Tuesday, December 29, 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!
And yes, I am trying to finish off the reviews of this years albums as quick as possible, so that's why there has been (and will be) a barrage of album reviews.

Pink Strat by Bahamas
(debut solo LP from Afie Jurvanen, who has played for the likes of Feist, Jason Collett, Hayden, Zeus, The Stills and more)

After supporting
Afie steps in the spotlight
For his time to shine

Download Already Yours by Bahamas

Invisible Republic by Young Galaxy
Some moments it soars
Yet others, not so much
A bit less dreamy

Download Firestruck by Young Galaxy

Armistice by Mute Math
Just like their debut
With more, needless, production
Bit of a let down

Download Backfire by Mute Math

No One's First and You're Next EP by Modest Mouse
A bunch of outtakes
Were left out for a reason
Just seems like filler

Download Perpetual Motion Machine by Modest Mouse

Bay of Pigs EP by Destroyer
Thirteen and a half
Twists and turns and genre shifts
Simply amazing

Download Bay of Pigs by Destroyer

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nice, Nice, Very Nice by Dan Mangan

To say it's been a stellar year for Vancouver's Dan Mangan would be putting it lightly. The release of his latest album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice has earned him loads of awards and acclaim, including the XM Verge Award for Artist of the Year and winning big at the R3 Bucky awards for both Best Vocals and the top prize, Best Song for his song Robots. Probably best pegged as an indie-folk-singer-songwriter, Mangan never falls back on the clichés of those genres that would make his music all too easy... and generic. He soars above with his acoustic guitar, his voice that sounds well past his 26-years and intelligent song writing & sense of humour to prove that all the acclaim that he has received this year has been well earned.

"Road Regrets" kicks off the album and pretty much sets the tone, lulling you in before "Robots" fully grabs you. A brilliant & amazingly catchy tune, I defy anyone with a soul not to join in the sing along at the end (especially at live shows). "The Indie Queens Are Waiting", featuring Veda Hille, is a touching number which proves he's not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve & reveal insecurities. I can't be the only one who can relate to lyrics like "Bus down to the local record store / to buy something to make you like me more" (which, incidentally, is one of my favourite lines of the year). "Sold" is a looser, more high energy & upbeat song before things get epic with "Fair Verona". Loosely based off Romeo & Juliet (as the title suggests), it is absolutely heartfelt and full of so much raw emotion that when the song climaxes into a sweeping, majestic end it almost leaves you drained. The awesomely titled "You Silly Git" is another sweet song which features some fantastic strings. "Tina’s Glorious Comeback" will be an instant favourite of anyone who knows Vancouver or the culture and "Et Les Mots Croisés" is another nice, strings-y song, which leads into "Some People", a song brimming with energy. "Pine For Cedars" is another melancholic beauty, but this one has a couple pun-filled lines that are, again, quite Vancouver specific which shows even when baring his soul, Mangan is not without a sense of humour and whimsy. The shining point of the album is definitely "Basket", a heart-wrenching song that will bring a tear to the eye of even the most jaded hipster; however it's not without its optimism. Finally, it comes to a close with "Set The Sails", a near perfect way to end the album, bringing everything down with some light piano and strings.

There is an interesting symmetry to the album, at least with the opening and closing tracks. "Set The Sails" is as perfect a closer as "Road Regrets" is an opener and "Basket" is as heartbreaking as "Robots" is joyous. This just goes to show the range of Mangan's songwriting and his lack of fear when letting his emotions out. With as much hype that now surrounds Mangan, it would be easy to write him off as over hyped or unworthy of all the attention, but both the album and his live show more than proves Dan Mangan lives up to the acclaim with the superb and intelligent songwriting. It is safe to say, Nice, Nice, Very Nice is one of my favourite albums of the year.

(Also, I am somewhat proud of making it through the review without making the obvious [and overused] "Nice, Nice, Very Nice" pun!)

Download Fair Verona

Download Pine for Cedars

Download Basket

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 13 live shows of the 2009!

I originally wasn't going to do a "best shows of the year" post. I mean, I just didn't know if I could do it. How can you compare the insane energy of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead to the beauty of Neko Case? Or the almost spontaneous feeling of Dan Bejar's solo acoustic Destroyer show to The Decemberists playing their whole new rock opera album front to back? The insanity of Holy Fuck to the lovely Basia Bulat! I think you get the point. But instead of doing a list and ranking them all, here are some of the shows that stood out from the rest.

In case you're curious, here is the master list of all the shows I've been to this year. Over 50 shows and over 100 bands (some even seen multiple times). But now, here are my top 13 shows, in chronological order. I am going to try and be brief with each* and I'll link to the original review which were much more in depth (but be warned, the first few will be from my lamejournal, which I used before the move to blogspot).

