To Downcast Your Eyes
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To Downcast Your Eyes

Band Pop Folk

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Tribute nights are always better on paper than in reality. Whatever the scale of things - be it an all-star salute to Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden or a low-key night in honour of My Bloody Valentine as occurred at the Drake Underground last Thursday - I find the idea of hearing a favourite artist cover another favourite artist is always more exciting in the abstract.

Note that this sweeping generalization is really only with respect to the live affairs where there's not really a lot of time or incentive to really learn, rehearse or be creative with their interpretation - covers worked into live sets or recorded are exempt. Add in the fact that in most of these situations you have audiences who are presumably in attendance because they're fans of the band being paid tribute and would reasonably expect to hear the songs done in, if not a faithful style then at least a familiar one - also known as the least creatively interesting approach for the artist. The net result is almost always some degree of disappointment and in the worst cases, the performance is less tribute than parody.

In the case of the show dubbed Loveless and appropriately scheduled for (My Bloody) Valentine's Day, it was only announced a couple weeks earlier with some acts added afterwards so preparedness was not to be taken for granted. Five acts in all participated and to their credit, the heavy guitar-based jams were not the norm. Things were led off by Hollowphonic, performing a few more esoteric MBV songs (as if their repertoire wasn't esoteric enough to begin with) on solo guitar with laptop, followed by Gravity Wave - who claimed to have never heard any My Bloody Valentine until just a few weeks prior - karaoke-style overtop pre-programmed beats in an iPod. Continuing the one-man band trend was To Downcast Your Eyes, who coaxed some fine, thickly-distorted keyboard sounds out of his Yamaha but undermined things with an unnecessarily affected vocal delivery. The night rounded off with a couple of proper bands - Buffalonians Sleeping Kings Of Iona only played one MBV song, I believe, and filled their set out with originals but being the most upbeat tunes of the evening, were welcome anyways and finally Germans, who closed things out with, well, heavy guitar-based jams including an extended (read: didn't know how to finish) finale with "You Made Me Realize".

By no means was it a bad night of music, but there wasn't anything especially outstanding either. But it did get me out of the house on Valentine's Day, and that's something of an achievement. - chromewaves.net


Discography

Emotional Holocaust (LP - 2008)
Marigold Manifestos (LP -2006)

Tracks available for streaming at www.myspace.com/todowncastyoureyes

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Bio

Born out of a bedroom in downtown Toronto, To Downcast Your Eyes has become a pop treat for many audiences around the city. It is the very personal project of Mike Ness, a young artist, who sings songs about being just that, a young artist. It is an experiment in pop music, that can leave the audience feeling as deeply attached to the author and his songs as they are incredibly uncomforable.

Armed with a guitar, keyboard and an Ipod, To Downcast Your Eyes has been lucky to have shared the stage with many great local and touring acts in the last 2 years including Germans, Sleeping Kings of Iona, Slim Twig, Huckleberry friends, Gravity Wave, The Unsettlers, The Youngest, Novi Split and many others. Bringing his act to some of Toronto’s finest venues such as the Drake Hotel, The Boat, Rancho Relaxo, the Tranzac, and many fine art galleries, Mike Ness often charms audiences with a painful honesty that is hard to find amongst the city’s live indie scene. To Downcast Your Eyes has also played in Montreal and plans to follow up the release of 2008’s Emotional Holocaust LP by playing many shows in other Canadian cities.

Emotional Holocaust is a collection of songs to be self-released in July 2008. A lot of time, energy, and money was put into the project over the last two years. The ten songs are about drinking and partying, and meeting a lot of girls. The album will be released in conjuction with a music video by Exploding Motor Car Collective, who host some of Toronto’s most exciting art events pertaining to film, and have directed music videos for both Ohbijou and Slim Twig. It is a very exciting time for To Downcast Your Eyes.