Thursday, August 13, 2009

I really should have bought that album...

Today, I was at SecondSpin in Saint John, New Brunswick, browsing through their vinyl collection. I found a gem. You may or may not be aware that the first east coast band I fell in love with was Sloan, back even before I'd left elementary school. I think I was in Grade 4 when I got a copy of One Chord To Another, which has mysteriously vanished in the 12 or so years since (sad!).

I remeber when Four Nights at the Palais Royale came out (before I'd seen them live, or, probably, could have even! this was my doorway to the Sloan live show) and I procured a copy of the double album not long after. I was in Grade 6 at this point, and hell, I feel young.

Anyway, as I was going through these records today, I found the vinyl version of that delightful live record. Triple LP, in good condition, and $25. I found myself thinking: I should really buy this. This is a brilliant find. I may never see it again. But I have to pay the telephone bill in a couple of days. And I have to pay the cable bill soon. And I'm due for groceries. And all the yadda yadda yadda of adulthood. Strapped for cash as I am, I declined to make the purchase.

And I'm regretting it.

And tomorrow I'm moving back to Sackville, leaving on the early afternoon bus.

This album may forever be the one that got away. That's the way life goes, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HPX addition + correction.

First, I've become aware that Bruce Peninsula will be playing at this year's Pop Explosion, at the Seahorse. Their album, A Mountain is a Mouth, is really dang good, and I hear fab things about their live show. Given their show is on the Wednesday, I may not be able to see it, but I am going to try my best. I want to see these guys live.

Also, the Final Fantasy tickets aren't available from as I previously said. Rather, they are available from the Dalhouse Art Centre website, here. Sorry for the confusion.

Set up to disguise their meaning, but still light up the room.

The Sackville Music Hall was built in 1914-15, after a fire destroyed the original Victorian structure a couple of years prior. It was given the name of the Imperial Theatre, a name that stuck until 2004, when it was changed to differentiate from the theatre of the same name in Saint John.

The Music Hall sits hidden away on the upper level of Bridge Street, between apartments and above various shops. The entrance is unmarked, aside from a bulletin board and a bright yellow door, and even some people who have lived in Sackville all their lives, people I spoke with, had no idea this beautiful place exists.

The ceiling is falling in and the paint is peeling, and half of the entryway staircase is blocked off because it is broken and unstable, but every now and then there will be a concert, or an artistic presentation of some sort in there. In recent memory it has showcased concerts by Jenn Grant, Shotgun Jimmie, and the CFL Sessions, all in that beautiful musty space, the side door looking out over Main Street and pouring the music out across the town.

The latest installment of these shows was, on the 24th of July, just before the OK.Quoi?! arts festival kicked off, The Got to Get Got, one of my favourite bands from around these parts. I know I've raved about them on my blog before, but let me just get a little bit more out. The Got to Get Got, at one show I saw, were jokingly described as "Making the Band with Mark Mullane". Mark, formerly of North of America, is mostly responsible for bringing these people together, some from other established bands (The Just Barelys, Tomcat Combat, etc) and other folks to flesh it out. The sound, altogether, is beautiful. Mark and Eleanor King trade off vocals, and the instrumentation... holy mackerel. It is such a beautiful experience.

In any case! The show on the 24th was half concert and half practice session. Paul Henderson, formerly drummer for Shotgun & Jaybird and one of the chief Sappyfest organisers, was skateboarding around the floor of the music hall (wooden and chairless), while things were set up, and we sat on the floor. Cookies were shared, and the band began to play.

For a practice, and not having played together as a full band for a number of weeks, the band sounded phenomenal. At times it felt as though they would bring down more of the ceiling with the guitars, but these were balanced out, as always, by the downright beautiful string arrangements and remainder of the instrumentation. With "Peyton & Perry", I think, you get the best of both worlds, both live and on the record, with both Mark and Eleanor trading off on a gentle, strings-and-keys based half of the song, before the full band opens up about halfway through, making it impossible not to smile and sing along.

A highlight of the live show, though, is "Rare Rain" and, with the skies opened up just outside the door, fitting. The drumline to the song is fleshed out, Eleanor taking one of the toms from the kit and pounding out that main line. The energy level is so high, they all look like they're having such a wonderful time, and that rubs off on the crowd. There is a pair dancing around the music hall, from one end to the other, having the time of their lives. Everyone was, really. It was such a beautiful moment in concert-going. The perfect band for the perfect space and the perfect crowd. Oh, Sackville!


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More HPX news!

The news broke a little while ago that more bands had been confirmed for the Halifax Pop Explosion, and I can break the news of another one that hasn't been officially released. In addition to the bands already announced (just hit the 'halifax pop explosion' button at the bottom of this post to see who they are), the following are going to be present:

By Divine Right, who have been around forever but I don't think I've ever given a fair chance to. I guess now is my opportunity.
Cadence Weapon, recently endorsed by the Governor-General in what can only be described as a WTF moment.
D-Sisive, whose latest album was one of the most hyped hip-hop albums in the country, and rightly so. Check out the myspace.
Jenn Grant, whom I adore, and who puts on a dreamy, intimate show. A jewel of the east coast.
Mates of State, a husband-and-wife duo from Kansas who I'm sure you've heard of, and I'm mighty excited for.
Two Hours Traffic, probably the biggest act to ever come out of Prince Edward Island, and Joel Plaskett's protégés.
You Say Party, We Say Die, Paper Bag dance-punks extraordinaire.

and I haven't seen this in any official announcements, but the band says that Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, who put out one of my favourite albums of 2008 and put on a magical live show, have been accepted to the bill. This excites me. This really excites me. Ms Krakus and her band fuse eastern european folk music with indie rock sensibilities and put on a show that you simply cannot miss. I mean it. Don't miss it.

Finally, MSTRKRFT, in a show to which I already have my ticket. Jesse F. Keeler, one half of DFA1979, brings the dance ruckus. The new album is one of the best electronic/hip-hop records I've heard in a while. One of my highlights. Definitely. A part of me, too, is thinking, if Sebastien Grainger played at last year's HPX, and Jesse Keeler plays at this year's, why can't we, you know, sneak them on to the same stage? Pretty please? I missed my chance to see DFA back in 2004, I wouldn't ever miss that again.

More HPX news as it becomes available. Tickets for the Final Fantasy (with Symphony Nova Scotia) show and the MSTRKRFT show, as well as early-bird festival passes, are now available from

PEI must be abuzz.

I heard it through the grapevine that both New Royalty and Boxer the Horse are working on new discs. No hint of a release date, but they both are working on things. Both of these bands are from Prince Edward Island, both put on a wonderful live show, and I'm looking forward to hearing the new material.

In other news, I have oh-so-much to catch up on. The Got To Get Got playing in a crumbling old Edwardian music hall where bits of the ceiling had fallen to the ground. Day Two of SaltyJam, way back in mid-July. SAPPYFEST, that epic three-day drunk filled with the best music the country has to offer. But I also have other projects on the go, and a permanent move to Sackville on the horizon, so things are being prepared.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Playing catch-up.

Sappyfest is coming right up, in just over a week. Also, I'm moving back to Sackville tomorrow, and seeing The Got to Get Got play again the day after that.

Also, I know I'm behind on that SaltyJam day two post. I'll get on that on the weekend. I have it mostly drafted, I just haven't finished it. I'm sorry! I'll give you the lineup here, though, of the bands I saw:

The Tom Fun Orchestra at the Boardwalk Stage

The Envy
16th Avenue
Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees
Tokyo Police Club
at the Water Street Tent

The Shinjuku Mad
Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees
at a-khord.

