Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We Are Scientists @ Biltmore -- 07/27/10

Four years. That is how long it has been since We Are Scientists played Vancouver. The Biltmore wasn't even doing shows then! The band, fresh off their wildly successful debut album was in town three times that year, but had not been back since... until last night, for a show at the Biltmore.

First up, though, was Vancouver band Supercassette -- which is a great name. They hit the stage six large, starting out with an instrumental song, very indie-dance-pop with twinges of electronica. They had a fantastic energy, and were pretty damn good, though at times the lead singer was a bit to... over the top in his yelling. Not bad, per se, and not constantly, but questionable at times. But the thing that impressed me most of their set was the dummer. He was fucking intense. Playing on somewhat of a minimalistic kit, he not only broke drum sticks, but managed to break a cymbal in their seond song, playing the rest of the set with it severely cracked. I think I would be interested in checking them out again, especially if part of a good bill.

Up next was Rewards, one of those one-guy-with-a-band-name deals. Aaron Pfenning came out alone with his guitar (and giant pedal boards) but was backed with some audio trickery, in the form of recorded backing instruments. He seemed a bit shy when talking, but when he was playing, he sauntered and strut around the stage, posing for pictures, sitting on the monitors and generally owning the stage. He also employed a few vocal effects, giving some of the songs a bit of an ethereal quality. Or an autotuned quality. Or a Bowie-esque quality. For the last song, the three members of We Are Scientists came out to join him, and the song they played sounded really familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on if it was a cover, if I had heard it before, or if I was just imagining things.
I wish I had been able to pick up an album or something, and I really hope he wasn't serious when he said he may not be back due to the pain in the ass border crossing, because I would be very interested in seeing him live again.

Finally, it was time for We Are Scientists. Back in 06, they were one of my favourite live bands, but four years is a long time, so I wasn't sure if maybe something had changed (well, they had, as all shows I had seen was with the original drummer) and while I was certainly excited, I was also a little wary going in. But it tuns out, I was worrying for nothing; they were as energetic as ever, and still damn funny with the random stage banter. Did you know they couldn't have a fog machine since Vancouver banned them in 1892, due to the werewolf problem? True story. Their banter never seemed forced or rehearsed either, like some bands tend to be, but rather just a couple friends trying to make each other laugh. But their comedic values are just one of the reason they are great live. Brimming with vigor, they started the set ith the new single "Nice Guys" and played for a little over an hour of material spanning all three albums. And the crowd was just going nuts the whole time. People hardly stopped dancing, and most of the songs were sung along to, but "The Great Escape" was definitely the most insane as everyone joined in.
After ending the set with "After Hours", they came back for one more song, "Cash Cow", and promised they would be back soon. A couple of times, especially near the end, they seemed visibly appreciative (and perhaps a little taken aback) by the crowd, so hopefully we convinced them to not wait another four years for a show.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heathen Child

If you don't at least know the name Nick Cave, then you have made some questionable music choices with your life. Best known as fronting Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Cave has been making [excellent] music since the early 70s. A couple years ago, he and fellow Bad Seeds Warren Ellis (not the author), Martyn Casey & Jim Sclavunos formed the side project Grinderman as a more chaotic and garage-y outlet for their creativity. Now they are back for a second album, appropriately titled Grinderman 2, which Ellis described as "like stoner rock meets Sly Stone via Amon Düül", "very diverse", and "psychedelic." But I'll tell you what; how 'bout you have a listen for yourself. Below is the first single, "Heathen Child".

Download Heathen Child

Seeing as Cave is one of my four favourite musicians of all time ever, I am more than a little excited for September 14th.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Wilderness of Manitoba w/ The Mountains & The Trees @ Little Mountain Gallery -- 07/22/10

The more shows I see at Little Mountain Gallery, the more I love it. Despite its residential location, which has caused the neighbours to complain about noise a couple before, it is a great little room which gives off an incredibly intimate atmosphere. One that is perfect for the two acts who played there last night.

First up was The Mountains & The Trees, the pseudonym for Jon Janes, who took the stage alone. Over the course of the set, he played guitar, banjo, harmonica and foot-tambourine (sometimes more than one at once), and one thing that immediately struck me was how great a storyteller he was. Not only through his songs, but between each one he had something to say. A tale about the song, his trip here (driving cross country) and warm welcome to Vancouver, or other stories to engage the audience. The set consisted of his folky songs that, between the slower and melodic songs and quicker, more upbeat ones, never stagnated.
Highlights of the set were "More & More & More", which was inspired by multiple listens of Dan Mangan's Nice, Nice, Very Nice, and his second to last song were he tried something he said he had always wanted to do. Since the crowd was very quiet and attentive, he was able to unplug his guitar and step off the mic for a completely acoustic song, which went over fantastically. He closed the set with "Up & Down", which features not one, but two techniques that I am a sucker for; the first was some looping trickery and the second, playing his guitar with a bow.
While I certainly liked his music before, his live show made me more of a fan, and I would highly recommend catching a show next time you have the chance.

