Photograph by Sabrina Diemert

Toronto’s North by Northeast – or NXNE – is the younger cousin and orienteering opposite of the behemoth Austin music extravaganza South by Southwest. Over its 17 years, the festival has swollen to 7 days of concerts (ranging from cozy church acoustic sets to sprawling punk moshing at Yonge and Dundas Square), films (mostly music-centric documentaries, including this year’s highly touted Better Than Something: Jay Reatard) and interactive conferences (if you were a musician and could get advice from Brian Wilson, wouldn’t you?).

As with any event attempting to cram >600 bands into a few rock-filled days, it has its downsides. As per the SXSW model, the majority of sets are hosted by bars instead of outdoor stages; between dreaded line-ups, safety capacity, and city sprawl, show hopping presents some challenges. Some shows had limits on wristband admittance, require patiently camping out in cue or purchasing additional tickets for entry.

The festival concert becomes a new challenge for the hometown crowd. Unlike insouciant visitors – free of other responsibilities and able to party through the night and recover in the daytime – locals have to play the balancing act between maximum music absorption and minimal sleep/work disruption. Thus, we opted for a version of NXNE for the slightly risk-averse Toronto music fan: mostly music we knew, with a couple of wildcards. As a change of pace, this festival is presented through two points-of-view (sometimes coalescing, sometimes contradicting): Kevin Kania and Sabrina Diemert. We tried to keep our snark to a minimum.

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— , July 28, 2011    3 Comments
Photograph by Mat Dunlap

Photograph by Mat Dunlap

Toronto’s indie charmers The Meligrove Band (Brian O’Reilly, Mike Small, Darcy Rego, and Jason Nunes) are ready to rock again. After a four year hiatus, their new singles-packed album Shimmering Lights is set for release by Nevado in Canada, and Last Gang in the U.S. on September 21.

For the unfamiliar, high School pals Mike, Jason and Darcy have been jamming together for over 10 years, with Brian recently joining from the stylistically similar Halifax music scene. In 2006, their catchy yet artistic “concept” LP Planets Conspire weaved its melodically-linked tunes into campus airwaves and reviewer’s hearts. Since then, the band has released little – but certainly not for the lack of trying. A multitude of obstacles plagued the recording, signing and release of their fourth LP; which makes yesterday’s release of its first single, ‘Halflight’, all the more exciting.

The Meligrove Band – Halflight

After mixing their dd/mm/yyyy cover ‘Super VGF’ (which will be released on their limited Halflight 7″ on August 24), Darcy, Mike and Brian relaxed on the patio with Ca Va Cool and joked about post-education abandonment (the three members dropped out of school twice to pursue the band) and the interesting characteristics of sound-guys (who are apparently “crazy and terrible, or crazy and awesome, but always crazy”), as well as the more serious topics of the upcoming album, tours, and the most delicious food in Toronto.

Sabrina: How long have you had the album recorded?

Mike: It’s been recorded for over a year now, and was mastered last October.

Darcy: A lot of people have been wondering why it was taking us so long, but we’ve been sitting on this finished record for a while. There were a lot of obstacles. For example, the legality slowed things down. We couldn’t sign a new contract because on paper, we were still signed to V2 who released Planets Conspire.

Sabrina: What happened with V2?

Mike: They just ceased to exist. And we owed them some money for CD sales, but they also owed us some money as an advance for the new record.

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— , June 16, 2010    1 Comment