Singer-songwriter Julie Doiron has had a fruitful career in music, starting with noisy New Brunswick pop combo Eric’s Trip, and flowering as a singer-songwriter since the band’s 1996 break-up. Her plaintive vocals and pleading lyrics, often focused on domestic life (and sometimes disharmony), have won her widespread acclaim at home and abroad.

For her show at Mavericks - a former sports bar that has found greater fortune hosting metal, punk and indie-rock shows - she was accompanied by Montreal performer Little Scream and Ottawa roots-rockers the Allrights.

The Allrights have moved in similar circles to Doiron, and were sounding quite countrified on this occasion. Usually they’re a more rambunctious act - “We’re all sick tonight,” explained bassist Chris Cook. Excess sobriety may also be to blame for the fact that the only really energetic tune of the night was a cover of Guided By Voices’ ‘The Best of Jill Hives'.

They were followed by Little Scream, the musical pseudonym of Mississippi-to-Montreal transplant Laurel Sprengelmeyer. Like Doiron, she admitted to a certain amount of stagefright, explaining her cure for the jitters was to imagine everyone in the audience was a cousin. Like Doiron her songs have an innate fragility, and bear a resemblance to the work of Sufjan Stevens.

The impression of fragility was enhanced live by the use of a slightly dodgy set of looping pedals which she used to repeat the sound of a questionable keyboard and her own guitar.

Little Scream employs a revolving cast to back her up live when she feels it necessary, and on this occasion she was joined by James Thompson, best known for his work with the Unicorns and Islands. Despite the somewhat delicate nature of her songs, Sprengelmeyer was an active performer, even pulling off a rock-jump or two when she didn’t have to be at the microphone. It’s easy to hear why her debut, ‘The Golden Record’ (on Secretly Canadian in April) has been hotly expected.

Then it was on to Julie Doiron.

The first time I saw Doiron in action, she was appearing with her Ottawa collaborators The Wooden Stars, singing live one of the numbers from their joint album. Hunched, with her hands stuck in her pockets, she appeared to be trying to disappear into the thick scarf around her neck. Subsequently, she’s appeared, solo but in a somewhat more voluble mode as an opener for the Rheostatics (one of those essentially Canadian bands that anywhere else would open for her), drumming as part of Blue Heeler, appearing for the reunion of Eric’s Trip, guest-singing with Attack In Black (she’s also appeared on record with the band’s frontman, Dan Romero), as one-fourth of Shotgun and Jaybird and solo again with an energetic backing band ... in short, none of her several performances have been alike.

This show at Mavericks was no different, as her line up has changed to include only Will Kidman (of Toronto rockers the Constantines) on drums and occasionally guitar.

Like Little Scream, she admitted her butterflies early on - after accidentally clearing her bangs away from her eyes she actually recoiled “I accidentally saw you!” she told the audience. At the same time she noted she was feeling a bit more confident : “I think I’m a pretty cool person ... some of the time.”

There was a fair amount of other entertaining conversation with the audience - “A bit of trouble with the left strap ... right seems okay” she said as she adjusted her bra between songs - and a lengthy disquisition on the evils of excess municipal pride, triggered by an audience member’s remark of “Fuck Toronto!” brought on by who knows what.

Her music was largely drawn from her latest album ‘I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day’, which features plenty of noisy guitar (and reunited her with Eric’s Trip bandmate Rick White), and she was quite evidently feeling her inner Neil Young, bounding around the stage as she scraped distorted tunes from her trademark Hagstrom. She also traded places with Will Kidman so he could play a serviceable cover of ‘Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere’.

After a few more tunes, she took requests, including a dulcet ‘Dark Star’, before quitting the stage leaving the sizable crowd only wanting more.















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Commenting On: Mavericks, Ottawa, 4/2/2011 - Julie Doiron








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