Next was The Wilderness of Manitoba, who played somewhat of an acoustic set. They took the stage with only one mic for the five of them, positioned at the front of the stage, which led to a really cool atmosphere. Also helping was the painting on the wall behind them of what looked like a camp ground in the woods. Which was appropriate, because their whole set felt very intimate, as if everyone was just sitting around a campfire listening to them. They also had a folky sound to them, but one that hinted at an underlying epicness to some of the songs. Songs like "Orono Park", which starts with some soft ooh's, building until the bursting point where it just soars. The guitarist even managed to break a string on his acoustic with their intensity. "St. Petersburg" and "Hermit" were also highlights, both of which being beautiful, slower paced songs.

As much as I would love to see The Wilderness of Manitoba again, and I certainly wish for them to move up to larger venues, I am not sure if any future show will match this one. I just hope they will prove me wrong next time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Elias (w/ Henry & The Nightcrawlers) @ The Shark Club -- 07/17/10

I know what you're thinking. I was thinking it too. The Shark Club? What the hell? But even though it is an unlikely place for live music, I am all for more venues in Vancouver. And it turned out to be not that bad. The layout was kind of... strange, as it was very much like they just had a stage in the middle of a "sports bar & grill", but the sound was pretty damn good, and that's the most important thing, isn't it? I don't know if I will be clamouring to see any more shows there, but I've been to worse.

First of the night was Henry & The Nightcrawlers. They had a slightly different lineup for the night, as filling in for Zach Gray on the bass was Peter Carruthers (who you may know from Said The Whale). They started the set as the place was still filling up, and at first it was a little... chatty, but as they went through their set, the funk-infused indie rock grabbed peoples attention. Both "On A Week Night" and "100 Blows" had cool extended endings (based on the versions of the songs on the self-titled EP, anyway) and, as I'm sure I mentioned before, "The Fucking" is always a great live song.
Come to think of it, every time seem them it's been opening for someone else, so I can't wait to see their own headlining show.

The Fight (La Lucha), Daytime Friend, The New Guy, The Fucking, On A Week Night, Amberly, Fan The Flames, 100 Blows.

Next was Run The Red Light, whose LED light towers back-lit them amongst the smoke, creating an interesting atmosphere, as much of the time you could just see then band in silhouette. They had a good stage presence, but not much banter or talk between songs, and while they were certainly not bad, they perhaps lacked variety. Their songs had a kind of ambient, alt-rock sound to them, but a lot of them sounded a little similar, even the cover of Sarah McLachlan's Possession (which, okay, was actually quite awesome). I wouldn't be averse to checking the out again, but wouldn't be in any rush to.

Finally was Elias, who I hadn't actually seen live in quite some time, and I'm not sure why. They didn't have too much stage banter either, but it was easy to tell the band has been doing this for a while. Everything seemed effortless; they had a pretty commanding stage presence and you could feel the emotion dropping from each song. A few times they changed the pace of the set, with lead singer Brian Healy switching from the keys to the guitar, which gave that much more depth to their sound.
They also threw in a cover near the end, Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill, which was pretty darn good. After one other song, they came back for the prerequisite encore -- even though lead singer Healy mentioned he wasn't a fan of them -- and left everyone satisfied. And me wondering why I hadn't taken more chances to see them live.

Brasstronaut & We Are The City @ Surrey Fusion Fest -- 07/17/10

I am not sure how many years the Surrey Fusion Fest has been going on for, but this was my second year checking it out, for the music. Last year saw Said The Whale and Joel Plaskett Emergency there, and while it seems like an odd choice to hold it on the same weekend as the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, it is a nice alternative for people unable to attend, afforded an opportunity to see some great live music (for free!). This year they had a couple excellent BC bands playing, not the main stage, but a smaller one that I am pretty sure was not there last year. Which caused some... problems.

