Friday, January 30, 2009

Luke Surl Comics

Something I stumbled upon on the interwebs. I'm finally branching out from xkcd and garfieldminusgarfield!

The website can be found here!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Sometimes, I get sad. Yes! Even me!

But when I get sad, I have a sure-fire solution. And a back-up sure-fire solution, when the sure-fire solution is unattainable.

To quit my being sad and return to my usual degree of epic awesomeitude, I do nothing more than pop my Top Gun DVD into the player and chill with Mav and Goose. However, after his breakup, I lent my Top Gun DVD to an old friend. He still hasn't gotten it back to me. If you read this blog, bro, and I hope you do, I want my Top Gun back. Soon. So nights like this don't require a back-up.

My back-up is, of course, my Get Psyched mix CD + playlist. It includes the most important part of Top Gun, that being Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone. Track 3. Other highlights: Jump (track 2), Tom Sawyer (track 8), The Final Countdown (track 10), Eye of the Tiger (track 14), Song 2 (track 17), Don't Stop Believin' (track 20), and You Give Love A Bad Name to open the whole thing up. Awesome. This is how you keep things awesome, bloggees: Arena Rock.

And scotch.


Something magical is going to happen. I'm convinced of it.

This February is the first month since 1998 to be a perfect rectangle on a calendar. Look at it. Every Saturday is a multiple of 7, and it consists of 28 days. Sunday to Saturday, Sunday to Saturday, Sunday to Saturday, Sunday to Saturday, done. It hasn't happened since 1998 and won't again until 2015. It's an aesthetically pleasing month and the rarity of such a thing, oh I don't know.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, look at your calendar. It's so beautiful and symmetrical (which gives me hope for Wednesdays, being the axis! And I love Wednesdays anyway). Maybe this is just my own version of superstition, but to hell with that. I'm convinced that February is going to be a beautiful, magical month, specifically Wednesdays and Saturdays, and if you try to tell me otherwise I just won't believe it. Okay? Okay!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I know I haven't been posting much lately, but I'm really focussing on my studies at the moment. I'll write a rant or a review of one of those albums I snatched from Sharon or something sometime soon, but not yet. Now I'll just give you a rundown of my first radio show.


1. The Port City Allstars - Pettin' Dogs
2. Sharp Like Knives - Holy Gaud
3. New Royalty - Fluorescent
4. Wintersleep - Avalanche
5. Old Man Luedecke - Just Like A River
6. Jessie Kussin - Dodging Daggers
7. Kyrie Kristmanson - Oh, Montmartre
8. Matt & Chris Time - Lucy and Disasters, too
9. Woodhands - Dancer
10. Shotgun & Jaybird - Marquee Glass
11. The Tom Fun Orchestra - You Will Land With A Thud

Any questions about any of this music, where you can find it, etc, come to me. Or just google them, an awful lot of them have myspaces. Most of them, I should imagine. All of them, likely. Stay tuned next week for another block of absolute wonder from this strange man in your noise box.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Starting Monday, 26th January at MIDNIGHT

I, your faithful blogger, shall be ON THE AIR playing a selection of my favourite tunes from home and away. Something like 10-15% Saint John music, too. Be excited.

Mondays at midnight, tune in to CHMA 106.9 if you're in the Sackville area or here if you are anywhere else in the world--we do a webcast!

So, check it out. Playlists will be posted here the day after a show, so check it out!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 5

all photo credit to vanessa blackier

The final day of Stereophonic 6, on Tuesday January 20th, was a nice night, a nice concert, but it definitely had its downsides. But it was wonderful and an adequate culmination of the wonderfuliciousness that was Stereophonic. Personally, I preferred Friday night's show at the Vogue, but this was another fantastic show. Two of the acts I'd seen before (though one of them not for years) and the third act has been intriguing me for some time, and I'm glad I got to see them. But oh, where do I begin?

My friend Neil, who has been to all of these shows with me, and has been a sounding board for some of my reviews, took ill last night, and as such left the concert early. This was a little bit of a bummer, but I latched on to other friends and still made the night worthwhile from a personal standpoint. And Ian's message on the Friday's Special blackboard was still there. The mind, I suppose, remains a powerful trick.

I was a little bit excited about the first band on the lineup; I saw them back at the Halloween show and enjoyed them more than I really know how to say. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a synthesizer and a pretty girl, but New Royalty are definitely more than just a synthesizer and a pretty girl! There are two pretty girls. I missed the beginning of their set at Halloween, but the earliosity with which I arrived to the show and the length of time before the show started, I caught the whole thing this time. They're a wonderful lot on stage, friendly and fun, encouraging dancing and clapping, and they're coming off a PEI Music Award win for Best Pop Recording of the Year. These kids have promise! And I hope they keep playing together in some form once they disperse--the one record is not enough! And gosh, it's a cute record. You have to get your hands on it at some point. It's a 5-song EP, home-packaged, and the liner notes are just adorable as anything. The EP is titled "Sleepover!", and what do we do at sleepovers? Do any of you remember those little paper whatsits I and at least a few others remember as cootie catchers? The liner notes are folded into one of these, with the lyrics written on the inside flaps. Adorable! And wonderfully danceable synth-driven pop-rock which you have to check out. If I haven't directed you before to their myspace, go there now! Apparently they'll be playing in Halifax on the 7th of February... so check that out, if you can! And pick up that adorable little award-winning EP of theirs! I have, and definitely am not regretting it. If you cats end up reading this, I am officially a huge fan.

