Extra: The Elwins Release Super-Cool Video For ‘Forgetful Assistance’

One of my favorite bands, The Elwins, have just released a new video for ‘Forgetful Assistance,’ from their album And I Thank You.

This is a wonderful song, and it’s great to see such an interesting video to go along with it.

Check it out below! And make sure to check out The Elwins at The World’s Strongest Mo party this Saturday — http://www.facebook.com/events/298654893572639/



Step 1: Hit ‘Play’ on the video of Parlovr live I found. Aren’t they great?

Step 2: Once that’s done, for the consideration of this generation, I have compressed the entire festival of North By Northeast into an accessible tl;dr format. Because, you know, Too Long = Didn’t Read.

Army Girls – Came out and levelled the Supermarket, but singer Carmen Elle seemed pretty uneasy, probably due to all the Paparazzi. Paparazzo? In the future, when covering Army Girls,

make sure you know the difference between a Paparazzi and a Paparazzo.

A Friend In London – Toured with the Backstreet Boys last year. They wrote a song about it. I know because they told us.

Continue reading

Record Store Day! The Elwins Cover The Constantines, And More (But Not Really)

My buddies in The Elwins are going to be playing at dusk at Soundscapes this Saturday! You should go check them out; they’re fun young gentlemen.

Here they are, covering one of my favorite tracks by one of my favorite bands The Constantines with one of my favorite singers, Casey Mecija of Ohbijou. That’s a lot of my favorite things in one place.

12/10/11 – The Exclaim! Christmas Bash

Last Saturday night, The El Mocambo—a can’t-miss-this fixture in Toronto’s long list of dirty rock clubs–was transformed into a winter wonderland. Long strings of Christmas lights, an audience clad in holiday-themed cardigan sweaters, and a gigantic, inflatable Santa Claus were all brought in for the Exclaim Christmas Bash.

Prince Edward Island-based Paper Lions were back in town, their first Toronto show since wrapping up a September residency at The Supermarket. They headlined after two openers, Ottawa’s The Love Machine and local indie-pop darlings The Elwins. The openers both played well-crafted sets of indie rock—especially The Love Machine, who definitely rose to the challenge of a half-capacity bar and won some serious fans–but it was clear by the time Paper Lions took the stage who the audience was there to see.

Reminding me of other down East rockers Hey Rosetta!, Paper Lions eagerly careened from genre to genre, blending a prototypical indie sensibility with mainstream FM guitar rock and more. Skillfully blurring influences beneath a sheen of strong hooks and tight musicianship, the band’s genre-shifting seemed more a conscious effort to stretch the audience’s ears than a lack of creative focus.


If that was what the audience was looking for—a dozen different bands inhabiting the same four members–Paper Lions certainly delivered. With tight harmonies, driving rhythms and some of the best lead-guitar acrobatics I’ve seen in years, the PEI rockers blew away those who braved the cold weather and late start to see them. The band hit hard and fast, beginning their set with “Lost The War,” the first track from their newest record, Trophies. After that they switched moods repeatedly, the harder-hitting songs in their two-album catalog giving way to the kind of spacey, indie-pop reminiscence that first brought them to notice on their self-titled album. “Don’t Touch That Dial” was clearly a fan favorite, with the whole crowd bouncing and singing along as Matthew Sweeney from The Elwins joined Paper Lions guitarist Colin Buchanan with a tambourine and a bag of confetti.


Guess which he tossed into the crowd with the help of a big metal fan set off to the side of the stage.


The crowd was disappointingly small for the first two thirds of the event, but all the bands played with just as much enthusiasm as if the house was full.  The musicians really seemed to be having fun onstage, with plenty of corny jokes—“What’s in egg nog, anyway? Is it just egg and nog?” the Elwins’ frontman Matthew Sweeney mused in a Seinfeld-esque manner during a break between songs–as well as sing-alongs. All the positive energy crowding the stage fed into the audience, coming back as wide smiles, loud cheers and at least one Christmas dance contest.

The high point of the show was definitely the encore, when Paper Lions had both the other bands as well as the staff of Exclaim, who promoted and put on the show, come up onto the stage to sing Christmas carols. They handed lyric sheets into the audience—“Does everybody have one?” asked Paper Lions’ frontman John MacPhee–and led us all through a few holiday standards. It was that spirit of inclusivity that made the Christmas Bash at the El Mocambo a truly special show. The bands involved were all talented and interesting musicians, yes, but their purpose was above all to engage and share a feeling and an experience with those who attended, rather than just to perform. Which is just awesome. Any time you see Paper Lions, The Love Machine or The Elwins on a bill, ‘Get Up, Get Up’ and GO SEE THEM.


