts in two days with public sales getting underway Friday.

See you there!

Also, Toronto-via-Somalia hip-hop star K’Naan is at the Burton Cummings Theatre on September 29.  I’m not normally one to extol interviews, but K’naan’s recent conversation with Jim & Greg on Sound Opinions was one of the best interviews/live performances I’ve heard in years.

Likely hit this show too.


In The Future...Minus The Bear @ The Albert, 100 Mile Musical Diet @ The WECC + Bike Valet Service, And More!

>> Monday 24 May 2010

Seattle indie-rock export Minus the Bear are making their way across The Great White North next month, armed with their new record, Omni. And what’s any high-kilometre trek through Canada without stopping in at the Gateway to the West for a show at the Albert on June 30th?

Over at the West End, a pretty pretty pretty prettygood concept for a show: the first annual 100 Mile Musical Diet challenge. Taking place on June 10th, the event features local bands covering other Winnipeg bands' entire records. This inaugural year, it’s pop-rock darlings Paper Moon taking on Red Fisher’s War Wagon while local hip-hop troupe Magnum K.I. try their hand at The Weakerthans’ Reconstruction Site. No word yet if only local beer will be served.

On the same night, the West End is also introducing it’s much welcomed bike valet program. Basically the awesome volunteers @ the WECC will lock up your bike downstairs, hand you a ticket, and retrieve it at your beck and call. Be sure to tip your valet!

Exploding hip-hop star Drake performs at the Centennial Concert Hall on July 21st.

Hailing from the land of the Habs (who are, yet again, facing elimination tonight), indie-rockers Nightwood drop by Freud’s Diner and Bathhouse the Lo Pub on June 19th, promoting their new record, Carta Marina.

And finally, erstwhile 11 Questions participants Bend Sinister rock the Pyramid on June 7th w/ Imaginary Cities, Sit Down Tracy.


In Review...Broken Social Scene's "Forgiveness Rock Record"

>> Friday 21 May 2010

Broken Social Scene

Forgiveness Rock Record

Forgiveness Rock Record is just destined to spark heated debates over its standout track. And likely already has. Throughout it, the massive, outrageously talented Toronto-based collective set the indie-rock bar high – the songs are diverse, cleverly constructed, and flat-out exciting, rivaling anything Broken Social Scene have served up in the past.

Coming in at just under seven minutes, nebulous and epic album starter “World Sick” will surely garner some favourite track votes, while the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-worthy “Texico Bitches” might score a few noms. Expect mischievous, horn-driven “Art House Director” to be fiercely defended and to go up against “Meet Me in the Basement”, an urgent, explosive instrumental that might get the nod for outstanding indie-instrumental of 2010.

With stellar releases already this month from indie heavyweights The New Pornographers, The National, LCD Soundsystem, and now Broken Social Scene, May 2010 is surely spoiling us.

No complaints here.

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 4.0/4.0
Choice Cuts: Too many to name.
R.I.Y.D. Stars, Metric, Indie Supergroups
Label: Arts & Crafts


In The Future...Caribou Migrates To The Pyramid, Tim Hecker + Radian @ The WECC, And More!

>> Sunday 16 May 2010

(Electronic virtuoso Tim Hecker)

Caribou’s June 3rd show at the Albert has migrated over to the Pyramid. Bring earplugs!

The Pack a.d. open for the Sadies on May 25th at the Pyramid.

Shad is there on May 27th.

Radian and Tim Hecker perform at the West End on June 11th.

Hank III rocks the Pyramid on June 23th.

The Buzzcocks' show at the Pyramid is sold out.

High on Fire drop by the Albert on July 13 w/ Russian Circles and Skeletonwitch.

Quadruple bill at the Albert on June 9th: Strike Anywhere, Bane, Touche Armour, and Lowtalker.

On June 27th, Quintron and Miss Pussycat mix it up at the Albert w/ special guest Cave.

