Tangiers ( 11 pm) with Shawn Hewitt (9 pm), Graph Nobel (10 pm) and Metric (midnight), at the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne), tonight (Thursday, March 4). $15, advance $12. 416-323-1251. Rating: NNNNN
after the rough going endured by Toronto's Tangiers this past year, it's amazing that the group even exists today. But they've rebounded from the abrupt departures of guitarist Yuri Didrichsons and drummer Marco Moniz, and their new Never Bring You Pleasure (Sonic Unyon) disc - due in April - is an impressive progression from their promising spazz-rock debut, Hot New Spirits.
Having ex-Guided by Voices drummer John McCann take over the sticks for Moniz certainly helped speed their recovery, and the return of keyboardist Shelton Deverell didn't hurt, but the creative contributions of co-founder Didrichsons won't be easy to replace.
Why he left remains a mystery. Even his long-time friend and collaborator Josh Reichmann, who is now the lone surviving original Tangiers member, can only speculate.
"I think Yuri met someone he really cares about and maybe wanted to live a completely different life away from the rock world," offers Reichmann. "But the truth is, I really don't know why he's no longer playing in Tangiers, because he was so passionate about this band. It's bizarre to me.
"When Marco left, we wanted to find someone who could fit right in so we wouldn't feel like we were starting over from scratch. Since John was in Guided by Voices, he knows exactly what needs to be done and how to make this work."
Judging by the time Tangiers have spent away from the stage, there was more involved than simply plugging in a new drummer.
"Everything seemed to happen at once: we lost our bandmates, our girlfriends and our jobs. It was just like we broke up. This really feels like a whole new band again. It's kind of poetic that we recorded in the dead of winter and have this new album out in the spring.
"I don't know if we've made the definitive Tangiers record, but it definitely feels like we've made it to the next stage."