So! I'll get on all of that, yeah? Sorry for this!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SaltyJam! Day One

I have to say, I was a little disappointed by the first day of SaltyJam (Friday the 10th!). I didn't catch much of Gisto, the first act, but what I heard... enh. I mean, I like reggae as much as the next white electro fan (probably a bit more), but he bored me.

Bomba though, they were interesting. A rhythm-based latin collective of some kind, from all across Latin America, from Mexico to Cuba to Peru to Chile and more, I'm sure. It was a really interesting combination of sounds--there was a violin added to the mix of percussive instruments and keys, and it was just altogether interesting and rather enjoyable!

Third up, and it still confuses me as to why they weren't the headlining act, was Montreal's Plants and Animals. They put on one hell of a show--though not as good as the one in Sackville back in January. This one was still fab, though, in the midst of a great blue-and-white striped tent, with the local beer flowing free and a guy who looked like Zach Galifianakis dancing along with a baby strapped to his chest. They brought the energy and the crowd--albeit a small one, regrettably--loved every minute of it. There were enough singing along to make it worthwhile for all involved, and I had a good time! I did miss the autoharp on "Bye Bye Bye", however. What gives? Where's the autoharp?

Toronto's The House of David Gang closed the show, and again I'm not entirely certain as to why they were the headliner. A reggae outfit, they sounded better than the first one but still left a little something wanting. I don't know what it is, but I just couldn't get into a reggae show on a slightly chilly Maritime night, by the harbour. Just the way I was wired I guess.

Afterwards, a couple of friends and I headed over to the a khord to take in the late night show. We managed to catch most of the Wooden Wives (which includes on guitar Sappyfest performer Adam Mowery) before they decided it was time to go. My ride being one of them, I left too, and missed Hospital Grade--regrettably. Wooden Wives though put on their usual fab rock'n'roll show, and, maybe because of the nature of the earlier show, but the floor in front of the stage was absolutely awash with people dancing free and fun--it was a sight that really made me smile.

Tomorrow I'll do a bit of a writeup on tonight's concerts--concerts which blew me away, absolutely and completely. Stay tuned!

First Look at the Halifax Pop Explosion 09

In it's 17th year, the Halifax Pop Explosion is almost old enough to drink in Quebec and from the looks of the initial lineup, it's already sneaking into bars and coming home rowdy. My first HPX was in '05, and it has since then showcased some of the greatest lineups. This year looks no different.

Most exciting, I think, is seeing Vancouver's Japandroids on the bill. I have the album and the EP kicking around my various musical devices and I honestly can't get enough of this... this extreme sound. I've never seen them, I can only imagine the rock they bring to a venue. NYC's Japanther is likewise on the bill.

Final Fantasy is back, Ohbijou and The Acorn (who recently put out a joint split EP which is worth a listen) are added, and in almost a step back in time, there is set to be a set shared between Julie Doiron and Herman Düne, which, as a Sackvillite (or whatever our demonym is) who has only ever heard tell of these coordinated efforts, I am hopelessly excited for it.

I'm sure more news will come along soon. Early Bird passes are available for $90 from Ticketpro, and the last day for application to join this already fab lineup is the 20th of July.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Video: Julie Doiron - Consolation Prize

Fred Squire as a dentist, dancing zombies, and Julie being altogether adorable--what more could you want?

Courtesy of Stereogum.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Halifax's Bloodsport are a fairly recent addition to the Haligonian music scene, making unpretentious rock music under pretentious titles. Their debut 7" EP, "Goodbye to the Holy Mountain" was released last month on From Here To There Records.

The record has been described elsewhere as "shoegaze for punks", clocking in at twelve-and-a-half minutes of music the sort Halifax hasn't produced in a good while. With twenty seconds of feedback kicking us off, "Photos From My Last Trip To Salem" gives a grungy vibe not so much reminiscent of the Seattle scene back in the day, but could certainly draw a comparison to East Coast heroes Eric's Trip. I could create some wild and pretentious genre for them, like "melodic grunge-revival" or "flannelcore", but I won't.

"Swallowing Werewolves", on the B-side, is a great track, sounding like an unconventional, polygamous marriage between Eric's Trip, Boxer the Horse, and Thom Yorke. Go figure, right? But it works, to great effect, and it might just be my choice cut from the record.

Closing off the album is something a little more mellow, and the first time we hear bassist Tara Thorne sing backup to Matt Charlton's vocals, with "Japanese Democracy". Their voices complement each other well, in a manner very suited to the music. It's an altogether ace record, and from what I've heard and read, I can't wait to see these guys live.


You can catch Bloodsport at Sappyfest in Sackville, NB, from July 31st to August 2nd.

This entry can also be found at East Coast Overture. Check it out!

Amelioration and recovery, forever.

Now, I think I should admit before I go on: The Got To Get Got are one of my favourite bands at the moment. Not just out of East Coast bands, but all told. And I absolutely love this album.

Back in 2005, I was in Halifax for the Pop Explosion. Underage, I heard about this All Ages show Ted Leo was doing at the Pavillion, so of course I wanted to check it out. This was the first and last time I saw North of America. Quasi-defunct at the time, they had just played a few dates with Ted Leo and were closing off the mini-tour, going back into this state of non-existence. Little did I know that even then, Mark Mullane had the beginnings of The Got To Get Got underway and now, four years later, we hear their first full-length offering: Sahalee.

I hate to compare these guys to North of America--so I won't. There's not that much to compare, anyway, as The Got to Get Got is a different beast altogether. These guys were a bi-coastal collective (now based entirely in Halifax) complete with violin, cello, and xylophone and Sahalee is one of the most deliciously rocking records I've heard in a long while. Before I'd gotten my ears to it, my expectations were, I have to say, mighty high, but Mark & co. did not disappoint.

I've had "Rattle Off" stuck in my head since the first time I heard it, months upon months ago, and it remains one of the best tracks on the album. However! I wouldn't call it a stand-out track, just because so many more of the tunes are just as quality. "Rattle Off" uses both Mark and Eleanor's vocals to the greatest extent, with solid, well-written lyrics and the instrumentation is so beautifully layered, even live, that it makes excellent use everybody in the band.

"Gettin' Dirty in the Afterlife" reminds me of something that I can't quite put my finger on. It's bouncing indie rock tune about, well, "rolling around in our graves". You can't not smile (and, according to some, can't not dance) when you're listening to this track. This one I'd heard a couple of weeks before the album, too. Straight up, an ace rock song.

And speaking of ace rock songs, "Crosses" is the kind of song that gets a crowd going, no matter if you know the song or not. It has great hooks, driving guitar and violin, and it just sucks you in and gets you moving. Gorgeous, fist-pumping, fast-dancing, sing-along rock'n'roll music is "Crosses". And, for that matter, most of the second half of the album. There is not a bad track in the bunch.

"War of Letters" especially is in the same vein as "Crosses"--oh, just listening to this album through makes me hungry for a live show, makes me hungry for a rock'n'roll dance party. That's what this whole album is, that's the only way I can describe it. A rock'n'roll dance party that'll have you smiling the whole way through. I mean, come on, there's a xylophone. Who won't smile at a xylophone?

They do slow it down a bit with "Peyton & Perry", but the tone isn't lost at all. Maybe even better use is made of the non-standard rock band instruments, at the expense of Brad's guitar, until about two-and-a-half minutes in, when one of the most singularly beautiful moments on the album occurs, until the end of the track. Fight on, fight on, fight on.