And finally, Public Enemy tickets have been slashed slashed slashed in half and are now the low low low price of $19.99 ($28ish with fees). Offer valid until Monday @ 10 a.m. Also, according to ticketmaster, the show is now at the Garrick.


In The Flesh...Stars Live @ The Pyramid

>> Tuesday 11 May 2010

I first caught Stars at the Pyramid on an unbearably cold Friday night way back in February 2003. The plunging mercury coupled with the band not taking the stage until 1, meant about 25 people saw them that night. Prior to starting, an understandably upset Torquil Campbell blew past me muttering, “Let’s play this fucking show already.” But as Stars settled into “What the Snowman Learned About Love”, the time and the inevitable confrontation with the brutal outside weather didn’t matter to the thin crowd. The half-hour I caught was enchanting, one of my favourite concert experiences to date. I wish I could’ve stayed until the end, but the last bus departed at 1:35.

Stars have gone supernova ever since. Each return to Winnipeg has brought bigger crowds in front of Stars with the band graduating from the Pyramid to the Burt. The Montreal-based quintet's recent announcement that they’ll be touring intimate clubs meant a surprising-but-welcomed return to their Alma Mater. Further intriguing was the show’s concept: for the main set, Stars would play their brand new, not-yet-released record (not even on the rogue file-sharing sites, I think), Five Ghosts, in its entirety, followed by a fan-voted encore.

Taking the stage at a surprisingly early 10:20, Stars performed, as advertised, the whole of Five Ghosts in track order to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd. What immediately struck me was how stripped down and edgier their new record sounded. The ornate production and melodramatic arrangements have been minimized on Five Ghosts, as have the direct and playful boy-girl vocal interplay between Campbell and Amy Milan. This time around the band channels a harsher 80s sound replete with strident electronics that makes these songs not as immediately accessible as past material (A caveat: it was tough to gauge the crowd’s collective response, since this was everyone’s first exposure to the tunes). The band’s one-two vocal punch is still utilized effectively throughout Five Ghosts, just differently. Campbell and Milan harmonize more with each other, and any vocal exchanges don’t register as tongue-in-cheek responses. This time around, the golden-voiced duo seems bent on complementing each other’s mellifluous pipes.

In the end, Five Ghosts will require listeners to spend some time with the challenging wares it offers up, and I’m looking forward to hearing the finished product through my earphones.

The fan-voted encore wasn’t an encore per se since it came immediately after the 45-minute main set. More like a second half. It was loaded, unsurprisingly, with all the favs like “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead”, songs where Torq and Amy’s sporty vocal fencing are front-and-centre.

During “Ex-Lover”, lead-off track from 2004’s Set Yourself on Fire, I noticed (and heard) most of the crowd gleefully singing along. About midway through, I further noticed most males were singing along with Torq while a lot of females took over when Amy did.

And, I must admit, I found it very charming.


Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
The Night Starts Here
Take Me To The Riot
Elevator Love Letter
Ageless Beauty
One More Night
Calendar Girl

Second Encore

Barricade (I think)


In The Future...Broken Social Scene @ The Burton Cummings Theatre

>> Monday 10 May 2010

Update: I'm told the presale password is social. Probably could've guessed that one.

It's official! Those widely circulated Broken Social Scene rumours are true. On October 6th, the massively talented Toronto-based collective will bring their equally massive sound to the biggest venue they've ever played here to date: the Burton Cummings Theatre. Presale starts tomorrow, and as soon as I procure the code, I'll post it on here.


In The Future...Tool, Jamie Lidell, JP Hoe, The Darcys, And More!

>> Sunday 9 May 2010

Jamie Lidell will be at the Pyramid on October 7th, promoting his new Beck-produced record, Compass.

For those looking for a bracing dose of Horror Punk, The Misfits return to the Pyramid on June 14th.

Local singer-songwriter fav JP Hoe is doing a live recording at the WECC on June 3rd.