But first, We Are The City was up! Supposed to go on at 6:30, they got their set bumped back a little because some genius decided to put this stage too close to the main stage. It was good, though, that they planned to stagger the acts. At least, in theory. The set was a short one, only half an hour, so they only managed to play a half dozen songs. But as usual, they owned the stage, and I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few people there were now fans. They played a couple new songs, which seem to be a staple of their live set now, "The Birds" and "This Is A Bad Mistake". The latter I had misidentified as "Take It From Me" a couple times, based on the lyrics, which now makes me feel silly since I had actually heard them name the song before.
They wrapped up the set with "Astronomers", which got the "recognition whoo" when they said the name before playing it, and "April", as they seem to have been doing lately, which is fine by me, as it's a great pair to end off a show.
There was also an amusing moment where, just as a lull happened in one of the songs, a loud piano note came from the sound check on the other stage. It just happened to be perfect timing, and pretty funny... but also an omen of things to come.

There Are Very Tiny Beasts In The Ground; There Are Very, Very Big Lights In The Sky; This Was A Big Mistake; The Birds; Astronomers; April

As soon as they ended, the other stage played, but then as soon as the other stage ended... Brasstronaut was still sound checking and setting up. I don't know if they just took longer than expected or what, but then when they were about a song or so into their set... an act on the other stage started playing. As Edo put it, "it looks like we're part of an old fashioned ghetto blaster battle". And while they took it in stride and continued their set like pros, it was incredibly annoying and frustrating, having the sounds from the other stage bleed over. Major planning/scheduling/organizational failure on the part of the organizers, there. Why would you put two stages practically right next to each other?? Then schedule bands to play them at the same time??? But aside from that, the set was quite awesome. No lazers or video projection like they had last time I saw them, but that didn't detract from their rich and grandiose sound at all. They too only had about a half dozen songs, mostly from their new album, Mt. Chimaera, but also the older "Requiem for a Scene". They capped off the set with one of my favourites from it, "Slow Knots", which was fantastic live. The only disappointment was that they didn't play "Hearts Trompet", but given they had a short set, it didn't bother me that much. That, and it probably would have been overpowered anyway.

Six Toes, Requiem for a Scene, Hands Behind, Lo-Hi Hopes, Slow Knots.

Aside from the one small bit of shoddy planning, it turned out pretty damn good, and so long as the Fusion Fest keep getting top quality bands like they have for these last two years, I will keep checking it out.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

songs of the indeterminate time period.

Haven't really done this in a while, so here is another instalment of my song(s) of the week month "whenever I feel like it" segment! These are three new songs which strike me and I just feel like sharing, so enjoy!

Nova Scotia's The Tom Fun Orchestra is back with a follow up to their debut full length, 2008's criminally underrated You Will Land With A Thud. While there doesn't seem to be any details on the album itself, the band has released a single to tide us over, entitled "Miles Davis". The song is a six minute ride through the bands style of a mish-mash folk, roots, blues, rock and punk, combined with the lead singers Tom Waits-isn rasp. You'd think something like that would end up a mess, especially with a nine member band of varying instruments, but they pull it together into a incredibly unique -- not to mention catchy -- sound. They're a hard band to describe, so you'll just have to listen to the track to see hear for yourself. If the upcoming album is even half as good as this track, we're in for a doozy.
They are also phenomenal live, and are about to kick off a tour. Here are the dates, and they'll be here in Vancouver August 12, so if you have the chance to see them... do it!

Download Miles Davis by The Tom Fun Orchestra
artists website where you may find out more and exchange monies for music

The awesomely named Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has released the second song from their upcoming album, Let It Sway. Their third album, which was produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, is to be released August 17th. "Banned (By The Man)" is a high energy and joyous track that just begs to be sung-along to. Stereogum calls it "probably the most precious pop song ever to be called "Banned (By The Man)"." So sure, let's go with that!

Download Banned (By The Man) by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
artists website where you may find out more and exchange monies for music

Last but not least, another east coast, Nova Scotian rocker, Matt Mays. I swear, there are so many amazing artists who have come out of Nova Scotia... Whatever the case, Mays has alternately released albums under just his own name, and him and his backing band, El Torpedo. Well, now that the band has split, I assume Mays will just be continuing on under his own name. Recently, he recorded a song for radio station Q104 called "Queen of Portland Street" (though it was apparently previously titled "Hurricanes"). The song is immediately recognizable as a Matt Mays tune, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as it is a pretty damn good song.

Download Queen of Portland Street by Matt Mays
artists website where you may find out more and exchange monies for music

Friday, July 16, 2010

We Are The City @ CBC Vancouver -- 07/16/10

I am really starting to like this Musical Nooners free concert series that the CBC is putting on. Last week there was a surprise kick-off of the Malahat Revue tour, and today was a spontaneous We Are The City performance! The shows take place at the outdoor plaza at the CBC Vancouver building, and it looks like it will be running every weekday this summer.

