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Oh The Sadness

James has just informed me that Immaculate Machine has called it quits after ten years of completely amazing music.

I wish them all the best in their various other projects, and I thank them for all of the wonderful tunes (and for being so cool when I met Kathryn and Luke at the Horseshoe in Toronto).

I am really really saddened there will be no new music from these folks.

. . .

Unless there might, one day, be a reunion! We can all hope?

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Haiku Vol. 3! Hip, Immaculate Machine, Leonard, GY!BE, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Whatever you think of them, however bad they are, I am having a blast trying to put these haiku together, so here’s some more (very likely weak) attempts just for you. Only the best for our KMA Faithful Readers!

Tragically Hip – We Are The Same

warm country/rock gems
pure poetry set to song
wide open and clear

Immaculate Machine – High On Jackson Hill

I know I already reviewed this record in these pages, but I keep playing it and I keep loving it, so why would I not keep writing about it?

pop heroes return
with a sense of urgency
beautiful results

Leonard Cohen – Live In London (DVD)

the master at work
his relentless search for love
a perfect keepsake

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – F# A# (infinity)

creative debut
raw instrumental passion
all stark bleak soundscapes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

glam plastic pop hooks
eighties all over again
best served in dance clubs

Immaculate Machine – High On Jackson Hill

Oh yes, it is here… Imagine my absolute, nay immaculate glee when the new Immaculate Machine record, High On Jackson Hill arrived this week from the amazing Mint Records… Folks, this is seriously one of my favourite bands ever!

Of course, my distraction-crushing headphones went on at the first opportunity, and these sweet, sweet sounds washed over me in wave after wave of complete rock glam folk pop beauty as only the Immaculate Ones can offer it up. And what a delight it is! All over this record, we’re treated to heavy riffs, pounding drums, soaring vocals, acoustic guitar tenderness and great slow-dancers, electro-stomp pop and fuzzed out brilliance. The lyrics remain high points as always, too with stories, humour and honest assessments born of obvious intelligence that totally keep you hooked.

When they say “all the good ideas have all been taken” in Sound The Alarms, they surely can’t have been talking about their own artistic output. They must mean everybody else, because this combination of musicians never fails to take things above and beyond with a sound that is fresh, pure, and endlessly interesting. This rules.

Don’t ask me to pick favourite tracks, here. Just trust me when I tell you that this record slides easily into the (happily) growing Immaculate Machine catalogue and that it totally, completely and absolutely kicks ass. The other crap out there right now, and you know the stuff I mean, can’t even come close to touching this. It’s not even in the same universe as our heroes.

High On Jackson Hill hits the streets on April 28, so start saving your pennies now, and mark your calendars to skip whatever work or school is keeping you down that day so that you can be first in line to get your copy. And as always, tell ’em the KMA enthusiastically sent you.

Hooray for Immaculate Machine!!!! And thanks heaps, Minty-folks!!

Track Listing:
01 Don’t Build That Bridge
02 Thank Me Later
03 You Destroyer
04 Sound The Alarms
05 He’s A Biter
06 I Know It’s Not As Easy
07 Primary Colours
08 Neighbours Don’t Mind
09 And It Was
10 You Got Us Into This Mess
11 Only Love You For Your Car
12 Blurry Days

Immaculate Machine (March 22, 2008)

I am over the moon, Faithful KMA Readers, from having had the opportunity to see the amazing Immaculate Machine in concert, this past Saturday at the Horseshoe in Toronto. My level of pre-show anticipation was pretty high, as I am a HUGE fan of all of their recorded output to date, but to have actually witnessed the brilliance of this band live sent me right off the scale and into unmitigated bliss.

We got to the venue in good time, mostly measured by the fact that we got a table to ourselves. Anyone reading this who has been to the Horseshoe knows that it’s a fairly small room, and such luck comes only to those who make the effort. We sipped our pricey pints (c’mon, $8 for one Guiness? Bollocks!), and I checked out the merch table, snagging myself a copy of their 7” of the new single Won’t Be Pretty backed with their Mandarin translation of Dear Confessor (Wo Xiang Tanbai). Sweet! Thus sated, we awaited the music.