Del Barber is releasing his latest disc at the WECC on June 18th.

Royal Canoe release CO OP Mode there on July 3rd.

Iconic prog/metal/art-rockers Tool hit the MTS Centre on July 4th.

Promising indie-rockers The Darcys stop by Mondragon on May 14th. You can download their new 7" (well, the mp3s) for free on their website.

And finally, Montreal’s Nightwood materialize at Music Trader for a free in-store performance on June 9th.


In Photos..Ólöf Arnalds @ The West End Cultural Centre

>> Saturday 8 May 2010

Ólöf Arnalds (Núna Festival)
The West End Cultural Centre
May 7, 2010

Arnalds's debut, Við Og Við, won Record of the Year in Iceland. 

Arnald playing her Charango, a lute instrument made from the shell of an armadillo. Yes, an armadillo. 

Toward set's end, John K. Samson joined Arnald onstage for an impromptu, crowd-delighting rendition of "One Great City."


In The Know...11 Questions With The Eardrums

>> Friday 7 May 2010

Exactly one week from today, The Lo Pub plays host to a triple-bill of local talent: Hyper-literate troupe The Paperbacks, experimental rockers The Departures, and upstart indie-trio The Eardrums.

I recently cornered The Eardrums and bombarded them with 11 random, interest/character-revealing questions. See what they had to say below. Also, they sent along some fun Eardrums-related schwag - some red, yellow, and orange guitar picks (the band's official colours); a homemade guitar pick holder; and a few small-but-fashionable buttons. If you’re interested, shoot me and email by Wednesday @ noon with “The Eardrums Schwag Giveaway” in the subject line and your name in the body of the email. Winning name will be drawn randomly shortly after noon on Wednesday.


G - Grant Partridge, 26
T - Tim Partridge, 26, Grant's twin brother
J - Donald James MacLean, 25

1. Where are you right now?

G: Where else? Crappy Road, where magic happens... A.K.A. our studio/jamspace... A.K.A. my bedroom.
T: I'm at home playing tug-a-war with Sadie.

Let’s talk Winnipeg…

2. Where is the best place in town to catch a bite?

J: The Underground Cafe on Arthur. I go there with my friend whenever she's in town from Toronto. The Sun Burger -- delicious.
T: Olympia Diner. It's a Greek restaurant on Portage. Cheap-cheap, big portions. I appreciate quantity even moreso than quality, and they have both.

3. Who is your favourite local artist/band?

T: The Waking Eyes. I know that Holding On To Whatever It Is wasn't Video Sound II, and it took like five years for it to be released, but crank up "Keeps Me Coming Back" and you'll see why they're still my fave. Runners up are Jicah, the Stiff Bishops, and the Telepathic Butterflies.
J: The Waking Eyes. I do like them. I used to be a big fan of Comeback Kid. What else... Electro Quarterstaff!

4. What’s the worst bus route in the city?

G: The 66. Specifically, the Polo Park flavor. Stop getting my hopes up. I know you'll only take me halfway to where I wanna go.
J: The 21 Crestview, because it never fucking comes. It's like a unicorn.

5. Where do you shop for music?

G: Between sporadic digital downloads, I like to save my pennies for a biannual binge at Rockin' Richards.
T: The Entertainment Exchange moved into St. James a couple years back. Doug from the Paperbacks runs that show. He's turned my CD collection into something moderately respectable.

And some hodgepodge…

6. What are some albums that completely changed your life?

G: They're not too representative of my musical tastes today, but three biggies were OK Computer, Siamese Dream, and Bargainville by Moxy Früvous.
T: Born a Lion by Danko Jones. It's a pep-talk whenever you're not feeling 100%.
J: Well, the very first album I ever got was Offspring's Smash. I guess that got me into music. That and In Utero. I guess that's a good enough change.

