Saturday, October 31, 2009

random top six - hallowe'en edition

Time for another Random Top 6 list! Here's the deal: every week whenever I feel like it, I will choose a random category and select the top 6 songs fitting that criteria. In the spirit of today, here is are the top six hallowe'en-ish songs (or at the very least, hallowe'en sounding song titles). Some songs are actually about what they're about, others less so. But all good songs. So I give you

Top Six Hallowe'en Songs
in no particularorder

Download Ghost Story by Memphis

Download They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh! by Sufjan Stevens

Download Vampire by Pink Mountaintops

Download Wolf Like Me by TV On The Radio

Download Hunting for Witches by Bloc Party

Download Ghouls by We Are Scientists

And as a bonus song, I present to you the North American Hallowe'en Prevention Initiative.
Comprised of such awesomeness as: Win Butler & RĂ©gine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, Buck 65, David Cross, Feist, Jenny Lewis & Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley, Chris Murphy of Sloan, Dan Boeckner & Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade, Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and many, many more, they released Do They Know It's Hallowe'en? in '05 as a satire of Do They Know It's Christmas?, with all proceeds going to UNICEF

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Young Galaxy w/ Bend Sinister @ The Biltmore -- 10/28/09

I think I mentioned this previously, but I am gonna start out by complaining... why oh why, Biltmore, do you put curfews on your weekend shows, so they and at or before 11... and yet your weekday shows go on all night?! I know they end early Saturdays for club nights after, but I'm an old man now (apparently)!! I have to get up early (and in this case, write a midterm the next day)!! But I digress. Last night was one hell of a bill at the Biltmore with Bend Sinister opening for Young Galaxy. As much as I love Young Galaxy, I think I was going as much, if not more, to see Bend Sinister. They are definitely one of my favourite local bands, yet I always seem to have bad luck seeing them live. Every time they had a show, something else was going on. But I've broken my Bend Sinister Bad Luck Streak, even if it wasn't a headlining show. Which I hope they do soon.

On to their set itself. Bend Sinister hit the stage a little after 10 (see!) and started with The News and followed with a couple more from their newest album, Stories of Lovers, Tales of Brothers. The set focused mostly on that, with a new song and a few older ones thrown in, and greatest of all, a cover song. I have mentioned before how much I like live covers, and when they started talking about the Peak Performance Project (perhaps click right here and give them your vote?) they mentioned one of the "challenges" they were given was to learn a cover of a classic Canadian song. While talking about it, Dan Moxon hit the first few notes on the keyboard, and immediately everyone knew what it was and cheered. Their cover was the Guess Who classic, These Eyes. And it was a pretty glorious cover. It was a pretty straight cover, with the end a littler Bend Sinister-ized.
The whole set, all five members of the band had an insane energy, with guitarists Joseph Blood & Henry White and bassist Joel Meyers all over the stage, at the front and almost in the crowd. Even Jason Dana and Moxon, when stuck behind the drums and keyboard (respectively) had crazy levels of energy. And damn, is Moxon an animal on the keys. it's one thing to hear him playing on the album, but to actually see him play, it's mind boggling.
The only thing I was disappointed by from the set was they didn't play Julianna, which is my favourite of theirs, but seeing as the set was pretty short to begin with, being the opening band, I guess I can't expect everything. And I suppose they more than made up for itwith their sheer awesomeness. At that point I would have been satisfied to go home, but there was still more to come!

After not too long of a break, the curtains pulled back to reveal a stage of smoke, and a few silhouetted figures started to play. The smoke started to dissipate -- but not before the lasers! came on -- and revealed Young Galaxy looking surprisingly glam-y, with hooded robes, gold face paint and crazy hats. The smoke would return every few songs, completely enveloping the stage and band members before dissipating again and again. It was cool the first time, but I they may have went a little overboard on it -- a notion that co-lead singer Stephen Ramsay seemed to echo at one point, with smoke swirling around him.
Musically, though, they were pretty damn solid. Songs came mostly from the new album, with a few older ones thrown in for good measure. Swing Your Heartache was definitely one of the highlights of the set, as well as Long Live The Fallen World, from the new album. Despite being the first track, it turned out to be a great closer. The end of the song saw them go absolutely batshit insane and build up to a chaotic climax for the show. The encore saw only part of the band come back out, with other lead singer Catherine McCandless taking lead for a really light and mellow tune before departing. It was a nice contrast to the crazy conclusion of the "main" set, almost a denouement to the show. The set, overall, seemed a lot shorter than it was.
It was a good, solid show and I have few complaints, but something about it just didn't seem to click for me. Maybe it was Bend Sinister being so (too?) awesome, maybe it was just it was kind of late, I dunno what it was, but everything seemed a bit... off. I'm sure it was me, though, and not by any fault of Young Galaxy, and I would snatch up tickets in a heartbeat next time they come back.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures

Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters and some other band no one cares about)
Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal)
John Paul Jones (a band you may have heard of... Led Zeppelin)

Fricking sweet.
I was worried, initially, that it would be a bit too QOTSA, since Homme was taking the roll of lead vocals (I really wanted it to be like Swan Lake or even New Pornos, where they trade off lead vocals) but after hearing this, I am very, very much looking forward to Nov 17.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Originally I wanted to review every album I bought/otherwise listened to this year. Clearly, I've slacked on that. Partially cos there have been a lot of albums that, for whatever reason, I don't feel like writing a full review for. So what I have decided to do is give a few really quick reviews all at once.... in haiku form. Here we go!

Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz by Black Mold (Chad VanGaalen side project)
Twitchy electro
Random homemade instruments
Some brilliant moments

Download Memes by Black Mold

Eats Darkness by Apostle of Hustle
Excellent music
But the spoken interludes
Ruin the flow, mood

Download by Xerxes Apostle of Hustle

Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear
With quirky music
And some intriguing lyrics
Does not disappoint

Download Ready, Able by Grizzly Bear

Yes! by k-os
A solid album
With some great guest musicians
And damn catchy songs.

Download Burning Bridges by k-os

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Amy Millan @ Biltmore Cabaret -- 10/24/09

Another early show at the Biltmore last night, for them to do their weekly club night. This one ended even earlier than the previous ones, around 10:30, but none of the music seemed rushed. Both bands got a solid set, and it was even a little bit better than normal, cos it started rather quickly and there was a very short turn around time between the two bands. Of course, they only do this on the weekends, when I don't have to get up early the next day... on the weekday shows, they run as long as they feel... but I digress!

Opening band of the night was Bahamas, one of those bands where it's just one guy; in this case Afie Jurvanen. While not new to the scene at all -- he's worked with Great Lake Swimmers, Hayden, Zeus, Jason Collett, The Stills, Feist and more -- this is his first album himself, and first show in Vancouver. And you could tell he was a pro, cos from the minute he hit the stage, he owned the room. With a kind of bluesy folk rock and some awesome guitar skills, he was joined on stage only by a drummer and had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand for his all too short set. His dry wit and faux arrogant swagger made for some hilarious stage banter, and his charismatic stage presence and overall attitude really reminded me of Dave Grohl. He ended off the set in the greatest way possibly, asking the crowd to help out singing the chorus of the next song, though not saying what it was... but after a couple lines, pretty much everyone recognized, and sang along to.... Purple Rain. That, my friends, was probably the single greatest live cover I have (personally) seen all year.
Needless to say, I picked up his album as soon as his set was done (purchased it from Jurvanen himself, no less).

Up surprisingly shortly after -- perhaps the Biltmore learned their lesson with Rain Machine -- was Amy Millan. She started the set off with an old gospel song and then launched into her own solo material, playing pretty evenly from both albums. She seemed pretty loose on stage, sharing stories, mocking the olympics and thanking us for coming when we "could have bought some weed instead". The most amusing story was either her in the washroom before hand, with a random girl next to her asking if she could "spare a square", not realizing it was her; or the time she, Amy Millan, met Amy Mann.
Her beautiful voice was definitely the focus of most of the songs, but she was backed with some pretty great musicians in their own rights (interestingly enough, no drummer). Her light and folksy songs and the chill atmosphere had the crowd pretty mesmerized from the moment she hit the stage.
One of the highlight of the show would has to be when a random member of the crowd asked to sing backups on Baby I and, amazingly enough, Millan said okay! The song was a little later in the set, but when she got to it, she invited the young lady on stage. That kind of thing could have gone either way, but I have to say, she was pretty good! And that was pretty great of Millan to agree to that. Most artists would have just said no or blown her off, but you just know that she made that girls night, year, life by allowing her on stage to sing with her.
Millan "ended" the set after about an hour, then came back out solo for the encore, but was quickly joined by special guest, friend and band mate... Torquil Campbell! They proceeded to do an acoustic version of the Stars song Calendar Girl, which was just superb. After the song, Campbell took a bow and Millan finished off the night with a couple more of her songs.
The only song I wished they would have played was Blue In Yr Eye, but other than that, it was a pretty awesome set. A pretty awesome night, overall, even, as Bahamas came very close to upstaging Millan!

