Show alert: Wax Mannequin and Jenny Omnichord @ Phog Lounge

Just like the weather, the show season is finally starting to warm up. With Canadian Music Week (CMW) as a feeder, the next few weeks promise to be packed with great bands. Just take a look at our calendar to see what's on tap at Windsor's Phog Lounge (besides Steamwhistle and Mill Street).

Although not associated with CMW, the Wax Mannequin w/Jenny Omnichord show this Fri., Feb. 25 at the Phog feels like a kickoff. We're really looking forward to it. Both artists are original, somewhat eccentric and talented singer-songwriters. Check out the Wax Mannequin video for "Something to Hide" off of his 2009 release, Saxon, and Jenny Omnichord's "Pain of Maybes," from her 2010 full length album, All Our Little Bones; we think you'll agree.

Shine a little light

Although according to Cat Stevens "The first cut is the deepest," last week the second round of voting for Best Canadian Music Website in the CBC Radio 3 Searchlight stung a little too. Thirty websites and blogs were eliminated. N2D was one of them.
We can say we are in fine company. And there really aren't any losers here. Everyone nominated is a winner, because Searchlight helped shine a little light on these sites, many that either began as or continue to be side projects born of passion for the Canadian indie music and artists we love.

Congratulations to the Top 30 and best of luck in the upcoming weeks. Thank you to CBC Radio 3 for presenting Searchlight, and most of all, many thanks to everyone who took the time to vote for N2D. It was a little thrill ride we really didn't expect. Aren't those the best kind?

Show Alert: Raised by Swans @ Phog Lounge Feb. 19

It promises to be an introspective evening at Windsor's Phog Lounge this Sat., Feb. 19. All three bands on the bill-- Raised by Swans (London), Pink Moth (Toronto) and Two for the Cascade (Windsor)-- are notable for pensive, wistful compositions that are best savored like dessert: slowly, one dreamy note at a time.

Raised by Swans, led by the quaintly bare-footed Eric Howden-- once a member of the Gandharvas-- has the most mature, fully-realized sound. CHRW 94.9 FM recently named no ghostless place its local album of the year for 2010. Many band names seem to have nothing to do with the kind of music they play; in this case, it suits them perfectly. Entranced by the beautiful melodies and Alex Wright's distinctive guitar work plucked high on the frets, Raised by Swans made our Top Ten list for last year and both of their albums get regular play.

We are also looking forward to (finally) hearing Two for the Cascade again, another favourite from 2010. Theremins rule. If their play list is any indication, we'll be hearing another unique instrument from Pink Moth-- the saw. Their songs range from straight-up indie folk to futuristic and experimental. We're okay with that.

Photos: Russ Gordon

You Can Go Home Again

We've never been more reminded of the power of music than at the Elliott BROOD show at Windsor's Capitol Theatre on Sat., Jan. 29. It was the most emotional show we've ever attended in many ways. Preceded by Surdaster and James O-L and the Villains, this was a homecoming for the BROOD. Band members Mark Sasso and Casey LaForet are Windsor natives, and so the evening seemed more like a family/friend reunion. "Casey is so nervous," confided his mom Barb Murphy, aka as Babs46 on the Radio 3 blog (so glad we finally got to meet you, Babs).

Although natural, he didn't need to be. If their New Year's Eve show at Lee's Palace in Toronto was a boisterous, boozy (on the part of the audience) sing-along, this was a heartfelt love letter, from "Without Again" to "Miss You Now." In between Sasso, LaForet and drummer Stephen Pitkin delivered all their old showstoppers-- the pots-and-pans party to "Valley Town" and "Write It All Down For You" is a tradition now-- a great cover of Bob Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece" (a perfect addition to their setlist) and a few songs off of their forthcoming album. Based on what we've heard, they're sticking with what they do best; the most promising are the ones that get you out of your seat.

By far the most poignant moment of the show came when they performed a song LaForet wrote for a friend who passed away ten years ago. Watching the mother of that friend listen to this gift was a testament to the capacity of music to touch us in ways other art does not.

Which should be a reason to save Windsor's Capitol Theatre. Poised to be delivered into the hands of the city just two days after show, we were impressed with the condition of this beautiful old landmark-- on the surface. But it needs $1 million in infrastructure repairs, and no investor has stepped forward. While the evening wasn't exactly the Last Picture Show-- plays and other events will continue for now-- there were plenty of reminders that the theater's future is uncertain.

Elliott BROOD's, however, is not.