They started playing to somewhat of a small crowd, but as the hour went on, more and more people came over to form a decent sized crowd, for a weekday noon show. Especially one that kind of sprang up at the last minute. As well as their usual assortment of songs from In A Quiet World, they threw in some new songs; "The Birds" (which I got a decent video of) and a couple others, which I have seen before but still have never managed to get the name of. I call them, based on the lyrics, "Take It From Me" and "Morning Song".

They also had some tales of adventure to share. Near the end of the set, Cayne & Andy told a story about going home in Kelowna, just a few weeks back. They were playing with airsoft guns when some hooligans (one of which they later learned was nicknamed "Stabby Steve") came and assaulted them for the guns, giving Cayne a black eye and pummelling Andy. To quote VIAindie: "Who would beat up the nicest people ever!? Grr."

They ended the set after the story with a my two favourite songs of theirs; "Astronomers", which is always explosive live, and the more mellow "April", which was a great way to end a sunny afternoon show.

And if you missed them today, fear not! They will be playing tomorrow with another stellar band Brasstronaut at the Surrey Fusion Festival, at 6:30pm. For free!

Intro; Feel Is A Word; There Are Very Tiny Beasts In The Ground; The Birds; [Take It From Me]; There Are Very, Very Big Lights In The Sky; [Morning Song]; Peso Loving Squid; Time, Wasted; Astronomers; April

The New Pornographers @ The Vogue -- 07/15/10

I feel as if the Indie Rock Gods were rewarding the hardcore New Pornographer fans. Last nights sold out show was the first one announced, then they added a second show, for the night before. Well, for the first (but really the second) show, something went wrong and Neko Case couldn't make it. But she was out in full force last night!

First up, though, was Imaad Wasif, from Vancouver. He had an intriguing sound, kind of a psychedelic, stoner rock that had an ebb and flow to it; sometimes being soft and slow, something going crazy rocking out. At times it was impressive that such a bombastic sound came from only four people -- guitar, bass, drums and violin -- but the set seemed to drag on a little much, as I think he was on for over 45 minutes. He also seemed very enamoured with love, stating how every song was about love (and possibly longing) and at one point saying how love was the most important thing in the universe. Nothing wrong with love, of course, but he just seemed very up on it. And aside from that, there wasn't much by way of stage banter. All four of them had a pretty good presence and energy while playing, but Wasif didn't have much to say between songs other than the usual "thanks for coming/the [opening band] for having us"

The Dodos were next up, and immediately I say wow! They were just three members strong, but an interesting setup. One on guitar, one on drums (with no bass drum, but a tambourine taped to his shoe), and one who played the vibraphone and a floor tom (Sometimes simultaneously). And on top of that, he was occasionally playing the vibraphone with a bow.
They had a more indie pop sound to them, and a nice variety of more slower, folky numbers and faster, rocking out ones. All of which were highly infectious and catchy, and any other night they may have stole the show. For their final song they played "Fables", which I immediately recognized, but for the life of me I am not sure where from.

And the, finally, The New Pornographers. They hit the stage nine large, as the the gang was all there. Opening with the awesome "Myriad Harbour", they immediately got everyone out of their seats and singing along. From there they spanned a good variety of their catalogue, spanning all five albums. Among the highlights was the highly energetic "Your Hands (Together)", Bejar's stunning "Execution Day" and "My Shepherd", which made me fall even more in love with Case's voice (if possible). And let's not forget Kathryn Calder, who had "Sweet Talk Sweet Talk" to spotlight her amazing pipes. Though the one song that I was disappointed they didn't play was "Adventures In Solitude", which is one of my favourites and would have been another showcase for Calder. And as for Newman, he makes it all just seem so effortless.
They also had, as usual, some hilarious banter which included, but was not limited to: a battle of wits with the bro show at the front (which was pretty one-sided). Neko Case spotting a shirtless man with "bigger boobs than [her]", which led to a rant about how HE could bare his chest in public, yet SHE could not. And then, when the prerequisite odour and smoke wafting on stage, the band mocking those responsible for not even trying to hide it -- Case likening it to survival of the fittest and taunting a T-Rex.
The set ended with what may be my favourite New Pornos song, "The Bleeding Heart Show", which was just amazing live. Then they came out for an encore which consisted of two more of my favourites; first the beautiful "Challengers", then Bejar coming back out for "A Testament To Youth In Verse", which saw them look to the crowd for a few of the "No no no..." verses, and even though the crowd was slow to pick up on, we were belting it out by the end, before they exploded into the finale. A superb ending for the show.