But both I and that first band were eagerly anticipating the next two. First came Plants and Animals out of Montréal, who I first heard when their record came out to a whole lot of celebratory gunfire in the blogosphere. These boys put on one hell of an awesometastic set, I thought, given there were only three of them up there on the stage at any given time. But holy mackerel, the sound that the three of them could pump out! Absolutely amazing. It might have had something to do with the epic pedal setup this multi-instrumentalist of theirs' had going on at his feet. They played quite a bit from the album, and also a couple of new songs which might one day be heard on a future recording. It was lovely to see and hear so much of the crowd singing along to so many of the songs, and they knew them so much better than I did. I could belt out a couple of them but some of these guys seemed like right proper devoted fans. I like seeing that kind of crowd reaction one hell of a lot, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Near the end of the set, for Bye, Bye, Bye, one of them set down his guitar, or his bass, or whatever he had in his hands at the time and picked up an auto-harp. This made me smile more than the crowd. Autoharps > Happy people. It's just a fact of life. Autoharps, you see, they create happy people, and thus by this productive quality are greater than the things they produce. Except the sounds. Oh, don't listen to me! I'm making no sense. The crowd reaction to the band was so rad that they came out and did an encore of one of my favourite tracks from the album, Mercy. They had the whole crowd, even those who didn't know their music, shouting M-E-R! C-Y! M-E-R! C-Y! It was a beautiful moment in flu-season Sackville. But of course, the show was not yet over. There was more to come.

The last time I saw Wintersleep was in 2007, on their tour promoting the then new Welcome to the Night Sky record. The first time I saw them was in 2005, at a release show for their then new untitled 2005 record. In the years since my first Wintersleep show, the band has grown, has gained national fame, has won ECMAs and Juno awards, and has changed. I'm not sure if this change is for good or for ill, even though I'm a big fan of their first two records. I picked up a clear-vinyl pressing of their debut record that night, the record from 2003 that got me into the band. To be frank, I can't get into Welcome to the Night Sky. I've tried. I've tried dozens of times, I've listened to the album through a number of times, but it just doesn't stick like the noodles I used to throw against the wall when I was a wee one. Sadly, they relied mostly on this newest album for the material they played on Tuesday night. They played a few songs which I knew well, but Orca, which had been their most popular and successful track in the pre-Weighty Ghost era was missing entirely from the set. The main set did not disappoint me, though, as I was expecting an emphasis on new material, and they were awfully sloppy. I was awfully sloppy, myself, so I don't hold it against them. And my love for the band remains, because the encore they played felt like it could have been the show I went to in 2005. They played Sore, from their first record, which is one of my favourite cuts from that album, and they closed the show with a cover of Neil Young's Words (Between the Lines of Age). These two, feeling like old Wintersleep again, gave me hope that their upcoming record might sound at least something like their first two. My love for Wintersleep has not faded, no sir! If anything, this show has restored my faith in one of the most talented bands to come out of the Maritimes and on to national prominence in the last few years.

And with that, Stereophonic closed its pages for another year! And my focus can return to my studies. And keeping up this blog, of course. I have an announcement to make, regarding my eventual proliferation across media, but I shall wait until tomorrow.

Good day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 4 (Pt. 2)

some photo credit to vanessa blackier (the good ones)

I think I've pinned down why I felt so off on Saturday. That afternoon it had been my friend's birthday and over the course of an hour and a half I had had about ten beer. I was mostly sober by the time the shows rolled around, but there's no denying that that would have had a startling effect on me. I don't like beer. Me, I'm a wine-drinking man, as my bottle collection will inform you. I don't know why I agreed to do a century with them. I really don't know why I was one of only two to pull through all the way. But more on that if you ask, no more here.

When I got to George's, for this penultimate show of the Stereophonic festival, PheasantCougarBear was playing something I didn't really enjoy. I like the individual members, all students here at Mt Allison, but the music left a foul taste in my mouth. When I got there, I wanted to just settle in at a table and have a drink, before the show started. I figured since I left Struts so early, nothing would be happening yet at George's and I'd have some quiet time. No such luck! But oh well. If you want to see PheasantCougarBear's set, or indeed some others from the night (including THE STANCE, who rocked my socks right off, but more on that later), check out, a Saint John based videocast site. Apparently they'll be posting more videos from the night as time goes by! Maybe you'll even get a peek at me; watch the crowd for 3D glasses!

After PheasantCougarBear there was a little break as people arrived and whatnot, came in, got settled, the rest of the crew from Struts came. The Stance played first, and I'd heard nothing of this band before a few days ago when I was doing my CHMA training and one of my co-trainees played a cut from their album. I thought to myself, well, fuck, why haven't I heard of this band? Why haven't I heard that they're playing? They were a late addition to the festival, along with New Royalty who are playing tonight, but who I reported on. Anyway, they really impressed me, and I'm snatching that record from the offices as soon as I can, since they didn't have it for sale. I described them to a buddy of mine at the time as 'the Black Keys if they wanted to play dance music'. You can catch a video of them at that website I mentioned earlier. They were a whole lot of fun, I thought. Definitely check those boys out! I wish I knew more about them, so I could say more about them, but it's been a while since I've seen a band I'd never heard before and enjoyed them so thoroughly. The last one I can remember doing that was Hey Rosetta!, and they ended up being my pick for best album of 2008.

The Stolen Minks, an all-girl punk group out of Halifax came next. I hadn't seen a punk show of any description in quite a while, unless you count that thing at the pub a few months back. Okay, I hadn't been to a real punk show in a while. I don't even know. Anyway, I liked them! A friend of mine has their record, picked it up at the show, and I intend to give it a listen some time and share that with you, faithful reader. Sharon! Get me that CD! and the Maynards, too! It was a lot of fun to dance to, having had my own indie concert baptism in Saint John's hardcore scene. It was a little bit like going home. Just a little bit, though; those Saint John bands never played like this. And the moshing was a lot more tame. I only got punched in the face twice over the course of the night! Come on, now. It was an ace show, really ace.

