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10.23.2005

Shout Out Out Out Out blew me away away away away

 Shout Out Out Out Out at the horseshoe in Toronto photo by Pavel Gorin

Last night I headed out to Lee’s Palace in Toronto to check out the Fembots and Luke Doucet. Blog readers will note my previous review of “The City” by The Fembots, and Wavelength readers may have also checked out my review of Luke Doucet’s latest record “Broken (and other rouge states).”

When the wife and I showed up, thrash rockers Whitey Houston were finishing up their last song “I got fucked by Liberty Mutual.” Danielle was at the coat check and when she came back asked me “What was up with that band? The last song was just them saying all thing things that they got fucked by.” Which more or less, is an accurate review of the Whitey Houston experience.

The Fembots set up pretty quickly afterwards and ran through a majority of their highlights from “The City” and “Small Town Murder Scene.” The band’s roughshod alt.country sensibility was endearing and won over the laid back crowd at Lee’s.

Though I mainly came for The Fembots, I figured seeing a double bill with Luke Doucet would have make for a half decent evening. Doucet is a seasoned performer, working as a guitar slinger for Sarah Harmer and Sarah McLachlan. It was a real treat seeing some great guitar theatrics and some real solid tunes. Doucet finished up the set by inviting former Shout Out Out Out mastermind Nik Kozub up on stage to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Doucet’s former band Veal by playing “I hate your lipstick.”

We about to leave following Doucet’s solid performance, but being game, we stayed for Shout Out Out Out Out just to see what all the hype was about.

They set up four synths across the front of the stage.

Four basses were brought out, plugged in and tuned up.

And two drum sets were set up.

When all six members came out on stage, Shout Out Out Out Out band leader Kozub took the stage and informed the anxious Lee’s Palace audience that the band was in fact Shout Out Out Out Out and they played dance party songs. In a completely straight face. He then introduced their first song “Nobody Calls Me Unless They Want Something.” (Click on the link and download it, seriously.)

Kozub then sang all his vocal parts through a vocoder, which makes his voice all robot like, perfect for Shout Out Out Out Out’s fun dance style. If I was going to give it a term, I would call the band’s style “electro-rock.” Yes, its a lot of keyboards and drum machines, but these guys rock their keyboards and basses like it’s a big rock show. And don’t forget about the two sets of drums; two drummers wailing away are awesome.

Make no mistake either, these guys don’t really look like your typical ‘electronic music’ type guys, who usually are wearing weird futuristic type clothes with random Japanese ninja symbols on them or something. Kozub himself with his long brown hair in a ponytail looks more like your guitar-store geek who loves Dream Theatre and Eric Johnson.

But Shout Out Out Out Out’s music was so fun, and everyone in the crowd had such a great time. As Kozub bounded around the stage, pogoing and doing many, many high-kicks, the band’s energy was so high. If going out to clubs and hearing music like this was actual reality, I would go out more often.

The thing that got me the most about this show was the fact that all these guys were from Edmonton. Maybe I have a misconception about Edmonton, but I would never have imagined that they could spawn such creative artists like Shout Out Out Out Out.

If anyone happened to walk in from the street at 1 am Saturday night, they would have assumed these guys were from the darkest, grittiest and trendiest part of New York City, hands down. It’s like saying they are from Edmonton is some kind of post-ironic joke, like Edmonton is some made-up word instead of the home of the Oilers and a giant mall.

All and all it was great night, and I recommend to anyone to go and check out Shout Out Out Out Out if they are playing anywhere in your area. Odds are Pitchfork and Tinymixtapes are going to catch onto this band, and they are going to blow up. Forget about the Wolf Parade or Ninja High School, its all about Shout Out Out Out Out.

Download: Nobody Calls Me Unless They Want Something

Mote MGZN interviews Nik Kozub

An Edmonton weekly on SHOUT OUT OUT OUT

Another Edmonton weekly raves about SHOUT OUT OUT OUT OUT

A Calgary weekly paper talks to Nik Kozub

Entertainment online has a nice photo gallery from their Horseshoe show

Nrmlswlcmrcrds (normals welcome records) - The Band’s Label

A sweet SHOUT OUT OUT OUT OUT poster

10.07.2005

Death Cab for Cutie 'Plans' for a long career

The major-label debut from Pacific-Northwesters Death Cab for Cutie is possibly their most optimistic -- and darkest – album to date.

If you’ve never heard of Death Cab before, then this album is for you. With their thoughtful, clever lyrics about love, life and death, and dense atmospherics to match, this band will prove to you why they have cultivated a massive underground following.