My only complaint would be that the sound in the place seemed a little loud, especially the vocals. But it was only enough to be noticeable, and not enough to be annoying. What was annoying though was the dickbag who, between every song, would yell "Where's Bejar?" (sometimes "amusingly" pronouncing it bay-jar) at the top of his lungs. At first he was ignored, then yelled at by the crowd, then mocked by the band, especially when he yelled it when Bejar was on stage. But aside from that, it was a brilliant show from Vancouver's own The New Pornographers.

Myriad Harbour, What Turns Up In The Dark, Sing me Spanish Techno, Crash Years, Jackie Dressed in Cobras, The Laws Have Changed, My Rights Versus Yours, Twin Cinema, Jackie, Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, All The Old Showstoppers, Go Places, The Moves, Your Hands (Together), Execution Day, My Shepherd, Use It, Silver Jenny Dollar, Letter From An Occupant, The Bleeding Heart Show.
[encore] Challengers, Testament to Youth In Verse.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tariq & Jody Glenham @ Little Mountain Gallery -- 07/13/10

I've mentioned it before, but one thing that is really cool about the Vancouver music scene is how close and friendly everyone is. Last night's show at the Little Mountain Gallery was filled with other musicians and CBC Radio 3 people, not just there to support friends, but also enjoy some good music.

The first act up was The Old Familiar, and unfortunately we missed his set, getting in just in time for Jody Glenham. I'm not sure how it happened, but somehow I hadn't seen her live before (not counting a night at Guilt & Co. or a Jon Bon Jovi Jody song at Biltmore karaoke night). The first thing that struck me was her voice; she had a great range, soft and smoky when needed, but a few times during the set she stepped back from the mic and just let loose, which was impressive. It was just her & keyboard on stage, and maybe the small venue helped, but she seemed to have a knack to make things intimate, and kind of felt like each song should have been shared in a smoky bar over a glass of whiskey.

Next up was Tariq, who I also hadn't seen, on his own at least (only with Brasstronaut). He was joined by some familiar faces on stage; Colin Cowan (from Analog Bell Service), Jody Glenham and Shane Nelkin (from The Awkward Stage). He has a bit more of a folky, acoustic sound to him; a bit softer, but not without an edge. One song that really struck me was "Front Row Seat", a love song via concert seating. There was also some great banter and joking around, as all the members are pretty funny in their own right. Finally, for the "encore", they came into the crowd for one last song (even Cowan's stand up bass), which was a really cool thing to see, as they were all (obviously) unamplified.

Corny as it may sound, it's shows like this that make me so glad to be witnessing what Vancouver (and even the rest of BC) has to offer, music-wise, right now. Seeing people supporting each other on and off stage, it creates a real sense of community, as opposed to just a bunch of bands who happen to be in the same city.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Go by Jónsi

When I heard the news that Sigur Rós -- one of my four favourite bands -- was going on a hiatus, I was crestfallen. But then later that same day (perhaps it was even the same article) I heard that lead singer Jón Þór Birgisson, aka Jónsi, was going to be doing a solo album I perked up a little. Even though I was mildly disappointed by the Riceboy Sleeps album by Jónsi & Alex (Alex being Alex Somers, Jónsi's partner and founding member of the band Parachutes), I was still excited by this prospect. Surrounding himself with some excellent musicians, including the aforementioned Somers, Jónsi does something quite unique: while the vast majority of Sigur Rós songs are in either Icelandic or Hopelandic (save one song on their last album), all but two (and a half) on this album are sung in English.

"Go Do" starts out a little twitchy and a little low key, but then slowly builds up to a grand start for the album, before "Animal Arithmetic" absolutely explodes with unbridled joy; it is impossible to hear this song and not have a huge grin on your face. "Tornado" very much lives up to its name, as it starts very soft and gradually builds into a swirling cacophony of sound and noise, with the chaos actually evoking the feeling of a storm. "Boy Lilikoi" picks up the energy again, and is fantastic example of Nico Muhly's absolutely beautiful string, brass, and woodwind arrangements, which grace the whole album. The piano-heavy and atmospheric "Sinking Friendships" is heartbreakingly gorgeous and leads perfectly into the string heavy and soaring "Kolniður", which is one songs sung in his native Icelandic.
"Around Us" is another undeniably optimistic song which, both musically and lyrically, is the opposite side of the coin as "Grow till Tall", the climax of the album. While the former proclaims "We all want to grow with the seeds we will sow / We all want to go with the breeze we will blow / We all want to know when we're all meant to go / To a place you and I..." the latter counters with "You'll know, when's time to go on / You'll really want to grow and grow till tall / They all, in the end, will fall"
Starting off very calm, "Grow Till Tall" builds in intensity and gradually adds instruments until the whole things washes over you, before abruptly ending in a fuzz. Finally, the album is brought to a close with the tender "Hengilás", a perfect denouement to end the album.