In between here they had Elton John playing over the sound system. This led to a group of us singing along to Tiny Dancer and Rocket Man, drunkenly around a table. I have to say, it was quite a load of fun.

What can I possibly say about Shotgun Jimmie, who came on after our little interlude? He's been described as Sackville's mascot and its ambassador to the rest of the world, and he really does embody everything wonderful about the town. He's a magical personality. The first time I saw him--well, I don't think I blogged about it! I think it was the show which inspired the blog, though. It was just him and a looper pedal in a friend's living room, and what a beautiful set that was. This time, though, he came on with a three-piece band and they played a rather wonderful assortment of his solo music. I wish I'd picked up his album at the 67 Bridge show back in November, but sadly, no dice! All I can do is direct you to his myspace and hope you enjoy yourself there. Jimmie is one of my very favourite things about Sackville. One of my other favourite things about the town, as you probably know, is Julie. As you may or may not know, the two of them, along with Fred Squire and a couple of others who have yet to be mentioned in this blog made up Shotgun & Jaybird for a few years--a band I rather miss. However, this evening, Julie bounded up to the stage from where she was next to me in the crowd and joined Jimmie onstage to close his set with a duet on Bedhead, which may well be Sackville's favourite song. You can find it on his myspace. It was just oh so much fun, and I am beyond glad to have that moment now in my memory. Oh Julie, oh Jimmie! What a beautiful night you created.

But that wasn't the end of the night.

No, we were just beginning! After Jimmie came The Maynards, who put on a high energy show that was a lot of fun. Here I was starting to drift out and drink more, not in the front of the crowd rocking my heart out as I usually would be. This is what I meant in the last post by not really being myself. It's slightly upsetting. The Maynards, though, were dorky in a hardcore way, I'm not sure how to describe it. My advice to you is, once again, head on over to and check out the video of their performance. It really is a lot of fun, and you're expecting it if they open up their set by saying 'This is a song about eating out your friends! It's called.. Friendilingus!' What I heard of it I enjoyed, and Sharon I want you to get me their CD, too, so I can hear what they sound like. I did enjoy them, from what I could tell, but I need a better indicator! And I'll be back once I've heard an album with a review, you just watch. Super-fun performance that had people making out for free beer. That's all that really needs to be said.

And! Finally! As you likely can tell from the header of this post, the night was capped off with the Tom Fun Orchestra, my very favourite band to see live. Sadly, Morgan, their fiddler, he wasn't with them because of some kind of surgery, yikes. They still put on a rad show, but there was definitely something missing. The focus on the trumpet though was neat, Bert took over some of Morgan's parts. I still really do miss Alicia, and I miss her most when I hear them do Watchmaker. Carmen really is growing on me, but I don't know. Watchmaker is where Alicia really shone. I have to stop talking about them in terms of what's missing, and have to talk about what was gained! They closed the show with the most epic version of You Will Land With A Thud. I have never seen them play the song live, probably because it is just so very long. It was a gorgeous end to the show. They did Bottom of the River, another one I've never seen live, and proceeded into You Will Land With A Thud as the encore. Absolutely beautiful stuff, and it made up for the whole missing Alicia and Morgan. Ian, too, was very Ian. He did a call-back to the last show they played at George's referring to the blackboard aside the stage, which had led the crowd that time in a chant of SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS! But this time, oh no, it was covered up! So he pulled the sheet down from the wall and wrote on the blackboard, underneath Friday's Special: THE MIND IS A POWERFUL TRICK! I'm rather hoping it's still there, though I have a feeling it's been replaced by Monday's and then Tuesday's specials. But, one can dream! Oh, Tom Fun Orchestra, you are such a delightful group. You ended the night on a beautiful note. I hope I can manage to see them again soon. Between the stage presence, and the overall awesomeitude of the music, well just, gosh, I can't think of any band I would rather see live.

And with that, Saturday night ended, and Stereophonic took a break, before the final show on Tuesday night, at George's. To which I'm going in an hour.

Stereophonic, Day 4 (Pt. 1)

most photo credit to vanessa blackier

I'll be honest. Saturday felt a little weird, the whole time through. I don't know what it was, it might have been just me, but something felt off. Usually, I enjoy shows at Struts, where the first show was. And it wasn't a bad show. The middle part of it was lovely, but the beginning and the end were misses, in my thoughts, and I was outside walking for most of them. West Ave opened the show and El Ron Maltan & the Dice closed it, but I didn't see much of either of them, so I won't be talking about them.

From what I could tell, Julie and Fred arrived a little late, or at least Julie did, I didn't notice when Fred got in, so The Superfantastics played before Calm Down It's Monday, contrary to the advertisement. This led to a number of people I know missing the Superfantastics. This is why you go to the whole show, you silly people! The Superfantastics were just that. It was a lovely set, and they're just super-cute. Matt seems a little bit full of himself, but shh! Steph, for her part, is adorable, and there's something delightful and danceable about their music. I hadn't heard very much of them before the show, but coming out of that I'd call myself at least something of a fan. I picked up their 7" EP, Choose Your Destination, which came with 3D glasses! 3D glasses!! How utterly fabulous. They played a tight set, and a pretty one. The highlight for me was Lullaby Punches. Great tune. Great! Listen to it, love it, fall in love with Steph & Matt! They're just a whole lot of fun indie rock & roll, products of that delightful Halifax music scene. Thank you, Maritimes, for giving the world so much delightful music!

