The Foreign Resort Canadian Tour

Think about foreign resorts. For many, a budget escape from the office grind. For others, something to be avoided, for reasons moral or cultural. In foreign resorts, in Mexico and the Caribbean, for example, visitors are strongly encouraged not to stray offsite without a guide. These professional entertainers and servants, forced into ridiculous stiff formal uniforms lest they be mistaken for one of us, exist in a state of strained smiles and subtle but present security keeping people both inside and outside the walls. They are fortresses; islands removed from their uniqueness as beautiful, interesting, culturally rich places and are dulled, corporatized. We drink and eat our shame away at the paper thin veil of fairness they afford. We sneak people good tips and can hope only to be good tourists. Never more.

The Foreign Resort, the band, are the opposite of all the confusion, artifice and strain associated with the other sense of the words. Their music, their ideology, and their focus are all full of life and honesty. Questions and criticism. Intelligence and respect. Dripping with authenticity. And musically epic.

There is something foreign about them though. Something wondrous. Instead of place, it’s a sense of time. They exploded into our consciousness, here at DISARM, one autumn day with the genuine feeling of rare, rare discovery that music heads everywhere live for. The treasure at the back of that record bin. The sideways evening where amid a universe of jaded industry types you make a real friend and drop your guard, all the way. The film that makes you laugh, cry, think, and forget your troubles. The impossibly talented band who comes from far away and finds your city worth a stop. The stop being the very next day after you’ve first heard them, stumbled across them on Soundcloud. Meant to be. And for once, we are in the exactly right place and at the right time.

The Foreign Resort are on the forefront of a new sort of boundary-less, border-less, timeless new Post-punk, Darkwave and a label we’d like to restore to glory again, Alternative music. Modern Rock. The music was modern in 1979 and 1983 and 1992 and still is, still ahead of the masses and always outside, above, and going around the mainstream, aside from a few glorious chart anomalies that threaten the status quo of robo-pop once a decade or so. Modern Rock and Post-punk is still modern and is still on the cutting edge, fresh and experimental, mostly uncorruptable, beautifully misunderstood, and so, pure from evil forces. The Foreign Resort’s unique brand of Post-punk is pure and uncut: concerned with real issues and real feelings and real music, and capable of articulating all of this with beauty and excitement. The Danish trio have been active for several years and bring a deep musical vocabulary and an innate feeling of true mission and message that is rare.

As cool as it is to see bands on their early North American tours in the smaller clubs that are essential, as special as it is to actually get to say hello and share a toast and get an album signed, after seeing them even once we knew that we want to forfeit that specialness because The Foreign Resort are destined for the biggest stages, before a sea of their T-shirts, and their music deserves to find the masses who need to know. They need it. People need this. And we are not afraid to say that The Foreign Resort are fresh new musical blood the world needs to save us. Just as Post-punk saved us once before, whatever we called it then. Whatever we call it now. It’s real music with heart, guts, and ragged beauty, the best kind. And they are ready and up to the task, having already shared bills with Slowdive, Swervedriver, DIIV, Minor Victories and Cold Cave. And the strong Alternative music press notices have underscored this truth.

The music speaks for itself, and it speaks well. There are themes of “Suburban Depression” which remind us that there is nothing foreign about the universal feeling of isolation and malaise that exists everywhere people live as hubs of big urban centers. Too many move away and rarely return, cutting themselves off, cocooning themselves and their fragile families from not only the smog and the guns and the crowds, but also the good parts of urban life: the food from many countries. The people different from you. The chance to see great live music any night of the week. There is smart, critical commentary about America from a band who has toured the place and experienced it the only way you can, on a real road trip. America can perhaps only be fairly assessed from the outside, especially these days.

None of these songs and themes are dour or preachy, mind you. The music is transcendent, shimmery, full-bodied (you’d never believe it was a three piece, as instruments are handed back and forth seamlessly, and an impossibly tight drum beat from Morten Hansen keeps the gig moving like a steam train). The messages are delivered in the best way we who know like to get our news, the only way, the only source we trust: in the voice of one of our kind. One of our tribe. Mikkel Borbjerg Jakobsen’s voice is riveting, with a real range that easily crosses the band’s versatile catalog. It’s the kind of voice of which you never tire, the kind we haven’t heard in a long, long time, especially in our favourite kind of music.