The album, on the whole, seems to be much more upbeat than the average Sigur Rós album, and even the slower songs seem to still be bursting with beauty. It is a phenomenal album that is as joyous as it is unique, and I have a hard time imagining another album will come along and surpass it as my favourite of the year.

Download Animal Arithmetic

Download Tornado

Download Grow Till Tall

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Malahat Revue w/ Said The Whale, Hannah Georgas, Aidan Knight & Jeremy Fisher @ CBC Vancouver -- 07/07/10

For a few years now, my "dream show" has been one where three or more related bands join forces on stage to play their own, and each others, songs. That dream was fulfilled last year when Monsters Of Folk (consisting of Yim Yames [My Morning Jacket], Conor Oberst [Bright Eyes] and M. Ward [M. Ward]) did just that superbly. And then it was perfected with this years Bonfire Ball with Jason Collett, Zeus and Bahamas. Of course, since a lot of the bands in Vancouver are so intertwined, it was only a matter of time before they tried something like that. The Malahat Revue sees Said The Whale, Hannah Georgas, Aidan Knight and Jeremy Fisher combine their musical might for an eight show bike tour of Vancouver Island and then back here for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Initially I was disappointed that there would be no Vancouver date other than the VFMF, as I would love to go, but am too monetarily challenged. Luckily, not two days ago, they announced a surprise show in front of the CBC building downtown to kick off the tour. And the best part? It was free!

As it was a free afternoon show, it was somewhat short, lasting about an hour, but they got trough about a dozen songs. Kicking things off with "False Creek Change", they hit at least three from each act. Aidan's "The Sun" was a perfect song to be played on such a nice day, and "The Light Is You" was highly energetic, and had at least a few people dancing. Mostly, though, the [generally younger] crowd was content to bask in the sun and the sounds on the patch of grass. "Camilo (The Magician)" had Hannah joining in on vocals, which was an interesting twist on the song and the set ended absolutely perfectly with Knight's "Jasper".

Seeing as many of them had played together before, I don't think it's any surprise how great they all meshed on stage, and if this is how well they play together at the beginning, I can't imagine how they'll be by the end of the tour. Unless they're too exhausted from all the cycling...
I think now I'm even more jealous of those who will be in attendance at the VFMF, as they will no doubt be playing a longer set, too. But I guess some Malahat Revue is better than none!

In the introduction to the show, the emcee mentioned that the CBC was recording the broadcast to be released online, which will be great for anyone who happened to miss it due to pesky things like work. And I snagged a few videos; the first one at the top being "The Light Is You" and "The National", and the second is the big finale, "Jasper". "False Creek Change", "Let's Talk" and "BC Orienteering" can be seen here.

Malahat Revue setlist:
Flase Creek Change [StW], Let's Talk [HG], BC Orienteering [StW], The Sun [AK], All We Want Is Love [JF], The Deep End [HG], Land's End [AK], Cigarette [JF], The Light Is You [StW], The National [HG], High School [JF], Camilo (The Magician) [StW], Jasper [AK]

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The 2010 Polaris Short List

About a month after releasing the long list, the people at the Polaris Music Prize have announced the short list of the ten albums in contention for the $20,000 prize. The award is annually given to the "best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label" and any album (more than 30 minutes/8 tracks long) out from June 1st 2009 to May 31 2010 is eligible. Past winners are Final Fantasy, He Poos Clouds (2006) Patrick Watson, Close to Paradise (2007) Caribou, Andorra (2008) Fucked Up, The Chemistry of Common Life (2009)
The winner will be announced at a gala on September 20th.

So let's see how this year stacks up, shall we? Here they are, in a vague order of the ones I want to win least to most, with some comments by me. Mostly just snap-judgments, so I may revisit this post closer to the date when I have more time to digest the list and listen more to the albums in question.

Sainthood by Tegan & Sera
I fully admit, I was disappointed when this one was announced. I have never been a fan of Tegan & Sera. I don't find anything remarkable about them, and I think there are many other artists on the list that are more deserving. They're not bad, just... bland.

