Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yukon Blonde, Turbo Fruits, Surfer Blood – March 5 at Il Motore

Yukon Blonde
This is just getting ridiculous. First I missed Yukon Blonde's POP Montreal show for a stunningly underwhelming Joel Plaskett show, then on Friday I waltzed into Il Motore at a gentlemanly 9:45 p.m., only to find Nashville's Turbo Fruits midway through their set. "Great!" I thought, not only do I get to catch a half-dozen ex-Pet songs, but I'll see the other two bands on the bill as well. How little did I know.

Apparently due to some odd scheduling situation, a completely separate DJ set was planned to start at midnight at Il – making this the first and presumably only show to ever start at 9 p.m. in Montreal ever. I won't hold it against BSTB, though that decision is made easier considering the Vancouverites will be back 'round these parts in late April.

Maybe I should explain why I even care. If you've clicked on that first link, you'll see I snuck in the easy comparison Canada's other great '60s-ish simple-done-well pop-rockers, Sloan. True, that's what they sound like. But there's something else going on that makes it worth listening to. After the show, guitarist Jeffrey Innes summed it up like this: "We want to be different without sounding different." See – honest without being lame, just like their E.P.'s "Free Your Mind" and debut L.P.'s "Wind Blows".

While Exclaim! contends that the band's debut "could be the finest Canadian pop rock album by anyone other than the New Pornographers since Sloan's Twice Removed," I'd say One Chord to Another would be more apt. But only because I want to give the recently re-birthed band some room to breathe.

Turbo Fruits
Right around the time that lead moustache Jonas Stein took to the floor to spout out his tight three-piece's take on heavy Nashville rockabilly, I found a way to Focus on the Now and Forget the Regrets (wise advice I learned from a drunk on the train one morning last winter). When Stein attempted to tune, however, I couldn't tell if he couldn't hear himself or if he pretended not to care – because shit was off, my friend. No matter how scrappy the sound, every touring band should have some air of tunefulness, a though that only served to re-open the YK scab.

Surfer Blood

It seems like these fresh-faced Floridians read their press. Being compared to the Pixies and the more straightforward side of Sonic Youth is one thing, but actually using a drum stick to make guitar noise is a whole 'nother level of early-90's indie rock revivalism. As for the Weezer comparisons, the band wisely refrained from playing more than 8 bars of "The Sweater Song" during their encore. Still, the drummer had to get that intro fill in for the audience's pleasure (see first four seconds).

The other side of their sound, of course, is their ultra-overdone afro-shoegaze. (Joke.) But that one song, "Take It Easy", certainly finds the band at their most VW, and came across really well early in the set. Before the show, I was worried that maybe it was the studio-rendered reverb – rather than the band – that made standouts like first single "Swim" really pop on Astro Coast (especially with bland-yet-well-recorded videos like this floating around). But as the band jubilantly prodded along, their quasi-unpolished indyisms felt pretty fun. So whatever, throw your artfully tatooed hands in the air.

Photos courtesy of Eric Schreiber, who was nice enough to pass them along even though he was really there on behalf of