I had every intention of doing a Polaris gala post. I really did, but the night seems best left as a memory. Long story short; go Kathleen Edwards, Cold Specks, and Handsome Furs (Alexei’s sincere thank you was matched only by Katheen’s coinage of the term, “shit parade.”)
Oh, and Feist is an absolute monster live. The new configuration she dialed up, smoked. I’m thankful I got to introduce Kathleen, but more so, the night was just a great way to see people that write with passion, sing with heart or take the risk to put out records in an age where people ain’t buying ‘em.
And while it’s great to get invited to the party, herohill has always been more comfortable moving anonymously in the background. These eight years, they’ve been spent with opening acts, not headliners, hoping to find bands that can make the jump given the right chance. We’re kind of like Clint Eastwood in that new heartwarming, baseball flick, without the racist, gun-loving, empty chair rambling speeches.
Quite honestly, I can’t remember a band in recent years that won me over as quickly as Nap Eyes. The songs are gritty and move confidently, but with a freedom and flexibility. Guitar solos and spontaneous vocals hint at the genius of The Velvets, but Nigel’s humility and unique world view prevent this from ever being derivative.
His words bite when needed, but more often than not, Nigel’s heart is often on display. He holds court as a regal statesman but can transform mid stream (often mid thought) into the role of submissive stable boy. That powerful contrast speaks to the opposition between who we are and who we want to be, and adds a new layer to the tried and true persona Lou Reed and Bowie perfected.
But there’s more at work than a front man with a swagger and sharp wit. The band in general is gritty, but the guitar work shimmers. The melodies are catchy as hell, supportive and open, giving Nigel the required space but never leaving him too exposed. This is great stuff; the type of music that connects with you viscerally and is more than simple summation of components. This music, not only offers heart, it depends on it.