I noticed my mini vacation was soon coming to close so I decided to make the most of my last day regardless of how hung over I may have been. My flight was at 6AM (not including the 2 hours to the airport) so the plan was: no sleep til Toronto.

I was anticipating the zine fair very much! As I arrived to the church, which was filled with tables and venders from all across the country, I was just overwhelmed! I soon felt depressed about the small amount of cash in my wallet. I browsed through the t-shirt companies, zine makers, photographers, record collectors, comic book authors, and exchanged friendly words with the wide eyed merchants.

There was a great costume maker from Montreal who unfortunately I forget the name of and a wonderful t-shirt company called Breathing Bears (who doesn’t have a website up yet) displaying their shirt art. It’s great to see all this culture in one room. When I’m out doing my thing in Toronto I try to research and collect as much as I can, but lots goes unnoticed. And I know this was only a tiny fraction of the independent art that Canada has in it!

Now, HPX does something great and that is, offers a slew of all ages shows. Sometimes bands play twice, one all ages showcase and one showcase at a 19 plus bar. This is great! Not only do the youngsters get to hear some great noise they otherwise wouldn’t, you can see an early show AND a late show in the same night. And we all know more music = more fun? Yea. So I caught Islands play an early 4 o clock set at the Pavilion, which is a venue devoted only to all ages music! Respect to that! If you’re under aged the best bands you get to see in Canada is Sum 41. Sad, I know.

Moving on, I wasn’t too excited about seeing Islands play. I had listened to their albums and always felt generally unenthused by them. Boy was I in for a surprise! Their orchestral frantic rock shook the tiny venue and left me a converted believer. The songs swelled and convulsed. Front man Nick Diamonds gazed out at faces with his honest blue eyes while nonchalantly making the walls melt. Complete with oboes and vocoders –their set couldn’t have been a better display of pure Canadian talent.

They closed their short set with ‘Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby’ and the eloquent ‘Swans (Life After Death)’ off of Return to Sea, which made me realize lots of their songs have a kind of Spanish mamba cha cha cha undertone in them. Very flavourful and worldly, these guys are in it for the long haul and I am proud to have witnessed this raucous moment in time. It’s easy to realize they aren’t just famous anymore because they are the remains of indie iconoclasts The Unicorns. They are much more than that.

For some mid-evening entertainment I decided to stop by the stand up comedy event at the Citadel hotel. I usually veer away from stand up as it’s very hit or miss. But I’d heard good things about this local Halifax group that goes by the name, Picnicface. Now, as I am in no way a comedic critic all I will say is that I laughed a lot! All young performers, their pop culture references were charming and well received. Definitely google these cats if you’re a fan of independent stand-up comedy. Is there a subculture for such things? Excuse my ignorance!

I could have caught Islands again that night at the Marquee with Sebastian Grainger… but decided to hit up the Fuzzy Logic Recordings showcase instead. Although mainly comprised of bands I can see in Toronto often, it was nice to show some support!

I didn’t want to push my luck that night although there were a few remaining performers. I said goodbye to HPX and finished my night off with a friend and an acoustic guitar singing into the night…. Without shutting an eye I made it to the airport at 6am and landed safely in T.O after one of the most intense naps a human can have. I got home and slept for 9 hours, woke up for 2 hours to eat and feed my cat, and went back to bed. Before I knew it, it was time to go to work on Monday morning. Recovery complete! Festival season 08 comes to a whooping close. Can’t wait til next year!

Things got a bit fuzzier for me this evening.

During the day I walked along the water front, which smelt fishy and wandered around the city which was filled with buskers, homeless people, and students aplenty. Not unlike a smaller humbler T.O.

Tonight we spent most of our time between jager bombs and Keith’s (the east coast beer) at the Kelp Records showcase. Kelp Records is an Ottawa based indie label. Their artists are mainly folk singer songwriter types, which happens to be my favourite kind of singer songwriters.

Laura Borealis and her banjo welcomed us to the venue with cute earthly hums and hymns. Jessie Kussin’s acoustic set was overloaded with his nasal vocals, which was quite painful to listen to. A definite highlight of their showcase was Andrew Vincent’s heartfelt set. He is surely Canadian, sounding much like Warren Spicer (lead singer of Plants and Animals) or Jason Collett but depressed and heart broken.