It's just struck me, while listening to "Some Loud Thunder Clap..." that TGTGG kind of make me think of what would happen if Mark Mullane had been in The Unicorns. Especially with "Gettin' Dirty in the Afterlife", there's that same apparently dark subject matter treated with a smile. ("If the coffin's rockin', don't come a-knockin'!") Not all the way through, of course, but they maintain the ability to do that. There is no low point to the album. It's just absolutely gold from beginning to end.

Rating: 9.5/10
Release: 14 July 2009

This entry can also be found at East Coast Overture. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

An East Coast Extravaganza! Really!

Now, last night there was a free show on the Boardwalk in uptown Saint John, in a celebration of the stroke of midnight on the 1st of July. (Me, I don't buy into this whole Canada Day celebration, but! Music is music!) Most of the lineup, too, was unremarkable, but two names on those posters had me awfully excited: The Got to Get Got and Joel Plaskett Emergency. The last few times I'd seen Joel play, it had been either solo or, most recently on his tour backing "Three", a rather interesting mostly-acoustic setup--but back with the Emergency, this had me excited. TGTGG sealed the deal. Oh, and it was free.

I missed most of the first act, Laurie Jones, but what I did hear was good enough. I liked her voice, I suppose. That's what you get when you start a show at 5:30, I guess.

Greg MacPherson, out of Winnipeg, has some ties to the Maritimes but I'm not entirely sure what they are. I think his wife may be from around these parts, but I'm not sure. Don't quote me on that. His set happened to happen at the same time as I was eating dinner, but I ate on the patio by the stage--Oh!

I should mention that this was at the waterfront in Saint John, on the Market Square Boardwalk, where we have a little stage built. It was an all-ages haven growing up in Saint John, and these days I can partake in the fare of one of the many pubs across from the stage--I think there are four!--and have a beer while the band plays.

In any case, during Greg's set I was sitting on the patio with a friend, having dinner. The sky looked slightly ominous. I rather liked his voice but his music left something to be lacking. Maybe if I had paid slightly more attention to the set it would have been more enjoyable--but I didn't hate it! And, as I said, I did rather enjoy his voice.

But really, what I was waiting for was Mark Mullane and The Got to Get Got. After Greg's set I finished my beer and headed up to the stage, as they were setting up. No Brad LaHead, as he is on tour with "his other band" (presumably Tomcat Combat, though I didn't know he was still in the band) so they played a one-guitar set. It still sounded absolutely ace. These guys know how to bring the rock, and get people moving. During the previous sets, very few people were standing at the stage and no one was moving. For this set, I'd guess about forty people were standing, and they really made us feel welcome--throwing CDs and t-shirts into the audience. It was a great experience, I'd say.

TGTGG did a really interesting one-guitar rendition of their song "Gettin' Dirty in the Afterlife", which you might know as a pretty rockin' ditty. They didn't slow it down, but rather they changed up the instrumentation, relying more on the cello and violin to drive the song. Even missing a member, there were still six people up there on stage, there was still a mighty full band. They even got everybody to yell along with the build-up in "Rattle Off", and it just turned into a wild cobblestone-and-brick dance party.

I might also note that they had pre-release copies of their new album, "Sahalee" available for sale, and played most of the tracks from that album (they opened, for instance, with "Bethpage Black" and I recall "Rare Rain" being a particularly rad performance--they didn't leave us longer-term fans hanging, though: they played "Tenerife" from their EP). A friend of mine bought one--but as a poor umemployed university student I couldn't shell out the $20, and just bought the $8 7" single. Which is on white vinyl. And is fantastic. Hunt one down--I hear they're in stores in Halifax.

The David Myles Band was up next--we had gone for a walk between sets and missed the start of his, but that was surely not a problem. He played an excruciatingly long set. At first, I was really enjoying his stuff. A dozen or so songs in, when he had begun to rely on new and obscure Bob Dylan covers (such as "Things Have Changed") it became tedious. Of course, that wasn't the end of it. He played probably for about 90 minutes. I will say this: he looked like he was having a fantastic time--the grin never left his face, which was nice--and the girl playing the electric piano was some kind of talented.

By this point it was dark, and the space in front of the stage was absolutely packed. There were definitely upwards of 200 people, and even that is probably an estimate on the low end of things. There were a lot of comings and goings during David's set, and then the next band started setting up the equipment. A friend of mine said to me, 'Joel Plaskett, handpicked by Paul McCartney to open his only Canadian tour date, still sets up his own gear'. I like that in a musician, but I don't think I'd trust other people handling my gear, anyway. Along with Dave and Chris (the Emergency), Joel was joined onstage by Rose Cousins, and someone who I consider a legend, but no one I've talked to has heard of.

Peter Elkas was once a Montrealer, but has made a new home for himself in Halifax. His old band, Local Rabbits, likewise made the move. This man come from away has made a real name for himself as a musician of the Maritimes over the last fifteen-or-so years, now engaged in a solo career and, it seems, as a member of Joel Plaskett's touring band. He acted as a multi-instrumentalist, handling the keys, the second guitar, and the harmonica.

They opened the set with, interestingly enough, the first Joel Plaskett song I'd ever heard, back in '03: "Work Out Fine". The set as a whole was a neat fusion of rocking out and folking out, as one might put it, and they covered material from all across his solo career. The usual suspects--"Fashionable People", "Nowhere With You", "Love This Town"... they were all represented, but so were some songs that I haven't heard live in years. I don't think I've seen Joel play "Come On, Teacher" since 2006.

The whole thing was just such a wonderful experience. Joel is a great entertainer, he knows how to make the crowd happy, and he's just got this awfully quirky stage persona. He always seems a bit awkward, to me, which is nice. It got a bit surreal when he and Rose did a duet on "Happen Now", just the two of them and their acoustic guitars--midway through the song, the skies opened up and it started to rain. Not a heavy rain, but a steady one. A refreshing rain. This took us to midnight, Joel counting us down with a broken clock... and then the show went on!

Like I said, it was a fantastic show, and it was great to see Joel rocking out again. Between the venue, the material, the weather--just everything, it made for one of my favourite Joel Plaskett concerts, anyway. I only wish I had pictures. Oh well, someone will supply me with them, I'm sure! And then they'll appear on this blog.

But for now, farewell!


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Monday, June 22, 2009

You are a very good dancer. What is your name?

Back in January, during CHMA's Stereophonic festival, I mentioned that the live version of Woodhands' "Dancer" was oodles better than anything on record, and that Maylee's vocals were, in fact, sung by drummer Paul Banwatt.

I've come across a really tight-sounding live release of Dancer on iTunes, with Paul doing the vocals, so I thought I'd share it with you. When I've seen them live, it was about this long, too. Enjoy!

Woodhands - Dancer (Live)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wake up on time; there's no one around.

Wow. It has come to my attention that I've never really talked about The Got To Get Got in any sort of length on this blog. I have previously on the radio show, but never on the blog. How very very strange. I must remedy this situation immediatement.

In 2005, I went to my first Halifax Pop Explosion. I had just turned 17 and was restricted to the All Ages shows. Luckily for me there was a show, at the Pavillion (which some of you may know) headlined by Ted Leo + the Pharmacists, featuring bands like Halifax's Sharp Like Knives (billed as "five wicked dance parties each with the strength of ten wicked dance parties"! how could I say no?), Toronto's Femme Generation, and a post-breakup North of America come back to showcase their wares. And, holy mackerel, this was one of the best concerts my young self had been to. And Mark Mullane and North of America were a highlight, I bought their album and have treasured it since. It's a beautiful possession.

