The Roseville Band, Papermaps, MiniBoone, Hue
Rancho Relaxo in Toronto, ON
June 14, 2011
Review by: Bia Marcus
Photos by: Pete Nema
Thursday night of NXNE at the Rancho Relaxo had a surprisingly good line-up, especially considering the size of the venue. It included a couple of bands that were easy picks, even against some of the better advertised line-ups, but also, a pleasant surprise lurked...
The Roseville Band
The Roseville Band were an NXNE standout at Rancho Relaxo on Thursday night. The Welsh foursome were back in Toronto after playing five showcases at Canadian Music Fest 2012. Vocalist/guitarist Andy Jones took to the stage with guitarist (and brother to Andy) Steve Jones, drummer James Edwards and bassist Neal Thompson. Those familiar with the band’s Little Eyes In The Universe (2010) and Shake The Walls (2011) would have noted the lack of a horn section — Little Eyes features Ali Evans (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Stu Nicholls (trombone), Shake features Evans with Jim Hickson (saxophone, harmonica).
The blues-rock "Goodbye" was Zeppelin-esque, with raspy, sometimes nasal vocals complementing the band's soulful sound. The melancholy "Sad Way to Go" brought to mind Kings of Leon and Deer Tick's John McCauley as the looping melody created a trancelike effect. Andy switched to mandolin for "The Less I Want." Disclaimer: Anyone playing, or attempting to play a mandolin has my heart. "Thank you Taronna!" Andy shouted. "You say 'Taronna,' right?" Actually, Andy, we say "Toronn-oh" — but all good. "Stand" was sexy and commanding with its chorus, "Stand like I told you / Stand like I told you," led by a heavy guitar riff and hip-shaking drums. Whether affectation or accent, Andy's rolled r's were a fun addition.
Two official shows and four more unofficial shows during NXNE proved that this is a hardworking band. They drew much from styles of the past with no gimmicks needed to enhance their tight musicality and stage presence.
Papermaps performed their unreleased Inferior Ghost EP in full for the first time Thursday night. "Reaction Formation” and "Nobody Gets It" came early in the set, as did the EP's melodic, hopeful first single "There Are Wolves." The sweaty venue was no match for the band's cool, collected sincerity. Frontman Dean Marino's strong vocals teamed up gorgeously with keyboardist Wendy Leung's bell-like voice. Bassist Betty Dimo held down the bottom end with Bobby Lee on drums, while an energetic Todd Harrison (and his ‘fro) switched between guitar and synth.
Papermaps has announced a residency at The Drake Underground for the month of July with shows on July 2, July 9, July 16, July 23, and July 30, followed by a tour in August.
MiniBoone brought together 80's new wave and current indie rock in a fresh set, which featured songs from Big Changes (2010), On MiniBoone Mountain (2011), and The Other Summer 7" (2011). It was the band's first time performing in Toronto, and they showcased a quick, witty pop-rock sound flavoured with the quirk and charm of Bowie and the Talking Heads. They were giving such great energy that a dude beside me said, "It's times like these that I wish I was in a band so I could act like that." For a sense of what the Rancho crowd experienced on Thursday, listen to "Brand New Thing" and "Devil In Your Eyes."
There was a lot of love for London, ON's Hue as the crowd seemed to double in size right before their set. The band's mellow pop songs washed over an enthusiastic core of friends, family, and fans as they noisily egged the band on. Jessica Paton was squee-worthy as she bounced behind the keys, her girlish, clear voice complementing the exuberant vocals by frontman (and brother to Jessica) Danny Paton and punchy bass by Andrew Jones. "You Will Be" was moving and triumphant with its harmonized group vocals. The crowd saw a different side of Hue when they broke out the R&B with a cover of Drake and Rihanna's "Take Care" — we already knew they were fun, but their affinity for rap made them that much more adorable.