And interestingly enough, this was the second show this year where Torquil popped up on stage for a surprise appearance. It's great living in (or near) a city where so many amazing musicians live.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

mashup/remix of the day

When the fine folks at Said The Whale pointed me in the direction of the new remix for their song Gentlemen, I was intrigued. The remix/mashup features some Lovely Allen from Holy Fuck, a bit of Time To Pretend from MGMT, a touch of of Baba O'Reilly from The Who, and extra vocals from Shad.

You wouldn't think an assortment of songs/artists like this would mix well together, but the songs blend damn near perfectly, with each individual song complimenting the next. It would have been awesome if this were a secret/hidden/bonus track on the new album, Island Disappear, but I'm glad they are getting it out there regardless.

Download Gentlemen Remix (ft. Shad w/ Holy Fuck, MGMT & The Who)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

songs of the indeterminate time period.

Hey look! It's another instalment of my song(s) of the week month "whenever I feel like it" segment!
Here are a few songs; ones that are new, newish, or new-to-me for your listening pleasure. I'll also try to include at least some diversity in the selected songs.

All of these albums I have on my "to be reviewed" pile, but they are all on the bottom, and the pile is growing quite sizable... (so expect a deluge of album reviews in the next week or so...) and I wanted to share these songs with you now!

There is no way you can not fall in love with this song. It starts out well enough, sweet and playful, but by the time the song kicks into gear and especially when the gang chorus comes in, that's it. It's over. It's just so full of joy and energy. It also helps that the album was recorded live off the floor, so you can just picture all these people, folks from bands like Hey Ocean, The Zolas, Dan Mangan, Shane Nelkin and even R3 DJ Lana Gay, crowded in the room having a blast. I also love the wordplay, in the lyric booklet at least. Those two lines (you'll know which two I mean upon hearing the song) are not quite what they seem to be.

Download Goodnight Moon by Said The Whale
artists website where you may listen to more and exchange monies for music

Another charming song, I Can Be A Frog is another one that is hard to hate. Its cute, simplistic structure is endearing and features Karen O (of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) providing "animal sounds" -- as listed in the lyrics book -- on the track. Without those, it wouldn't be half as great as it is. It is a song that few other bands would be able to pull off, and if it were any longer, I could see it losing its charm, but The Flaming Lips, being as awesome as they are, pull it off beautifully.
It also has a pretty fun video.

Download I Can be A Frog by The Flaming Lips
artists website where you may listen to more and exchange monies for music

I finally got around to listening to the We Are The City album, In A Quiet World. I liked it, but it wasn't until the second half of the album that I was really hooked, and this was, without a doubt, the standout track upon first listen. It starts off calm and emotional, and then just launches to an epic climax and a magnificent finale.
They're pretty much the only band in the Peak Performance Project that I would be okay with winning over my pick, Bend Sinister.

Download Astronomers by We Are The City
artists website where you may listen to more and exchange monies for music

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outside Love by Pink Mountaintops

Oh, Stephen McBean. The more immersed I become in your music, the more I am convinced of your genius.
Pink Mountaintops is a bit more of a solo project for McBean, frontman of Black Mountain, but that's not to say it isn't full of friends. Musicians from all over contribute to the album, including just about everyone from Black Mountain and members of bands like A Silver Mt. Zion, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Destroyer and Lightning Dust, among many others. McBean does the majority of vocals, but is also assisted by GY!BE's Sophie Trudaeu and the Webber sisters, who are a great contrast, and a few songs even find them in front and centre. The album is a bit looser than Black Mountain, a little more experimental, but it never meanders or draws out; it is still as tight as anything you'll hear. Backed with piano, strings and even a choir, it is definitely gentler and perhaps even a little more cerebral than Black Mountain. There are shades of similarities between the two bands, but Pink Mountaintops veers more into the psychedelic shoe-gazing realm of things. Though it's not solely that, as they race through several different genres, never stopping for too long or looking back at any given style.