On a  personal note, my apologies for the infrequent site updates these days. Last weekend, I covered three shows; unfortunately, one of them was terrible, another in Barrie, and the third (this one) never quite made it into print. So, I’ve posted it here for posterity’s sake. I’m working on some very long-term stuff these days, which would be wonderful if I wasn’t going back into the studio this week / next week to rerecord some things. Look for a ‘Studio Diary’ style post in the next few, hopefully with some original music, if it’s fit for human consumption.

But if I don’t see you, have a great holiday and take some time off work! You’ve earned it!

NXNE: Review / Recovery

Well, another year, another North By Northeast. Had a great weekend; saw a ton of shows, met some amazing musicians. Toronto’s world-stage showcase just keeps getting bigger, and it just keeps getting better. Apart from the monstrous lines and relatively uniform schedules–really, you’re on sometime from 10-2? So am I!–I really can’t think of anything bad to say about it.

Here’s what Noah Love of the National Post had to say.

Actually, his article got me thinking. The whole week, I was whining about no NQ Arbuckle, no Luke Doucet or Melissa McClelland, no Justin Rutledge. All my alt-folk-death-country heroes–hey, Elliott Brood!–weren’t playing! But really, we don’t need NXNE to showcase Canadian talent; we have CMW for that, every spring. Instead, NXNE is a much broader kind of festival, and, as such, has unlimited potential. As it continues to grow, there will be the odd awkward spot, but NXNE already attracts some of the best talent from around the world. With a few tweaks–more bands playing earlier, longer sets, the ridiculous line situation whereby two friends and I ended up having to bail on Sneaky Dee’s on Friday, one of us with a priority pass, one of us with a wristband, because our third member didn’t have either and they weren’t letting people without wristbands even into the place–with a few tweaks, like I said, this thing could really be kickin’.

Discussion Topics About My Weekend:

#1 – The Shave And A Haircut, Or, Why I Hate Louie The Bartender

#2 – My New Favorite Bar, The Dakota Tavern

#3 – Snap Judgments Are Bad? Not Always–Case In Point, Jimmy McInnes

#4 – Being Declared A Rum Connoisseur

#5 – Why Is My New Favorite Bar, The Dakota Tavern, So Far Out Of The Way?

#6 – So Many CD’s, OR, Why I Didn’t Have Cab Fare And Had To Hike Across Little Italy During Taste Of Little Italy.

#7 – Missing The Elwins By 20 Minutes Not Once, Not Twice, But Three Times. Then Running Into Them At The Horseshoe.

There’s more, but it’s all music stuff, and you wouldn’t want to hear about that, would ya?

Oh, alright; here’s a little taste.

15-15 Interview With The Elwins

You remember The Elwins!

Or, should I say, ‘The Nelwins?’

Whoever they are, I’ve spoken of them before–click here to read–and this month, I got a chance to sit down with them for an interview. Listen to Matthew Sweeney, Travis Stokl, Feurd, and Nathan Vanderwielen give me a hard time about liking Kylie Minogue more than the Spice Girls on this month’s 15-15 at The Break.

And did someone say, “live session?” Listen in to the new track from their forthcoming LP, “Sittin’ Pretty,” which we were able to coax them into playing for us. There’s a link there; I think it’s somewhere in the middle.

S#@T You Should’ve Heard Before: The Elwins

It’s pretty hard to find a band that’s honest about what they do these days. Even me–if you try to get me to say what I’m playing these days, I’ll probably just throw a bunch of band names at you and say something lame like, “It’s kind of like that.”

Not so with The Elwins. These guys play some of the best unabashed pop music you will ever hear. And they are fine with that. Their EP, which they released in ’09, I believe, is absolutely amazing, even down to the patchwork style of the sleeve it comes in. Since then, they’ve been gigging, making a name for themselves quickly in Toronto and elsewhere, and recording all over the continent. This is a band to watch.

Pop music’s a tricky thing, believe me. If you make it too accessible, it’s saccharine Donny & Marie garbage. If you make it too obscure, it’s… well, it’s jazz, then, isn’t it?

This group has hit a great stride, I feel, blending seamlessly 1950’s and 1960’s bubblegum-pop sensibilities with content both intimate and thought-provoking, as well as a style that suggests they just stepped out of a time machine and are slightly bewildered by the audience they’ve found.

Great band, great live show; they’re playing at The Drake in Toronto on Thursday. Check out the video on this link and if I haven’t convinced you by that point, take your withered, cold heart away and come back when you learn to enjoy music for what it is rather than what you think it makes you appear as.

The Elwins @ Southern Souls

Actually, I should plug Mitch Fillion’s excellent Southern Souls website at this point. Featuring such bands as Hooded Fang, Invisible Cities and The Gertrudes, this dude knows what’s up. I love these videos.