First up was a band called The Arkells, hailing from just down the highway in Hamilton, ON. You know, I might be jaded in my old age and after having been to so many shows, but I frankly never expect much from opening acts at gigs like this. It’s usually just some local band we’ll never hear of again, up there rocking out for their friends and having their little moment. But The Arkells really impressed us. They were tight, talented and highly entertaining. Their presence on-stage was of a band well-seasoned, so kudos to them. Their music fell somewhere between the Strokes, the Trews, and the Gin Blossoms, and their drummer hits Really Hard. I like that. A lot. I would listen to them again, no problem.

When they were done, I went right up to the front by the stage because the band we’d come to see was up next! I was tickled to be seeing the Immaculate Machine right in front of me!! My lovely wife and Brian were both tired, so they stayed with the increasingly coveted (as the crowd grew) table. From my vantage point, even watching the band set up and tune was just more fuel for my brain, and when they were ready and the opening notes of Dear Confessor washed over me, I was completely ecstatic. It only got better from there. Oh baby!

There are too many highlights from this set to list them all here. Every moment was magic. Watching Brooke briefly use his half-full beer bottle as a slide during the intro to Broken Ship, and the band switching to French halfway through that song was awesome (and a nice nod to their French EP). Too bad his beer fell off the amp moments later, but them’s the breaks. We got a brief language lesson (and the first bit of Dear Confessor in Mandarin). Watching Luke pound away on the drums with controlled fury was amazing from start to finish. Standing mere feet away while the strikingly beautiful Kathryn sang in her powerful and clear voice sent shivers right through me. It’s a wonder I didn’t pass out from the happiness of it all.

Immaculate Machine has something a lot of bands can only dream of achieving – true stage presence. They are vastly competent and comfortable within the music, they communicate impeccably one to another while playing, and it is readily apparent that they are listening to each other, giving each member space to create the sounds each song needs. There’s no showboating here, no one person who thinks they are the Star above the others. There’s no wasted time, no messing about. This is a tight, controlled and completely professional unit. It was a total pleasure to see them in action.

I loved every song, of course. Being the super-fan geek that I am, I kinda wished they’d played No Way Out, but I really, really, really can’t complain. Really! Mind you, their set was too short, by my estimation, but I’m probably just greedy. They played hit after hit off all of their records and I sang along to every word. Judging by the cheers and the exultant faces of the crowd around me as the set went on, the Immaculate Machine absolutely hit it on this night. By the time they wrapped up with Jarhand, the audience was completely in their hand, the band commanding total attention (and truly deserving of all of it). It was undeniable to all who witnessed it – this band is brilliant.

When their set ended, there was the usual milling about on-stage again, only this time I caught Kathryn’s attention and introduced myself. Both Brian and my lovely wife later admitted they would have been too shy to do such a thing, but to me it was an honour and a privilege to meet such a talented performer and, quite frankly, I didn’t think twice about just walking up and going for it. Kathryn turned out to be a gentle, super-nice lady who nodded patiently and understandingly while I babbled for a few seconds about this web site and how I’ve reviewed all their records (with total thumbs-up) and how I thought their set was completely fantastic. I hope I didn’t come across as a foaming-at-the-mouth stalker guy. I might have. But I’m not. I was just so pumped about the show, and to actually meet her was a total thrill.

I could have talked to her for hours, but she had work to do. So I headed back to our table, and there was some waiting around for the next band, apparently named Flash Lightnin’. We decided then, as a group, that we were all too tired to see any more that night, though I’m sure the next bands would have been great, too. So I made a quick trip to the loo and stopped once again at the merch table on the way, where I also got to meet the drummer, Luke! He seemed quite pleased that we liked their set. He said he thought he’d counted each song in a little slow, and so in his opinion they were slow throughout the show, but I sure couldn’t tell. In fact, I would have said that his arms looked like they were about to fall off from all the exertion! Luke also turned out to be super-cool, and seemed pleased that somewhere out there (in these very pages, as you already know, Faithful Readers) their albums had been talked up so much. Heck, I do what I can! Everyone should know about this fantastic band! This means YOU!

