FROM FICTION at the Silver Dollar (486 Spadina), Friday (June 9), 9 pm. $12. 416-975-0909.
Sometimes working with some one you've looked up to can turn out to be a disappointment. But that didn't happen when From Fiction worked with renowned producer Steve Albini on their last album. Thanks to Albini, the band's whirl-ing, dramatic prog punk on Bloodwork (Last Gang) has few frills and no shine. He basically set up the mics and mixing board and let the band play.
As guitarist Quentin Ede explains, Albini was far from the surly character he's sometimes made out to be.
"It was a very good experience. He was funny and always joking around. He basically lives in the studio and seems to really enjoy his life."
The critical response, on the other hand, hasn't been quite as enthusiastic. While no one trashed it, the lukewarm reviews in the Canadian press marked a shift away from the adoration initially lavished on From Fiction.
"It was kind of expected. It's not the easiest album to listen to. Maybe it's a cliché, but I don't really care much about the critics' reactions. Having said that, some of those criticisms were definitely valid. One review talked about reliance on the quiet/loud thing, and I can see that."
Ede's description of the material written since Bloodwork, while not necessarily a response to that judgment, suggests that the prog elements are being toned down this time out. For a band known for time changes, sudden stops and turns, and for not having any songs under four minutes long, the comparisons he's dropping are a bit surprising.
"Some of the new songs sound a bit like AC/DC actually. We have one new one that has sort of a CCR feel as well. We've been simplifying the songs a bit more this time.
"You have to keep changing things up and evolving. Otherwise, you get bored."
Madviolet as part of the One Night Stand showcase at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Friday (June 9), 9 pm. $10. 416-596-1908.
bombshell duo madviolet's bren ley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac playfully overlap on a conference call, eager to talk about their new album, Caravan, out this July. A departure from the stylized pop found on debut CD Worry The Jury, Caravan ventures into Lucinda Williams territory. MacEachern says the new roots country sound was a natural progression. "It was organic. Over the last couple of years playing just as a duo, we realized we were more comfortable doing that stripped-down thing."
"It's okay to be a little more naked onstage," pipes up MacIsaac, sister of Ashley MacIsaac and a touring musician since her mid-teens.
The duo are playing NXNE's One Night Stand showcase, designed to spotlight up-and-coming Canadian re-cording artists. Previous acts on this bill include Billy Talent and k-os.
Though Madviolet have been working hard and touring the world since they got together five years ago, they're fine with being called undiscovered.
"People say that it's seven years to an overnight success, but it's more like 15!" MacIsaac says with a giggle.
On the road for long periods of time, they keep entertained by playing backgammon and listening to audio books.
"We listened to War And Peace. It took a long time we had to keep rewinding."
They say they rarely listen to music, preferring to talk and sing.
"We'll both start singing the words of a street sign that we've driven by, out of the blue, in perfect harmony," says MacEachern. "If there's a third person in the van sometimes we'll sing off key to see how long it'll take before they notice."
The Caravan CD launches July 5 at Hugh's Room.
Bust a Move
PROJECT MOVE at Gypsy Co-op (817 Queen West), Friday (June 9), 11 pm. $10. 416-703-5069. And as part of the Indie Music Market at Yonge-Dundas Square, Saturday (June 10), 7 pm. Free. www.nxne.com.
most photos of boston's project Move look blurry, and that's not because people are taking them with shaky hands. Despite their thoughtful, mellow, organic rap the perfect soundtrack for smoking something and melting into your couch to live onstage they bring the mania like Taz. And then some. "It's high-energy hiphop," says Moe Pope, one-third of the Project (with Anonymous and Raheem), over the mobile from the home of the Red Sox.
"In a lot of hiphop shows, even if you see them live on TV, you see a guy walking back and forth with a mic, and a DJ. I think there are other ways you can express yourself in a show," says the MC, who did a lot of dope shit in the 90s with Oakland, California's Mission.
And, as proven by the debut album Love Gone Wrong/The Butterfly Theory by the offshoot trio of rap collective the Electric Company, there are other ways you can express yourself on the mic as well. Over marvellously blunted beats reminiscent of People Under the Stairs, the three noncha-lantly reveal a sort of brutal honesty that puts their personalities in relief.
No wonder they've found friends in Edan and 7L & Esoteric and have been on bills with KRS-1, Big Daddy Kane and DJ Honda. And, like Honda, they also have distribution in Japan. Fortunately, their album's available in Toronto as well which makes perfect sense to Pope.
"The crowd in Toronto has a strong sense of music, whether it's rock, hip-hop, whatever. And we're fans of music, so hopefully we can get out there and make some necks knock, you know?"
THE SECRET WEAPONS at Clinton's (693 Bloor West), Friday (June 9), 11 pm. $10. 416-535-9541.
dead end street doesn't seem like a very wise name for a band. I dunno, it just sounds like it could never go , y'know? "It does seem like you're dooming yourself right there," says Matt Burt, vocalist and guitarist for the Secret Weapons, formerly known as Dead End Street.
"Dead End Street was something I just pulled out of my ass because we were booking and we needed a name, but later we wanted something that sounded a little less pessimistic."
Everything's in transition since the name change (they're still listed as Dead End Street on the NXNE website), but the local quintet have just finished recording their very first EP, four tracks recorded in two days.
"We recorded it live off the floor because we wanted to get that old-school sound where you catch that energy in the room."
The rock offering draws on inspiration from the Beatles, Sabbath, Unknown-era Soundgarden and Guns N' Roses. The keyboards lend elements of prog from time to time. They're very excited. So far, so good, says Burt.
"Our very first show at Sneaky Dee's, we were lucky enough to have a buttload of people out, and that was two weeks after our first rehearsal."
I have to ask how many a buttload is. (This is Burt's second rectal reference in five minutes.)
"I think a buttload is anything over 100. That's the technical quantity."
The live show, of course, is so important, says Burt. Classic rock enthusiasts, the Weapons often mix a few covers into the live show such as songs by the Who, Creedence Clearwater, Pearl Jam, the Band.
"There's some good energy around us," says the ever-positive Burt.
ERIC ZIEGENHAGEN at the Free Times Café (320 College), Friday (June 9), midnight. $8. 416-967-1078. leading a double life as a popular Chicago playwright and a slightly less famous singer/songwriter, Eric Ziegenhagen understands the cliquey problems of the Windy City's robustly diverse creative arts community. The chilly divide between the twangers, jazzers, rappers, blues belters, house heavies and indie rockers remains as clearly defined to locals as the separation between Cubs and White Sox fans.
"Oh yeah, I know all about that," says Ziegenhagen. "When I was living near the Green Mill, I used to go and see Patricia Barber play her regular Monday-night gig all the time. Of course she's an amazing singer and pianist, but I could never get my friends to join me because their hangouts were the Hideout and the Empty Bottle.
"When I started recording, I was wondering where my music would fit in which scene, if any, would pick up on it? I thought my disc You're Talking To The Wrong Guy could be the weirdest record on Rounder or the straightest record on Thrill Jockey.
"But since Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsome started becoming popular, I think people are generally more receptive to musicians onstage with an acoustic guitar who may not meet the conventional folksinger criteria.
"My songs have been getting less like collages of abstract images and more first-person literal, yet the structures are simple enough that I can perform with, say, a saxophonist and there will be enough room to work in something interesting.
"I've been finding a lot of inspiration in things that are specific to Chicago, like the song Red Line Waltz, which is about the stops on the transit system's Red Line. I've got about six Chicago songs finished, so if I can come up with six more I'll have an album."