One thing I always look for in albums is how it flows; not just how one songs transitions into another, but the overall "tone" of the album. I prefer it to be a novel, where each song is a chapter rather than a collection of short stories, where each song stands on its own. (Metaphorically speaking... I don't mean it has to be a concept or "story" album.) Outside Love manages to have a near perfect flow to the whole thing.
Axis: Thrones Of Love sets the mood for the album, with it's slow and calm jangling, asking us right out of the gates "How deep is your love?" -- perhaps almost mockingly, considering the rest of the lyrics, not just in the song but the album as a whole. Execution picks things up for a more fast and rollicking number before Ashley Webber's beautiful vocals drive the haunting While We Were Dreaming. Vampire somehow manages to be even "creepier", with the spine-tingling rise from it's minimalistic beginning to the grandiose finish. Holiday, with McBean proclaiming that "everyone [he] love[s] deserves a holiday in the sun" and Come Down pick things up a bit with their cheer and energy only for Outside Love, another stunningly chilling song which pairs McBean with Jesse Sykes, to give a complete sense of desolation.
And I Thank You picks it up again, lyrically to be sure, and it gradually gains energy, musically, in the country-twinged song and The Gayest Of Sunbeams gives the album it's last burst of energy... and what a burst it is. Finally, the album closes out with Closer To Heaven and leaves us on somewhat of a high note. With its beautiful strings, choir vocals and McBean "pray[ing] sweet angel that we'll make it all right" it gives a cautiously joyous and uplifting ending to both the song and album.

There is a kind romance to the album, in a way. It is not unabashedly romantic, saying that love is a many splendoured thing that will lift us up and conquer all and is all we need. It acknowledges the doom that it can bring, as though expressed through someone that knows it's darker side. But it doesn't go too far in this tragic direction, either; it is skeptical without being cynical. In the end Outside Love has a grim optimism and while it somehow manages to be simultaneously vaguely disturbing and surprisingly uplifting, in both cases it is incredibly powerful and quite brilliant.

One last thing I will mention about Outside Love is that is has quite possibly the best cover and album art of the year. From the front cover (seen above), the above image of a book on crushed velvet, to the back cover, which is the back of said book complete with "author's" portrait, and even the insides, with the book sitting on the back of a toilet. Hell, even some of the promo shots, like the one to your right is all sorts of awesome. One of the big reasons I still buy physical CDs is that I love awesome album art and/or packaging, so it's always nice to see something like this, rather than a bunch of images dashed together with no meaning or relation. I think it would have to be my favourite album art or "theme" of the year so far.

Download Vampire

Download And I Thank You

Download The Gayest of Sunbeams

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chad VanGaalen @ The Rio Theatre -- 10/15/09

As much as I love places like the Commodore or the Biltmore, I kind of wish all shows from now on were at The Rio Theatre. It is a movie theatre, so not only does it have fantastic sound, but the seats are incredibly comfortable. Maybe it's not "cool" to be sitting for a show, but I'm sick of dealing with the people and crowds at the front of the stage, or the sometimes poor view from the seated areas/tables. Even at the venues which are normally seated, they either have hard, uncomfortable chairs or no leg room. Or both.
Giant, comfy chairs to recline and relax in. That is what I wish for. In venues and in life, really... But I digress!

First up, going on somewhat early (they had a screening of Where The Wild Things Are that night, so the show had a curfew of 11) was Castlemusic. Jennifer Castle came out alone and lured the crowd in with her fantastic voice and gentle, lilting music. Some of the songs may have been a little same-y, but she was still pretty amazing, and her voice had a softness to it that you couldn't help be drawn in by. One of the songs started with just her singing, with no musical accompaniment, and... wow. Just wow. I would really like to see her live again, especially in a more intimate venue.