The Superfantastics - The Astronomer

The Superfantastics - Glitter

Calm Down It's Monday, composed of Julie Doiron and Fred Squire (under the name Dick Morello for some reason I've never quite understood, but I never know how to ask him) came on a few minutes after the Superfantastics had finished. They played a rather disorganised but nonetheless lovely set composed of a number of half-songs, one dedicated to/written for Al Tuck which never really created itself into a full and proper song, just bits and pieces. I enjoyed them quite a bit, but this wasn't the opinion of everyone. A good friend of mine said he rather disliked it just for that reason of utter disorganisation and their playing maybe 3 and a half songs over the course of their ordinary length of a set (about 30 minutes, let's say). I, on the other hand, thought it was cute, and lovely. These folks are a lot of fun, after all, and Fred is, even though he was awfully disorganised, a remarkably entertaining person. And do I really need to say how I feel about Julie? I do so adore that girl, and she really is just remarkably cute. The highlight of the show, I think, was their cover of Dearest by Buddy Holly. I wish I had an example of their music, but all I can do is direct you to their myspace and hope you like them. To close the show, Fred got out a saxophone and Julie found a broken trumpet, which they began to play. Après ça, they were finished, and I fairly promptly left to make my way up to George's Roadhouse for the show which was soon to start--a show which will be described in my next post.

Struts wasn't entirely a disappointment, and I always love seeing Julie, but like I said, there was this weird feeling hanging over my head the whole while, and I'm not at all sure what it was. I just felt off, but still managed to enjoy myself somewhat. Likewise at George's, but I always enjoy myself at George's!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 3 (Pt. 2)

most photo credit to vanessa blackier

So, from where do I continue? I think I might just start over, as the last post was kind of... ick.

The night started out, as I said, with Steven Fifield, who played a heavy-accented Cape Breton acoustic folk music. Some might call him forgettable, but I wouldn't. Not an entertainer so much as an honest songwriter, which you don't see so much these days. I liked him quite a bit, actually. But, I'm getting ahead of myself! The concert was at the Vogue Theatre down on Bridge St and, as Sandy pointed out, one of the few times you'll be able to drink at the Vogue. It was a wet/dry, technically all-ages, which contented me thoroughly. I've been an advocate of all-ages concerts for a long while, and Sackville seems to have no shortage of them. Contrast this with Saint John, and, well, I don't think I'll go there. Suffice it to say that I hope something changes sooner rather than later.

Pat Lepoidevin played next, and created the most surreal and overwhelming sound with only a guitar, a tin whistle, and a looper pedal. He has an album coming out in March, this 4th year university kid--watch out for this one! He's got promise.

Continuing the what I like to call a bit of a Sackville showcase that Pat started, Al Tuck, country-bluesman extraordinaire took to the stage. I and mes amies etaient in the front of the theatre--for a film, not so great, but for a concert, with a bag of popcorn and two glasses of Picaroon's Simeon Jones, it was wonderful. Al put on a great set, and That's How She Goes made me an instant fan. I probably shouldn't say this, but parts of the song made me chuckle, and I felt like a bit of a dick for doing so. If you give it a listen, you'll see what I mean. The feller's originally from PEI but spends his days lately in Sackville. I really don't know what to say about this guy except he had this hopelessly endearing quality about him, a storytelling quality, not just in his songs but in his rambling between them. Charming, charming, charming, and wonderful. If you ever get a chance to see him, get it done. By the end of the set, we were starting to get a little drunk (I had four or five beers in me at this point) and he broke out Brother From Another Mother, which we went out on. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

But then! Then, capping off this Sackville show (but not the whole Vogue show, it kept getting better!) was Julie Doiron, and a fairly plastered Julie at that, accompanied by Fred Squire on the drums. This is, I think, the best way to see Julie: she seems to anyway feel mighty comfortable and plays her little heart out. I stand by my judgment that she is, bar nothing, the absolute cutest thing on two legs. She was musing, at one point, between songs, 'do I want water, or do I want beer? I'm really not drunk! I'll have the water,' and proceeded to drink her beer. That woman is something of a delight, and she's absolutely beautiful in voice and in appearance and oh my word I could go on like this for hours, but I won't I'll get into the performance! Just let it be known that I adore Julie, and I do believe she is one of the most wonderful people I've ever met.
The music, too, was delightful, of course. I can't simply go on and on about Julie as a person, this is a concert review! Julie, her electric guitar; Fred, and his drums; they created such a beautiful sound and despite some mishaps along the way, false starts now and again. She opened the show, or practically opened it, it might have been the second song, but I don't remember these things and chances are she doesn't either so what harm is it? She opened it with So Fast, which she noted is more than 11 years old now. Years, oh years! I forget which song it was now, but Julie played a few bars and then began to say she couldn't do it, and then played some more, got the words wrong, and decided to quit the song. I thought it was cute, personally, the way she stumbled drunkenly into and out of that song. I wish I could recall what it was. Despite not having a capo, and mine being absent from my shirt pocket for once, Julie and her 'fucked-up wrist' stumbled through Swan Pond, barre chord style. That is something I really should have mentioned, isn't it? Her propensity for swearing. It really was a lot of fun, particularly when she realised, 'fuck, I'm really swearing a lot'. She did a delightful electric medley of The Wrong Guy and No More, the latter being one of my very favourite songs. I could go on like this forever, you know I could, so I'm just going to stop here and say that one of the last songs she played was Snow Falls In November, which is possibly the most beautiful song she's written, and my word, the quality of the show was fantastic. I wish it could happen every night, really.