The music has true versatility in tempo and theme. Cohesive, but with an impressive range. “Dead Leaves”, off the band’s full album release New Frontiers, sounds right out of a great b-side from the early synth-pop giants, deeply sad lyrics held up by a delicate riff that is intoxicating. It could slip into an 80s John Hughes film, or an indie film of today looking for the 80s feelings we all miss (even those born in the 90s). Brand new single “She is Lost” is an urgent anthem that captures TFR’s range perfectly and gives a taste of just what they are capable of. It is music that deserves to chart. To change the charts. As happens every decade or so, organically, from the ground up, rising from the concrete like steam. From the kids, not the suits telling the kids what to like and what to buy. We used to know to never trust anyone in a suit. And to only trust musicians.

Having had the chance to see The Foreign Resort live twice now (first in November 2016 and this week as they performed two shows at Canadian Music Week at the start of their Canadian tour) (the last in the gorgeously outfitted new location for The Hideout) we can say that you must go and find them. We hope someone will get a few live recordings from the soundboard and add a couple of live tracks to a future release (or video) because as excellent and well mixed as the tracks are their live show has a dark magic of its own and tends to blossom in unexpected ways, the highs higher and the lows deeper, with ease spilling out into pure rock guitar riffs or pulling it back to the delicious control of Post-punk with its sense of angst that is still tough as hell and will not be played (again). Fans will become bigger fans, because it just doesn’t get better than this.

It’s astounding to hear how the songs come to life, how impossibly Joy Division’s / New Order’s legendary, game-changing Peter Hook’s bass sound is right there in the room in the hands of Steffan Petersen (and we know that sound intimately and would never say that lightly) how none of us (save for one brave, lovely, and equally smitten journalist) give into our urge to 80s dance because we didn’t pre-drink and we need those gross and long-gone dry ice machines to swan through and it’s not yet the witching hour. But oh, how we long to. How our silent prayers are answered: we’ve finally heard a band of this moment channel and pay respect to the masters. Fans of The Cure, the deep fans who know the Cure from 1977 to 1984 as well as the later albums, will be drawn to this band and will not be disappointed. Be it popular or obscure, British or American, or an original cocktail made in Denmark, the vault of Post-punk offers endless inspiration. But a great band makes all of that into new shapes.

The future looks bright again.

The Foreign Resort on Soundcloud: here, Official site: here, Bandcamp: here.

Jacqueline Howell & Dave MacIntyre 

Swervedriver with SIANspheric, Horseshoe, May 6, part of CMW

Wednesday May 6th, Toronto. In which we brave The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, but are yet thwarted by its legendary obstacles. Being an authentic rock club means the frills are trimmed and the west is a wild, security-barren, cramped place full of great music. The eternal trade off continues.


Swervedriver with SIANspheric and Little You, Little Me, as part of CMW, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, May 6, 2015

We arrive just after Little You, Little Me to see a promising sight: still some room at the front, as shooting is an every photographer for himself battle in this small, yet invariably, come 11:00 pm, densely packed free-for-all with no pit and no security to stare down the random acts of yahooism that can upset the whole night. Hamilton’s (!!!) own Space Rockers SIANspheric takes the stage right about on time (10:00 pm) and they are affable, cheerful, and stoic. They work their own corners building their signature riffs and occasionally building, at a tantalizing pace, to a crashing crescendo. These pioneers bring a bit of Tortoise vibe (they’ve been making contributions to the Shoegaze scene on and off since ’94) and some nice gazey moments with hushed vocals and syrupy pacing. It’s a really enjoyable show. Early on, singer Sean Ramsey asks the audience for some more “Give’rs!” and when this does not result in the crowd uttering the encouraging language of the monster truck world, he follows with “you don’t think I’m serious but I am.” SIANspheric give a solid 45 minute set and we make a note to catch them again sometime in a setting where we can sit and chill with the ambient waves. We would love to see these guys on an afternoon slot on one of our upcoming festival bills! Would no doubt be a crowd pleaser. Currently SIANspheric are on tour with Swervedriver for local dates, and released their first record on a limited pressing on vinyl recently through Noyes records “The Owl”/ “Smokin’ Ritchie”.