I don’t know where Brooke, the guitar player, was at that point but he’s the only member of the Immaculate Machine that I unfortunately did not get to meet on that night. Still, as we walked away from the Horseshoe a few minutes later, I was absolutely floating with the pleasure of having seen, for the first time, one of my favourite bands live and on stage, less than ten feet away. And to meet two thirds of them! Oh my. I’m still giddy now, several days later.

So yah, we left and therefore did not get to see Flash Lightnin’ or the headliners, Ladyhawk. As I said, I’m sure they were good too. But we’d seen what we really came to see, and in my opinion the Immaculate Machine spoiled the night for everyone else. They could have played all night, running through every song they know, and I would have stayed riveted to the spot and not missed a note. As it was, I am content to have had this amazing experience and I hope to have it again sooner than later.

Thank you, Immaculate Machine. All of you are so talented and amazing. Your music fills me with glee and happiness. I listen to your CDs all the time. You should keep playing forever and make at least a million more records. Seriously.

Dear Reader, if this band comes to your town (and they’re on tour now, so they just might!), you should not even hesitate. Get your tickets. Get all of your friends tickets too. And while you await your concert date, run out and buy every one of this band’s records. Make sure everyone you know does the same. And then all of you, listen closely, repeatedly, and I promise that you will have the beauty of Music That Matters introduced into your world. And I know, I know, you always hear about such things but are never sure when you find it. Well, this is it, baby!

Long live Immaculate Machine!

* PS Follow our handy link to Mint Records’ page in the Links section on the left side of this page. Go to their Concerts link and find out when Immaculate Machine will be in your neighbourhood. Then follow my instructions as listed above, and enjoy. You can thank me later!

Immaculate Machine Kicks Ass Again!!

With every move they make, the Immaculate Machine prove without fail that they are brilliant and awesome and creative.

Straight from The Mint Records web site, you gotta check this out, KMA readers!!

“Immaculate Machine do not speak Mandarin, but they certainly can sing it. After being teased about their French EP by CBC Radio 3 personality Grant Lawrence, the band went back to the studio with their friend Marie… who translated “Dear Confessor” into Mandarin and taught it to them phonetically. Brooke, Kathryn and Luke then went to the CBC Studios and personally presented the song to Grant. According to Brooke, they don’t know precisely what they’re saying but those fluent in Mandarin have told them it is quite well done.”

Haha! This band rocks my world. Right on!

Click on the following link to go and download the song, so you can hear it for yourself! Tell your friends!!

http://www.mintrecs.com/index.php?component=news&id=44

Yeah baby!!!

Immaculate Machine – Fables

This is a huge THANK YOU to the wonderful and generous folks at the indomitable Mint Records!! As I noted earlier on these pages, Mint sent us this fantastic new Immaculate Machine record by snail mail, and it totally made our month here at the KMA!

My wife & I spent last weekend in Toronto, and I’d been wondering what to listen to in the car on the two and half hour drive to that concrete jungle. When Fables arrived in the mail, the problem was solved! This album was perfect road-trip music. It engages the brain without fail, and makes you inordinately happy while it does. Put it on repeat, random, it all works perfectly!

One of the strengths of this band’s records is that if you stand back and take the album as a whole, it speaks as a cohesive work, an overall statement beautifully and sweetly made. Dismantled into its individual tracks, every song is a hit, and a fully realized, well-contructed vision too. There are so many great moments that you’ll want repeated listens to sip them all into your thirsty brain. The instrumentation, the hooks, the lyrics, the wonderful vocal harmonies. It’s all here.

As if you needed any more prodding, there are also some famous guests who show up to lend a hand here. Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand sings back-up on Jarhand with The Cribs, and Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy (et al.) plays strings on Roman Statues and Small Talk. Cool!

Fables is, simply put, an incredible record. From the opening peppiness of Jarhand to the generous, meditative grandeur of Blinding Light, the listener is led jauntily by the hand through the most masterfully crafted and addictive pop music a soul could ever hope to hear.