Fastforward a few years. North of America shows are few and far between--I'm not even sure when the last one was, and the band is effectively broken up. Mark has been working this new project, The Got to Get Got since about 2006 as a cross-country venture, with chapters in Halifax and Vancouver (though I understand most of them are now based in Halifax). In 2007, they put out effectively a split EP between the two chapters of the band, which is absolutely fantastic. Contact me if you want to hear more than just what I post, but "Blood Test" is on their myspace.

Anyway, now it's 2009, and they've been touring like wild. They played in Sackville and in Saint John in April (but I missed both shows, because I was so disorganised and never in town at the right time! Boo to me) and have a number of shows coming up in Halifax, Saint John, Ontario and Quebec to both hype up and support their new album, Sahalee, being released in mid-July. Check out that myspace link and see if they'll be in your area. It's not a show you ever ever ever want to miss. I've missed them twice. I'm kicking myself for it--so hard. So, enjoy their music, and maybe I'll even do a retro review of North of America's last album, sometime.

The Got To Get Got - Rattle Off
The Got To Get Got - No One Riots in Winter

As a side-note, many of the photographs on the band's myspace [and all of the photos used in this post] are of the band in places I love. All the more reason to call them awesome.

Also, please note that Adam Kierstead (the mustachioed man in the last photo) is not a member of the band, merely something of a god to the Saint John music scene. Thank you, and good night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sappyfest Spotlight #3: The Luyas

So, I've decided to do up a series of posts showcasing Sappyfest performers, quick little writeups of shows I'm damned excited to see. And I guess a couple of them were written by mistake a week or two ago. So, here is number three!

Jessie Stein is probably best known for her being a part of Miracle Fortress's live show, but work apart from that impresses me far more. I'm not sure if I've ever talked about SS Cardiacs on this blog, but it's effectively her solo project, and it's wonderful. Jessie's voice just has this quality to it that I can't put my finger on, but it's something I can't get out of my head for days once I've heard it. And SS Cardiacs' "Noo Noo (In A Foreign Dialect)" is almost always stuck in my head. However, this isn't about SS Cardiacs. This is about the Luyas.

For the Luyas, Jessie is accompanied by Pietro Amato (on the FRENCH HORN and other various instruments) and Stefan Schneider playing the drums. It's a beautiful sound, I wish I could do it more justice. You really just have to hear Jessie's voice, put over top of her guitars and Pietro's french horn and glockenspiel--it's one of the most beautiful combinations of sounds I've ever heard. I never like so give these things genre labels, especially with 'indie' being so broad these days. I would once have called them Montreal indie rock, but those days are done. You'll just have to hear it for yourself--so, here, give it a listen.

The Luyas - Flickering Lights (will likely fail you)
The Luyas - Quelle Horreur

I don't know much about an upcoming album, just some little references to it. Their website looks like it hasn't been updated since 2007, and their last myspace blog was from Pop Montreal in October of last year. But I did hear tell somewhere of a new album being birthed as we speak. So, keep them ears peeled.

Sappyfest happens in Sackville, NB from July 31st to August 2nd, au même temps as the OK.Quoi?! Art festival, starting on the 27th of July.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You're a wrecking ball in a summer dress.

As an addendum to my last post, and if I can figure out how to embed video, I give you the single most Maritimey music video in the history of music videos!

Joel Plaskett's Through & Through & Through

Canada Day Countdown

We have another concert on the horizon!

For the past few years, on the 30th of June, down at the boardwalk overlooking Saint John Harbour, there's been an all afternoon, evening, and night of music, and in the past we've seen some big names in East Coast music. In 2006, The Trews and the Tom Fun Orchestra did their things; 2007 saw Wintersleep, Two Hours Traffic, and Jimmy Swift; and in 2008 brought in In-Flight Safety and Hey Rosetta!

Well, it's that time of year again, and this time around we're seeing one of the biggest names in East Coast music, Mr Joel Plaskett himself, advertised as playing with the Emergency. He's just wrapped up a very different tour, which I caught back in April, where he played with his father, Ana Egge, and Rose Cousins. The Joel Plaskett Emergency, though, is a rock band in the truest sense, and though the show in April was the best Joel Plaskett show I've ever seen, I'm really looking forward to him bringing back the rock.

I'm almost more excited, though, about The Got To Get Got. They played in Sackville for Last Class Bash--a show that I missed due to being in Saint John to see Snailhouse. TGTGG are set to release next month my most anticipated album in a good long while. Their debut EP is absolute gold, and the new tracks I've heard are better still. TGTGG are ex-North of America (who I caught at the HPX in 2005, and loved every minute) Mark Mullane and a huge assortment of others, based both out of Halifax and Vancouver. I am beyond excited for their set.

The other acts, I know nothing about, but hopefully they don't disappoint. If you're over 19, and want to catch a great evening of music, head on down to the Boardwalk for an outdoor extravaganza in the heart of the city. There will be beer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Who the HELL samples Paul Anka?

I've honestly never been this let down by an album. Not once. Never have such high hopes based on someone's previous work been dashed so immediately.

Graham Van Pelt generally produces incredible music. The first Think About Life album was genius, and Miracle Fortress's Pink Roses was absolute gold. But this...

I'm talking about the new Think About Life record, Family. At first, I liked the cover art. This was my first introduction to the album. I thought it was cute in its simplicity and the lack of effort--a Wal-Mart family photo with the album title over top in cardboard paper. But I have to say--they put more effort into the artwork than the album itself, or so it feels. These songs feel cobbled together. The opening track, Johanna, it sounds like the Think About Life boys dug into their old funk collection and started spinning discs at random, not really worrying about how they mesh together. This is followed by a complete travesty of a song, Havin' My Baby which samples from--wait for it!--Paul Anka, while maintaining this horribly depressing attempt at mashing up their own music and production with what sounds like bargain bin vinyl.

A friend of mine described it as "they just decided to sing over unused Avalanches songs". It's almost all downhill from there. These tracks at best sound like some half-assed tribute to bad 1980s pop music--there's even a synthesized harpsichord in there. Normally, I'd be welcome to the melding of two of my favourite sounds, but instead I'm fairly certain Graham just pulled out the Value Village Casio keyboard. This is not nearly the same record as the self-titled debut--yet it's still in the Polaris Prize long list for this year. I sincerely hope it doesn't make the shortlist. That would be a problem.

There is one track, Sofa-Bed, which might make it on to a mix tape or a radio show of mine someday, but it's the equivalent of seeing a paper cup on top of a pile of styrofoam--it's only good by comparison. It would easily be the worst song on the debut album. It's one of these tunes that I can only describe as, musically, an ode to the 80s, and all that was campy and wrong. The lyrics are derivative and boring. Sigh. What more can I say?

If you're looking for the same Graham Van Pelt from Miracle Fortress, or even the first Think About Life record, don't look here. If you're willing to, as I have, stick it out and listen to it from start to finish, I wish you luck. I've honestly never been more disappointed by an album, and I had to deal with Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight.

Think About Life - Havin' My Baby
Think About Life - Sofa-Bed

Rating: 2/10
Released: 26 May 2009

My dog is repaired.

He's better.

That is all.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My dog is damaged.

I don't know what's wrong with him or what happened to him, but this has me really worried. He barely makes a sound, he barely moves, he won't eat. He just sits there, looking hurt, looking depressed. Sort of like Rover Hendrix in that episode of the Simpsons. You know? Just deflated and sad.

