Show Review: Hey Rosetta! @ the Magic Stick

"With summer tour dates starting today at the Magic Stick in the magical land of Detroit..."-- from Hey Rosetta! on their blog.

"Magical" isn't usually an adjective associated with Detroit, but Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta!-- singer/guitarist/keyboardist Tim Baker, guitarist Adam Hogan, bassist Jon Hynes (filling in very ably for Josh Ward), drummer Phil Maloney, violinist Kinley Dowling and cellist Romesh Thavanathan-- and their exquisite, soaring alt rock made it that way for N2D and a small but fervent group of fans at the Magic Stick on Tues., Jun. 28. This time taking the stage as the headliner, they opened with "Seeds" from their latest album of the same name, which includes the sound of two pieces of wood clacked together by Thavanathan. It's a fitting metaphor for the two-time Polaris short-listers because they excel at taking the ordinary from germination to emotionally percussive and poignant blooms.

"We've put together a new set list for this tour, and we're trying it out for the first time tonight," lead singer and guitarist/keyboardist Tim Baker announced. We have a set list from the show for you to win if you answer the question at the end of this blog correctly. But the band didn't get a chance to put it to the test: Detroit had a little magic of its own in store for Hey Rosetta! Obviously surprised by the level of adoration from the audience-- and count us among them-- they departed from the set list to satisfy requests, delivering characteristically stirring renditions of "I've Been Asleep For A Long, Long Time" and "Red Heart" (from their 2008 release, Into Your Lungs) and "Lions for Scottie" (from their debut EP, Plan Your Escape).

If you weren't able to make the show, or are a Hey Rosetta! fan, they're returning to the Detroit area on Sat., Sep. 17, playing the DIY Street Fair in Ferndale. Set time is 7:30 p.m. You can also hear them on Mon., Sep. 19 when they perform for the Polaris Prize Gala (when winners are announced) along with other nominees. CBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting the event live; you can also listen on SiriusXM channel 152.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Much of the inspiration for Seeds came from Hey Rosetta!'s travels through a certain part of Canada. Email us with either the province or a town they visited on that tour in 2009 and the set list from their show in Detroit on Jun. 28 is yours.

CBC Radio One in Windsor moves to FM

Now listeners in the Windsor/Detroit area will be able to hear CBC Radio One on the FM dial and experience CBC Radio 3 regulars Grant Lawrence, Craig Norris and Lisa Christiansen as they occasionally fill in. Windsor/Detroit can tune in to 97.5 FM; Leamington, Ont. can tune in to 91.9 FM. The transformation occurs Oct. 1, 2011.


Wednesday would just be the middle of the week if it weren't for CBC Radio 3 and host Craig Norris, who turn it into WENZDEE! Tune in on the Intertubes or Sirius/XM channel 152 for the Wednesday Weld, featuring four hours of music chosen by Radio 3 listeners based on a theme suggested by listeners. This week: Imperatives (songs that tell you to do something), pitched by yours truly, N2DS2W. As blogger MikeV noted, "It appears that musicans are bossy and commanding people. Go figure!"

Photo: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Show Alert: Zeus @ Majestic Theatre

Thurs., Aug. 25

How does it feel to see the Toronto-based band Zeus? We wouldn't know. We keep missing them. We heard about a song and a half when they opened for Sam Roberts in June (what show starts at 7:30 p.m.??), had to bail before their set at NXNE during the XM/Verge Skybar rooftop party, and will be at the Great Lake Swimmers show when they play the Majestic Theatre in Detroit. Sigh. Will someone please go hear this great band and their insanely likeable, catchy alt-pop/rock and tell us how it was? Oh: they're opening for some band called Bright Eyes.

Zeus' 2010 release, Say Us, is available at

Show Alert: Mike Angus in Windsor (and Sarnia)

Fri., Aug. 26, Taloola Cafe (Windsor)
Sat., Aug. 27, Trinity Lounge (Sarnia)
Opening: Andy Shauf

Edmonton's The Wheat Pool, who played the Phog Lounge this past March, will definitely be on our list of Top Ten shows for 2011, so we're delighted to have another opportunity to hear from one of the band's members. Mike Angus is touring in support of his first solo album, Hymns. We've only heard one track-- you can listen to it here-- but we're already singing its praises.

NXNE 2011: Day 3, part 2-- from a Silver Dollar to $100

There was blood. There was excessive alcohol consumption. There was loitering in the back alley. Above all, there was music, friends and CBC Radio 3. The names have been redacted to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent, but that pretty much sums up our last night at NXNE 2011.