7. Of the albums you own, which has the best cover art?

G: It's gotta be Thick as a Brick. Totally fascinating by itself and perfectly complements the music. Runners up: Pink Flag and The Commercial Album.
J: I would either say Santana's Abraxas or Over-nite Sensation by the Mothers of Invention.

8. What is your favourite music video?

T:  "Everlong" by the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl and a gigantic clay hand smackin' up the rest of the band. I think that was the beginning of Taylor Hawkins dressing up like a lady... and WHAT A LADY!
J: Uh, shit. Beastie Boys "Sabotage"! It's a good one.

9. What’s one film you watch over and over again?

G: There's this animated film called The Point, based on a story and songs by Harry Nilsson. Tim and I are brothers - twins, actually - and ages ago, our mom taped The Point off cable. We couldn't have been older than five. I think I still have the VHS kicking around somewhere, but when I get nostalgic, I play an .avi that I found on some Nilsson blog.
J: The Planet Earth Series by BBC... it's not a film. Does that count?

10. What is your current ringtone?

J: It's the Super Mario underwater theme. World 2-2.
T: Some crummy beeping. It sounds like an injured bird. It's a work phone.

11. And finally, a veritable toughie…who is your favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Raphael)?

G: TMNT was a big deal when I was growing up. Back then, I was a staunch Mikey booster, but in retrospect, I reckon he was good for nothing. These days I find Leonardo to be a better role model.
T: Raph. He was always the badass. While Michelangelo was saying "Outrageous" and "Cowabunga!", Raph was droppin' "Bitchin'" and "Heck yeah!" Plus there was no such weapon as the 'sai' untill he came around... although I think a chick-character from Mortal Kombat eventually stole his thunder.
J: Donatello. He didn't just jump right into to any situation. He thought about it. Y'know, he's a smart guy.


In Review...Mathemagic; Library Voices

>> Monday 3 May 2010

Mathemagic EP

On the surface, the dreamy electronics inhabiting Mathemagic’s self-titled EP are peaceful and sleep-inducing, ideal music for the background. Plunge deeper and the warmly cool subtleties emerge.

The sonic architects behind Mathemagic are brothers Evan and Dylan Euteneier. The products of Guelph, Ontario, the Euteneiers are not the sort of electro-wizards interested in crate-digging and splicing. What drives Mathemagic’s airy electronics are hazy guitars, aqueous synths, and beautifully lulling vocals that often register just a notch above a whisper.

Clocking in at just over 18 minutes, Mathematics’ eponymous debut EP is but a mere appetizer with the main course arriving later this year. If it is anything like this promising digital release, it should put these boys on the map.

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 3.0/4.0
Choice Cuts: “Breaststroke”, “Beach Days”
R.I.Y.D. Beach House, Toro Y Moi, Yo La Tengo’s And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Label: Paperbag Records

Library Voices
Denim on Denim

There wasn't a record that I was more looking forward to in 2010, based on the promise of their previous EP, Hunting Ghosts (2008), and especially after seeing them live a couple of times. Unfortunately, Library Voices' Denim on Denim is not the outstanding debut that it could have been. 

Recorded in Regina "in the back of a local dance studio", Denim on Denim fails to live up to its potential by not capturing any of the spontaneous energy that makes this eight-member band so special. 
Every song on Denim on Denim sounds too polished, cleaned-up and over-produced...the melodies and such are strong enough, but any hint of the controlled chaos that makes a Library Voices show such an exhilarating experience is missing. The band and co-producer Orion Paradis unfortunately decided to play it very safe, which is really too bad.
I still think Library Voices is the best, most exciting emerging indie band in Canada, period. You just can't hear that band on Denim on Denim.

-Nigel Moore

Rating: 2.0/4.0
Choice Cuts: "Drinking Games", "Insider Trading (On Outsider Art)", "Bookish"
R.I.Y.D. The New Pornographers
Label: Young Soul Records/EMI


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