Around 10:50 what always happens at The Horseshoe happens. While at one time it must have been a charming 87 -seat saloon, it now is a long and narrow rabbit warren at the back of the house  where the smallish stage is, and 200 people try to leave their place in front of the stage to hit the can and the bar or get a smoke, while at the same time 200 people try to squeeze in. Two to four rabid superfans are running in both of these directions, elbows bent like knobby weapons, and their annoyance factor increases with age and the presumed gap of years since they last ventured out to see a show in the big city.  A few photographers also try to assert their place at the front, while the fans who’ve been holding one of 8 or so coveted spots at the front earn their badges for patient dedication. Those not enjoying any of this make their way to the lovely quiet front of house (no view of the show) or the area near the sound booth (which has wooden tables and hard metal stools that now look like paradise.  Faint of heart people can safely hear (if not see) the show from this vantage point, which would be called a cop out anywhere else. Swervedriver come out promptly at 11:00 pm to warm applause, a packed, airless crush of fans and media, and one 250 pound buffoon, here alone from god knows where, who’s decided to crowd surf, menace all and sundry like a kodiak bear to maintain “his” place and generally, act like an overgrown 3 year old menace. He’s one of those fools who travel alone (go figure) and whose good time seems largely dependent on the extreme discomfort of others. Amid all this, Swervedriver, having garnered tons of buzz at SXSW recently, get right to work with a lively set that seems louder than SIANspheric, and despite their usual categorization, much less gazey, but still full of that great early 90’s Alternative/Indie sound. They get help from Supergrass’s Mick accompanying the set. This CMW gig is part of their current major tour playing their 2015 release I Wasn’t Born to Lose You across Eastern & Western Canada and the UK through May and June. If I may digress, you have to LOVE and give a deep formal bow to a band who takes the time to get across both Eastern and Western Canada, a noteworthy effort with challenging logistics in a big ol’ country. But this is, after all, the Shoegazer renaissance we’ve long needed, that may just save Alternative (/real) music. While some unsuccessfully crowd surf at The Horseshoe, the rest of us enjoy highlights such as “Rave Down” (many from the far distance).

By Step On Magazine Editors


Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live in Toronto

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Toronto May 3rd

At the time we launched this magazine with gusto in January, we also went on a ticket buying spree. Small and indie publications operate in a unique, creative space that is entirely wild and random, and more fun than the world of the majors with the spoils of constant freebies (which permit one to become jaded, and also contains the burden of having to see many undesirable bands as part of the exchange, and worse, to write about them and shoot them as if they were worthy of press). We often buy tickets for those bands we want to see and can’t bear to miss, and with luck may also later get media access to shoot the show. With the run of big announcements this year, as well as spring / summer music events such as Canadian Music Week and NXNE  (and with summer festivals approaching) it’s a labour of love and a big commitment that forms most of our experience and our content. We’ve had a lot to look forward to with The Jesus and Mary Chain and Manic Street Preachers this week alone (two stunning shows which we expect will be unsurpassed no matter what else comes our way) and still to come, the much-hyped Ride reunion tour and some festival highpoints. We’ve also had a great experience seeing, meeting, shooting and writing about current-wave Alternative greats Nothing in the middle of this great 80’s and 90’s tour resurgence; all these shows raise the bar and makes us remember what great really is, and was. And could still be. Something is alive again in music and in our city. We meet new friends who become old friends in a few instants as we speak late into the pub hours in shorthand about Suede, The Mondays, and even Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. We want these nights to never end.

Sandwiched in among all this majesty, garnering little buzz or hype, and strangely symbolized by just one press picture like an Andy Warhol silkscreen that reduces a luminescent icon to flat black and any old over saturated colour (1), comes Noel Gallagher and his wotsits (2). Toronto’s Sony Centre (formerly The Hummingbird Centre and even more formerly, The O’Keefe Centre) is a prestigous, expensively tricked-out and plush venue that was designed and built for highbrow music and dance. Wikipedia even calls it Canada’s largest “soft-seat” theatre. I didn’t know that was a thing, but it’s an apt description. It’s a place I always want to dress a little up for, it demands it, (as do my conservative roots).  Security are gentle if not downright nurturing. What the plush seated venue isn’t, though, is one that enables any form of Rocking Out. One can’t blame Noel Gallagher for booking into a spot like this for two nights among the many varieties we have in Toronto at various sizes. He’s been here a few times in the past with Oasis, the last of which (2008) ending up in an unforgivable arsehole act of some fan storming the stage and connecting with Noel, causing injury. Liam was spared. Gallagher, a consummate pro, did not end the show but continued through a few more songs, though Oasis ended the show earlier than planned and no doubt left with a bit of a sour taste in about Toronto and our civic behaviour.