After catching part of their set opening for Elliott BROOD on New Year's Eve, it didn't take a coin toss for us to decide to start the evening off with catl at the Silver Dollar Room. This trio from Toronto-- catl (Jamie Fleming), Sarah Kirkpatrick and Johnny LaRue (who looks like a lost member of ZZ Top)-- channel the heart and soul of blues straight out of the Mississippi delta. Whether wringing it from the depths of despair or bringing it with all stops out, working blue is what they do. They have a new album out soon, their first recorded with Kirkpatrick. There's no release date yet ("Once we get the vinyl pressed we'll have a better idea! Stay tuned!" via Facebook) but based on what we've heard, it will make catl proud.

The grand finale: the CBC Radio 3 Showcase at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. We were able to devote serious attention to three of the bands in the lineup, all of whom made this year's Polaris long list, beginning with Hooded Fang (Toronto). They do an admirable job of interpreting retro-style pop; close your eyes and it takes you back to the kind of music you'd hear coming over the car radio of a '63 Rambler on a summer night. Their NXNE set, which includes songs from their debut full-length, Album, as well as several from their sophomore album, Tosta Mista, released in July, is available as a podcast here.

Jenn Grant's in love (fiance Daniel Ledwell was at the keyboards) and it's written all over her latest album. Fans are usually hanging on the moment when an artist delivers an older hit, but in this case, it's her new material-- "Parliament of Owls," "Getcha Good," "How I Met You"-- that packs a Honeymoon Punch. The bonus: Buck 65 joined Grant on stage for "Paper Airplanes." Grant's Showcase set is now available as a podcast here.

One Hundred Dollars does for country what D-Sisive et al do for hip-hop-- makes us believe again in a genre largely brought down to the lowest common denominator on commercial radio in the U.S. Lead singer Simone Schmidt's wonderfully textured voice and the rest of the very talented band are reason enough to listen; then put your ears on her poetic, narrative songwriting from their latest release, Songs of Man; they put the simplistic lyrics of what passes for country today to shame. They just announced fall tour dates that include shows opening for Elliott BROOD across Canada, but unfortunately, no U.S. dates. The closest they'll be to Detroit is Call the Office in London on Sat., Oct. 15.

It was about 3:30 Sunday morning when we finally left the Shoe and yawned and limped our way down Queen through the inebriated crowds and around overflowing trash containers back towards the Grange Hotel. It was quiet on Augusta, roses and other summer flowers blooming beneath the streetlights in front of the row of houses. Then, from a front porch, music: a guitar, and a woman singing in a foreign language. We paused, listening to this sweet and simple coda, the genesis of everything we'd heard at NXNE.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Show Alert: Great Lake Swimmers @ The Ark

Thurs., Aug. 25

The Ark /  Ann Arbor / 8:00 p.m.
Opening: The Pines

This show easily ranks as one of our most anticipated of the year, because Great Lake Swimmers (Toronto) are easily one of our favourite bands performing some of the most beautiful folk in Canadian indie. To say anything else just seems extraneous; we'll let lead singer/songwriter Tony Dekker and the rest of the band do the talking. Listen here, or below.

I was lost in the lakes
And the shapes that your body makes
That your body makes, that your body makes
That your body makes

The mountains said I could find you here
They whispered the snow and the leaves in my ear
I traced my finger along your trails
Your body was the map, I was lost in it

Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you, and now youýre mine
Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you, and now youýre mine

I was moving across your frozen veneer
The sky was dark but you were clear
Could you feel my footsteps
And would you shatter, would you shatter, would you

And with your soft fingers between my claws
Like purity against resolve
I could tell, then and there, that we were formed from the clay
And came from the rocks for the earth to display

They told me to be careful up there
Where the wind blows a venomous rage through your hair
They told me to be careful up there
Where the wind rages through your hair

Everyone Wins: CBC Radio 3 documentary airs all weekend

 Winning America, CBC Radio 3's first documentary, debuted Jul. 23 on CBC TV in British Columbia only. Now everyone can follow Vancouver band Said the Whale on their recent U.S. tour and explore what it takes to break into the market on the other side of the border. The documentary is available for a special online screening this weekend only (ending on Sun., Aug. 21 at 11 p.m. PST/2 a.m. EDT) on CBC Radio 3. View it here.