Soon after, Chad VanGaalen himself was up, with a band of three others, which included Julie Fader of Great Lake Swimmers on keys. It was kind of an interesting set, in that VanGaalen seemed to be a more talkative than he normally is, and a little more loose between songs. At one point someone shouted something out which he thought was "Fraggle Rock" and he started talking about that, Henson, The Muppets, then somehow got to Videodrome and how Deborah Harry's nude scene was ruined by Cronenberg's weirdness.... And not only that, but he was wearing a black, dreadlocked wig, which he partially explained as being a vestige of a really weird victoria show the night before. Pictures of it can be found over here, on Guttersnipe. It was pretty awesome.
And musically, the show was pretty damn good. The set featured a lot of new songs, which he even apologized for -- "Sorry for playing so many new songs, but the old songs are.... old." -- but as far as I'm concerned, new songs are always welcome. He mostly just stuck to his guitar, not really busting out any of the crazy instruments, so some of the songs sounded a little more stripped down than on the album. Nothing was really lost in the translation to the stage, though; everything still sounded great. Although, this may be why he didn't play some of his more layered songs, which was my one complaint: that he didn't do either Bare Feet on Wet Grip Tape or TMNT Masks, but a lot of the other songs made up for it. ESPECIALLY what ended up being, without a doubt, the highlight of the show. A few songs in, VanGaalen called off stage to his friend, whose birthday it was, and asked for a request. His friend, probably being a smartass, called for Technotronic's Pump Up The Jam. So what happened? VanGaalen sang it. The first couple verses only, and just with a simple drum beat... but even still, it was a pretty epic sight. Cover song of the year right there.

At one point, midway through the set, he kind of apologized for having a weird energy... not really being flat, but having a "medium energy" to the show... but even Chad VanGaalen playing a little off was better than a lot of other artists I've seen. It was a great and fun show, in an awesome venue.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monsters of Folk @ Commodore -- 10/13/09

The combined forces of Conor Oberst & Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes), M. Ward (of She & Him and, uh, M. Ward) and Yim Yames (aka Jim James of My Morning Jacket), Monsters of Folk start their North American Tour last night at the Commodore. With the help of drummer and all around multi-instrumentalist Will Johnson, they played a sprawling set spotlighting all the bands.

Without an opening band they hit the stage, all suited up, a little after 8pm (the show was originally supposed to be at the Orpheum, so I guess they kept the same times) and played for damn near three hours. Playing not just Monsters of Folk tunes, but also songs from each artists respective band/solo catalogues. Members were on and off stage and they played just about every possible combination they could. Oberst and Ward, Ward and Yames, Yames and Oberst; most of the set, however, was the full five members out. There was no way I could have kept track of the setlist, but some of the highlights were, on the Monsters side, "Man Named Truth", "Slow Down Jo", and pretty much every song with Yames. They were best, however, when they worked in harmony with each other. Not just the MoF songs that had them all singing, but when they backed up each others songs. The three of them have pretty different voices but they manage to blend them together beautifully.
They "ended" with the awesome "Losin' Yo' Head", which came to an epic, climactic finish, but then were back out soon enough for the encore, which was one song from each artist, then ended with the last track of the MoF album, "His Master's Voice".

I have one minor complaint about the show, though, and that would be what seemed to be the lack of My Morning Jacket songs. True, Yames & MMJ are my favourite of the four members of the band, so maybe it just my perception, but what was definitely sad was that almost all the MMJ songs selected were older ones. There was only one song played from their newest album, Evil Urges ("Smokin From Shooting") and none from the one prior to that, Z. I suppose I can understand, as the older MMJ songs fit better into the rest of the show, stylistically. I just can't quite imagine them going from Slow Down Jo to Highly Suspicious. But still...

Ultimately, it was an incredibly show, which did the following four things for me:
Made me appreciate the album even more than I already did.
Made me actually like Oberst and Bright Eyes songs, which I was kind of apathetic about before tonight.
Made me realize I need more M. Ward in my collection.
Made me sad that My Morning Jacket has still not been here for a concert in all the time I have been listening to them.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jets Overhead @ The Chan Centre -- 10/08/09

