X marks the spot

Roche Uhntraal gets his dancin’ shoes on.

Grunge-disco fivesome controller.controller are back with a new album and two more shows. The group, whose sound is exhaustively compared to that of (a female-fronted) Franz Ferdinand, will play both the Pavilion and Stage Nine on November 12. While Halifax is all but the last stop on the band’s first tour in promotion of x-amounts, released October 11, there have been hardships along the way. “We had some problems with our van out west and we had to abandon it in Medicine Hat,” says guitarist Scott Kaija en route to Charlottetown. “That was a drag. But it’s been good.” The Toronto band admits it is not the same as travelling with one of its Ontario contemporaries. “It’s kind of different because this is our first tour, headlining I guess. The first one we opened for Death From Above which pretty much sold out,” he says. “Now it’s our own thing and we don’t know what to expect.” The new album maintains the energetic bass-driven rhythms of 2004’s History, but there is evident progression with a dive into mid-tempo atmospherics on some tracks. Kaija says this is a more comfortable effort than last. “We have a lot more experience playing, and more confidence in what we were doing this time around,” he explains. “History was our first time in a recording studio, and this time we weren’t as intimidated and were able to experiment with things.”

All jazz hands on deck

If you are longing to jazz things up a little, this is the week to do it. The tough decision comes in when deciding which to see. Toronto trombonist and composer Darren Sigesmund will bring his jazz quintet to The Music Room on November 16. Accompanying him on the east coast will be Quinsin Nachoff on tenor sax, Reg Schwager on guitar, Joel Haynes on drums and special guest Sam Anning from Perth, Australia, on bass. Sigesmund’s style of jazz combines Latin and classical influences with inspirations ranging from Wayne Shorter, New York guitarist Ben Monder, Argentinean Astor Piazzola and Bach. The same evening, the Tony Wilson Sextet will perform at MOeD on Agricola Street as part of the venue’s Weekly Wednesday concert series. Led by the Vancouver guitarist the collective is named after, the group also includes prominent violinist Jesse Zubot, who has visited the city numerous times as half of Zubot and Dawson. Rounding out the group are JP Carter on trumpet and electronics, Masa Anzai on alto sax and electonics, Russell Sholberg on double bass and Skye Brooks on drums and percussion. Tickets for both events are available at the door.

Live scene takes a hit

The fate of the Thirsty Duck’s experiment as an original music venue is still in the air. A “closed for renovations” sign went up before what was to be HOPE’s CD release party last Saturday. The venue’s promoter says advertised engagements featuring Jon Epworth, City Field and a new talent showcase may still happen. But for now, the doors are locked. And as though getting a gig as a new act that does not include “Brown Eyed Girl” or “Sweet Caroline” in their repertoire was not hard enough, The Seahorse has switched gears to focus as an extension of the Economy Shoe Shop upstairs. While the game plan is still to feature entertainment, it’s rumoured there will be more of an emphasis on higher-profile acts. More to come.

Get in or get out

Hot Hot Heat will be returning to town for their first show(s) since headlining the 2002 Halifax Pop Explosion, featuring the band on back-to-back evenings in January. Sarah Slean has gigs slated for Ginger’s Tavern on December 7 and 8. The pair of intimate shows will be a departure from her Rebecca Cohn shows, though the price will be similar — it’s a $25 ticket. And 50 Cent will turn the Metro Centre into his candy shop on December 14.

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