Photos: Russ Gordon

A Vote for Us...

Is a vote for clean air, fresh water, lower emissions and higher mpg.

Well, that would be nice, but not really. Your votes did help us survive the first cut for the CBC Radio 3 Searchlight for the Best Canadian Music Website. And that's a vote for all the Canadian indie bands we know and love and support through what we do. For both, we thank you.

One of the other great things about Searchlight is that it does just that: shines a light on something that might not otherwise get noticed. Like a lot of other blogs and websites promoting Canadian indie music. The second round of voting (which will cut the list down to 30) continues until next week; be sure to check out some of the other folks putting passion over profit.

We'll be getting back to business shortly. Our show schedule has been quiet (March, however, is getting more awesome by the day); we're looking forward to a great lineup at Windsor's Phog Lounge on Sat., Feb. 19: Raised by Swans, Pink Moth and Two for the Cascade.  Until then, watch for a review of the Elliott BROOD show at the Capitol Theatre last month.

Photo: Russ Gordon

We're in the Searchlight

You may have noticed that we are a nominee for CBC Radio 3's Searchlight for Canada's Best Music Website. In fact, that may be why you're visiting us for the first time. If so, welcome and we hope you'll take a minute to look at what we do, which is:

Set list from one of our
favorite bands, Hey Rosetta!,
who have a new album out Feb. 15.

To promote independent Canadian artists and music in the Detroit/Windsor area and beyond; to serve as a social networking site for CBC Radio 3 bloggers in the Metro Detroit/Windsor area and beyond; and to foster awareness of and goodwill toward independent Canadian artists and musicians between the cities of Detroit and Windsor.

We also happen to have a whole lot of fun doing it.

We are on the Searchlight long list because a few of our Radio 3 friends, some of who have their own great music websites, nominated us. Full disclosure: everyone nominated who met the criteria made the first long list. The next cut will whittle the 104 nominees down to 50. Voting ends today Tue., Feb. 8, then the next round begins.

As we mentioned on Facebook, we are honoured and excited to even be nominated. Sure we'd like to make the next round, but not for the reason you may think (okay, yes, we'd like to win a little bit). If by making the long list more people discover our site, and other nominees' sites, and thereby discover more about Canadian indie music, and end up supporting the bands we love by listening to their music, going to shows and buying their CDs and merch, everyone wins. Passion over profit. It's all about the music. Canadian indie music.

More Friday in Windsor

THE VERGE MUSIC AWARDS Album Of The Year and Artist Of The Year finalists MICHOU
play the CBC Radio 3 Searchlight Best Live Venue in Canada -  Phog Lounge
 Friday Feb 4

Photo by Matt Barnes

Drawn together in 2007 by their love of music and a common vision to forge their own musical path, Mike Hargreaves (vocals), Sasha Appler (keys/trumpet), Ryan Frith (bass) and Stefan Cvetkovic (drums) formed MICHOU. Displaying a refreshingly light-hearted outlook and not taking themselves too seriously, the Windsor-bred quartet adopted the slogan “It’s Nice to Michou,” embracing a fun-loving approach to everything they do. -- The Agency Group

Former Nova Scotian and current Windsor resident Crissi Cochrane 
opens, supporting her newest album "Darling, Darling."   

Photos: Russ Gordon

This Friday in Windsor


Red Rows

A Look at the Magic Stick Lounge

N2D kicked off the start of the 2011 show season with a first look at the Magic Stick's new lounge setup and a second listen to Montreal's The Besnard Lakes.

 We learned in October there would be some changes at the Majestic. To better concentrate on the restaurant operation, they stopped holding shows in the Majestic CafĂ©. In its stead, they conjured up the Magic Stick Lounge. Using a lot of black pipe and drape, they curtained off the main performance area. The billiard tables on the left were spirited away into the back corner, joined by some old comfy chairs and cordoned off with more pipe and drape. Add a stage opposite the bar, a few high-tops and presto: the Magic Stick Lounge.

It's nothing fancy, but it definitely works. The space is much more intimate, closer to the bar and the sound was excellent. So were The Besnard Lakes when we saw them last June at London's Call the Office, which is why we came back for seconds. They're still touring on the impressive strength of their two Polaris Prize nominated albums, 2007's The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse and 2010's The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night, both satisfying interpretations of 70s-infused atmospheric rock with poetic lyrics. When Jace Lasek is on his game with that angelic falsetto, it sends shivers up your spine. Photos: Russ Gordon

The Besnard Lakes' guitar arsenal.