In my all too humble opinion, one of the marks of truly talented musicians is the ability to take your songs and strip them down to an acoustic form. This is exactly what Jets Overhead did last night at the Chan Centre. They played a set, which was recorded for CBC Radio 2, that was pretty stripped down and raw. Not having heard them do any acoustic material before, I really wasn't sure how it was going to turn out or what to expect...
They came on just after 5, with no opening act, and played for about an hour and a half or so. Starting with a few tracks off their first album, Bridges, they then did something that I had never seen before, and something that was actually really cool. They played the entire new album, No Nations, back to front. Starting with the last song and working their way to the first. At the beginning, they mentioned how difficult it ended up being. Of course, by the second song they proved this to be true when the bass player started in on the second song of the album, but they just joked about it and from there it went off without a hitch. After the album, they played a couple more older songs, but then another brand new one, recorded at the same time as No Nations. I didn't catch the name of it, but I really liked and I hope to be able to find sometime soon. They closed the set, sans encore (which I liked, since my views on the "wander off, then come back on, when you could have just kept playing" practice are well known) with another older song, off their first EP. I also have to mention, they had, just off stage, an upright piano that was only used for a couple songs, but added a great sense of scope to the songs. Maybe it's just cos I'm a sucker for piano.
The whole set, aside from the one flub, was incredibly tight and pretty seamless. They all seemed completely comfortable to be up there, and a lot of the stage banter and stories were loose and natural. As much of a fan I was of the band before the show, I am even more so now, because of this show. I think I even liked some of the songs just as much, if not better than, the album versions, to the point where I was wishing for an acoustic album. I am really glad it was recorded for CBCR2, so I will be able to listen to it again and again and again.

All The People, Seems So Far, Tired of the Comfort, It's A Funny Thing, Always a First Time, Fully Shed, Time Will Remember, Sure Sign, No Nations, Weathervanes ((In The Way) Heading For Nowhere, I Should Be Born, George Harrison, Get It Right, [New song], Sun Sun Sun.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Elliott BROOD @ The Biltmore -- 10/07/09

Another night at the Biltmore, this time for a sold out Elliott BROOD show. I do have to commend the Biltmore, I suppose, for running a tight ship last night. With three bands on the bill, I feared it would run really late, but they had everything going like clockwork, with bands hitting the stage on the hour, and ended just before 12:30. Though, since it was a sold out show, the room was incredibly stuffy and warm by the end of the night. But, enough about that, on to the show itself.

First up was Sleepy Sun, from San Fransisco. They had a kind of psychedelic space rock sound, not unlike Black Mountain. The male/female harmonies & dynamics, which were quite excellent, didn't lessen the comparison. They didn't have much by way of banter, preferring the music to speak for itself. They put on a solid set, and I wouldn't mind catching more of them in the future (no pun intended)

The Wooden Sky was up next, and flannel-clad gentlemen were a bit more on the folksy/rootsy-influenced side. With charm and a pretty damn good stage presence, with what seemed like (and what probably was) complete ease. At one point they were joined onstage by former Mother Mother member, Debra-Jean Creelman. They also broke out a cover tune near the end of the set. I think more bands should play random covers live, because they're almost always interesting. Maybe not always good, but always interesting. In this case, it was American Girl, originally by Tom Petty, and they pretty much owned it.

Finally, it was Elliott BROOD's turn. I hadn't seen or heard them live before, and even though I had heard good things, I wasn't really sure that to expect. Well, it's always fun to have no (or low) expectations on things and be absolutely blown away. I have seen few bands with the awesome raw energy and stage presence Elliott BROOD has. Playing almost an hour and a half, and a good mix of old and new material, they kept a high energy for the whole set and tore the place down. One of my favourite songs off the new album is the instrumental Chuckwagon, which was pretty incredible and one of the (many) highlights of the set. Near the end, they did what now seems to be tradition for the band and brought out tin sheets, pot & pan lids and wooden spoons and distributed them throughout the crowd for some extra percussion and some crazy audience involvement. For Write It All Down For You they brought out some members of The Wooden Sky for help with things like drumming, and just went nuts. Between the extra members, the clatter of the crowd and the whole damn sold out place yelling along for the HEYHEYHEY!!!'s, it was chaotically awesome and one of the best song performances of the year so far. You just couldn't help but love it. They ended the main set with Fingers and Tongues, but were back out soon enough for the obvious encore.
And speaking of covers, they kicked off the encore with a cover of Crazy Horse's Dance Dance Dance, before bidding us all adieu with the closing song from Mountain Meadows, Miss You Now, an absolute perfect closing song.