This all makes for some great lyrics like “when you get high, you know that I get low”. Unfortunately we leapt on to the streets to take cabs home before the much buzzed about Hilotrons took the stage. Keep your eye on this up and coming collective of great artists.

Sorry for such a short report. I had dinner at this wonderful restaurant called Fire Side and if I were a food reviewer I would probably have a whole essay to write about that –it was delicious.

Although I missed two nights of this exuberant young festival on the east coast of Canada I made it in time for the last three nights, and I’m glad I did.

To give you some background, HPX is mainly a music venue festival dispersed in downtown Halifax at various small clubs and bars. It also features other aspects, like a zine fair, some stand up comedy, industry panels, and some film. It spans five days in the heart of Nova Scotia and is surprisingly not as marketing-oriented as most festivals are these days, making it a nice breath of fresh air and the perfect ending to my eventful festival season this year.

Getting from the Halifax airport to downtown Halifax takes just as much time as it does to get from Toronto to Halifax, no joke. So I finally got into town and started planning my first night in the city. I started with some Toronto staples (go figure), playing an all ages show at St. Matthew’s Church. First up, Spiral Beach. They played their little hearts out and stomped around on stage to their haunting ‘80s-esque pop frenzies igniting sing-a-longs from the fans standing in the pews. Their cheery ditties are a taste I have yet to acquire; nonetheless the songs are fun and harmless adventures of youthful energy. Also representing Toronto, The Meligrove Band took to the church stage, however not without saying a few hymns and prayers of their own. Albeit, jokingly concluding as bassist Michael Small admittedly announced “we are assholes”.

Assholes they may be, their emotional sometimes piano/sometimes guitar driven pop was spiritually moving. It’s been a few years since their last release, ‘Planets Conspire’ (a masterpiece if I have ever heard) so they fed the crowd some of their new material. The band is used to being nabbed as huge CCR fans, but these songs introduce a whole fresh philosophy into their usually dark melodious song writing. This is my first time seeing them sans a horn player and second guitarist Andrew Scott, and it seemed the three of them played extra hard to compensate. In turn they did more than just that. Their songs bounced off the ceiling and around the room, boisterous and bold awakenings of noise stuffed to the brim with the juicy group chants and unique wailing guitar solos that made ‘Planets Conspire’ such an epic piece of work. Can’t wait to see what the New Year holds for them.

I avoided seeing Two Hours Traffic, who followed The Meligrove Band –as I’d seen them before and was less than impressed. Instead we made our way over to Coconut Grove, which is a nice hot spot nestled overtop Pizza Corner (a intersection with 4 different pizzerias on each corner) with a generous sized rooftop patio. I wanted to catch Boxer the Horse from Charlottetown, PEI. That we did… and it became apparent that Jeremy Gaudet and co. were quite consumed with sounding and performing as if they were Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash.

It became blisteringly obvious when they whipped out songs like ‘Jackson Leftfield’ and the feel good ‘Rock n Roll Band’. I could see the audience start whispering in to each other’s ears. Lucky for them, I happen to love Bob Dylan and I quite enjoyed their remakes. If you’re going to rip off the greats you might as well do it well, and Boxer the Horse surely did as their songs were catchy jingles with lonely undertones.

Another Toronto force, The Rural Alberta Advantage came on after and seemed to lighten the mood with their hand clap friendly indie folk rock. It seemed a little to typical for me, and it also seemed every song required a generic clap-a-long… to the point I didn’t have many claps left in me by the time they finished each playful cut. They’ve got all the aspects to doing well in this day and age (a cute female vocalist, tambourines), yet their songs just lack originality. This being a side project to drummer Paul Banwatt’s electro outfit, Woodhands –I suggest he sticks to the latter, although the RAA glimmer with potential.

It was becoming ridiculously cold outside so we swore our way over to the biggest venue of the festival, The Marquee, with our hands shoved deeply in our pockets arriving just in time to catch local indie rock buzz honing band Windom Earle were wrapping up. Just in case you didn’t want your evening to end without a spastic epileptic seizure, Holy Fuck brought just that to the stage with their post-rock set of instrumental chaos. Building up and down and up and spiralling into psychedelic space, a perfect soundtrack to my seemingly inebriated state. Although I have to admit they didn’t present many surprises, they played like I expected them to play: very well. (Read: I wanted to see something crazy). Great set, nonetheless!