March Sixth. Karkwa at the Biltmore Cabaret.
Ok, this one is tricky because Karkwa was an opening band. I hadn't heard too much of them before the show, just the one song from R3, which was a decent song. A decent song which is a horrible representation of their sound. Which was abso-fucking-lutely amazing. So amazing, in fact, that they managed to blow out a speaker.
The other interesting thing about the show is that it was the first time I had seen Said The Whale live. I was only a radio-fan of the band at that point, and so not only did they have the setback of following that, but their whole set was from blown speakers. I have to admit, I wasn't won over by that set. But knowing the deck was stacked against them, I knew I had to give them another shot.

April Twenty Third. Metric acoustic at the Media Club.
True, it was a very short set. Only Metric played and it was over and done in about an hour. But that one hour was pretty damn amazing. A win-to-get-in show put on by The Peak, I had actually managed to get tickets off their website. The intimate, hundred-some-odd person venue was filled with fans as Emily Haines & Jimmy Shaw took the stage and played some stripped down, acoustic versions of most of the new album as well as of the favourites. It cemented what excellent musicians both Haines & Shaw are (as if I needed reminding), but what made my life was seeing them do a cover of the Broken Social Scene song Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl. That is definitely one of my favourite BSS songs and perhaps one of my favourite songs overall, so seeing it live pretty much made my year.

May Ninth. Joel Plaskett at The Vogue Theatre.
Joel Plaskett. His father Bill. Ana Egge. Rose Cousins. Over the course of nearly three hours these four incredibly talented musicians all had the chance to shine. Sure, it was Joel's show and the other three were backing him, but each was given their opportunity to shine; and shine they did. There were so many highlights from the show, and a lot of them were the little things. Since the show, every time I hear the line "Do the switcheroo" in Fashionable People, I picture Ana and Rose quickly switching places and Joel almost cracking up. I remember the six dollar, duct taped casio keyboard from Value Village for Television Set. Not to mention all the stories Joel tells, sometimes even mid-song. Even in a giant venue like the Vogue, Plaskett made it intimate and like he was singing in your living room. And as if there is any more reason needed to love the show, I give you three words: Joel. Plaskett. Beatboxing.

May Twenty Fifth. TV On The Radio at Malkin Bowl.
I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again, Malkin Bowl is one of my favourite venues this city has. One reason I liked it can best be summed up by a quote from this very show. While looking up at the surrounding trees, specifically the eagles nest in a nearby tree, Kyp Malone told us "That’s something special you guys have. If we were in Brooklyn, that would be a telephone pole. Appreciate this." But of course a good venue doesn't necessarily make a great concert. A band like TV On The Radio makes a great concert. Each time I see them, they get better and better (this was my third time in as many years). They have a raw power that is almost unparallelled and a complex sound that would just sound that takes an insane amount of skill to pull off. If they were a lesser band, the intricacies and layers of their recorded material would fall flat live. And also, both Wolf Like Me and A Method have got to be two of my favourite songs (of any band) to see live.

May Thirtieth. The Dears (with Jets Overhead & Black Diamond Bay) at Richard's on Richards.
This show right here is a very strong contender for show of the year. Not only was the set from The Dears amazing, but one of my favourite lineups, too. Black Diamond Bay was first, the new band from former Dears member (and guitar deity) Pat Krief, and were absolutely spectacular. Jets Overhead were their usual fantastic self (their acoustic show probably would have made a top 20 list), but The Dears... sweet baby Odin, The Dears. From the opening of the show, with Murray coming in through the back and wandering amongst the crowd while singing, I knew it was going to be something special. The pure emotion that gets poured in to each show, I swear the whole band, and Murray especially, must be drained every night. It also included the first of two random Torquil Campbell appearances. Right before Lights Off, Murray dedicated the song to Campbell and his newborn daughter, and then part way through the song Torquil jumped on stage for some backup vocals. Maybe I am slightly bias since The Dears are one of my top 4 favourite bands... but I would say shows like this are part of the reason The Dears hold that position. The only possible word to describe the show would be: incredimazing.

July Seventeenth. Destroyer (with Attics & Cellars) at the Biltmore Cabaret.
The night after playing with The New Pornos, opening for Death Cab For Cutie, Dan Bejar did a Destroyer show at the Biltmore. I thought it was an interesting choice, since last time they were headlining here they did the Commodore, but I figured out why when Destroyer hit the stage. And by Destroyer, I mean Dan Bejar. The show was not a full band, but rather simply Bejar doing a solo and pretty much acoustic set. You wouldn't think a lot of his songs would work like this, but it only went to show Bejar's genius that he not only made it work, but was taking random requests -- of ANY of his songs, Destroyer, Pornos or Swan Lake -- and playing them. The whole thing had a very unrehearsed vibe to it, as if he forgot he was supposed to do a show, then just went on and played whatever he felt like. It all seemed very loose and on the fly.
The other great thing was the discovery of Attics & Cellars, one of the opening bands. Consisting of people such as Jason Zumpano, Meegan Bradfield and Ryan Dahle, they sounded fantastic. Sadly, I haven't been able to catch them again live, and with no album or anything out, I've been relying on their R3 profile. Hopefully they will put out something in the near future.