The more I think back on the show, the more I am loving it, and only a day removed, I can't wait to see Elliott BROOD live again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

random top six

Time for another Random Top 6 list! Here's the deal: every week whenever I feel like it, I will choose a random category and select the top 6 songs fitting that criteria.
Yipes, it's been a while since I've done one. As I might have possibly mentioned here before, my favouritest musician in the history of ever is Matthew Good. And he has a new album coming out ON TUESDAY! so I have been excited and in Matt Good Mode for the last few days. To celebrate that, and to celebrate the fact that one of my favourite albums of all time, Beautiful Midnight, came out TEN YEARS (and a couple weeks) AGO, I have put together a top six consisting of some of my favourite Matthew Good (Band) songs. Not my definitive top six... I don't think I could ever pick that. But these are some of my favourites.

Top Six Matthew Good Songs
in chronological order

Download Heather's Like Sunday by Matthew Good from Euphony (demo tape)

Download Fearless by Matthew Good Band from Last of the Ghetto Astronauts

Download Prime Time Deliverance by Matthew Good Band from Underdogs

Download Running For Home by Matthew Good Band from Beautiful Midnight

Download Near Fantastica by Matthew Good from Avalanche

Download Champions of Nothing by Matthew Good from Hospital Music

Dear lord, that was difficult.

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rain Machine @ Biltmore -- 10/02/09

Having seen TV On The Radio at both the Commodore and Malkin Bowl, it was kinda weird, yet really cool, to see Kyp Malone and his solo project, Rain Machine at a small place like the Biltmore. I also realized, part way through the show, that not only was this my sixth show in a ten day span, but it was the first of those that wasn't a Canadian band! Gasp!

Around 8:30, despite there being only a couple dozen people scattered about, the curtains opened and a lone, slightly nervous looking fellow introduced himself as Steven Donald Robert Nelson and started playing. He had the whole acoustic-singer-songwriter going for him, and had some pretty decent stuff. The set was short, about 25 minutes, and as it went on he seemed to grow more comfortable and confident as people started filtering up from the tables to the stage. It was a solid set; nothing too mind blowing, but he definitely has potential. I wouldn't mind checking him out again in the future and kinda wish I had picked up an album. He's a local, though, so I'm sure I will be able to catch him around at some point.

When the curtain was opened again, at 9, I was surprised to see not Rain Machine, but Diane Cluck. Surprised because I had heard she had to cancel. Turns out, as she told us during the set, she forgot her passport in New York, but they were able to ship it to her in Seattle with just enough time for her to get here.
The only problem with her set had nothing to do with her, it was that the people at the Biltmore wouldn't shut the fuck up. It sounded more like a food court, with everyone trying to have their own conversations over her music, which is soft enough as it is. After only two songs, she basically told us she wasn't going to bother trying to play over people, and for anyone who was interested to come to the front of the stage. Luckily, a fair amount of people did -- including Kyp Malone out from back stage -- and she kept going, though the noise didn't really die down all that much. Only once have I felt more embarrassed and ashamed to be part of a crowd. If you fucking hipsters are "too cool" to listen to the live music being played, that you paid for, and would rather yell about what cause is most trendy this week, then get the fuck out of my venue and go to, i dunno, the art gallery or the microbrewery or under a falling piano where you won't ruin anyone else's night.
Ahem, but I digress...
As I mentioned, her music was very soft and folky, with just her and an acoustic guitar on stage, and rather beautiful. Her powerful voice carried her songs, and one gets the feeling she could create an intense emotion behind any song. By the end of the set, she had thanked those who were actually listening and capped it off with a little more of a poppy and upbeat song. It was quite a good set, and I hope she wasn't put off Vancouver by the few assholes in the crowd.