So what’s left of one of the world’s biggest stadium rocking bands is now onstage in air conditioned, perfectly lit comfort, and our last row of orchestra seats are wonderfully uncrowded, but far enough back that we default to the screen view half the time. All that one may do in the spot allotted is to sway. In a moment of pique, just to keep things interesting, I make an unannouced break for the aisle and go down to about 10th row just to grab a few quick pictures. I also begin  my usual, annoying and oft-repeated tales about the glorious, brief days of being 15 and jumping over chairs (loose, folding chairs, even) from section to floor seats at the CNE Grandstand (for The Cure) climbing over people with the superhero aura of pure nerve, a smile, some retro-Canadian politeness, and the fact that 15 year old girls can get away with a lot. I sigh, and look down to make sure my toe is not over the respectable line between seat and aisle. Woe be the plush dwellers.

Gallagher’s legacy and our relationship to this music also occupies a strange place, like the venue and the season we’re in. The early and mid 90’s was an embarrassment of musical riches which-I hate to sound 40 but- the likes of which we may never see again. For us, Oasis was sort of the run-off of the beautiful Baggy, Madchester, Brit Rock and “Brit Pop” scenes that we held as the natural successor to the 80’s Manchester scene. We know our Manchester, and strangely enough, we know it well from this place across the ocean. We can admit now that we’ve always liked our British musical heroes best when they do not crack the top 10 in the U.S. just because the vast majority of the best and most authentic bands never do. In hindsight, Oasis might have bent the definition of commercial success and mainstream for a while, but they are mixed like a bad ice cream flavour in the memory: coming along as they did at a strange time in U.S. and Canadian music scenes -a confused mix of leftover Grunge in the form of Alanis Morissette; pop music such as Ace of Base, and one hit wonder Coolio. They also carried a bit of the Nirvana fan problem (and still do) they attract what we now call “the Bro crowd”. The kind that will chuck bottles and step on girls feet and push in front of short people, and can even make the news with violence. People who don’t understand or like music, like Oasis. Liking and knowing Oasis doesn’t count for anything or say anything about you in these parts. It’s not the bands, it’s the fans we hate (3).

Over the years, Noel Gallagher has distinguished himself as a media figure, a rabble rouser, a fearless grump and someone who had no F’s to give long before we had the words to call it that. We openly call him our favourite comedian of late. It could well be that the reason we bought two expensive tickets to an undesirable plush seated venue was to hear Noel’s stage banter, and we get our money’s worth on this front alone. To a kid in the front row, Noel asks if he’s alone or has his parents with him. He eventually establishes an older man is with him. He then berates the man to get the kid a t-shirt, as “the experience is not complete without the T-shirt”, using his signature salty language to both child and man, but not before going off-side by asking “it’s not sexual, is it?”. We are now, at last, where we’ve wanted to be for awhile: as close as we’ll ever get to one of the strangest and funniest brains out of Britain, holding forth with the same ease on stage as he might at the pub.

So what of the music? The music is great. The performance, both vocally and musically, is solid. Noel sings well. The new material is every ounce as good as Oasis, and brought down to earth, nicely grounded in a way that Oasis rarely was. The music is energetic and very enjoyable outside of the flat, overproduced version we are used to from CD’s and digital formats. His High Flying Birds seem to be what we expected: paid employees who will never act out like that terrible “Our Kid” Liam, good boys. Some of them get introduced eventually, while others are victims of the comedy “and on the keyboard…the keyboard player!” It’s the Noel show, firmly and completely. We can’t help but wonder what pleasure exists in this setting for Gallagher, having played to the biggest crowds in the biggest and best festivals of the world, to now have 3000 people sing back to him when once it was 20 or 40 times that number. Is it still a thrill? Is it better now, in some sense, without the family drama and the wildness of the younger man’s rock and roll lifestyle? Or is it a ghostly experience? A copy of something greater? (4)