July Eighteenth. Joel Plaskett Emergency (with Said The Whale) at Holland Park.
A free show at the Fusion Festival in Surrey, of all places. As hesitant as I am to go into Surrey usually, how can I pass up free Joel Plaskett Emergency?? You would be a fool to! it was also a perfect opportunity to give Said The Whale the second chance I promised them, and did they ever win me over with it.
As for JPE, it was quite a different show than the solo one at the Vogue. Incredibly high energy and fun, it was just more proof that whatever the setting, Plaskett is one of the countries worlds best live musicians. He was also joined by sometimes Emergency member Peter Elkas, who has quite the music career of his own, which was pretty damn cool. I was just disappointed they didn't do Poor Young Things since they were together, but I guess that is more an Elkas song. Hopefully someday...

July Twenty First. The Decemberists at The Vogue Theatre.
The Hazards of Love, the new album by The Decemberists, is a (folk-)rock opera. So when they took the stage, with contributors Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and proceeded to play the whole thing in its entirety... that was pretty amazing and theatrical. And intense. And epic. All the grandeur and drama from the album was translated brilliantly live, possibly even better than the album. And holy damn, does Shara Wordenhave an impressive voice. The second half of the show was almost completely opposite, with everything a lot looser and more joking around between songs. It even included something I have never seen before or since that was brilliant. Part way through one of the songs in the encore, while some of the band members were in the audience, they paused for Meloy to introduce a play in one act, with the band members that were in the crowd acting out the Norwegian discovery of Vancouver as Meloy narrated. It may sound silly, but it was pretty hilarious.

August Third. Sam Roberts with Arkells and Mother Mother at Deer Lake Park.
Quite possibly my favourite overall lineup of the year. Arkells were fricking amazing, like they always are. Mother Mother made a fan out of me after their set and Sam Roberts is... Sam Roberts. All terrific bands who I would or have seen themselves, so too see them all together was pretty cool. Not to mention the awesomely beautiful Deer Lake Park. Interestingly enough, all of the bands in this show I ended up seeing multiple times throughout the year.

August Twenty Ninth. Dan Mangan at The Cultch.
The show that made me fall in love with Dan Mangan. His music, that is. Ok, maybe a little bit of him, too. I went to the show on a complete whim, being most a radio-fan of his, but by the end of it... I was a fully fledged fan. With his backing band that ranged from a usual band of four others, to a complete horns and strings section. Not only did he have some great and catchy songs, but he played with a confidence of someone who had been doing that sort of thing for decades, and his great stage presence, demeanour and sense of humour reminded me, in some ways, of Joel Plaskett. Which is saying something. And twice Vancouver poet Shane Koyczan came out, once to recite a poem during Fair Verona and once for the encore to perform the song Tragic Turn of events/Move Pen move from Mangan's Roboteering EP. Their performance of that song was absolutely heartbreaking.

October Thirteenth. Monsters of Folk at the Commodore Ballroom.
Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, M. Ward and Jim James (or Yim Yames, if you will) combine forces for an awesome "supergroup", Monsters of Folk. Who put on an amazing show. Three hours of not just MoF songs, but songs from each artists "main" bands as well. They played all together, each individually, and every combination of the four in between. A really cool concept for a show -- it's something I wish more of these "supergroups" did, it made me not only love their album more, but like each individual artist better (I am still in shock that I actually liked the Bright Eyes songs!)

November Ninth. Matthew Good & Mother Mother.
November Tenth. Matthew Good & Mother Mother.
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that knows me that these two shows are on the list. Matt Good has been my favourite musician for quite some time, and he has never disappointed live. Not only a top notch musician (and surrounded by ones for his backing band), he also has a great stage presence and banter between songs. Everything from a serious olympic protest to joking about it being "Bublé O'Clock" which somehow led into a spontaneous lounge song about the time he looked out his window to find a ninja getting it on with a pirate on the hood of a car. A true story, apparently. Much like with The Dears above, it's shows like this that are the reason I am such a huge fan of the man. I think overall, the second night was a bit better, but it was pretty awesome seeing him both nights. And to say nothing of Mother Mother, who were even better than when I saw them previously in the year!

So there we have it. My favourite 13 shows of the year -- or 12, if you count both MG shows as one.
And hey, some honourable mentions why not? All these would have
Holy Fuck, Said The Whale & Hannah Georgas, We Are The City & Bend Sinister, ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Plants & Animals, Jets Overhead acoustic, The Trews acoustic.