Trailer from the documentary:

The Pack a.d. - Unpersons Tour Unleashed

When Unpersons hits stores on September 13 in Canada and on the 20th in the States, The Pack a.d. will have established themselves as a band by which to compare others.

Like their last two albums, The Pack a.d. recorded Unpersons at the legendary Hive Studios with engineer Jesse Gander. However, where famed Detroit producer Jim Diamond (Electric 6, The Detroit Cobras, The White Stripes) mastered 2010's we kill computers from afar, he flew in — on his own insistence — to produce Unpersons first hand. After these sessions, the band went back with him to Detroit to perfect the mixing.

The result is a flawlessly produced and performed record that projects all the snarl, piss, vinegar, venom and vitriol heard on their first three albums into a realm that is distinctly their own. Any reference one may wish to make to The Kills or White Stripes is no longer relevant. The Pack a.d. stand unequaled. 

The Pack a.d. Unpersons Tour Dates
All Canadian dates presented by Exclaim!

Sept 10 - Fresh U Jamboree, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB 
Sept 12 - The Alibi, Arcata, CA
Sept 13 - Streetlight Records, San Jose, CA (afternoon show, all ages)
Sept 13 - Hemlock Tavern, San Francisco, CA
Sept 14 - The Crepe Place, Santa Cruz, CA
Sept 16 - Soma, San Diego, CA
Sept 17 - Whisky a Go-Go, West Hollywood, CA (with LA Guns)
Sept 18 - TBA, Las Vegas, NV
Sept 19 - The Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Sept 20 - The Badlander, Missoula, MT
Sept 21 - Mootsy's, Spokane, WA

Sept 23 - OLIO Music Festival - Vancouver, BCSept 24 - Rifflandia Music Festival, Victoria, BCSept 26 - Habitat, Kelowna, BC (with guests Sun Wizard)
Sept 27 - Republik, Calgary, AB (with guests Sun Wizard)
Sept 28 - The Pawn Shop, Edmonton, AB (with guests Sun Wizard)
Sept 29 - Louis' Pub, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK (with guests Sun Wizard)
Sept 30 - Lo Pub, Winnipeg, MB (with guests Sun Wizard)

Oct 01 - The Aquarium, Fargo, ND
Oct 02 - Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis, MN
Oct 04 - Vaudeville Mews, Des Moines, IA
Oct 05 - OFF Minor, Dubuque, IA
Oct 06 - Daytrotter Session Recording - Rock Island, IL
Oct 06 - The Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL

Oct 07 - Call The Office, London, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 08 - Casbah, Hamilton, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 09 - The Mansion, Barrie, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 10 - Mansion House, St Catharine's, ON
Oct 12 - Market Hill, Peterborough, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 13 - The Mansion, Kingston, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 14 - The Alexander, Brantford, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 15 - The Opera House, Toronto, ON (with Hollerado)
Oct 16 - Cafe Dekcuf, Ottawa, ON

Oct 19 - Phog Lounge, Windsor, ON
Oct 20 - Lager House, Detroit, MI

Oct 22-28 QUEBEC Shows TBA

Oct 29 - The Vibe Lounge, Rockville Centre, NY
Oct 30 - The Charleston, Brooklyn, NY

Nov 01 - O'Brien's Pub, Allston, MA
Nov 02 - Hard Rock Cafe, Pittsburgh, PA
Nov 03 - Motr Pub, Cincinnati, OH 

NXNE 2011: Day 3, Part 1-- larks in the park

One of the things we learned at NXNE this year is that it's about a lot more than shuffling from venue to venue to see shows. Part of that was simply because unlike last year, we committed three solid days to being in Toronto; part was due to acquaintances we've made through shows we've seen and N2D (leading to some great conversations); part was due to taking advantage of extracurricular opportunities like the Kelp Records/Line of Best Fit barbecue and the XM/Verge rooftop party at Skybar.

But by far one of the biggest reasons we enjoyed NXNE so much this year was because of CBC Radio 3, its community of hosts and bloggers, and all the activities and meet-ups we shared. These culminated on Sat., Jun.18 at Moniski's NXNE/Goodbye Picnic in Trinity Bellwoods Park, a fare-thee-well for Ireland-bound CBC Radio 3 2010 Fan of the Year Monica Skorupski. First order of the afternoon: a strike (only in Radio 3 land, folks).

