BODEGA at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, September 6). $8. 416-596-1908.
give bodega mastermind Andrew Rodriguez credit for near-perfect timing.Two years ago, on the heels of a brief, failed deal with London records, the Toronto songwriter headed to upstate New York to work on the second Bodega album with producer Dave Fridmann. Without a deal, the completed record sat on Rodriguez's shelf.
In the meantime, Fridmann had become one of the most sought-after producers in underground rock, adding an epic, orchestral feel to records by Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips and Mogwai.
Now, with another Rev/Fridmann opus about to drop, Rodriguez couldn't have picked a better time to unveil Bodega's new Without A Plan disc, though the singer/guitarist insists he didn't plan it that way.
"I was getting ready to produce the record myself, but at the last minute I got cold feet," Rodriguez offers. "I was anxious about doing everything myself, and I'm a huge Dave Fridmann fan, so I decided to send Dave a record to see whether he'd be interested.
"Some of the records I'd had pressed up mistakenly had the soundtrack to Car Wash on them instead of my music. I'd sent the CD down and was anxiously awaiting Dave's call, and when he did get in touch the first thing he said was, "It's a little funkier than I expected.'"
Without A Plan isn't the typical wide-screen production, though. Recorded in just three weeks with a minimal budget, the disc's multi-layered 60s psych jangle does have occasional flashes of grandeur, as on the sweeping title track.
For the most part, though, Without A Plan sticks to a fairly minimal approach and largely comes off as a constantly evolving pop record with no two songs that sound alike. Despite the total lack of plan at the outset -- hence the title -- the collaboration was a roaring success.
"Dave wanted to de-60s me," Rodriguez laughs. "He tried his best, but I think there's still a lot of that referential stuff in there.
"For me, the biggest thing he taught me was that what you hear isn't always what you think it is. We'd sit around and listen to records and I'd say, "Oh, I like that bit or this sound,' and then he'd explain how it was done. It doesn't always have to be really extravagant to sound big, and once I figured that out, everything was fine."
With the album now finally completed after two years, Rodriguez's biggest concern is getting it out. While discs will be available at Bodega's Rivoli show tonight (Thursday, September 6), there are still no plans for a wider release.
Even a cursory listen to the Without A Plan track Finer Than Fine Print confirms Rodriguez isn't in any hurry to get back into a big deal.
"I'd like to get the record out, but who knows," he shrugs. "I was worried about it for a while, and that's what stalled this record's coming out.
"I finally just realized that if this is going to happen, I might as well do it myself. If other people are interested in helping, I'd love to talk to them."