Judging by T-shirts and Bro-ness (5) in the nearby pub beforehand (and after), 90% of the people seem to be here for Oasis songs. The 20 song set contains 5 Oasis songs, but only 2 of the big ones “Champagne Supernova” and show closer “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. There is a bit of a Spinal Tap moment when audience members shout out requests that are inaudible from our perfectly sealed spot at the back, but that Gallagher responds to with “the chance of me playing that one is zero percent” and “I can play that one, that’s one I wrote”. Fortunately, we do not descend into Jazz Odyssey, as Noel has written just about everything, but rather seems to refuse to sing the most Liam-identified songs, in a modern twist on Tap. There are also requests shouted out for “Freelove” (from The BBC Office, sung by Ricky Gervais as David Brent, a pal of Gallagher’s) the song that’s become a camp classic being sung by various bands live and occasionally by Gallagher and/ or Gervais. Hearing this makes us pine for just this kind of (faux) spontaneous and fun moment for the rest of the show, to the point that it actually interferes with our enjoyment (6). You see, in the plush, perfectly managed darkness, without mobility and the realness of the standing crowd we prefer, and in a place that sees fit to shutter alcohol sales at 10:00 pm! (A SIN), one begins to feel like a petulant, spoiled child. One begins to feel a bit like the missing Gallagher brother, who once had a tantrum on stage while being filmed, and sat down with a can, refusing to sing, while Noel saved the day by taking over vocals, revealing he always could have done it himself (7).

By DISARM Editors

(1) Even the T-Shirts!

(2) I’m convinced Gallagher named the band “High Flying Birds” just to irritate his brother and former bandmate. It just sounds like something that would piss him off. I also suspect it’s an important local reference/”burn”, having learned from another strange Mancunian mind, Karl Pilkington, that his own teachers used to tell him he “was never going to be a high flyer”.

(3) I don’t even like the band who said this (Sloan) but I do love that line and find it apt, so often.

(4) Recent interviews indicate that Gallagher prefers the drama-free present with his new band and the ability to interact closely with front-row fans that was missing in the past with Oasis.

(5) Noel even berates several fans for wearing flip-flops. He’s right! It was a night when Canadians LOSE THEIR MINDS as the weather finally turned balmy (as it’s often only for a day at a time).

(6) Worst of all, a scan of twitter shows that Gervais is currently in Toronto and mentions he wish he could have seen the show. WE COULD HAVE HAD OUR OWN FREELOVE FREEWAY!!!

(7) It’s probably blasphemy to some, but to us, Noel has always been the better singer. We discovered his talents with the surprise threat he brought to the great Chemical Brothers tracks “Setting Sun” and Let Forever Be” which got much more rotation from us than Oasis ever did. Nothing overplayed on radio ever needed to be played at parties or after parties. But Chemical Brothers=ALWAYS.

(The brief video clip of Don’t Look Back in Anger is ours, from the show. It shows that in spite of it all, everyone did resist the plush seats and stood, and it was a great performance. A nice ending.)

The Jesus and Mary Chain to celebrate 30th anniversary of Psychocandy at Canadian Music Week


Today at 10:55 a.m. was one of those rare, special “refresh refresh refresh” moments as Toronto (and visiting) fans of the one and only Jesus and Mary Chain waited for tickets to go on sale  at 11:00. The just announced May 1st show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, Canada as part of Canadian Music Week’s program, was the biggest surprise in a  diverse and strong program this year.

Tickets can be found at Ticket Web and will sell out fast.

Click here to go to Ticket Web link

It is expected that JAMC will be playing their stellar 1985 debut record, Psychocandy, in full as part of their U.K. /U.S./ Canadian tour.

The Phoenix, as one of Toronto’s mid sized venues (less than stadium sized but bigger than many rock clubs) has a capacity of just 1,350 so tickets will be extremely limited.

We are so excited to have gotten our tickets (after much “refreshing”) and will have more coverage of the show and other notables on the CMW program to come in the months ahead.

Now, on with the celebration!

For as you already know,  “The Hardest Walk you could ever take is the walk you take from A to B….to C”

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