Tuesday, July 15, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty Six: Summer Jams

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like most Canadian songs. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs Whose Title Also Reviews the Song.

Since Vancouver had/is in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave, I guess that means it is officially summer, which also means why not the Top Six Summer Jam!

Sweat along with:

"Summer Fling" by Pleasure Cruise
"Summer Salute" by Steph Macpherson
"Summer Dress" by July Talk
"Summer Fires" by The Wilderness of Manitoba
"Summersong" by The Decemberists
"Feel Good Hit of the Summer" by Queens of the Stone Age

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty Five: 3:33

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like best songs from 2004. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs Featuring a Guest Appearance From Serena Ryder.

And this week is the Top Six Songs Clocking In at Three Minutes and Thirty Three Seconds! Why 3:33? Why that specific time? Allow me to answer that with a resounding: why not?

With these tunes:

"How Darwinian" by Dan Mangan
"She's The Source" by The Ladies & Gentlemen
"In Case We Die (parts 1-4)" by Architecture in Helsinki
"Magic" by Two Hours Traffic
"Place Called Love" by Little Red
"If You Think Your God Is Dead" by Sit Down, Servant!!

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds @ Orpheum -- 06/30/14

After twenty years of missing Vancouver, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds were back for the second time in only 15 months. While the last one was at the Vogue Theatre, this time they doubled in size at the Orpheum for not one, but two shows. And as much as I loved the relatively intimate nature of the Vogue, I couldn't think of a better setting than the beautiful (in both looks and sound) Orpheum.

Opening the night was Mark Lanegan, former frontman of Screaming Trees. With a Waits-ian rasp, he sang accompanied only by a guy on electric guitar, his voice definitely the defining quality of the set. But he wasn't very talkative, not even addressing the crowd once, and barely moved from his "singing position"; one hand on the mic, one hand on the mic stand.
His set  mixed his own solo material with covers like  Bobby Darrin's "Mack The Knife", and while it was by no means bad, a lot of the songs bled into each other, and I have a feeling it would have come across a lot more engaging were it at a smaller, club venue as opposed to a giant theatre venue. Or if I been more familiar with him, or with the lyrics.

Not long after, at 9 sharp, the six members of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds took the stage to wild cheers. They immediately launched into "We No Who U R", the lead track to the latest album Push The Sky Away before "Jubilee Street" from the same album, a song which built to an ending to intense, culminating in broken guitar strings. From there the two hour set spanned the band's entire 30 year career, from the latest album all the way back to their earliest work with songs like "Tupelo" from the '85 album The Firstborn Is Dead, which grabbed the crowd as Cave urged everyone not already packed at the stage to come forward.

As one of the most charismatic and intense frontmen I have seen, the only time Nick Cave was close to being still was when he was behind the piano for gorgeous songs like "Into My Arms". The rest of the set he was stalking the front of the stage with more energy and passion than anyone I have seen perform. Orchestrating both the band and the crowd, Cave posed and thrust at the edge of the stage, and even had boxes set up so he could wade into the crowd, which he did frequently, reaching for outstretched hands. During the raucous "From Her To Eternity" he even pulled up one lucky girl to dance with him. It was the exact opposite of Lanegan's stage presence, which was made apparent when Cave invited him out to duet on "The Weeping Song".
And that's to say nothing of the rest of the band. Incredibly tight and flawless, especially multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, who tore it up on everything from bass to electric ukulele to microkorg, and especially on violin.

As well as spanning the band's three decade career, the songs ranged from beautiful to manic, two of the most extreme examples coming at the very end of the set; the Murder Ballad "Stagger Lee" in which Cave graphically acted out the wanton sexual and violent acts in the song's narrative, followed by the amazingly beautiful title track to Push The Sky Away, Cave softly crooning "Some people say it's just rock & roll / ah but it gets you right down in your soul" before saying goodnight.

But of course they were not done there (the mystery of the encore quashed a little by techs doing a quick bass check and drum tightening) as they were back for another handful of songs.
Starting off with another haunting piano number, the subversive "God Is In The House" was followed by requests shouted out from the crowd; older songs like "Papa Won't Leave You, Henry" and "Do You Love Me?" had Cave as full of passion as he was at the start of the set. And finally, the band wrapped it up fittingly with a twist on an old tale, "The Lyre of Orpheus" as they ended the first of two nights at the Orpheum.

For ten years now, Cave has been one of my favourite artists, and while I have only seen him live thrice (twice with The Bad Seeds, once as Grinderman) I can undoubtedly say he is one of the single best frontmen I have witnessed. I have seen people half his age with a quarter of the raw passion and visceral energy he pours out, and no one knows how to work the crowd quite like him.
There is a reason the band's live shows have been heralded as legendary, and I can't imagine anyone seeing them live, and not leaving breathless.

We No Who U R; Jubilee Street; Tupelo; Red Right Hand; Mermaids; From Her To Eternity; West Country Girl; Into My Arms; People Ain't No Good; The Weeping Song; Higgs Boson Blues; The Mercy Seat; Stagger Lee; Push the Sky Away.
(encore) God Is In The House; The Ship Song; Papa Won't Leave You, Henry; Do You Love Me?; The Lyre of Orpheus.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty Four: Eponymous Songs

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like most Canadian songs. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Rock Songs With a Rap Breakdown.

While about 83% of all bands have self-titled albums, it's a little more rare to see a band name a song after themselves. And that's what we'll look at this week, with the Top Six Eponymous Songs!