But the night does not end there! Oh no, no, no. The night was just getting started, because après Julie and Fred came Old Man Luedecke, who Julie herself was showering with praise beforehand. I'd never seen him before, but a friend of mine had raved about him constantly and she had gotten me into his music. Here is the point in the show for which I was most happy to both be a bit drunk and be in the front row, because Chris and his banjo created for us a rollicking good time, the lot of us stomping and clapping and singing along. The lot of us singing songs about bacon and potatoes, about the love of life... Old Man Luedecke puts on one of the most incredible live shows that you ever will see. If you ever, ever have a chance to see this man and his banjo, you absolutely must take it up. Even if you're not such a fan of bluegrass music, he will make you a fan. He will make you fall in love with his music and his charming way. He capped off the night so well, and this was the highlight of the festival for me. Definitely one of the best shows I've ever seen, and I can't put enough emphasis on that. It was a beautiful, beautiful night, and I'll remember it always.

Old Man Luedecke - Proof of Love
Old Man Luedecke - Just Like a River
Old Man Luedecke - Joy of Cooking

And now to carry on with blogging! Saturday night, here I come.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 3 (Pt. 1)

So I'll be frank: I'm a little drunk. But I have to review these shows before I get to the nextt one, even if I can't see the screen very well. Oh well. Life.

The show was at the Vogue Cinemas, a beautiful little landmark of the town. We started out with Steven Fifield, a Cape Bretoner and a wonderful folk musician. In my current state, regrettably, I can't say much about it.

Next came Mount Allison's own Pat Lepoidevin, who used a looper pedal to create the most amazing sound I've heard! I really shouldn't write this now, fuck. I'll be back wioth more man. I promise. Fuuuuck, drjuuuunk.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 2

all photo credit to lindsay sherrard

Stereophonic continues, and just keeps growing more and more awesome. Yesterday afternoon, at 5pm, in the CHMA offices, was the most incredible dance party of an electro-pop show I've ever dreamed of. The venue was tiny, TINY, and when I first arrived everyone was sitting down. I started to worry that everyone, or most people, would be sitting down for the duration. A few of us vowed to set the tone for the epic dance party that was to ensue. Luckily, Sandy, one of the brains behind this operation, told everybody to get on their feet before the first band started up.

That first band was Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees, a Halifax band of Rebekah Higgs, Sean MacGillivray, Colin Crowell and Jason Vautour, who are on the road promoting their new (awesome) album, officially released tonight at the Marquee in Halifax. Of course, they had a few of these albums on hand at the show, handmade and individually numbered, and I got my hands on one of those. But the show! Holy mackerel. They played the album through from start to end, and I was a big fan going in. I have to admit to something of a legendary crush on Rebekah, as well. They opened the show as they open the album with You Don't Miss Me. It set the tone for the show, and holy hannah did it ever get people dancing. Jason, on the guitar, got so into the whole thing, dancing like some kind of madman and putting on one hell of a show--everything about him seemed to scream that, from the facial hair to the gold lamé "sweater-jacket" as woodhands' Dan called it. Rebekah spent any time she could dancing barefoot on top of an equipment crate, which she pulled into the middle of the crowd and continued to sing from there for The Best of All. It was a sweaty electro dance party and one of the best shows I've been to lately. I recommend to anyone, though, if you're going to be dancing up a storm, do not wear full body corduroy. Just don't. It's a bad idea.

Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees - Girls You Love

After a little break which most of us spent downstairs at the pub we came back up, with my corduroy jacket tossed aside. Woodhands put on the most high-energy performance I could possibly dream of. Paul Banwatt is, I think, the most talented and prolific drummer in Canadian music since Neil Peart. Just putting that out there. The self-described 'dirty electronic music' of Woodhands is pumped up to such a level in their live show. Their album is amazing, and if you can get your hands on it, get your hands on it as soon as possible, but this doesn't near do justice to the live show. Dan Werb puts more energy into performing than anyone I've ever seen, putting everything out so that you half expect him to just drop dead at the end of the set. That these two men can put on such an absolutely entertaining and superb show so easy to get lost in speaks volumes about their talent and the overall awesomitude of the band. Also, in what I'll remember as being in the running for best cover of the year, Dan and Paul did their own dirty electro rendition of Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl. I'll be frank, I don't know the song very well. I know the chorus and not even all of that. But I can tell that Woodhands made it their own, made it so much more than that original. Apparently they've recorded their cover, so keep tuned to their myspace, and maybe it'll make an appearance. Possibly their best known tune, Dancer, is not sung on the record by either one of them but a guest vocalist, a woman whose name escapes me. At the show, though, Paul put on his best falsetto (which was a damned good one) and they closed the show with an epic elongated version which saw Rebekah joining us in the crowd and building the most perfect close to such a radtacular show.

Woodhands - Under Attack (Live Remix)

Tonight is going to be a real change of pace, with Julie Doiron and Old Man Luedecke playing at the Vogue Cinemas downtown. I've been looking forward to seeing Old Man Luedecke since the first time I heard him, and now here it comes. Oh, Stereophonic, why can't you be every week?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 1

Stereophonic is UNDERWAY.

The first show was last night at the Sackville United Church. I'd never seen a show there before. Now I have, and I am calling it one of the best venues I've ever been to. There are cons, though--sitting in pews for 3 and a half hours is painful. This is why I don't go to church. But the acoustics of the place so make up for it. SO make up for it! The sound quality in there is absolutely gorgeous. But more on that later.

The first band of the night was the John Wayne Cover Band, one of them Sackville student bands. They were good for what they are, sounding to me like a cross between Bob Dylan and Joel Plaskett (but I can't convince anyone of the Plaskett-sounding quality, so don't take my word for that. I'm just unique). They were good, but the rest of the night dwarfed their set. Holy mackerel.