Perfection has a name and it is Immaculate Machine. Fables is, may I say it, an immaculate addition to their growing catalogue of gems.

more Immaculate Machine news from Mint!!

Our friends at Mint Records have come through yet again and again!

Not only is the new Immaculate Machine song Jarhand available for free on iTunes as the Single Of The Week (as noted in my last entry), but the album, Fables, is also for sale in its entirety on iTunes at a ridiculously low price!!! Go get yours! What the hell are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? Go! Go! Go!

And us? Oh, we’re just the luckiest boys in the world, ‘cos Mint mailed us our very own copy of Fables which arrived today, packaged with a CD of The Choir Practice’s self-titled record too. How awesome is that? It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Reviews forthcoming, after we return early next week from the Big Smoke (Toronto or, in the local patois, “Taranna”), where we’ll be fortunate enough to see the new Philip Glass/Leonard Cohen production of Book Of Longing on its opening night.

Look, go buy Fables on iTunes and get it well before its street date!! Go! Go! Go!

Immaculate Machine – Jarhand

Hooray! James got the lead-off track, Jarhand, from the upcoming Immaculate Machine album, Fables. He got it for free (free!) from iTunes and now I have it too. Get on over to iTunes and grab it for yourself, because folks, this song kicks ass!! Wahooooo!

It’s so peppy and friendly and happy sounding. It sounds like laughter and joy became a tune. Why isn’t this band all over everywhere by now? They should be huge, if you ask me.

Oh man, I really, really, really can’t wait until the new record comes out. I’ll be buying it. So should you. And so should all of your friends. And your friends’ friends. And so on.

Hop to it!

Immaculate Machine – Ones And Zeros

It’s about time that I got around to writing about the brilliant Immaculate Machine record Ones And Zeros for this page. I’ve already slobbered all over everything else the band has done, so this review should shock no one.

They released this record on Mint Records (Long Live Mint!), and if you don’t already own it and love it unconditionally, you’re totally missing out. I mean, seriously, how do you get through your days without it?

This is some of the tightest and most interesting song-writing I’ve heard since, well, since the last time I played the IM, but you know what I mean. These pop confections will lift you up, put a hop in your step and pull you through whatever life can throw at you. They should be all over the radio, if you ask me. C’mon radio! Get with it! Each track could be a single, and taken all together you’ll be left feeling like you just made three great new friends who told you everything you needed to know about the way things should be.

Okay, so take a deep breath. My thoughts about this gem of a record are effusive and prone to superlatives, sure, but I defy you to find a better example of tuneful, interesting, effective and joyful music-making (like this) from the past couple of years. Betcha you won’t find it. This is it.

Own this. Tell all your friends to buy it too. It’s that simple.

You can all thank me later.

PS: The new Immaculate Machine record, Fables, is coming out real soon, so you know what to do… Get it! Yeah baby!!!

Immaculate Machine – Les Uns Mais Pas Les Autres

I tried to find this magnificent Mint Records release in my town, to no avail. You see, the used record shop downtown is hopelessly stuck in 1972, and the Music World at the mall doesn’t even list Immaculate Machine as a band they carry! Ugh!

So, I did some digging around online and had no luck there, either. The IM web site links to Maple, who was sold out of ‘em. Amazon hasn’t got it, but we all know that I’ve already commented in these pages about those people.

Of course, this EP is a Limited Edition thing,  so none of this difficulty surprised me too much. Undaunted, I emailed my good buddy James, who easily found a copy for me in Saskatoon, dropped it into the snail mail and it arrived here not long after. Joy and Bliss! Thanks heaps, James!!

Boy, do I love this record. These are all songs you’ve heard before, because by now you have all religiously played the Ones And Zeros album a million times, right? Right! But you’ve never heard them like this, because they are en français! Translated and re-recorded by the band themselves, these songs point up just how awesome this band is, and (if I may say so), fully justifies my addiction to their music yet again. There is so much going on in these songs, lyrically and musically. It makes you want to bounce around the living room with the volume cranked to 11. It’s totally what I did.