TSOL by Shad
One day soon I am going to get around to listening to this album; I have it sitting next to me, on my desk. I've never really gotten into his music that much. He is certainly talented, but I guess just not my thing. Perhaps that will change after giving the album a spin, but for now this is low my want-to-win list. Which, given the Polaris track record, means it will win this year.

Belmundo Regal by Radio Radio
There are a few albums on the list that I am woefully unfamiliar with, and Radio Radio is one of them. What little I have heard of them, I have been on the fence about, but I'll have to listen to the full album before forming a better opinion.

Darker Circles by The Sadies
Another one I am not as familiar with as I should be. Again, I have nothing against them, and I have been meaning to pick up the album based on the few songs I've heard, and word of mouth.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night by The Besnard Lakes
This is a band that I should like. In theory. They are good, for sure, but for whatever reason, I have just never gotten in to them. Nothing has ever jumped out at me. Maybe I just need to listen to them more. I guess I am completely neutral about this pick. There are better albums on the list, but there are worse.

Swim by Caribou
One of two previous winners to make the list again. There has been chatter of saying that if a band has one once before, they should not be able to qualify. But that is crazy talk. Imagine if any other award did that. Anyway, the album itself is really well done, and while I don't think that Caribou will repeat, I wouldn't be too disappointed if they do.

Heartland by Owen Pallett
The second of the previous-winners, and one of my top picks. Though, as brilliant as it is, the one thing that nagged me about the album that it was a lot what you'd expect from an Owen Pallett album. Nothing too out of left field. That being said, still amazingly good and deserving to win.

Forgiveness Rock Record by Broken Social Scene
No surprise here. They were not just nominated for their name, but because this was a fantastic album. Too soon, perhaps, to say better than their others, but definitely worthy of the seemingly endless praise BSS seems to get. I will be more than happy if this one wins.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice by Dan Mangan
One of my hopeful picks from the start, Dan has had a stellar year since the album came out. I don't think anyone was surprised by this, and I don't think anyone will be surprised if he wins. Some naysayers claim he's "just a singer/songwriter" and nothing innovative. Well I say it doesn't have to be innovative to be brilliant, and that they are missing the raw emotion Dam pours into his music.

Les chemins de verre by Karkwa
Yes, yes, yes! I have been rooting for Karkwa since before the long list was even posted. I was thrilled when they made that, and for some reason did not think they would ever make the long list. This is one of my favourite albums of the year, Canadian or not, and I am really, really hoping they win it -- even though my Polaris track record has been abysmal for the last four years.

The last four on the list there were in my hopeful top ten, and here are the rest that did not make it were: Mt Chimaera by Brasstronaut; Rat A Tat Tat by Jason Collett; Together by The New Pornographers; This Is Good by Hannah Georgas; Say Us by Zeus; Pink Strat by Bahamas.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hey Ocean! @ David Lam Park -- 07/04/10

Vancouver JazzFest came to a close yesterday with some free shows at David Lam Park in yaletown. There were a few bands playing, but I stopped by just to see Hey Ocean!, as I'd never seen them live before, so what better than a free show to check them out?

Admittedly, I'm not as familiar with them as I should be. I've heard the latest album a few times, and while I think it's good, I guess it just kind of fell through the cracks for me. But their live show, wow! Not to seem detrimental of their recorded material, but their live show just seemed so much better. Full of energy and incredibly engaging. The show started with everyone seated in the grass, but a few songs in they threw out a new one called "New Dance" which got everyone up and moving.
The set lasted over an hour, which is awesome for a free show, playing a mix of old and brand new, from the upcoming album, and even threw in a cover. Mid-set they decided to do some 90s reminiscing (the amount of people that cheered when Ashleigh Ball asked "who was born in the 90s" made me feel old) and launched into a cover of The Cardigans' Love Fool, which somehow segued into the theme from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, with accompanying kazoo.

The set wrapped up with more audience participation for "Fish" before they were brought back for an encore -- surprising for a free show like this, but the crowd was going pretty nuts. They played a couple more before finally ending the set, and I am pretty sure they have made a fully fledged fan out of me.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Henry & The Nightcrawlers @ The Media Club -- 07/01/10

What better way to spend Canada Day than with some Canadian music? After a day of BBQing at the beach (in full defiance of Vancouver's less-than-ideal weather), we headed down to The Media Club for a night of music. Just narrowly missing Teen Daze, we arrived just in time for the band we were there to see.

