It’s always the smell of rain rushing over Lake Ontario that I remember. Before the clap of thunder and the crowd scrambling for cover under the band shell. Summer nights at the Harbourfront stage all those years ago were often fraught with bad weather but it never dampened the shows. There were some unforgettable performances: the Greyboy Allstars (we invaded the stage to boogie with the band), The Constantines, Broken Social Scene among so many others tore the roof off summer after summer.
Memory is a little fuzzy, but I think we were watching The Herbaliser Band when Mother Nature wanted to join in the fun. You really could smell the rain coming. Lightning streaked the sky. We all got pretty wet. A few weeks after the show, friends would tell me they saw me on City TV. The NewMusic filmed it and I somehow found my way onto the clips: there I was, my unruly hippie hair tucked under my cowboy hat, dancing up a storm. I was pretty into it, apparently. My “moves” back then were basically T-Rex arms swinging incomprehensibly, my head shaking wildly and my butt wiggling terribly out of time. I am many things, but graceful is not one of them. To this day I’ve still never seen the footage.
A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend Field Trip at Fort York with some excellent people. It’s such a well-organized event. Food trucks everywhere, beer wagons galore, kid friendly playgrounds, and of course the performances from The Barr Brothers, Bahamas and Metric were outstanding. Usually I’m taking pictures of the band, watching the show through my screen. This time, however, the phone stayed in my pocket. I was surprised by how much more engaged I was. Instead of trying to find the perfect shot I instead melted into the music.
This isn’t an indictment of those who use their phones, nor is this a soapbox imploring you to put them away. I’m not Jack White. Rather, this is a recognition of mindfulness, of being in the moment and holding on it. I think that’s a rare experience, perhaps one that I didn’t even know I needed. On the other hand, I have a music blog that’s entirely bereft of photos or video from Field Trip. So maybe I need to strike a balance there.
I fear that Father John Misty has started taking himself too seriously. His last two releases have sucked all the air out of the room. God’s Favorite Customer is pretty grim, he used to lighten things with humour or self-depreciation but now he’s just a downer.
So, Scarlett Johansson released a record with Pete Yorn. It’s pretty good. “Bad Dreams” is a breezy pop tune that’s sure to get caught in your head.
Neko Case’s voice is so powerfully emotive, shifting from whimsy to sadness from one note to the next. While Hell On has quite possibly the worst album cover of the year, it boasts exceptional songwriting. “Curse of the I-5 Corridor” shimmers and sways with such force you will need to sit down.
Snail Mail’s Lush manages to capture distance while feeling wholly in the moment—an impressive feat for a teenage debut. It reminds me of early Smashing Pumpkins as well, which is surprising.
Two songs I can’t stop listening to: “Health Machine” by Sam Evian and “Tenderness” by Parquet Courts.
For all those road trip junkies, allow me to recommend Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (yes, that’s a mouthful). It’s easy to picture endless blacktop, the world whizzing by with “Talking Straight” pumping from your radio.
Yukon Blonde’s Critical Hit makes me want to watch Street Legal or maybe Night Court, it’s all 80s synths and big choruses. To be fair, side B is very diverse, running the gamut from electro to the Beach Boys. The album is eclectic and never boring.