From Ottawa, now based in Halifax, Gianna Lauren came into her own in this venue. I saw her at the pub back in October, and was impressed enough to buy her album but not thoroughly enthralled. This time, though, she was stunning, absolutely beautiful. Her voice cut through everything, echoed against the wood and through the church and just won me over completely. In what became a theme for the night, she covered a Julie Doiron tune. Regrettably, Julie wasn't there, though. Beautiful! Beautiful, with new songs about accidental cardigan fires and hitchhiking. I don't know what words to use to describe her, really, so here's a track from her album.

Gianna Lauren - Bird's Eye View (click to download)

Après Gianna came Corey Isenor & the Sackville Citizens Choir. Corey is something else. Folksy and nasal, but oh my lord incredible. The Laura Barrett show I saw in Sackville last year was held in his kitchen, for an idea, and he opened that one. He started out this show solo, playing Burning In Your Hands alone with his guitar, before being joined by his band for most of the remainder of the set. For the last two songs, he was joined on stage by a good number of people from the audience, providing voice and handclaps along to everything. It was quite beautiful. Fitting for the venue, again. A tiny chair for a tiny ukulele.. There's something about his music that puts me into a pretty dreamy state. You really do have to hear it for yourself. So, go on, hear it for yourself! One of the most promising sounds to come out of Sackville, I'd say.

Corey Isenor - In Your Arms Tonight

Corey Isenor - Why Do You Believe In Love?

Headlining the night's show was Share, out of Fredericton. The set started out with the five of them standing not on the stage, but just in front, completely acoustic, Andrew Sisk with his ukulele, the rest of the band done up acoustic, playing to a crowd absolutely enrapt for two songs. It was one of the most gorgeous moments that could be possible. At one point, I noticed something which amused me thoroughly, and had me smiling like something of a madman. On Kyle's double bass, there hung a sock. A sock used to store his bow when not using it. It could have been anything, but it was a sock. This sock made my night, this sock has quite possibly made my year. Amazing!
This was my first time seeing all of Share live, together. I've seen Andrew do his solo thing and I've seen the Olympic Symphonium, which is the band without Andrew... but Share as a whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. Gorgeous music, makes me proud to be a New Brunswicker.

Share - Dance Dance Retribution
Share - Foreign Church

Tonight at the CHMA offices is a show featuring Woodhands and Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees. I am beyond pumped for this one! Beyond pumped for the epic nerditude that it entails! Wheee.

all photo credit to vanessa blackier


This is what me writing notes on top of my laptop with a Blogger window open looks like.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Most of Sackville was already excited about the Wintersleep/Plants and Animals show on the 20th to close off Stereophonic 6. Me, I was excited, but no more than for the Tom Fun show, who I know put on an awesome show. I've seen Wintersleep more times than I can count, but not for a while now...

Morgan informed me that PEI's New Royalty have been asked to open the show and have accepted (duh!). This is the icing on the cake for me to make the show from thoroughly enjoyable to AWESOMESAUCE, both for the chance to see them and for the chance for a small, young band like them to open for these nationally recognised and popular groups. So, congratulations to Morgan and the rest of New Royalty! If you weren't already going to the Wintersleep show, go now! Serious. Awesome.

I picked up my Stereophonic wristband today. There is a stuffed pheasant on the table. Go and check it out.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lack of posting.

Start of term has me posting very little. Once the Stereophonic shows start happening, I'll get a review of everything, and I'll have new CDs to glean from and share with you also! So, keep your pants on, or don't, whatever floats your boat.

And I'll be back soon.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Stereophonic 2009!

Okay ladies and gents, faithful reader, et cetera, I am taking a break from Latin homework to inform you of the wonder and the joy that will be the SIXTH Stereophonic Music Festival in Sackville! To raise money for CHMA, Mt Allison's campus and community radio station. I'm going to give you a lineup of events and acts, and I hope you'll be just as awed as I am by the sheer legendaritude of everything here.

at 7pm, at the Sackville United Church (All-Ages!!)
Sackville's John Wayne Cover Band
Ottawa's Gianna Lauren
Sackville's Corey Isenor & the Sackville Citizen's Choir
Fredericton's Share

at 10pm at the student pub (19+), all from Sackville unless otherwise indicated
Landon Braverman
Emma McMullin
Sara-Beth Harrison
Kellen Barrett & the Evening Architects
Halifax's Christina Martin

at 5pm at the CHMA offices

at 7pm at the Vogue Theatre (All-Ages!!)
Sackville's Pat Lepoidevin
Sackville's Al Tuck & No Action
Sackville's JULIE DOIRON
Chester, Nova Scotia's OLD MAN LUEDECKE

at 7pm at Struts Gallery (All-Ages!!)
Sackville's West Avenue
and Sackville's own supergroup, EL RON MALTON & THE DICE

at 10pm at George's Fabulous Roadhouse (19+)
Halifax's The Maynards
Halifax's The Stolen Minks

and as a special post-festival Tuesday night romp:
at 9pm at George's Roadhouse (19+)
Halifax's Wintersleep
Montreal's Plants & Animals

I'll have you know that all of my capsing of band names is completely arbitrary, and just indicating those shows that I'm most excited over.

Festival passes are $40 and available from several locations starting Monday. Ducky's, the CHMA offices, and the lobby of the new student centre will all have them for you on Monday. Get out there! Support campus and community radio! Have epic fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best Shows of '08

I'm taking this as a Top 10 countdown, because I've simply seen so many shows this year that I can't pick only one without feeling as though I'm leaving at least three dozen out. So, here we go.