For those who have followed this band from their humble beginnings as a cassette-only band, odds are you may be disappointed. This album features less guitar, and a loads more of keyboards. Don’t worry, they’re not “retro-dance” keyboards, and Death Cab is not turning into a dance act anytime soon.

What this album suggests is that Death Cab for Cutie are slowly building their way towards becoming one of the greatest bands in the entire world. Yeah, it’s a pretty big order to fill, but check it. Wilco were on their way until they stopped writing songs and started making ‘albums.’

The band has already got some play on the first single “Soul Meets Body,” a metaphysical rumination on lifetime discovery and love that grasps tightly. This song is a great example of how the band just mixes everything together well – it’s an acoustic guitar song essentially, but its lead by a driving, minimal bass-line and some well-placed keys.

Another track that has been getting a lot of love is “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” The song is just Ben Gibbard’s voice and an acoustic guitar, telling his love that after death, he will follow her to purgatory. Depressing, maybe, but it also serves as a beautiful testament to love that was meant-to-be.

Fans of the band’s previous album “Transatlanticism” will enjoy the welcome return of the band’s patient piano-based epics. “Different Names for the Same Thing” and “Someday You Will Be Loved” build on the band’s heavy atmospherics in tone and in lyrical breadth.

And like any really great album, the songs that may not stand out on the first couple listens really grow into the true ‘classic’ tracks. For me, it was one of the closing tracks, “Brothers on a Hotel Bed.” It combines that foreign feeling of growing old with youthful nostalgia, remembering when running around the yard with your brothers as being one of the simplest pleasures in life.

That’s what Death Cab does so well after all – the contrasts. Love vs. loss. Death vs. life. Age vs. youth. Intimacy vs. distance. Action vs. boredom.

And between the two sides is where Death Cab for Cutie lie, waiting for you to join them.

....

The Prefix Blog has a video download of Death Cab performing ‘Soul Meets Body’ on Conan O’Brien’s late night show.

Check out the band’s official site

The Onion AV Club has a great interview with the band

There is also a DCFC livejournal community

Some weird I think Japanese deathcab site

Cooking with Ben Gibbard!

10.01.2005

The Fembots make 'The City' feel like home



There are ‘winter’ albums and there are ‘summer albums.’ Even though I may love blasting Black Sabbath and Van Halen at wild volumes on a bright summer day, that doesn’t mean I want to do it all year around. When the weather changes, so does the soundtrack.


And there are a pile of great tunes out there for a nice winter’s day – anything by Low, Hayden, Pedro the Lion – you get the idea.


The Fembots are
Toronto duo Dave MacKinnon and Brian Porier, and have released ‘The City’ as a follow-up to their classic ‘Small Town Murder Scene.’ Released in the middle of September, ‘The City’ is the perfect soundtrack for another fall, marking the end of another sweet summer.

This band is known for their struggle with Hogtown, part of that growing population that hates Toronto just as much as they love it. It’s that worn sense of contradiction which floats the album along.


‘So Long’ opens the album with sparse guitars, tinkering bells and dark, dusty organs. It laments the day to day repetitions that drive most people slowly insane. Rich and dense sounding, the subtle sounds fit like a warm winter parka, and clearly mark out the band’s territory.


The next song, ‘Count Down Our Days,’ brings out the band’s classic lonely bar-room sing-along sound. The song really catches on when it breaks down to a simple guitar strum and rebuilds itself into an anthemic refrain; ‘Turn the light out, before they turn the lights out.’


‘Up From The Ditches’ celebrates flowers blooming from festering road-side ditches, while ‘Demolition Waltz’ parts 1 and 2 provide a mellow ‘round the fireplace’ quality.


The mournful and celebratory 'My Life in the Funeral service' finds the band joyful at a drunken wake. It’s like the Fembots have latched onto that magical painful and changing revelation that sometimes nothing can be done, so don't worry about it.


'The City' is the album’s emotional climax; A gorgeous duet, a tribute to long drives in the early morning up and down the 401 in between the big cities, when all there is are trees and sky.

The album closes out with a trio of great songs ‘Gilded Age,’ ‘Hell’ and ‘History Remade.’ These songs all carry a feeling of history with them and showcase the band’s great skill at crafting some really somber songs.


The only complaint I have about the album is that it’s just way too short. At half an hour, I felt like the band was just hitting their groove and it was all over. Regardless, this band will be getting a lot of play as the weather gets colder and colder.


The band’s official website


Download – “Count Down Our Days


Download – “Dead End Jobs


Download – “Small Town Murder Scene


Download – “Ice Cream


The Montreal Mirror talks to the Fembots


The Fembots at New Music Canada


NOW reviews ‘The City’


Exclaim talks to the Fembots about ‘The City


Here’s an older interview with the Fembots in Exclaim