And finally, Rain Machine was out just before 10. They started the set off with a few slower songs, but before long they were bringing the house down. Malone's incredibly powerful voice cut a swath through the crowd on more than one occasion, and the other 4 members of the band were able to keep up no problem. At the start of the show, Kyp was a little shy, mumbling hello's, but as the show went on, he got looser and more vocal between songs, and also chastising the crowd for talking during Cluck's set, telling us an amusing tale of how he once talked through a US Maple and regretted it when he saw them again and they blew him away. It was actually quite an interesting contrast, seeing how shy he was between songs, then while singing, watching him attack some of the songs with such ferocity.
Part way through the set, the band left the stage for Malone to perform a song of his own. And at one point during this, even he had to yell at people for talking (see above rant) and went as far as to ask for our attention, which, again, makes me ashamed of the Vancouver crowd. I know it was a Friday night, but come on people.
Anyway, the band came back on and they had time for a couple more songs, before the 11:00 curfew (the Biltmore double booked, for some strange reason) and so they didn't bother leaving for the inevitable encore, which I was glad of, since that's always just a waste of time. They instead, at the very end, asked if they had time to do one more song. Which they did... had it not been an absolutely EPIC 15 minute song, Winter Song.
Ending at about quarter after 11, the Biltmore staff then rushed everyone out for their next show. And while I'm yelling at people in this review: Really, Biltmore? Last couple Saturday shows I've seen there, they have had an 11 curfew so they could have their club nights, which is okay and understandable, and they even let the people at the shows stay without having to pay cover again. That, I am fine with. But booking another band to play that night?? Not cool, Biltmore. Not cool.

ANYWAY, ranting aside, despite the double booking and the shitty crowd, it was a great night. Rain Machine was really damn good, and I hope this isn't just a one-off project and that Kyp Malone is able to keep doing it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wide Mouth Mason & Odds @ Venue -- 10/01/09

By this point, I think I have probably seen Wide Mouth Mason in the double digits. Odds, however, I had almost never seen. When they were big the first time around, I wasn't really going to many shows, so I never had a chance to see them "back in the day". I did see them play a short set before the fireworks one day, but that was more like half a show... it doesn't count. For these reasons, I think was more excited to have them on the bill than Mason. Don't get me wrong, I love me a good WMM show, but I had already seem them once (and a half, as they did a fireworks gig too) this year already, and countless times before.

Starting off the night was Jordan Carrier, and he... sounded pretty much like you'd expect a modern day Fox Seeds finalist to sound like. The first song sounded downright schizophrenic and the rest of his set, he didn't really seem to have a style of his own, just a patchwork of other bands. He, and his band mates, were not bad, musically, but not captivating at all and I pretty much forgot about the entire set as soon as Odds came on.

Odds hit the stage not too long after Carrier was off and played through the first song, which I thought was kind of muffled. Though when they hit the stage, none of the mics were on, so I thought it was just the levels... then I thought something was odd when I noticed the flashing lights were not strobe lights, but above both emergency doors. And that the high pitch whining wasn't feedback, but an alarm. Turns out the fire alarm was going off, and due to this, the PA system shut off. So, consummate professionals as they are, Odds joked and riffed on stage, about how this was now a photo shoot and such, before realizing they'd have to take a short break for things to get sorted out. Luckily, it wasn't too long of a break and they were back out soon after. They played a good mix of their older hits and the brand new material, and they still knew how to work a show, especially lead singer Craig Northey. I am so glad that I got the chance to see them in the end. It may not be the original lineup, but they're still as good as they ever were. And it was just another reminder why Pat Steward is one of my favourite drummers.

Finally, Wide Mouth Mason was up, and they were as sharp as ever. Even having seen them so many times, they never cease to amaze me with the sheer energy of their live shows. As is usual for their shows, they focused a lot on their hits and faster songs, but there were a few older ones in there, as well as two brand new songs from the upcoming (eventually) new album. One they had only played a few times before, and one they hadn't played at a show yet. The latter had the great title: Stop Yelling and Kiss Me. There were some nice jam moments as well, like during This Mourning (I think) they broke it down, and at one point during Shaun's solo-ing, he noticed someone near the front taking a video and went to play right in front of them. I've seen him do similar things before, and it's just cool to see the band interacting with the fans, not just up there to play, get paid and go home. I've met all three members before, and they are all incredibly nice, so that's no surprise there.
For the encore, they came back out with Change, which saw Pat Steward and Craig Northey take the stage to help out. Change segued into a live WMM staple, a cover of Stevie Wonder's Superstition which had Steward take over for Saf drumming and Northey on vocals. THAT then segued into a really good cover of Billie Jean, before going back to Superstition for one hell of an ending to one hell of a show.

Aside from the mediocre opening act, the disrupting fire alarm, and one other incident* it was quite the excellent night of rock and/or roll.

*of all the shows I've been to this year... hell, of all the shows I've been to ever... the one show I almost get into a fight at is a Wide Mouth Mason show??? Bizarre.