The Two Minute Miracles’ profile has slipped slightly since a crowded show they headlined at the larger Babylon nightclub a few years back, but the quartet headed by London, Ontario, songsmith Andy Magoffin has kept sharp.

As their name suggests, the Miracles keep their songs nice and short;  folky pop nuggets propelled by a robust rhythm section. They also benefit considerably from the presence of guitarist and lap steel player John Higney.

The band sounds a bit like Guided By Voices, with more fingerpicking and if Robert Pollard had more Byrds records in his collection.

The band went over well, though their songs sometimes seemed strangely abbreviated: verse, chorus ... we’re done!

While the Miracles’ star has fallen slightly, Fembots’ is on the rise. Their first album of beatbox backporch folk has been rereleased by hip young label Paper Bag Records , responsible for releases by outfits like Broken Social Scene and Stars.

Fembots began as a two-man beatbox folk outfit, sounding a bit like stripped down Calexico demos with curious sound sources like squeaking chairs, creaking stairs, metronome and answering machine vocals (their choice of odd percussion sources owes at least a partial debt to Tom Waits).

On their new album they still have the occasional answering machine vocal; live they’ve expanded to a four-piece Brian Poirier and Frank Zappa lookalike Dave MacKinnon having been joined by a real live drummer, Jason Tait, and fine violinist Julie Penner. “Noir folk” is their usual tag, and with a theme song called 'Small Town Murder Scene' (also the title of their second record), it suits.

The band has played with greater intensity; their last show at Zaphod’s in front of a tiny audience was definitely a standout; the band played a surprisingly loud set, leading at least two people to declare immediate fidelity to the Fembot Nation.

There was a few dozen people to enjoy their music this time, and the band stayed closer to the sound of the record; the aforementioned Calexico, Howe Gelb, Monroe Mustang would all fit comfortably alongside their sound. They undoubtedly won a few more converts this time; soon enough they’ll be playing to crowds as large as they deserve.

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