I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mail call!

Today is a good day.


Blogging takes a back seat to job hunting and sleeping all day and watching Craig Ferguson.
But: here are some albums I'm listening to at the moment:

Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Oh, The Grandeur!
Beirut - March of the Zapotec
The Dresden Dolls - The Dresden Dolls
Ghost Bees - Tasseomancy
Islands - Return to the Sea
Interpol - Turn On the Bright Lights
Tegan & Sara - If It Was You

They're all of them gold. So, look them up or something. I don't know.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

sappyfest addendum numéro deux

Let's talk about Phil Elvrum.

He's been making music that the world's heard for about a decade, now. Let's call it lo-fi magic. and The Microphones and Mount Eerie have put out some of the best of the genre in my opinion (and in the opinion of many others, really).

Most recently, along with Sackville's Julie Doiron and Fred Squire, both ex-Shotgun & Jaybird, he put out an album called Lost Wisdom under the Mount Eerie name, which even ever-more-crotchety-old-man-esque Pitchfork named among its best new music for the year, and gave an 8.3/10 rating. Me, I'd give it a 9. Maybe I'll actually review it sometime. The album is such that in December, when I hosted a Christmas concert in my basement, a song (You Swan Go On) from this few-month-old record was covered. It's a beautiful song, and was a pretty decent cover. Maybe I'll put up that Christmas do sometime, as it's been recorded.

Anyway, Phil is coming to Sappyfest. I am very much hoping he'll take to the stage with Fred and Julie, as I imagine most are. This is just another reason why we can call Sappyfest the little festival that could--with the hype over Lost Wisdom, I'd imagine about now everybody wants Phil to show up.

Oh, this is going to be too good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

sappyfest addendum numero uno

I'd just like to make a quick little addition here.

I am stoked, and I mean absolutely steam engine ready to burst stoked, that Saint John has a representative in the Sappyfest lineup, especially in the form of Mr Adam Mowery. It's been a while since I've seen him perform but I bumped into him last week at one show or another and we discussed the joys and wonders of Sackville.

He's a brilliant musician, and his newest record, Port City Burning, is available a few places around town. I know I saw it at Backstreet Records.

You can also check out his myspace where his featured tracks from an Eric's Trip tribute album and a Superfriendz tribute album can be heard. This kid is something else.

lovers always lose. suck it up.

TODAY saw the initial announcement of the SappyFest #4 line-up, and I have to say it's made today the best day in a long time. You can find the entire lineup as it's been presented at the Sappy Records website but I'm going to go over a little bit of it here, personal favourites and the like.

As the poster says! SappyFest is happening from July 31st to August 2nd in Sackville, NB, at various venues. Last year it was George's Fabulous Roadhouse, the Vogue Theatre, the Sackville United Church, and a mainstage tent on Bridge Street, with some ancillary action going on at Struts Gallery. I can only assume we're going to see the same thing this year, which will be beyond fab. So beyond fab!

So who will you see if you spend the $50 for the early bird weekend pass, available for the next two weeks from TicketPro? Well! First of all, Julie Doiron will be kicking around as she usually is, being one of the driving forces behind the festival (along with Paul Henderson). She'll be playing solo and also with Eric's Trip, who I hope need no introduction. Me, I'm a maritimer who has never seen Eric's Trip, so I am beyond stoked for that show. For those of you who don't know them, try to hunt down their albums Love Tara or Purple Blue, two personal favourites. Sub Pop records, mid '90s; a hard-rocking flannel-wearing good time.

A second headliner of sorts (though it's all pretty communal) is the Dan Bejar vessel Destroyer. Now, I've never seen Destroyer live, but I've been listening to him for a few years now, and I'm mighty excited for that show, too. You might call what he does 'chamber pop' but I'm not really one for using genres to describe what people do. The only real way to do it is by sound. I guess I'm not really cut out to be a music blogger, I love music far too much! But, I digress. Once, I heard Bejar's voice described as sounding like that villain Professor Hinkle from the old Frosty the Snowman TV special. I'd call this description apt. Apt, and hilarious!

I'm awfully psyched about Ohbijou playing. They're an indie pop outfit with lots of strings fronted by miss Casey Mecija. They're second LP, Beacons, has just been released today. Once I get ahold of it, and if I'm feeling particularly industrious, expect a review! I'm not sure when I'll get my hands on it, though. Between the Sappyfest announcement and the new album, today is a great day for Ohbijou fans. Hopefully, though, they don't just stick to new material at the festival! One way or another, though, I'm psyched to finally see them live.

Given their newfound connection to Sackville's Shotgun Jimmie (who is also playing!) it's no surprise that Attack in Black is back for another edition of Sappyfest. It has me wondering, though, will I get to see I'm A Rock, their new duet with Julie Doiron, live on stage? I picked up a 7" at a Shotgun Jimmie show back in December with that track on it, and hell, it's more worn out than any other piece of vinyl I own. Beautiful song, absolutely beautiful.

Speaking of possible duets, $100 are back for another year at Sappy, and now their Simone Fornow has given us a duet with Shotgun Jimmie on his new record, Still Jimmie. The track is called Quicksand, and in my mind it's one of the better tracks on the record. If you look down the blog at my review of that record, I think I've got it posted. Now, I've never seen $100, but this is a regret. Their album is one of my most-played, there's something about Simone's voice that I just can't shake, can't get out of my head. She has, honestly, the perfect voice for the tearful, beerful alt-country these guys put out.

No one else I've spoken with seems as excited about Timber Timbre as I am. Mostly, they just haven't heard of this Taylor Kirk project--but trust me, they will. He's currently on tour out in the West of Canada with Ghost Bees (who I'm hoping are one of the TBA acts... fingers crossed) and I think I'd describe him as a Canadian version of M. Ward. Though his new album (his first on Arts & Crafts) is a bit less folksy and a bit more traditional lo-fi, I'd still love to see him share a bill or even share the stage with Old Man Luedecke.

Oh, did I mention? Old Man Luedecke, one of my favourite concerts from the last year, he's playing once more. The last time I saw him was at the Vogue during the CHMA Stereophonic Fundraiser, when Julie opened for him. There is something so brilliant about this man and his banjo, something about him that can get a theatre full of people clapping and stomping and singing along. An Old Man Luedecke concert is an experience you just can't miss out on, it's one of the most beautiful things you can ever experience.

There are so many more who I want to talk about, but I'm running out of time and this thing is running long. Maybe I'll write an addendum to the post tomorrow. Anyway, be prepared to see Halifax's number one dance party Windom Earle, Stereophonic headliners Wintersleep, the ethereal Laura Borealis, as well as Ladyhawk, Snailhouse, Dog Day, Shapes & Sizes, and oodles more! See, just there, that could be an entire second post. Maybe it will be.

I'll see you all in Sackville.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

You can say anything that you dare

photo credit to will hopkins

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: my first concert review in a dog's age! I'm sorry I've been neglecting this blog so much, but I'm still trying to get used to life in Saint John. It's not very appealing, as you might guess. If you know anything about my relationship with my hometown, anyway.

Usually shows at a khord, in my experience--even Saturday night shows!--have a pretty sparse turnout. Not necessarily a bad turnout (though when I saw Hospital Grade and some others play there a few weeks ago, you would have been hard pressed to find more than a dozen people around, but then that was a Thursday) but just a lower turnout than what I'm used to at Sackville and Halifax shows. The mindset of the people, too, is different. But that's not what I'm on about. Maybe it will be another day, but not today!