That band being Henry & The Nightcrawlers, with the eponymous Henry being Henry Alcock-White, formerly of Bend Sinister and currently a member of The Zolas. But even though the band consists of Zach & Tom of The Zolas, as well as sharing the same drummer, they shouldn't be considered a side project, rather an entity of its own. The sound was a bit lighter indie pop rock, with hints of funk that had people dancing (some of them even doing synchronized choreography). Highlists of the set were "Amberly", "Daytime Friend" -- a relatable concept -- and the attention grabbing "The Fucking", which proclaims "it's better to be fucked than to do the fucking".
As much as I liked the set back in January, this time they seemed to be better on every level. Perhaps it's that they've been touring a bunch, as both this band and The Zolas, but Henry sounded great and the band was meshing together quite well, as evidenced both by their playing and the stage banter between Henry and Zach.
They had a five song ep for sale, as a teaser for the album which should be out sometime later this year, and I can't wait to get a hold of.

Saskatoon's We Were Lovers was up next, a more electro-dance-indie duo, consisting of Ash Lamothe on guitar and Elsa Gebremichael on vocals, with some laptop-based dance beats accompanying them. They both had a pretty good energy, and Elsa's voice was a great match for the catchy dance numbers that got the place moving. For the last song she even hopped down into the crowd to join everyone up front, even dancing with a few people individually. I think they mentioned that it was their first time in Vancouver, and I would probably be interested in catching them again next time they roll through town.

The last band of the night was Petroleum By-Product, and maybe just because it was getting late, but the crowd seemed to have thinned out a little by that time. They were not bad, per se, but most of their songs seemed to blend together and have a very similar sound to them, and were somewhat forgettable. Perhaps, though, it was just the toll of the full day setting in, as my companions and I were all feeling pretty exhausted.

A good end to a good day full of good friends and good music.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Run With The Heard (w/ The Zolas & Analog Bell Service) -- 06/30/2010

Every year the Vancouver International Jazz Fest sees almost two thousand of bands descend upon the city for various shows over a two week span. A lot of the shows are not really "jazz", but just great music, and this night was part of the event.

The first band was Analog Bell Service, who I wasn't overly familiar with, outside the odd song I had heard on CBC Radio 3 (and speaking of which, the band included R3 personality Chris Kelly). They immediately won me over by the first song, a cover of Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now". I've always said bands need to do more awesome covers live, and not only did they do that, but also Corey Hart's "Sunglasses At Night" later in the set, which was just fantastic. The rest of the set consisted of new material for the band, and the band had an insanely high energy and enthusiasm. Their poppy art-rock was spacey at times, flat out rocking at times, but always interesting and captured the crowds attention. They said that this may be their only show for the summer, but hopefully I'll be able to catch them again sometime soon.

At this point, the stage was rushed with fangirls, as The Zolas were up next. Their set was a nice length, considering they were not headlining. Starting with "You're Too Cool" -- which got a pop for mentioning the Biltmore, and had most of the crowd singing along -- they hit most of the songs from their album, Tic Toc Tic. But also thew in a new song, "Guest", which I have seen live a few times now and get stuck in my head after each time. As high energy as Analog Bell Service was, The Zolas managed to ramp up the intensity, with Zach especially being a ball of energy, and just oozing charisma on stage. At one point the band had flowers thrown on stage (no garments of clothing, though) and he mentioned they had some cookies baked for them earlier (though he didn't want to share).
Near the end of the set, for the end of "Queen of Relax" (I believe) they actually took the keyboard, while Tom was playing, and carried it into the front of the crowd to finish the song there. At that point, they just decided to stay, with Henry joining them in the crowd, as they had one more song left. The set ended as Zolas sets usually do, with "Cab Driver", a song that always, somehow, manages to top the rest of their set, energy-wise.

The final act of the night was Run With The Heard, who are, according to their website, a "multi genre electro acoustic audio visual band from Vancouver". They started out playing some almost psychedelic rock riffs, but then once the guy got on vocals and started... rapping... things went strange. The rest of the set was a strange combination of rock, dance beats and rapping that never quite seemed to come together. At the beginning, the crowd seemed completely apathetic, but a few seemed to warm up and dance after a couple songs. Though the crowd started to thin, so it was clear people were there more to see The Zolas. There was one cool thing, though, even if I didn't see it for myself; they had a banjo out for one of their songs, but apparently the "banjo" was actually a Guitar Hero controller modified to replicate the sound.

correction: I have just been informed, by Alex from Run With The Heard that "There in fact was a banjo being played live, it and the guitar and vocals are run through FX and chops that are controlled by the guitar hero midi controller and a nintendo power glove. I know its hard to understand wtf is going on especially if you aren't up close."
Ok, that sounds pretty cool.

Despite the... questionable choice to follow The Zolas (and Analog Bell Service) with that, it was a pretty great night of music.