In a sometimes fractious bilingual country, it’s pleasing that a band would go out of their way to do something like this. I think it’s thoughtful. The fact that they are based out West, in Victoria, makes this a musical olive branch from B.C. to Québec, too. As an anglophone, I don’t speak French well enough to know whether their translations are accurate or not, despite my having lived in Montréal for two years (6 years ago). But it sounds so good that it hardly matters. Pop it into your CD player and you’ll know instantly what I mean!

Honestly, people. You need to get into this band, so hop to it! You can thank me later, and then together we can all anxiously await the anticipated June release of their newest record.

Yummy!

Immaculate Machine – The View & Transporter

Oh happy day!! Today’s mail delivery brought me two awesome Immaculate Machine CDs! Try to picture my happy dance, right there by the mailbox… Yeah. Well, OK, so the dance wasn’t pretty but it was definitely happy. Snoopy ain’t got nothing on me…

I recently got hooked on the Immaculate Machine through Mint Records, with both the Ones And Zeros record and their tracks on the sampler that Mint recently sent to little ol’ me (because Mint rocks too). In short, I really think this band has the legs to run for a long, long time. I can’t stop listening to them.

The best word to describe their sound is, to me, infectious. They write these awesome pop songs, with melodies that linger and hover and swirl. They swing, they rock and if you listen to the words, they have something to say. But if you’re too busy dancing around the room for that, hey that’s OK too. Turn it up! There’s an 80’s sensibility here, but it’s filtered through modern approaches, which yields a blend that makes you want to listen again and again. Their mix of vocals and harmonies works perfectly, the instrumentations are complex and challenging without being alienating, and it really helps that they can all sing well, too.  I like that they share vocal duties, like Sloan does. And we all know how much I like Sloan. Yummy!

I thought a bit about writing my opinions of the songs, as other reviewers would, like how Traffic absolutely jams in all the right ways, and how Midnight is hauntingly beautiful, and so on. But I realized I’d just be repeating myself over and over. The whole shooting match is cool, to put it succinctly, and that’s what you need to know.

Think I’m overstating? If so, you probably haven’t heard their music yet. You oughta – it’s the music you’ve been wishing would break through the mainstream malaise out there. Really, there must be something in the water out West. So many great bands making interesting,  fun and wonderful music, and the Immaculate Machine is definitely a part of that wave. Rock on, kids.

*

So, based on my justifiably drool-filled review, you’re all going to go to Amazon.ca looking for these CDs, but you ain’t gonna find them there. Oh, they’ve got Ones And Zeros, and you should order it Right Now. But that’s all they’ve got, for now – they really should have ‘em all including the new EP, Les Un Mais Pas Les Autres, which is currently unavailable on Maple. Dig around, you should find one in your finer record shops. James found my copy for me, and it’s in the mail to me as I type this. He did this because he’s a good guy, and he knows that where I live has no finer record shops, which is hell for me indeed.

Anyway, if my review made you all hot and bothered to hear some more Immaculate Machine, you can order The View and Transporter (just like I did) from Bullfrog Music at www.bullfrogmusic.com. The folks there are exceedingly friendly and helpful, and by damn they’re fast and efficient too. As you’ll no doubt recall, I recently raved about Redcat Records and how they got me my Tolan McNeil CD by snail mail very quickly, and Bullfrog did it too – from order date to delivery today took 5 days, and that included a weekend. Right on.

I think in part this has to do with these folks being happy to sell stuff on behalf of the bands and to get it out to the people who cared enough to order it, but it may also be the Indie kids proving that doing it yourself has its advantages. The bigger chains have more moving parts, and more between you and the artists. Call it a Profit Barrier. Well, I think the Profit Barrier sucks. Oh, sometimes it’s necessary but as my recent experiences have proven, there are definitely better ways.

There was a nice letter in the envelope with these CDs, thanking me for my order and saying that “a major portion of the purchase price goes directly to the artist.” I can dig it. Too bloody right I support independent music. Especially when it totally kicks ass like Immaculate Machine does.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I’m not actually associated with the band, or any of their labels or their families or friends or anything else, you cynical bastard. I’m just a hack reviewer doing this in his spare time and yes, I really do like these CDs that much. So there.

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