 With Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence emceeing, we were treated to three intimate performances: Wayne Petti of Cuff the Duke, who included a beautiful rendition of "Follow Me" in his set; Matthew Barber (how did we not fully appreciate this talented singer-songwriter before?); and Graham Wright (of Toyko Police Club and frequent guest host on Radio 3), who just released his first full-length solo album, Shirts vs Skins. Everyone left with an earful of great memories, and, thanks to Grant shooing away the errant Larry/Barry the dog (intent on consuming leftover chicken bones) with an umbrella a la Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, an eyeful as well.

The Live in Bellwoods NXNE Picnic series was on our schedule every day because of the solid lineups of artists playing half-hour unplugged sets, but it took us until Saturday to finally make it. We were sorry to miss most of Toronto band Sweet Thing; what we heard (those being the key words, as we discovered) was a great example of the concept done right: wonderful harmonies, strong vocals, lively music.

They stayed on to back Allie Hughes. Despite Sweet Thing's very capable support, the park setting didn't do Hughes justice. We had a hard time hearing her, a surprise given her usually robust vocal performance. We couldn't hear the next singer-- the lovely Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers-- at all, which was a shame. Her voice and tiny ukelele were simply lost under the trees. Which just goes to prove: sound checks are invaluable.

So what did sound good? Trying the legendary nachos at Sneaky Dee's. Nearly $15 for the Kings Crown is pretty legendary, but nothing we couldn't make at home. The sour-mix free margaritas, however, get the Yort seal of approval.

Next post: the NXNE 2011 finale, finally.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Yukon Blonde set to release Fire//Water EP, announce North American Tour dates

Written partially while on the road, and partially while at a cottage in the Comox Valley (BC), Yukon Blonde recorded a total of 15 songs over the course of the summer. With four tracks completed, they will soon be putting the finishing touches on the remaining 11 tracks that will make their way on to their sophomore long player in early 2012.

Photo: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Yukon Blonde Fire//Water Tour Dates

28 Sept - Nelson, BC @ Hume Hotel             
29 Sept - Calgary, AB @  Gateway @ SAIT    
30 Sept -  Lethbridge, AB @ The Slice            
01 Oct - Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo's     
02 Oct - Winnipeg, MB @ WECC      

03 Oct - Minneapolis, MN @ Nomad Pub *      
04 Oct - Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen *   

06 Oct - Sarnia, ON @ Paddy Flaherty's        
07 Oct - London, ON @ Fanshawe College   
08 Oct -Windsor, ON @ Capital Theatre       
10 Oct - Hamilton, ON @ Casbah      
11 Oct - St Catharines, ON @ Mansion House         
13 Oct - Guelph, ON @ eBar              
14 Oct - Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace             
15 Oct - Kingston, ON @ Grad Club             
19 Oct - Corner Brook, NL @ Bar Room        
21 Oct - St. John's, NL @ The Ship     
25 Oct - Sackville, NB @ George's Roadhouse          
26 Oct - Halifax, NS @ Seahorse Tavern       
27 Oct -Charlottetown, PE @ Hunters Ale House    
28-Oct - Fredericton, NB @ The Capitol        
29 Oct - Quebec City, QC @ Le Scanner       

31 Oct - Brooklyn, NY @ Rock Shop *    

01 Nov - Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo              
02 Nov - Ottawa, ON @ Ritual          
03 Nov – Sudbury, ON @ Townehouse Tavern        
04 Nov - Sault Ste. Marie, ON @ Lop Lops              
05 Nov - Thunder Bay, ON @ Crocks           
07 Nov - Edmonton, AB @ Starlite     
10 Nov - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore              
11 Nov - Victoria, BC @  Sugar          
15 Nov -Atlanta, GA @ The Earl *        
16 Nov - Nashvile, TN @ 3rd & Lindly *          
17 Nov -St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway *       
18 Nov - Louisville, KY @ Zanza Bar *            
19 Nov - Columbus, OH @ Rumba Café *       
21 Nov - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Café *           
22 Nov -Cleveland, OH @ Beachland  *       
23 Nov - East Lansing, MI @ Mac's Bar *        
25 Nov - Chicago, IL @ Panchos  *      
26 Nov -Milwaukee, WI  @ Cactus Club *        
28 Nov -Minneapolis, MN @  7th Ave Entry *             
30 Nov - Rockisland, IL @ Huckleberry Pizza *          
01 Dec - Ames, IA @ The Maintenance Shop *           
02 Dec - Omaha, NE @ Slowdown Jr *            
03 Dec - Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room *        
04 Dec - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom - 2nd Stage *
06 Dec -  Little Rock, AR @ Juanita's Cantina *           
07 Dec - Dallas, TX @ Double Wide *   
08 Dec - Houston, TX @ Fitz Downstairs *       
09 Dec - Austin, TX @ Emo's Inside *    
11 Dec -  Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge *       
13 Dec -  Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *    
14 Dec -Boise, ID @ Neurolox *             
16 Dec - Spokane, WA @ A Club *       
17 Dec - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile  *     
18 Dec - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir  *    
21 Dec - San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar *           
22 Dec - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar *           
23 Dec - Los Angeles, CA @ Echo *      
* All US shows co-headline w/ The Fling

