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)