If punter costumes are rather thin on the ground tonight – Clash counts but a handful at ATP’s annual Halloween bash at the Forum (night one of two this year following huge demand for tickets) – on-stage thrills are in abundance. A six-band bill that’s the stuff of the more discerning rocker’s wet dreams, Release The Bats is a can’t-miss event that’s dragged your correspondent kicking and screaming from his sickbed for one evening of sonic indulgence.

Proceedings begin on the floor, in front of the stage, as Lightning Bolt typically set up their gear at audience eye level; the Rhode Island duo’s pulverising riot-rock is at its best when delivered at synapse-shredding volume, but equipment malfunctions see that the pair rarely strike any sort of flow. Intermittently brilliant, tonight’s not Lightning Bolt’s finest hour by a long shot – but try telling that to the faces packed tight about them, well and truly at ground zero, and expect to receive a thick ear for your cheek.

Pissed Jeans are the first act to mount The Forum’s sizeable stage, and vocalist Matt Korvette makes the most of the space, writhing and grinding in a manner wholly expected by acolytes of the Pennsylvania four-piece. Their Jesus Lizard-echoing squall – albeit a squall that’s the product of men fighting their instruments, rather than simply playing them – fills the cavernous venue with ease, and while their fractured punk songs might always be an acquired taste – discernable lyrics are in short supply, drama provided by the pure physicality of the performance – there’s no doubting the infectiousness of the Sub Pop-signed outfit’s raw energy.

While Pissed Jeans get the adrenaline glands working overtimes, San Francisco Kraut-stoners Wooden Shjips shift pulses down a beat or some, with a head-nodding set of songs taken from their self-titled of last year and this year’s singles collection compilation. Few in the limited front-and-centre throng truly get into their heady grooves, but slip into the fog they conjure and soon senses are hypnotized – there’s nothing revolutionary at work, quite deliberately so, and they certainly don’t mirror the explosiveness of their recordings live, but the in-your-face Wooden Shjips are certainly preferable to the off-you-face variety. Listen to this lot when out of your mind and you’ll never return from whatever hazy horizons you’ve wandered across.

The main event for many is the appearance of Les Savy Fav, and the Brooklyn five-piece don’t disappoint their growing fanbase. With the whole group decked out in corpse paint – four in hoodies and jeans, frontman Tim Harrington emerging in ghoulish vampire get-up – they’re into the spirit of the event like no preceding band, too (sorry Wooden Shjips – as nice as that gold turban is, it’s not winning any fancy dress prizes), and before long fists are punched into the air to the sounds of the band’s winning choruses. ‘Patty Lee’ is an early highlight, Harrington takes a tour of the venue, via the balcony, without missing too many words, and the likes of ‘We’ll Make A Lover Of You’ and ‘The Equestrian’ have many an onlooker wondering why this didn’t happen sooner for such a clearly fantastic band. They’re making up for their time spent languishing in relative obscurity though, and by the time ‘Who Rocks The Party’ thunders to a climax, after a brief sojourn for some amateur dramatics, it’s smiles and sweaty faces all round.

But Les Savy Fav are trumped, their should-be show-stealing set bettered by a three-piece whose sense of humour has rarely been worn so obviously. Taking the stage in full fancy dress, Shellac – Steve Albini as a mummy, Bob Weston as Frankenstein’s monster, and centrally placed drummer Todd Trainer as a wild-eyed Dracula – unleash a set that grips the audience tight and doesn’t let up ‘til the comedy gruntings of Weston, where there should have been lyrics, allow everyone to take a breathe while they’re laughing along. ‘Squirrel Song’ is vicious, ‘Steady As She Goes’ sensational, and before long the band’s attire is overlooked – the music consumes all. There are thousands, and it isn’t some kind of metaphor to suggest they’re all won over.

While doom titans Om close the show, Clash has to skip out early to make its train… which it misses anyway. Thanks, London Underground, for your brilliant service. Nightbus, street lights, ears ringing, Steve Albini’s nipples… Release The Bats proves (again) entirely worth shaking the covers off for.