With these self-titled songs:

"Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party" by Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party
"Louis XIV" by Louis XIV
"Grinderman" by Grinderman
"Young & Sexy vs The Arc" by Young & Sexy
"The Cracking" by The Cracking
"...And We Are The Trews" by The Trews

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Ruffled Feathers EP Release Show @ Red Room -- 06/28/14

It's been a while since I saw Vancouver's Ruffled Feathers live; so long, in fact, that they've undergone a bit of a lineup change. But they hit the Red Room to celebrate the release of their new EP, Bottom of the Blue, the last album recorded with the previous lineup.

Leading off the night was Chersea, who regular readers (all 24 of you) will remember as one of my favourite new discoveries of the year so far. On stage alone behind a fortress of instruments, Chersea builds her songs by looping keys, synth, drum pad, guitar, trumpet, even a metal water bottle for percussion. Songs ranged from electro-pop of "I Could Lose It All" to the darker and sexier "Grey Matter" to even a little tropical flavour for "Mind Porn", and while the half-hour set had a few technical glitches, they didn't detract from the overall enjoyment.

Next up was Rebel on a Mountain, a pretty basic folk-rock band. They had a trumpet in lieu of the requisite banjo, and maybe a little bit of a 90s-alt rock influence mixed in, as well as a good enthusiasm on stage -- one member telling corny jokes between songs -- but in the end were just not interesting enough to stand apart from the rest.

And finally, it was The Ruffled Feathers time to shine. Their set also had a few small technical problems, buzzing & popping cords, as well as a faint hum on and off through the set, and a couple times Gina Loes' lovely voice seemed a little too low in the mix. But again, it wasn't enough to hurt the set as they starting off with the lush "It Doesn't Last", the lead sing from the new EP.
The entire band was bubbling over with energy, and their chamber-pop sound was bolstered by their unique instrumentation. The interplay between Andrew Lee's trumpet and Molly MacKinnon's violin was interesting -- the unusual combination complimenting each other quite well -- and Andrew's backing vocals contrasted with Gina's nicely.
The hour-long set spanned their three albums, and even hinted some new stuff with a song that was either named "Boned" or "Beaune". Other highlights included "Tough Love", with Gina on the ukulele and swelled to a grand ending, as well as the jubilant "Home" and the final song of the main set "Kiss Me In The Moonlight", Andrew aptly introducing it as "one of the cutest songs you will hear all day".
But of course, they were back for the obligatory encore and wrapped up for real with the gigantic "Blueprints For Our Failed Revolution" ending the set with a bang.

The Ruffled Feathers have always been really fun live band, and I'm glad the new lineup reflected that.

It Doesn't Last, All My Cities, Home, Tough Love, New Song [Boned or Beaune], Buffalo, Siberian Springtime, Caravan, Little Sister, Kiss Me In The Moonlight.
(encore) Your Embrace, Blueprints For Our Failed Revolution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty Three: Polaris Prize

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like like best drum solos. Some might be a little more... specific. Top six bands that sound nothing like their name implies.

Since the Polaris Music Prize announced their Long List was announced last week, I figure this episode I would take a look at that. And while I am not a part of that jury, why let that stop me from picking my top five from the short list, as well as one overlooked album, on the Top Six Albums I'd Pick Were I A Polaris Juror!

With cuts from nominated albums:

"Julia With Blue Jeans" On by Moonface
"#4" by AroarA
"Itchy Blood" by The Darcys
"Pretty Respectable" by Mounties
"Hall of Mirrors" by YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN
"King David" by We Are The City

Any questions or comments or waffles or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Royal Canoe @ Fortune -- 06/21/14

Two days into the Vancouver International Jazz Fest, and they've already shown me two of the best shows I've seen so far this year. Last night it was back to Fortune for one of my favourite groups to see live, Royal Canoe. It had been a while -- since before the release of their new album Today We're Believers -- but I was glad to see them back, especially on a stage that could hold all of their equipment and persons.

Starting off the night, however, was hometown band Copilots. With kind of a droning rock sound, they teased songs from an upcoming album, but a lot of them had the same vibe, and the lead singer's vocals were a little buried. The set didn't really do much for me -- aside from one song near the end, introduced as their dancey-song -- and can be summed up in their last song, a ten+ minute song that just kind of meandered through different sounds and dragged on to end the set.

As soon as they finished, the guys of Royal Canoe hit the stage to set up their stage-full of equipment; dual drums, mountains of keyboards and synth, a whole table for effects pedals and more, the six-piece band always fills the stage. Leading off with the high energy "Show Me Your Eyes", and by the second song, "Hold On To The Metal", the crowd was already clapping and singing along. In fact, it was a great crowd overall, lots of singing & clapping, and "recognition whoos". None more so than the massive "Bathtubs", one of the highlights.

I've said before, Royal Canoe is one of the best and most interesting bands, especially to watch live, with a vast range of sounds and influences reigned in to one great electro/pop/rock sound. And they proved it again with a set focused on the new album (and its preceding EPs), ranging from the soft and introspective "Exodus of the Year" to the R&B flavoured "Summersweat".

They finished off the set with Matt Peters' distorted vocals on "Nightcrawlin'" but were called back for one more from the crowd, a fantastic cover of the 90s R&B jam "No Diggity" by Blackstreet. I always like it when bands do something fun and unexpected with the obligatory encore -- aside from just another couple songs -- and this was a perfect example of that.

I've seen them a half a dozen times now, and while they have always blown me away, this was by far the best show I've seen from the Winnipeggers. They were tight with an amazing energy, feeding off the crowd's enthusiasm and giving back tenfold.

Show Me Your Eyes, Hold On To The Metal, Just Enough, Exodus Of The Year, Stemming, Bloodrush, Summersweat, Birthday, Bathtubs, Button Fumbla, Nightcrawlin'.
(encore) No Diggity [Blackstreet cover]