10. Greenbelt Collective, Sebastien Grainger, and Islands at the Pavillion in Halifax, NS. October.
Okay, so the crowd was largely unresponsive, even to the utterly danceable Greenbelt, and two of the opening acts were pretentious crap, but this still ranks among my top 10 just because I finally got to see two of the artists who shaped my music tastes. Sebastien Grainger as part of Death From Above 1979 and Nick Thorburn as part of The Unicorns were such a defining sound of my high school years. The shows they put on here weren't bad, either. Islands' set could have been longer, but it was still incredible, and I hadn't heard Sebastien's new stuff before that show; it won me over. The overall enjoyability of the event was hammered home by my rather drunk journalist friend, and his man-crush on Mr Grainger. This also introduced me to Greenbelt, who would later produce the most epic dance party of a concert ever I have seen.

9. Share, Rebekah Higgs, and Jason Collett at George's Roadhouse in Sackville, NB. September.
This was my first show at George's, which I named my venue of the year. I have to say I was largely unimpressed by Share, but given it was just Andrew Sisk and not the whole band, I'll hold my judgment until I see the actual band. Rebekah Higgs blew me away with some of the most swimmingy and beautiful electro-folk music I've heard; I made sure she knew this. Jason Collett is Jason Collett, no more really needs to be said. And given that one of my best live tracks of the year came out of this concert, of course it'll make it to the list!

8. The Tom Fun Orchestra at a khord in Saint John, NB. December.
See my review.

7. Hey Rosetta! at the Bridge St. Stage in Sackville, NB. September.
My very first Sackville show, and an altogether lovely night. Newfoundland's Hey Rosetta! have become in the last few months one of my favourite bands I'd never heard of before coming to Sackville, and now both albums I could get my hands on are on fairly high rotation in my CD player. The concert was just that awesome. The stage was set up in the middle of the main street in Sackville, just outside the apartment to which I'm moving in June. Hay bales lined the edge of the stage, and I was there with good friends. Tim and the gang gave such an amazing and epic performance, and it was there that I for the first time felt really and truly and absolutely at home here in Sackville. Huge moment for me, personally, and a great show altogether.

6. Peter Project, The Bicycles, Young Rival, and Woodhands at the Coconut Grove, Halifax. October.
This was my last show of the Halifax Pop Explosion, and absolutely solid from start to finish. It did get a little bit odd when a lost-looking birthday pub crawl showed up and started weaving through the crowd, but this wasn't too much of a damper on the situation. Peter Project was a totally fab DJ whose album I picked up. I might put up some choice cuts from the record at a later date. The Bicycles put on such a totally rad show, coming on wearing box dinosaur outfits and shouting "WE ARE THE NEW GWAR!" You know if a set begins that way, it's bound to be radtastic. Young Rival underwhelmed me, as they would at a later date, but this didn't do a thing to damage the quality of the show.
Woodhands, oh, Woodhands! What can be said? By then the pub crawl had invaded the crowd and made it horribly thick, but I still managed my way in and enjoyed myself. A rapper from earlier, More or Les, was invited up to freestyle during the set, and fell a little flat. But oh, Woodhands! How long until I see you again?

5. Nathan Richards, Shotgun Jimmie, Construction & Destruction at 67 Bridge, Sackville, NB. November.
This was my first and so far only concert at 67 Bridge (as I missed the B.A. Johnston show in September) and the environment alone makes it worthy of a top 10 list. They put on concerts in their living room, you see.
Jimmie was as Jimmie is, that is to say absolutely radtacular, and just getting off a national tour with Ladyhawk and coming home. Enjoyed him thoroughly. Construction & Destruction I had never heard nor heard of before--I went to see Jimmie. But they won me over almost instantaneously. I probably have a review up somewhere, I seem to remember losing my words when attempting to describe what the darkened room and Colleen's voice did to me. That said, Dave is awesome, too. Also, there was a didgeridoo being played at one point. Awesome.

4. The Bicycles, Young Rival, Greenbelt Collective at the Mt. A Campus Pub, Sackville, NB. November.
These were all bands I was seeing for the second time, and Greenbelt hadn't even really been on the lineup aside for a show at 67 Bridge which fell through. It struck me about 30 minutes into sitting there that half of the crowd was the epic group of people that are Greenbelt. The crowd wasn't nearly as large as the last time I'd seen the Bicycles, and the Campus Pub leaves a lot to be desired, but the show! Oh my word, the show. Dance party extravaganza, both during the Bicycles and, though Young Rival was a bit of a bust for me, again, they seemed to be enjoyed by most, once Greenbelt came on, holy mackerel. As I said, Sarty told me they hadn't even been meant to play that night, it just sort of happened that way. Their set turned into a two-hour long dance party with members of other bands getting behind the mics (I seem to recall Dana with a tambourine) and even people from the crowd. The pub's sound guy began freestyling at one point, and Drew and I had a bit of a dance-off. It was epic, it was wonderful, it was one of the best nights of my life.

