Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yours Truly, Not So Angry Mob

Kaiser Chiefs Rock Kool Haus
Toronto: April 18, 2007

"This will be pretty okay" I say to myself as my friend and I head into the Kaiser Chiefs gig at Kool Haus last night. A pompous "A little too light and over hyped for a post punk band" finishes the thought. But my "too cool for you" attitude vanished as soon as the Kaiser Chiefs hit the stage. For the entire set, I bounced up and down, shouting out the lyrics and even sang along to all the "Do do do do do do" stuff. This was perhaps the best live club gig I have seen in the last decade.

The Walkmen opened the show and were ... all right. Good even, I think. My friend liked them and he sometimes knows what he's talking about. I couldn't really hear the singer much and the sound was so washed out it was difficult to tell the difference between songs, unless you already knew them, which I didn't. But that singer is really intense. It has to hurt to scream and howl like that.

When Kaiser Chiefs hit the stage, the Toronto crowd actually got ... well ... genuinely excited (atypical for Toronto crowds). We are usually so laid back and subdued. Ricky Wilson grabbed the mic, hopped up on a monitor and yelled out "Do you wanna sing?" And I guess we really wanted to, because from the first beat of Na Na Na Na Naah through Ruby, Everyday I Love You Less and Less, I Predict a Riot and the rest of the set we never stopped singing.There was a minor pause before the encores but we all got right back into it with We Are The Angry Mob and Oh My God. These two tunes in particular stand out for as the highlights of the show.

What I like most about the show is that live Kaiser Chiefs manage to somehow sound like they do on disc, but with more energy and drive. It was like having a black and white TV all your life and then someone buys you an HDTV!

So there you have it. I had the best time and Ricky still had me singing all the way home. Definitely worth catching Kaiser Chiefs live.

* photos courtesy of


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hard To Beat Band Burns Up The Phoenix

Hard-Fi, the darlings of the UK indie rock scene, made their hugely anticipated return to Toronto last night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. And in their hour and a half set, these kids proved they are not just hype.

Swaggering on to stage to the intro music of Supertramp's "School", it was clear from the start this night would be about breaking rules and resisting complacency. Frontman Richard Archer's opening "We're from Staines, west of London in the UK. A place we had to get the fuck out of!" echoed through the entire show in lyrics that paint a picture of restless youth growing up in the bland setting of suburban London.

Reminiscent of The Jam and The Clash, Hard-Fi have a lot of fun growling at a society that has become complacent and sterile. Songs like "Stars of CCTV", "Cash Machine", "HardTo Beat" and "Working for the Weekend" infuse upbeat Reggae, Ska and Motown themes and rhythms with hard-edged angry guitars. And like a young Joe Strummer, Archer staggers, jerks, and sways around the stage constantly goading the audience, challenging them to break from their societal confines and really have a good time.

Hard-Fi's show itself is like a triumphant response to the question "How do you alleviate boredom?" The answer being something like "Get off your lazy ass do something about it!" And that's exactly what Hard-Fi do.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

2006 Brit Award Nominations

Sordid Pop Addicts will already have the scoop, but casual popsters may have missed the Brit Award nominations on January 10, 2006. The Brits once again put out a handsome spread with tasty performances from the Kaiser Chiefs, Magic Numbers, and KT Tunstall.

The Brits are the UK's hugely superior version of the Grammy Awards. The nomination categories are so chalk solid, it's hard to know in advance who will win. And Brit performances are legendary. Wake up you Grammy poofters!

Last years Brits produced a truly "animated" performance by Gorillaz. Other years have erupted with surprise duets by artists like Justin Timberlake and Kylie Minogue grinding out a lusty cover of Blondie's "Rapture" and David Bowie and Placebo thrashing out a high octane rendition of T-Rex's "21st Century Boy." Stay tuned for the scoop on this year's duets.

Nominations are presented in 15 categories. Here are a few of my picks.

British Male Solo Artist: Ian Brown
British Female Solo Artist: Charlotte Church
British Group: Hard-Fi (but I bet Coldplay wins)
British Album: Gorillaz, Demon Days
British Single: Tony Christie ft. Peter Kay, (Is This The Way To) Amarillo
British Breakthrough Act: Kaiser Chiefs (but Arctic Monkeys could be the dark horse)

You can tell that the Brits are in the cool by the inclusion of 3 nominations for uber hip Canadians Arcade Fire (International Group, International Album and International Breakthrough Act).