I think it was the opening act that drew out a lot of the crowd, from things I overheard and such. It was a group that I think is called Three Sheet but I don't know much about them. At least one of them originally comes from Saint John, though, and maybe more... Anyway, they bill themselves as Halifax's only Live Hip-Hop band, that is to say that every sound they make is produced by a guitar, a bass, a beatboxer, and two MCs live on stage. For what it was, it was pretty decent stuff. They put on a good set, and if I'd had a better vantage point I might have been able to enjoy it more, but it wasn't a waste. I enjoyed them as much as I could, given the circumstances -- that is to say, the crowd noise made it impossible to make out what the bloke there was saying. They were a little unsuited as an opener to the headliner, though.

So, enter Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees. Now, they had done a soundcheck a few hours earlier at about 11pm (by now it was nearly 1) but it took the gang a while to get things under control. This seems pretty standard for the venue. And I didn't really mind; I'd found a couple people to chat with by this point. The show started, though, and out poured the electro goodness from Colin's synth setup. I had been worried that once they heard what the headliner sounded like, a good deal of the crowd would bail. And, of course, a few did, from the back end of the crowd. But, up where I was, everybody just danced like mad. Now, it's here that Saint John bothers me a little. People are a lot more selfish and pushy and just plain angry 'round these parts when it comes to dancing. I think it comes from a generation that grew up on hardcore shows. Oh well.

Rebekah et al put on one hell of a show. She was a little trashed, but that didn't hurt the performance even a little bit. The quality was gold. Gold, like Jason Vautour's gold lamé pants. The last time I saw these guys, it had been in the CHMA offices back in Sackville--a completely different sort of scene. Here, in a proper venue, with an actual stage, the whole thing behaved differently. Rebekah was so into and connected with the crowd, between the crowd-surfing, the feeding us with whiskey, and everything else that went on, it's clear she knows how to interact with the crowd to give everyone what they want.

Personally, I can't really decide which show I liked better for their performance. On the whole, of course, I preferred the Sackville show, just for the sheer quality of both acts. This one, though, RJATTB put on an absolutely balls-out performance, so much more intense than I've seen them before. For just the RJATTB set, I'd call this one the better one. The sound quality may not have been as good, and it was a full 8 hours later in the day, but, well, holy shit. They made all the detriments seem like nothing. The lousy crowd mentality vanished almost instantly, everybody, I think, fell in love a little bit with the band. It was certainly the best show I've seen at a khord since the Tom Fun Orchestra in December.

In short: Ruby Jean killed. Awesome show. Abso-fucking-lutely awesome, and not one I'll forget any time soon. It was Rebekah's stage (and off-stage) presence that was the real kicker for me; she's everything a band's frontwoman should be. Right down to the wardrobe changes mid-show and a bottle of something always in her hand. By the end of the show she was barely upright most of the time, crouching or lying on the stage, else out in the crowd, but her performance didn't suffer one bit. The opposite, really: it made everything that much greater.

I only wish I could put into words the sheer awesome fantabulosity of last night's show. But, I think, it was one of those that you'd have to be there to appreciate it fully.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's fashionable to be single in big cities but not in small towns.

Last night I had a dream about blogging. It was a specific record review, so I'm going to do that.

I've also been to a lot of awesome shows lately, so you might see concert reviews popping up here and there. But probably not. You know. Summertime. Lazy.

So! There's this band from Regina, goes by the name of Rah Rah. They haven't always been but has as of late turned themselves into a six-piece, rotating instrumental duties both in studio and in concert. The band's undergone a significant metamorphosis from their beginnings as a three-member event, Marshall and Erin and a favourite around this blog, Kyrie Kristmanson. Now, she's since left the band to do her own thing, I don't know the details exactly, but she does appear on the album.

Anyway, I saw them on Thursday night as part of their joint-headlining East Meets West tour with Halifax's Sleepless Nights. Now, they played apparent second-fiddle in playing before Sleepless Nights, but they put on a much better live show, the most endearing thing I've seen. Six of them up there, rotating around on drums and synthesizer and bass, with the violin player and guitarists sticking to their guns. They dressed the stage so beautifully, and in the middle of the climax of their last song-- BANG! Confetti shot out all over the crowd. But I'll go into all of that in more detail in a concert review. This is about the album!

Now, I'd never heard of the band before I saw them live. I love discoveries like this. I also love $10 CDs, and am ultra-glad I had the money on hand to make the purchase, because this is really climbing my personal rotation charts. Going Steady is, to me, the sound of basement singalongs and a little bit of heartbreak. It's little things like this that I like best about the Canadian music scene. The songs that the band has created for this album are at the same time adorable and heartbreaking, recorded by a five-piece band on a sugar high with tambourines and violins and hula hoops. Maybe you're tired of this boy-girl indie pop, but I'm not, and Rah Rah stands out from the pack, to me. You know, decide for yourself. You can find them on myspace and twitter.

I want to say more about the album. Standout tracks? Betrayal Pt. 2 is my favourite on the album, I'd say, but it's close. Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel is up there, too. The whole album is fab, I say look into finding it. Duet is a real piece of work, with the vocal tradeoff and all. Erin's voice is something special, I really enjoy it maybe even too much. Kyrie makes an appearance on Winter Sun, making for another great track. This is my long-awaited return to blogging, it's not going to be perfect!

Anyway, the whole record and experience of Rah Rah is something that I don't want anybody to miss out on. More bands need their violins and keyboards to start spontaneous walking-man dance parties.

Rah Rah - Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel
Rah Rah - Winter Sun
Rah Rah - Betrayal, Pt. 2

Rating: 8/10
Released: 20 September 2008

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Fats Waller

Side A
Two Sleepy People
Piano and Vocal: Thomas "Fats" Waller

Side B
The Minor Drag
Fats Waller, Piano; Arville Harris, Clarinet and Alto Sax; Charlie Gains, Trumpet; Charlie Ervis, Trombone; Eddie Cendon, Banjo.

(click the image or here to download)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A new direction

I've decided to do something new with this blog, for a little while at least.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I'm going to be posting a digitised download of something out of my record collection. I'm gleaning from my grandparents' collections, most of which came under my control upon their deaths. That is to say: I have a load of golden oldies in the realms of jazz, vocal pop, and even a few musicals. As well as my own personal collection, which I've collected by popping into a record shop at every chance I get.

So think of this as a sort of vinyl-sharing blog whose blogger has a faulty spacebar.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

My first upload is one of my favourites, it's gotten a lot of play time, and I'd been meaning to put it on the air as soon as I find an excuse. So, enjoy!

Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra

Side A:
I Didn't Know About You
Vocal Refrain: Joya Sherrill

Side B:
I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
Vocal Refrain: Al Hibbler with Kay Davis

(click the image or here to download)

Monday, April 13, 2009



1. Matt & Chris Time - The Town Circus
2. Mama Rosin - Le Pistolet
3. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Heart Attack in an Old Motel
4. Leonard Cohen - Dress Rehearsal Rag
5. Amelia Curran - You Won't Find Me
6. Gary Flanagan - Computer Control
7. Share - Soil
8. Snailhouse - Dollar Signs
9. Pete Samples - Written in Code
10. Po' Girl - Dig Me A Hole
11. Jill Barber - Old Flame
12. Forest City Lovers - Pirates (Can't All Sail the Indian Ocean)
13. Ketch Harbour Wolves - Leaves
14. Boxer the Horse - Rocknroll Band
15. Rich Aucoin - At War With The Cynics (An Opening)
16. Geoff Berner - Clown & Bard

I returned to a complaint over calling Leonard Cohen a poet, rather than a songwriter, as he makes it very clear that he is a songwriter. I hereby apologise both to Megan and to Mr Cohen, and the mistake shall not again be made!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

While I was out...