Phog Phest 3

Sat., Sept. 17, noon to 12 a.m.

Get ready to have a tin pan alley (or parking lot as the case may be) clanging good time with headliners Elliott BROOD at Phog Phest 3, hosted by Windsor's Phog Lounge. Co-owner Tom Lucier is keeping us in suspense about the rest of the lineup, but promises a slow reveal over the coming weeks. Whatever he has under his pork pie hat, you can be sure it will be well worth $15. Click here for their Facebook event page.

NXNE 2011: Day 2, Part 2-- Tour de Fource

No, that's not a misspelling. It's just an appropriate way to sum up the four bands and amazing tour of instruments, genres and vocal styles we saw the evening of Fri., Jun. 17 at NXNE, beginning with The Most Serene Republic (TMSR) at the Mod Club at 8 p.m. There was plenty of elbow room in venues the night before; predictably for a Friday, we saw that change, especially as the hour grew later.

Not all bands are as suitably named as TMSR (Milton, ON), whose music reflects the beauty of a time and place that existed for a thousand years beginning in the seventh century. Fronted by possibly the only lead singer/trombonist in Canadian indie, Adrian Jewett, and anchored by the fine and melodic keyboard work of Ryan Lenssen, the band's co-founders, their set easily earned a spot in our Top Ten. Their songs are more eclectic than the usual alt rock label would suggest, ranging from rich brass sections, orchestral arrangements to intelligent pop/rock, depending upon whether Nick Greaves is on the guitar, using the Ebow or the banjo, and Simon Lukasewich is manning the bass or violin. No one likes a nihilist, but there's something for everyone to like about TMSR.

Arriving at our next destination, the Garrison, we caught the end of Jesuslesfilles' set, the opening act for the Osheaga Showcase. And Jesus, these Francophone rockers from Montreal were loud. They're better than the volume that buried their appealing garage/grunge/mid-80s sound. Check it out on Bandcamp, where Jesuslesfilles' first album, Une Belle Table (Sept. 2010) is available for NYOP (name-your-own-price).

Between shows at NXNE is like an ocean tide: an ebb of people moving to the bar, on to the next venue, and then flowing back towards the stage. Based on the surge into the room for Elephant Stone, another Montreal band, they're still riding the crest of a single full-length album from 2009 (The Seven Seas, a Polaris long-lister) and a 2010 EP (Glass Box). We'd never seen anyone play the sitar before, and were totally captivated right from the overture of a psychedelic instrumental jam led by Rishi Dhir. Maybe it's because we both grew up with CKLW in the 60s, but we also love Elephant Stone's perfect pop interpretations of that era, with or without the sitar.

Dhir was in the audience when the tide turned and returned in even greater waves, flooding the Garrison for one of the most hyped bands of NXNE: Braids. Their debut album Native Speaker, released in January, was named to the Polaris long list the day before; it's since landed on the short list. Braids is often described as art rock, and with long trance-inducing phrases, their seamless set perfectly recreated the album's painterly soundscape. We would debate those that call Braids abstract or avant-garde. Exactly as the album title suggests, we find a very organic, aboriginal quality to their music, especially Raphaelle Standell-Preston's lead vocals.

In a completely different way, it doesn't get more organic than the Pack a.d., our 1 a.m. nightcap at the, ahem, pack e.d. Horseshoe Tavern. One drummer (Maya Miller), and one singer/guitarist (Becky Black) plumbing the primordial depths of bluesy garage rock, nobody does the less is more philosophy better than the Pack. Their new album, Unpersons, drops Sept. 13; we hear there may be a Detroit date in the near future.

Next post: NXNE Day 3, part 1-- a picnic with a Duke, a Barber, a (Toyko) Police (Club) man, Larry/Barry the dog and whispers in the park.