With Brian Wilson in L.A.
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, what does it mean when Brian Wilson records your song about him named, appropriately, Brian Wilson? Have to ask Toronto's own Barenaked Ladies.
Currently holed up in L.A.'s Cello studios -- coincidentally, the same place the Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds -- Ed Robertson, Steve Page and crew were stunned to discover that the genius/nutbar musician had recorded their gentle ode to him for his live album, currently available on his Web site at brianwilson.com.
"Not only that," adds Pierre Tremblay of the Ladies' Nettwerk management company, "but he stopped by the studio to visit the guys about a week and a half ago. And they were ecstatic because they're huge fans."
And what did they talk about? "Um, apparently it was quite weird," Tremblay laughs. "He talked to them about... sushi. Brian kept saying he'd have to hook them up with some good sushi." Wilson, by the way, brings his Pet Sounds Symphony tour to the Molson Amphitheatre July 20.
Horseshoe, Wed, May 24
An absence of any listing for the Horseshoe last Wednesday suggested something might be up on the QT. Turns out the hunch was on the money, and you could say the members of Toronto hip-pop squad Len bum-rushed the stage and saved the day.
For two long months -- during which time he had to juggle other bookings and observe a code of silence -- Horseshoe honcho Jeff Cohen anticipated adding a hush-hush warmup gig by a re-formed Guess Who to his list of bragging rights, which already includes shows by the Rolling Stones and the Tragically Hip.
But the preceding Friday, Cohen got a call from the Guess Who's agent saying, er, no go. According to Cohen -- in what was surely evidence that god was watching -- the agent felt so guilty, he offered up an 11th-hour live rehearsal by Len, who were headed to Europe the next day.
Rivoli, Thurs, May 25
A loose collective of friends, fans, former and current bandmates, business associates and media folks gathered upstairs at the Riv Thursday to shoot some stick, slurp some Bud and wish former 13 Engines singer/guitarist John Critchley well with the release of his new Crooked Mile CD, now available through Sound King/Outside.
Judging by the band's gig the following night, however, they'll need all the good wishes they can get. Critch's crew weren't especially tight, and given that it was a proper release party, longer rehearsals might have been in order.
Rivoli, Fri, May 26
Listen to AC/DC at 4 am long enough and something's bound to happen. Good or bad is less clear.
Immensely heavy local foursome Plastic Bag demonstrated a serious addiction to classic rock radio during an early set at the Riv Friday that riffed on the best bits of Dio and Angus Young and crew. Despite the occasional fit of guitar face, the set was a success, dominated by surprisingly catchy pop songs and a singer whose eyes bugged out disturbingly every time he screamed. Someone call Andy Frost.
El Mocambo, Sat, May 27
It's fitting that the gearhead punk sham of Chicago's Soil -- a humourless bunch of metalhead musos trying to cash in on the Supersuckers shtick with checkered flags and pinstriped flames -- was followed at the El Mocambo last Saturday by metal pranksters Sweet Vengeance, leather-clad ex-punks itching to cut loose with power chords and widdly solos who were making their local debut.
Behind their butch duds, it was actually members of Figure Four, fronted by a tongue-wagging Al Nolan from Trigger Happy, demanding panties from the "lovely ladies" in the audience. It seems that for every mullet-topped Winger fan who longs for punk cred, there are at least five aging hardcore thrashers who can't wait to put on some chaps and strut around like Rob Halford on poppers.
KING COBB STEELIE
Signs to Rykodisc
After being missing in action for the last couple of years, King Cobb Steelie have resurfaced.
Now free of their contract with EMI, the dubwise crew have signed with Rykodisc in North America and the cool Cooking Vinyl imprint overseas. Seven songs for a new record are almost complete. The instruments have been played and then chopped up into samples, and guitarist Kevan Byrne has relinquished the vocal mike, letting a handful of guests including Michelle McAdorey and Tamara Williamson sing instead.
Laika beat boss Guy Fixsen is back on board for the mix. A fall release is planned, but impatient folks can get a sneak peek when King Cobb Steelie play Reverb June 10 as part of NXNE.