22 March, 2009: The Weakerthans + Constantines at George's Fabulous Roadhouse, Sackville NB.

28 March, 2009: Pat LePoidevin, Jay Crocker + the Slate Pacific at Struts Gallery, Sackville NB.
(Plans fell through, didn't make it there)

3 April, 2009: Al Tuck, Ryan Cook + Grass Mountain Hobos at George's Fabulous Roadhouse, Sackville NB.
(Plans fell through, didn't make it there)

4 April 2009: Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland, Amelia Curran + Corey Isenor at George's Fabulous Roadhouse, Sackville NB.

9 April 2009: Snailhouse + Share at The Shadow Lawn Inn, Rothesay NB.


11 April 2009: Neil Young at Harbour Station, Saint John NB.

21 April 2009: B.A. Johnston + Horses at Bridgeport Falls, Sackville NB.

23 April 2009: Joel Plaskett at the Imperial Theatre, Saint John NB.

30 April 2009: Hey Rosetta! + Rich Aucoin at George's Fabulous Roadhouse


Monday, April 6, 2009



1. Malajube - Ursuline
2. Jenn Grant - Take A Number
3. Rick White - The Clock
4. controller.controller - Watch
5. Spiral Beach - Made of Stone
6. Barracuda Sunrise - Made of Stone
7. North of America - Keep It On The Download
8. SS Cardiacs - Noo Noo (In A Foreign Dialect)
9. The Barmitzvah Brothers - Wake Up
10. Neon Tetra - Hidden Secret
11. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Frank, AB
12. Snailhouse - (Not) Superstitious
13. The Burning Hell - Dinosaurs
14. The Got To Get Got - Rattle Off
15. Shotgun Jimmie - Deep in the Heart
16. Bry Webb - Big Smoke

Still not updating the blog, still epic essay-writing time. Sorry. Found out today that my blog is linked from the Stereophonic festival page at the chma website. Pretty awesome, I say.

Monday, March 30, 2009



1. Old Man Luedecke - Salute to the Gold River
2. Mother Mother - Hayloft
3. Weezer - Pink Triangle
4. The Stolen Minks - I Hate You
5. Joel Plaskett - Through & Through & Through
6. The DoneFors - In A Cornfield
7. $100 - No Great Leap
8. CFCF - Colour Dreams
9. Constantines - Young Offenders
10. Eric's Trip - My Room
11. Joel Plaskett - Sailor's Eyes
12. Christopher Durning - Louie Knocking at the Gates
13. Old Man Luedecke - In the Beginning
14. Joel Plaskett - Deny, Deny, Deny
15. The Tom Fun Orchestra - Bottom of the River
16. Krista Muir - Leave Alight

sorry for the lack of bloggage, it's that time of year again and all my words are going towards essays. i'll be back in a week or two!

Monday, March 23, 2009



1. Henri Fabergé & the Adorables - The Goddamn Light
2. The Balconies - Rest Up
3. Sean Nicholas Savage - She's The Sun
4. Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Trade Names
5. Smothered in Hugs - At The Coat Check
6. Krista Muir - Letters
7. Julie Doiron - Borrowed Minivans
8. Construction & Destruction - Ring Around The Moon
9. Shotgun Jimmie - Quicksand
10. The World Provider & Feist - Valentine
11. Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
12. The Weakerthans - Tournament of Hearts
13. 1990s - I Don't Even Know What That Is
14. The Deep Dark Woods - Nancy
15. United Steel Workers of Montreal - Place St. Henri

this show was completely spur of the moment. i forgot my prepared CDs at home, and therefore had to run with what was available to me in the booth. thankfully, there was quite a bit, and i managed a pretty decent show, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Concert Etiquette.

I'm doing this apart from the actual concert review because I don't want to taint it with this bad vibe, and have to get it out. The concert itself was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

However, it made me think: there should be a mandatory high school class taught on concert etiquette. Where I was standing, fairly near the stage, there was one girl who was taking up the space of four people, all her swaying and moving around, and bumping into me incessantly even when those around her weren't moving the tiniest bit. On the other hand, and the other side of me, was the opposite: a man who would not budge, no matter what. I was trapped here, between this girl who took far too much room and bumped against me again and again and this fellow who felt it was his duty to stand completely still and not budge an inch. Ugh. Learn to be middle of the road, people.

And, as a former concert venue organiser, this is one of my biggest pet peeves: when the band is playing, you do not open your mouth unless it is to sing along or cough. Especially when you are in close proximity to the stage, and thus the performers. I was about two or three feet away from the stage, and during both headlining sets, there were these people around me on most sides, getting progressively drunker, carrying out conversations loud enough to be heard over the music, particularly during the more subdued songs. Augh, people.

That said, the concert was wonderful. This did not detract from it in the slightest. Lesser concerts, it would, but I wasn't letting anything get me down. Not when I was seeing Constantines and the Weakerthans.

Record Nostalgia.

Left and leaving isn't my favourite Weakerthans album, but it was my first. It was 2002, and I had just started my high school life. It was my first purchase at Backstreet Records, which has become my favourite record store, and the favourite of many. It cost me $8.99, still sealed in plastic, at that point still their latest album (Reconstruction Site being still a year on the horizon).

From the first tentative steps of Everything Must Go!, I knew I was in love. As soon as the drums kick in about half a minute into the song, the beauty overwhelms me, and it just keeps on building. John's lyrics are more than gorgeous. Their complexity, their oddity, so different than anything I'd known up to that point. (If you'll recall, until I reached high school, I was a bit of a dweeb when it came to music). But then! Then comes Aside, which has the same beauty, the same lyrical complexity, but the sound of it stays true to the band's punk roots: roaring distortion, interspersed with the... oh, it's so hard for me to analyse an album I've loved for all my music-loving life. I'm leaning on this broken fence between past and present tense. It's beautiful. It's punk! It's punk in its everything that it is except for genre.

The album just continues on the upward trajectory. Every song shows everything that the Weakerthans are, and can be. There is no low point to the album. They're all just high points, varying degrees of wonderful. I don't know what I should do with my hands when I talk to you, and you don't know where you should look, so you look at my hands. It's not all lyrical complexity. Some, like that bit from Pamphleteer, are beautiful in their simplicity, beautiful in their universal application. The album is a masterpiece, and every masterpiece has a keystone. In Left and Leaving's case, it has two.

The first one we come across is the title track, which is in my mind one of the greatest Canadian songs. I can't say anything about it that hasn't already been said. It is as much about Winnipeg and John's relationship with it as it is about any individual and his relationship with his hometown, the people there, the whole of the sentiment. I'm listening to it now, and I simply can't think straight or even see straight. The song has such a profound effect on me, and I'm sure if you've heard it you know what I mean. In the liner notes, the lyrics begin with an epigraph by Catherine Hunter, and I think this exemplifies anything you need to know, but I can't put forward for this effect it has on me:

and for a moment both of you believe
you can hear the city breathing

you are both tired, you want to be done

The other cornerstone, at the end of the record, is My Favourite Chords. This is the first Weakerthans song ever did I hear, and has stuck with me since. This is the song that sent me hunting after the album, this is the song that created my love affair with the band. It is simple, it is adorable, it is terrifying, it is beautiful. This is what music should be. I can't do any of this justice. I am so sorry for writing this, this inconsequential little nothing, because my trying to express my love for this album comes up so short. I am a faulty string of blue christmas lights [...] I'm blinking off and on and off again.

