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Test Tone Channel/Raising the Fawn/White Star Line

Rock and roll stars are cool. Pop stars are cool. I often feel like less of a man when I watch the silky bonered moves of a sex pot guitar demon, or the gargantuan drum thrusts from the hyper-biceps of a skinsman. I can safely say these obvious less-thans never ran through my mind when I attended a show headlined by Moncton, NB's Test Tone Channel.

This four-piece pop band has established a dwelling for musical geekdom. If you know me you may say, who am I to be pointing the nimble phalanx of nerdsville at a band from the East Coast, but let me assure you, it is this element of micro-macho that makes Test Tone Channel a pleasure to watch-hear.

Intelligent pop is Test Tone Channel's flavour, but the pop side of their music is hardly the portion that makes their music so. Their smart pop is best witnessed in their ability to combine so many musical unlikes. Over top of soft, sweet piano you often get loud and aggressive guitar. With rumbling drums you often get gentle vocalization. Their countered sounds are jointed with gluing genius.

Normally I'll witness a show, envious of the physical capabilities of the performers. Who would've thought that this envy would be dwarfed by envy towards Test Tone Channel and their ability to express song in a Crispin Glover meets Kurt Weil sort of way?

Toronto's White Star Line nervously revved up the evening with their self confessed love of melancholia (self billed as "tremelodic funeral drone"), and showed they had nothing to be nervous about. With new drummer Luca in tow, maybe the reason for their professed anxiety being they had not rehearsed with him once, White Star Line shimmered and shoe-gazed and warmed the audience up for a perfect evening of obscure pop. I like this band and believe they are something to watch for. Their set, although short, allowed me a nice peek into their post-rock simplifications of the Early Day Miners or Bedhead.

With this is mind, another quickly emerging quirk-o-rama, Raising The Fawn, took over the stage and belted off a very nice set of song at times recalling Sea and Cake, at others Damon and Naomi (without Naomi singing). Vocalist Jonathon hits the upper register in a skilled and plaintive fashion; their moniker 'Raising the Fawn' is perfect, for seeing them is like watching some unsure creature turning its nervousness into a graceful and delicate beast. You couldn't have asked for two more complementary acts.

One final point of note was the exemplary turnout. This was after all a Monday, and a Labour Day Monday at that (which is a civic holiday for our American friends who wondered), and it was heartening to see such a strong turnout on such a typically weak day, normally reserved for barbecues and TV watching. Maybe they came out to share the sour sweet sounds as a celebratory lament for the summer's end

Brodie Schwendiman is a Hamilton based music promoter (Peephole Productions), indie rock afficionado, bartender at the Hudson in Hamilton, Ontario and the moderator for the Egroups discussion list 'Hammer-rock' (sign up now to find out what's going on close to Toronto). An ardent independent music supporter, we will see more of Brodie's contributions via live and CD reviews (when we can get him sober and away from Guided By Voices shows!).

We don't know who Danilo Schulz is, because Stephen didn't say. Comments for Brodie can be sent via: systems_crash2000@yahoo.com.