Music in the Streets: The May Edition

We awake from the longest winter in recorded history (warning: qualitatively confirmed but quantitatively debatable) to that time of year where we insist on warm weather plans whether the temperature accommodates or not. Like going to shows without having to hold a jacket or pay for coat check. Excellent. So many more hands, so much more money for beer.

This isn’t everything that’s happening in the Toronto music scene this month, especially with Canadian Music Week descending upon the city from the 6th to 10th (stay tuned in the coming days for a dedicated “Canadian Music Week in the Streets” column), but it is a definitive list of hip evening outings –  since we can’t all do axe-throwing at the same time.

Lana Del Rey
Remember back in 2012 when everyone on the planet was forced to have an opinion on Lana Del Rey? And when backed against that wall, most people settled on relatively uninformed vitriol? Well perhaps that’s why NYC’s reigning trip hop diva rarely tours. Or maybe she hasn’t overcome the intense backlash stemming from her, umm, less than impressive performances of “Blue Jeans” and “Video Games” on SNL. (Of course, here at Notable we ask, has anyone EVER sounded great on SNL?)

Well, notable young professionals (YPs), it’s 2014, and while the bloggers seemed to have relaxed to some extent on the Lana point, she has not. Currently scorching her way across North America, with her (possibly Dan Auerbach-produced) third full length, Ultraviolence, sneaking in and serving notice along the way, LDR is captivating audiences with her trademark hip-hop vocal cadence, breathy innuendo, and lush, orchestral, retro-pop sound. Here’s your chance, Toronto. Because she’s here to change minds.

Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. May 13. $29.50-$79.50. All ages.

So you’re looking for a dance party, huh? Then as the young folks might say, we’ve got your jam. Unless those young folks mean actual jam? Because we don’t have any jam.

With a shiny new set of electro-funk gems set to drop (White Woman, May 16) – and an “au courant” list of guest contributions sure to get them to the album-selling side of 8.0 over at – Chromeo are here to show you exactly what you missed if you weren’t old enough to get into shows in the 80s. An interesting combination of side stories – one half Ph.D. in French Lit. and one half older brother of A-Trak – these Montrealers don’t just exploit the tricks and sounds of the original MTV generation; they re-work them for your 21st century higher expectations. Chunky guitar rhythms, disco-heavy synths, and generous applications of the vocoder are complimented by depths of arrangement and production that separate from the days gone by when dance tracks often felt like four minutes of the same hook. Of course, let’s not give these party-starters too much credit: filled with knowing irony and shtick, and held together by bubble gum lyrics, “guilty pleasure” is a pretty fair verdict. And when you wake up the next morning, still bopping, and probably still drenched in sweat, will you ever feel guilty…

Danforth Music Hall*. May 2. $32-$40.
*Conscious of the fact we really pushed the Music Hall last month, we’re limiting this month’s recommendations to just one. Which means you’ll have to go elsewhere to learn all about their loaded May line-up. (Pssst: Bombay Bicycle Club, David Gray, Elbow, Mogwai, Morcheeba, Owen Pallett. Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave and wearing a tinfoil hat since last September, we bet you’ve yet to find a music fan that doesn’t know and love Haim’s debut full length, Days Are Gone. We also bet you didn’t get their name right the first time, either. (Hint: it rhymes with “time”, not this guy).

Indie super-darlings and sisters Este “Bassface” Arielle, Danielle Sari, and Alana Mychal Haim transform their studio album sessions comprising a cohesive and seemingly effortless blend of retro soft rock glow, 90s girl-group, and, well, “pop,” because that’s the easiest way to describe what feels like an unlimited palette of discovery and sound into a genuine rock ‘n’ roll show for the venue masses. Tenacious guitar solos and thundering drum lines give way to their smoother R&B saunters only when these already established stage show pros decide it’s exactly what the crowd needs.

See, blogosphere? It is possible to get through a Haim discussion without mentioning Fleetwood Mac. And they said it couldn’t be done.

Kool Haus. May 15. $25. All ages.

(Anyone remember that guy who used to roam the downtown streets of Toronto – usually not too far away from record stores – peddling “conscious hip-hop” mix tapes? Like, actual tapes? Nicest guy ever, but still a bit scary because he was a stranger gettin’ up in your grill? No? It’s ok, it was a long time ago. But we’ll go somewhere with him in a bit.)

Unlike Black Lips’ Cole Alexander, we guess we’re ok with “melodramatic, ignorant rap”; but to be totally honest, unless we’re in the club, we’d often prefer just a tiny bit more. Of course, we also don’t love the term “conscious hip-hop” because of the credit it strips from lyricists whose messages aren’t as obviously social-minded, yet are no doubt equally heartfelt and impactful.

But somewhere in between we have the poetic retrospection of Slug, offering mostly referential collections of clever, cut-long lessons learned, safely entrenched within Ant’s old school, sample-heavy production.  Straddling this boundary line, Atmosphere don’t get enough credit from anyone; too “emo” for the mainstream and too smart-ass to find themselves on one of those mix tapes you probably didn’t buy from our parenthetical introduction. But sometimes playing the middle offers the best of both worlds. And take it from us: this is one of those times.

Need more? Imagine a rap show where the guy waxes far enough away from the mic that you can actually understand every word. Yep. Atmosphere (you can understand). Don’t miss them.

Phoenix Concert Theatre. May 30. $27.50.

Stayin’ Alive at Your Day Job: Music That Unfortunately Isn’t in the Streets This Month
This month we celebrate those that have come and gone…

The Record: The Long Goodbye – LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden
The Sound: Tried as we might, and trust us, we really tried, tickets to the final LCD Soundsystem show at MSG were sold out long before normal patrons had a chance. In other words, two or three seconds. The band felt terrible and added a series of additional “final shows”; but as this five-disc collection will demonstrate, there could be only one. Just like there can be only one LCD Soundsystem. There isn’t enough room on a page to celebrate their sound and influence. So our advice: let their goodbye tell you the whole story, for some of you the first time, and for others, more sadly, the final time.

The Man: This month we remember The Godfather. A well deserved rest, albeit one far too soon for Frankie Knuckles. A talent that commanded every single soul to the dance floor. We were there. Those nights we’ll never forget. And apparently neither will Barack and Michelle.
The Sound: A sprawling discography of original material, dance edits, and live sets, bursting with house music definition. Until the end, he still had every bit of it. Catch his 2013 Boiler Room Session here.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)


Cover image: Chromeo on Jimmy Kimmel

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