I'm seeing the Weakerthans tonight, for the first time.

Rating: 10/10
Released: 25 July 2000

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Paper Bag Records strikes again.

We've been hearing Mike Silver's remixes under the name CFCF for a while now, and one original track, Crystal Mines, showed up on the last Paper Bag Records Sampler. Now in 2009 comes his debut EP, Panesian Nights, which is one of the most solid instrumental electroclash records I have ever heard.

Crystal Mines had been the stand-out track for me on that sampler which I had picked up either at a Laura Barrett show or a Woodhands show (I forget which it was to be entirely honest) and the whole record lives up to expectations I'd put forward.

Throughout Mike falls on to the Atari-like sounds that might remind you of Crystal Castles (who he, of course, has remixed) but with more depth than Alice & Ethan, by which I mean it is not exclusively the 8-bit synth. Don't get me wrong, I love Crystal Castles, but the way Mike has expanded his available sounds here while staying true to the genre really makes for enjoyable listening. It's always good to know that someone with such incredible remixing talent also has this creative talent of his own--taking the work of others and making it, in most cases, better, as well as creating his own works of beauty.

The album is available on iTunes for the very reasonable price of $4.99. I suggest you make the investment.

CFCF - Sogni Rossi

CFCF - Colour Dreams

Rating: 9/10
Released: 20 January 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The world is twice as round, the sky is twice as blue.

Malcolm Fraser, better known as the one man band The World Provider, has been making music between Toronto and Montreal for a decade, with roots in the same collective that spawned superstars Feist and Peaches. I'll admit, before picking up the record, I had never heard of him, but I'm curious now to hear more. He's been steadily releasing records over the last decade years, and this latest endeavour caught my eye from the CHMA shelf, advertising itself as a "Super-fun activity book". The album itself is titled Hard Feelings and is an altogether enjoyable listen.

It does, however, shoot itself in the foot. The music is solid synth-rock and genuinely appealing, but he's made the mistake of opening with the single greatest duet track I've heard since Shotgun Jimmie's Bedhead: a little ditty titled Valentine, featuring old pal Leslie Feist. The song is beautiful, and really makes a good example of Fraser's idiosyncratic approach to vocals. I really can't explain the effect it has on me.

The rest of the album is definitely solid, with a few stand-out tracks, namely Happy Endings and the title track, Hard Feelings, but it takes me the better part of the album just to get over the wonder and joy that is that first track. He's put together a quirky and idiosyncratic record here, and I'll call myself a fan. I'm not sure if I'm a fan of his overuse of falsetto, or quasi-falsetto, or whatever it is he's doing with his voice throughout so much of it, but one way or another he puts the sound forward that he is a wacky guy who has held the tradition of that collective (which, as I mentioned, produced Peaches). The off-kilter quality of the album is what makes it notable, and I think you ought to take a look more in-depth into this fellow's music. I know I will.

The World Provider & Feist - Valentine
The World Provider - Entertainment Law

Rating: 6.5/10
Released: 25 November 2008
his myspace is here

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There has always been a light.

What can I said that hasn't already been said about Jim? He's a little bit quirky, a little bit eccentric, a little bit silly... all things that I think embody Sackville, and I think Jim is one of the reasons they do. He and Fred brought so much of what I love about Sackville back with them from Dawson City (not least of which being Shotgun & Jaybird) and what was already here they helped grow. I don't think that Sackville would be the town it is with the aura it has without Shotgun & Jaybird, all of them, Jim, Fred, Paul, Julie... but I'm running away with myself. This is a post about the new record, nothing more.

So then what is the new record? It's mighty different from The Onlys, which in turn was mighty different from The 6000 True Stories of Love, so it can be said that Jim is a bit of a chameleon. (If I ever run out of new stuff to review, watch for retro reviews of these guys coming up..) Still Jimmie is a harder, more cynical record. I think this is best displayed in how these two records start out.

Duet starts: "Let me play you a song, and if you like it you can sing along, and if we make it all the way through it, we'll do it again but then we'll call it a duet." vs. Mind Crumb's "I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm super-fine. I'm tired, I'm tired, tired all the time. Go back, go back, go back anytime; go back to find: did we really mess it up?" and this really sets the tone for the record. Don't get me wrong. I love the record, I'm not trying to put it down. But the guitars are so much more powerful, and the underlying theme seems like longingly looking into the rear-view mirror as you're driving away from something you loved but just couldn't bear anymore.

Last time out, we had an unforgettable and adorablue duet on The Onlys featuring Ilse Kramer. This time around, we have another duet, this time with $100's Simone Fornow, and if you know anything about $100 or Fornow's voice, you know to expect nothing close to Bedhead as far as Quicksand is concerned. That said, it is a beautiful and sad tune, and I for one think that their styles and voices complement each other fabulously. It fits with the tone of the album. I like that, the album really does function as a whole, a cohesive and beautiful whole. Good job, Jim. Good job.

The guitars come in much harder on this record, but none of Jim's quirkiness is lost. The songwriting is still the same, like the title says, he's Still Jimmie. Used Parts sounds like it could be on The Onlys, its a perfect indication of that Jim we know and love: "Good luck building buildings for bored historians, or finding used parts for your Delorean". Come on, he references both Deloreans and Bricklins in the same song, who else do we know who could do that? He's still the same fella, giving us the same thing he's always given us. The subject matter may have changed, but his delivery has remained unchanged. This is a fantastic album, and if you haven't heard of Shotgun Jimmie yet, you should look into him! Check out his myspace. You won't be disappointed.

Shotgun Jimmie - Waist Deep In The Water
Shotgun Jimmie - I Asked Cupid

Rating: 8.5/10
Released: 10 March 2009

Holy shit, that's a harpsichord.

My first reaction on hearing the track Trade Names from Josh Reichmann Oracle Band's new LP, Crazy Power was "holy shit, that's a harpsichord."

I'm really not sure how to describe this record. It's one of those sounds that escapes definition, and uses every bit of instrumentation under the sun. Reichmann uses tried and true alternative/indie rock stylings that make me want to call him Canada's answer to Stephen Malkmus.

Making music since the turn of the century, Josh put out this latest endeavour last week on Paper Bag Records, home of such blog favourites as Laura Barrett and Woodhands. I actually first heard him through a sampler available at a Laura Barrett, and was at least a little bit impressed. That track was straightforward enough, especially on the compilation I found it on, filled with all sorts of oddities. The album as a whole, however, is downright bizarre. The instrumentation is as varied as I've ever heard; I can't even identify every instrument utilised. He draws from every musical tradition, I imagine, that he could get his hands on, and the selection of sounds seems to me like a far too curious 12-year-old music student at an overstocked band room. In a good way.

The track Time Chimes is perhaps the most accessible of the album's tracks, with little of the odd instrument choice present in most of the album, sticking for the most part to old standards. This, to me, just speaks to his drawing on every possible tradition. His songwriting reminds me of early Andrew Bird, but I couldn't tell you why at all. This is some of the most singularly quirky music I have heard, and I'm falling more in love with it each time I listen to the album through. You might just hear it on my show if you tune in some night.

Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Sea At Night
Josh Reichmann Oracle Band - Aztec Hive

Rating: 8/10
Released: 10 March 2009
find them on myspace