This Year, Paul Weller, of The Jam and Style Council, receives a lifetime achievement award. In North America those awards usually go to the has-beens. Paul Weller continues to produce music like he's on fire (3 singles in the last year). Maybe its their way of saying "the sex is over Paul, now roll over and die already." Or maybe, just maybe, the Brits don't think you have to be dead to say "Good show mate!"

The Brits will be presented Wednesday, February 15 and televised on Thursday, February 16. You can check out all the nominations and news about the Brits at

Monday, December 19, 2005

Say It Ain't So Rach!

Univeristy Crowd Pelts Lip-sinking Stevens

Seems my favourite Popstrel Rachel Stevens has found herself a bit scandalized after making an appearance at Portsmouth University ball last week. Apparently, Rach proceeded to lip-sink her way through a half-hour collection of her greatest hits.

The assembled party-goers decided they wouldn't have any of it and Rach was pelted with stuff, and fled the stage.

A student insider told the Mirror: "We'd paid £27.50 each to get tickets, which is quite a lot when you're a student. Rachel only mimed songs she's released as singles and then the rumour got out that she'd been paid £6,000 for the evening - so no one was very happy with her."

But what were they expecting, Rachel to do obscure album tracks and b-sides with a rock band?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Britney Fans Ex Kevin

Do You Want Britney to Dump Kevin?

Britney Spears's fans have launched a website devoted to one single aim, trying to convince their fave popstrel to dump her husband.

The site, helpfully called, contains an online petition for fans to sign, urging Britney to kick Kevin to the curb. There have been 2,342 signatures so far.

The site reads: "Are you sick of seeing the train wreck that is Britney and Kevin? Help Britney remove the boil that is Kevin from herself and her payroll."

And before you roll your eyes and wonder who the hell these people are to muck about in Britney's private life, consider this. Who's been buying Britney's records all this time? Whose money did Britney ACTUALLY spend on Kevin's ridiculously swanky car? That's right, Spears fans, YOURS.

Some might say she's getting off lightly with a petition. If everyone was really serious about this, they'd take their Britney records back and demand a refund unless she dumps him!

New Pop Releases for December 2005


Some of the singles out this week ... and worth listening to (rated out of ***** 5 stars)

Babyshambles - 'Albion' ***

A song about running away from ... well ... everything. Self annointed indie poet Pete Doherty may not be able to deliver the vocal warm required here, but this journey through suburban London still paints a very vivid, picture of a lost world.

Rihanna - 'If It's Lovin' That You Want' *****

Rihanna's latest is entirely made up of one blamming dance-hall beat, some bum-quake bass, one slinky guitar riff, and about nine Rihannas weaving a gentle Caribbean spell around each other. That's all there is to it. What more do you need?

The Futureheads - 'Area' ****

Frenetic riffs. Loud and shouty singalong chorus complete with do-do-dos. Northernified vocals. Legs sore from pogo-ing like Roadrunner on a diet of jumping beans. Abso-frikin-lutely! The Futureheads' super-charged jitter-rock is like coffee and sherbert and fizzy cola all in the same cup, and they've got us dancing our little socks off, frankly. If you've heard their debut album, there's nothing new to report here. But then, if it ain't broke, SHAKE IT!

Oasis - 'Let There Be Love' ***

With every Oasis album you know there'll always be one song that sounds more like the Beatles than, erm, all the rest of the tracks. Well, this is the one! 'Let There Be Love' is an orchestrated, mushy singalong despite Liam's best Lennon snarl, and will provide the moment in their future concerts where the crowd joins in and holds up their lighters. Unlike the dirty rockfest 'Lyla' and the plod-a-thon melody of 'The Importance of Being Idle', this single is drowned in lush strings and sentiment. Liam and Noel even share the singing! Group hug in the mosh pit, anyone?

Out later this month:


Second Stefani Album On Hold

Gwen's Taking A Break

Gwen Stefani's second solo album has been in the works for months, but she has decided to delay it's completion.

The planned sequel to Love Angel Music Baby was supposed to mix new material with leftover tracks from that disc, but Stefani told the San Francisco Chronicle that she's just too tired to complete it now.

She's been working for years almost non-stop, recording and touring both on her own and with No Doubt as well as making her acting debut in The Aviator and launching her LAMB clothing line.

Among the unreleased tracks from Love Angel Music Baby, according to, are collaborations with Linda Perry, Rich Harrison, and Pharrell as well as songs produced by Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and Depeche Mode's Martin Gore. On newer songs Gwen worked with both Pharrell and No Doubt's Tony Kanal Stefani is still scheduled to release a DVD early next year, though the content remains a mystery.