3. The RAA, Rich Aucoin, Ghost Bees, and Laura Barrett at the Coconut Grove, Halifax. October.
My first Halifax show since 2005 (I don't get to Halifax much...) and holy mackerel, what a show! We got there a bit late so only managed to catch the end of a set by Boxer the Horse, but from what I could tell they were solid. This is possibly the most consistently awesome lineup I saw all year, without a low point in the bunch over four and a bit acts. Purely beautiful, but where do I begin? I reviewed the RAA before, and that can be found here.
Rich Aucoin was like nothing I'd ever seen before, an electronic DJing adventure synced up to video clips--most notably How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The man was dressed in white from head to toe, threw balloons at the crowd (which for some reason were still there two nights later at the Woodhands show... oi! janitorial staff!) and just all around seemed to be having the time of his life, creating shadow puppets and suchlike. Beautiful, fun, incredible.
Ghost Bees had the most unique set I've ever seen. Halifax natives and twins, they had turned the stage into their own little tea party. A drum borrowed from the Rural Alberta Advantage, covered with a tablecloth and oversized doily served as a table for a tea service, porcelain masks adorned the mic stands, and the twins, Romy and Sari, were dressed in the flowy garb of yesteryear and across the seas. And the voices! Oh my word, the voices. These two, Romy with her guitar and Sari with her mandolin, play the most otherworldly folk music you ever will hear, and the voices are so integral to that. For any other band, I think, dressing themselves and the stage in that manner and going on to sing about the reading of tea leaves would seem pretentious as all hell, but they pull it off! I wish they had made it to the #1 show on my list, instead of, well, I was told they were sleeping..
And then came Laura. I don't know how to adequately do justice to describing her sets. Ghost Bees had helped to transition the bar from Rich Aucoin's dance club to the coffeehouse style setting to which Laura played. She and her kalimbas held the room enrapt so totally, and was adorable in her cute and dorky way. On a related note, CBC Radio 3 listeners have named her Sexiest Canadian Musician of 2008. I don't know if sexy is the right word, but she has definitely stolen my heart! The set was beautiful, and she was joined by Sari Lightman and then Romy for a couple of songs--never have I seen a bar so quiet save for the music being played, a public space like that so focussed on the actions of one person. I swear, she and her music are something out of a dream.

2. Olenka & the Autumn Lovers, and the Tom Fun Orchestra at George's Roadhouse, Sackville, NB. November.
See my review.
I've just heard that Olenka might be coming back to play at Stereophonic. If this is true, I am beyond psyched. If that concert had only been her, and Tom Fun was another night, it would have still made this top ten list. She's the reason it's so far above the other Tom Fun show. She and the venue, anyway. She and the venue and Tom Fun's set. Oh, hell, it was just an altogether better show in an altogether better town. But Olenka was an integral part of that.

1. Laura Barrett in the kitchen of 27 St James, Sackville, NB. October.
There was simply no debate about what my best show of the year was. It is singularly the best show I have ever seen, that I have ever been to, that I have ever experienced. The night began as a little party in the house of Sandy Mackay, but the crowd was pared down to just a dozen of us by the time the show started. Corey Isenor opened the show, representing Sackville as he does, and a fellow from Ontario followed up--all that I recall about him is a mellow acoustic cover of the Dead Boys. Someone, please refresh my memory! Then there was Laura.
As I said in the last one, my words don't do the lovely Ms Barrett any kind of justice. The environment in the room, eleven of us watching her play, her little green bag of kalimbas. I remember it was eleven because when she did Sorting Hat, there were just enough of us to make the song work. As the evening continued, at a break in the songs, sparklers were brought out, and all were lit and waved about, and Laura brought her camera out. I would love to see those photos someday! My words are so convoluted, I wish I knew why.
When she played Consumption, she brought out a new toy--a handheld midi sequencer from the age of the stylus. This little thing may well be responsible for most 90s hip-hop. This descended into laughter at an incredible midi snare line and I'm fairly certain the song never really finished, it just-- but that was the mood of the night. This was also the night when, around the same time as the sparklers, Dancing in the Dark was attempted to be covered, with failure on everyone's part except Laura's thumbs.
As I said, it is the single most beautiful and wonderful and overall fun show I've yet been to. After the performance was done, we moseyed on over to 67 Bridge for Laura to drop off her things and then a few of us, her included, went to the pub where the Meligrove Band played, and Laura did an impromptu set of a few songs. All in all, a beautiful night.

~ ~ ~

And with that, six days into 2009, 2008 finally ends. It was a very good year, full of very good beer. Pumphouse. Blueberry beer. Check it out.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Best of 2008

I know I said I would post this before the new year, but I didn't get around to it. I had my lists and awards all made up and compiled, but I just didn't feel like writing the blog. Now! Now I'm back to Sackville, and feeling AWESOME once more.

So, let's get this thing going. I'll start with the general awards, and then count down the top ten concerts of the year.

George's Roadhouse, Sackville, NB

Drew from the Bicycles

Laura Barrett and the rest of the dozen of us all realising that no one really knows the words to Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark. Go on. Try to sing it. Even with the tune being played on a kalimba, not one of us could get the song right, and it descended into We Didn't Start The Fire. Somehow.

Woodhands - Be Back Soon (click to download)

Ghost Bees' Dreamy Tea--a custom blend loose tea pulled together by Sari and Romy, said to invoke incredibly lucid dreams. And it tastes delightful.

This one was tough. Up until the 20th of last month, it was Jason Collett and Rebekah Higgs doing Jason's Hangover Days, Rebekah singing Emily Haines' part. BUT, the Tom Fun Orchestra on the 20th of December in Saint John played The Pogues' Fairytale of New York, making my Christmas worthwhile. I'm going to chalk this up as a tie between the two of them, because I honestly just can't pick.

Sebastien Grainger at the Pavillion in Halifax: "So, where do you work? An organic food store? ...Do I come to the organic food store and slap the dick outta your mouth?"

The whole of Sappyfest '08. I almost came up here in August but I decided against it. Huge, huge, huge mistake and one of my biggest regrets of the year.

and actually, since I'm going to dinner with the show reviews only half done, I'll end this here for now. keep your eyes peeled! like grapes. peeled grapes.