Glastonbury organiser Michael Eavis has revealed this year’s festival has yet to make them any money, claiming they have just broken even from the Festival’s mounting financial demands.

Organisers claim its the first time in the Festival’s 39-year history that they have made no profit, and it’s though the current recession has caused a flux of weary students and cash strapped hippies to retreat. “Glastonbury costs £22 million now” added the Festival boss. “We still made about a million pounds for the charities (we work for), so we actually achieved a million but we didn’t make any beyond that. There’s no money to reinvest or anything.”

The latest revelation is yet another product of the current ‘credit crunch’ sweeping Britain. The Festival even changed its ticketing policy this year, allowing fans to pay £50 of the ticket price now, then make up the rest of the payment in 2009. It is unknown if the additional payments from fans was taken into account when Eavis made the statement.

The Shortwave Set will tour the UK in November, as well as releasing a new single ‘Glitches N Bugz’ it has been announced.

The band have just finished a tour with space rockers Spiritualized and will now celebrate with the release of a third single from Danger Mouse-produced ’08 album ‘Replica Sun Machine’. ‘Glitches N Bugz’ will be released following their forthcoming UK dates (8th December). The band will deploy their “rickety victorian Funk machine” for the dates, which we can only assume is what’s responsible for their swirling psychedelic pop.

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As reported on Clashmusic earlier, The Jackson 5 are set for a full reformation next year, however Michael Jackson has now announced he will not be taking part in the group’s album and tour plans.

It was announced by brother and recent Celebrity Big Brother star Jermaine Jakson that the Jackson 5 would tour next year, as well as record a full album of new material. Michael Jackson said he would give his brothers and sisters his full support, however due to his own comeback commitments, would not take part in the reformation.”I am in the studio developing new and exciting projects that I look forward to sharing with my fans in concert soon” claimed Jacko.

Jackson’s last album ‘Invincible’, released in 2001, sold ten million copies worldwide.

Damien Jurado has announced he will tour the UK in November, for a set of shows that are set to kick off on the 3rd November.

The singer songwriter will be joined by fellow bandmates Jenna Conrad and Eric Fisher, who will be performing Jurado’s latest album ‘Caught In The Trees’, which was recently released on Secretly Canadian Records. Support for the shows is set to come from Sub Pop signing Tiny Vipers.

Jurado spent a year making ‘Caught In The Trees’, which has been described as sounding like “Elliott Smith inspired by Raymond Carver”.

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Damien Jurado tickets are now on sale for dates in London, Manchester and Bristol between the 3rd and the 6th of November 2008. Buy Tickets online for these gigs now from the Clash Music Ticket store.

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Following a verbal attack from Dundee indie upstarts The View last week, Kings Of Leon have now came into the firing line from none other than Gob almighty himself – Liam Gallagher.

After the View sticksman sounded off, calling the band’s latest album “shite, average bollocks”, Liam has now also came out fighting, however has noted that although he likes the band, felt disappointed by their latest offering ‘Only By The Night’. “I like Kings Of Leon, but I don’t know about this fucking new record. It seems to me they’ve gone for the bucks, man”. Liam also claimed he liked the band before their recent image change. “When they first come out I was going, ‘Who the fuck is this?’ They were cool, and now they’ve all got their sleeves cut off.”

Kings Of Leon have yet to reply to the sudden upsurge of image-baiting, with The View drummer also putting down their transformation from hillbilly roughnecks to stadium rock stars, adding “as soon as he cut his hair or something, he can get to fuck.”

To celebrate the release of their new album ‘No Mundane Options’ in the UK, The Paddingtons will be going on a four-date tour of Zavvi Record stores next week.

Beginning in Glasgow (Buchanan Street) on Sunday 2nd at 4 pm, the band will then move onto dates in Manchester, London and their hometown Hull.

The shows will go as follows :
Glasgow Buchanan Street : Sunday 2 November, 4 PM
Manchester, Arndale Centre: Monday 3 November, 5:30 PM
London Oxford Street: Tuesday 4 November 5:30 PM
Hull : Wednesday 5 November at 5:30 PM.

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