NXNE 2013: Day 2

There's nothing like a good breakfast at Aunties & Uncles to begin a long day at NXNE. You know you're eating at the right place when your dining companions are folks who work there, order the same thing as you, and entertain you with an amusing debate about why people wear toques in the summer.

There's also nothing like a musically diverse schedule to keep you coming back to NXNE. We didn't plan it that way, but by the end of the night, we'd experienced an impressive cross-section of Canadian indie. This is what it looked and sounded like:

Dusted @ Urban Outfitters' 2nd Annual Free Day Show: We enjoyed their show at Phog Lounge last fall so much we came back for more of Brian Borcherdt's ethereal voice and Leon Taheny's splendid multi-instrumental talent. Their set started off-key, but for a reason fans won't mind: "We've been doing some recording," said Taheny, "instead of practicing our set." But it was all good after that. Listen: "Cut Them Free"

The Darcys @ the Glenn Gould Studio atrium: We had to part a red sea of Taylor Swift fans to get to the CBC Beetle Roadtrip Sessions finish line party, but it was well worth the effort. The Darcys' lead singer Jason Couse' falsetto rivals Borcherdt's, but there the resemblance ends between the two bands. Although we weren't able to give their experimental alt-rock the attention it deserved due to the party, their performance in April at the Phog will be on our top show list for sure. Listen: "House Built Around Your Voice"

Wildlife @ Mod Club Theatre: "Sea Dreamer" hooked us originally on Wildlife. It's something of an anomaly compared to the rest of their more mainstream anthemic rock. But there was no doubt they had the audience hooked with their energetic set. Listen: "Born To Ruin." 

The Crackling @ Supermarket: Forget about the ties to Dan Mangan and Mother Mother. The Crackling's pedigree is more than the sum of its connections. Backed by experienced, career musicians like himself, Kenton Loewen makes deeply personal, intense folk rock. Listen: "Ashen"

Pat LePoidevin @ Free Times Cafe: A song about astronauts' wives in the 1960s and 70s? The moon, wolves  and fire as a recurring themes? A new album of songs featuring stories about fictional towns in the United States? An agile voice with wonderful timbre? Not your average singer songwriter. Listen: "Winter Park, CO"

Pick a Piper @ Comfort Zone: Our favourite show of the night. One trombone, one drummer, two guys on keyboards who also switched to drums at times, making electronic organic space pop. And yes, that's an accurate description. We loved the tribal drumming to the elephantine free-form trumpeting of the trombone.

The Danks @ The Hideout: You told us to give them a second chance, and we're glad we did. Now's that the smart, catchy alt pop-rock we love. With the exception of the trudging "Experimental Fiction," the songs off their long-awaited new album GANK prove worth the wait. A great way to close out our night of "Genre Tourism."

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Show Alert: An Interview with Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother

Fri., Jul. 5

The Loop - Windsor
w/ Beaches

“Extremes are for a reason.”--Ryan Guldemond

Imagine that you’ve had the revelation that you love Canadian indie music. You’ve recently discovered CBC Radio 3, but before that, your exposure was pretty much limited to what was played on U.S. commercial radio. Sloan. Stars. Spirit of the West. Hayden. The Tragically Hip. And some guy named Sam Roberts.

So when The Sam Roberts Band plays St. Andrews Hall in Detroit in February 2009, you excitedly buy tickets. It’s your first live Canadian indie show. The opening band takes the stage. And this is the first song you hear: http://music.cbc.ca/play/artist/Mother-Mother/Hayloft

Four years and nearly 350 blog posts later, we’re finally getting our chance to see Vancouver's (by way of Quadra Island) unforgettable Mother Mother again. They’re touring in support of their fourth album, The Sticks, the follow-up to 2011’s Eureka. The Sticks earned the band their first Juno Award nomination, as well as two Sirius XM Indie Award nominations. From their bio:

“Mother Mother’s rapid ascent from an acoustic folk trio touring the open mics of their hometown to a… alternative pop/rock five-piece touring the clubs, theaters and event centers of North America and Europe… Featuring the multi-talented line up of Ryan Guldemond (vocals/guitar), Molly Guldemond (vocals/synth), Jasmin Parkin (vocals/keys), Jeremy Page (bass/horns) and Ali Siadat (percussion/electronics), Mother Mother’s (blends) clever lyrics, stunning vocals, quirky arrangements and a multi-dimensional sound…”

The sticks is where we phoned lead singer and songwriter Ryan Guldemond. On a “purgatorial” drive to Milwaukee to perform at Summerfest (“The World’s Largest Music Festival”), we chatted with Guldemond about extremes, art and ruining a perfectly good pop song.

N2DS2W: Your tour schedule this month looks challenging, to say the least. It’s all over the place.

Guldemond: Yeah, there’s some interesting routing.

N2DS2W: How’s the tour going?

Guldemond: Good. We’re in the thick of a purgatorial drive to Milwaukee for Summerfest. It’s our first time in Milwaukee, where we’ll be in front of 10,000 people.

N2DS2W: That sounds like a great gig for Mother Mother.

Guldemond: Yeah, it’s kind of extreme to be in a van for 40-plus hours then jump onto stage. But extremes are for a reason. It’s good once you get in the groove.

N2DS2W: That shouldn’t be a problem for Mother Mother, since you won the Best Reason To Buy A Concert Ticket category in CBC Radio 3’s 2012Bucky Awards.

Guldemond: We’ll have to live up to the Bucky, summon the Bucky.

N2DS2W: Mother Mother just completed a four-album contract with Last Gang Records. What’s next?

Guldemond: We’re just all up in the air about things. No forecasts. That’s a boring topic anyway, all business, corporate stuff.

N2DS2W: Okay. What inspires your songwriting? What sets you off?

Guldemond: The strange and the beautiful, being worried with everyday things, giving an injection of magic into them. In music, it’s taking simple and tried forms and turning them on their ear. A class of nostalgia combined with complete originality. The dark and horrifying traits of people, the  morally askew, the awkwardness of it all. The flat, sad tragedy of the everyday life.

N2DS2W: That’s a great definition of art.

Guldemond: I don’t know much about art. I don’t even know if I’m an artist. I think it’s a word that average people use and abuse.

N2DS2W: So what is an artist?

Guldemond: You don’t compromise. It’s recognizing what you like and what you want and being centered around that. There are aspects of comfort to that. Musically, I compromise very little. When I look at our catalog, I think there’s maybe 20-30 pop song we totally screwed up. If only we’d compromised more, if we’d been what we’re conditioned to be, we would have created something much more digestible.

N2DS2W: Glad you didn’t.

Guldemond: I was being sarcastic, but yeah.

N2DS2W: I got that. So how are the audiences for you in the U.S.? Are you getting recognition?

Guldemond: Very marginally. We don’t have a lot of luck with radio. You can tour until you’re blue in the face, but you just keep trying. Trying is fun even if you don’t succeed.

Mother Mother Summer Tour 2013 schedule:

July 6 – St Catharines, ON – Barracuda Pretty
July 7 – Montreal, QC – Festival International de Jazz de Montreal @ Club Soda
July 8 – Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest @ LeBreton Flats, River Stage (9:30pm)
July 10 – Chicago, IL – Reggies Rock Club
July 14 – Victoria, BC – Rock The Shores @ Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre (Lower Fields)
July 31 – Toronto, ON – EdgeFest @ Downsview Park
August 31 – Calgary, AB – X Fest @ Fort Calgary
September 1 – Edmonton, AB – Sonic Boom @ Northlands Park