(*Haha! I completely failed at that!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sloan @ Commodore -- 12/15/09

Well, I certainly did not mean to not update for a week, but that's what happens when your computer goes kerblewy. But better late than never, here's my writeup for the Sloan show last week.

I don't know how it was that I had never seen Sloan live before. Maybe cos I've always been a more casual fan, but despite hearing countless times of their excellence live, I just never got (or took) the chance. Well, when I heard they were playing at the Commodore (and for only $20!) I knew I had to rectify this mistake.

The first of two opening bands of the night was Fine Mist. A boy/girl duo from Vancouver who, ironically or not, seemed to come straight out of an eighth grade talent show, Casio Keyboard beats and all. most of the songs consisted of a looped beat and the two of them singing, and, well, if the crowd's reaction (apathy) was any indication, more than a few people felt the way I did.

Magneta Lane was up next. I had seen them before a couple years ago with Small Sins, but didn't really remember too much of them. They weren't bad, but had a kind of Generic All-Girl Band sound to them (which is hard to describe, but if you heard it you'd know). Some catchy stuff, but a few of the songs were a bit same-y.

And finally, Sloan! They started out proving they weren't taking any crap by kicking out not one but two people for general jackassery (I think) by the time the second song was over. They focused most of the set on the new EP, Hit & Run, and some of the older hits. Even though I wasn't yet familiar with the new EP, that didn't stop me from enjoying the hell out of the show. Incredibly tight, swapping instruments throughout the night and fantastically engaging, they proved why they're so highly regarded as a live band. Even the old songs they made fresh, but not unrecognizable. At one point segueing from The Other Man right into Money City Maniacs, both songs were great live, with the latter having some nifty siren-like lighting -- resulting in the pic here; those are lights, not pyrotechnics. They ended the main set with an insanely energetic She Says What She Means, and came back for a few more older songs in the encore, including Coax Me, which say the lead singer of Magneta Lane come out to help on vocals. They finished off the night with The Good In Everyone which, again, tore the place down.
Even though they played for about an hour and a half, the set seemed way too short. I know they have a massive catalogue of songs, so I didn't expect to hear everything I wanted, but there were a few I wish they had done. That aside, it was still a great set from a legendary Canadian band.

Sunday, December 13, 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!

No Nations by Jets Overhead
Excellent second
They're not heading for nowhere
Quite the opposite.

Download Fully Shed by Jets Overhead

Sounds Like Zeus EP by Zeus
A kick-ass EP
Songs that will march through your head
Can't wait for full length

Download Marching Through Your Head by Zeus

Wilco (The Album) by Wilco
Aural excellence
The brilliance you would expect
Wilco (The Haiku)

Download You and I (feat. Feist) by Wilco

Riceboy Sleeps by Jónsi & Alex
(Sigur Rós vocalist Jón Þór Birgisson and partner Alex Somers, and also including Amiina)
Take some Sigur Rós
And remove all the vocals
Still heavenly

Download All the Big Trees by Jónsi & Alex

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bend Sinister w/ We Are The City @ Venue -- 12/10/09

Finally, my Bend Sinister bad luck streak is over! I had previously only seen them either opening or doing otherwise short sets; it seemed every time that they came for a show of their own, there was something conflicting. But finally, thanks to the first of the two Christmas parties sponsored by The Peak, I got to see them. All three bands of the night are bands from the Peak Performance Project, a 20 band contest to help nourish local talent. Being a fan of Bend Sinister from before, they are my top pick to win, but We Are The City has definitely impressed me as well, so I was glad that my two favourites from the PPP were playing a show together.

We Are the City was first up, and holy damn! Had I seen them and not known anything about them, I would never have guessed that they have only been a band for a few years... and are so young. Not only did they have a great energy on stage, but they were incredibly tight & seamless, and -- if their stage banter and joking is any indication -- they seemed incredibly comfortable and at home on stage. I certainly wasn't expecting them to be bad or anything, but I have seem bands that have been around for way longer be much sloppier on stage. It was pretty amazing. They hit most of the songs off In A Quiet World throwing in a new one, This Is A Bad Mistake. The highlight of the set was my favourite song off the album, Astronomers, which even had a nifty space theme on the giant LED screen behind them.

Next was Run The Red Light, whose stage setup was quite opposite of WATC's, with a smoky atmosphere, small towers of LED lights back-lighting them. They, too, had a good stage presence, but not so much banter or talk between songs. When they started, their sound reminded me somewhat of Mute Math, and through the show there were more than a few times where the similarities were reinforced. They were not bad, but seemed to lack variety. A lot of their songs, even the cover of Sarah McLaughlin's Possession (yeah, that's right), sounded a little similar. I'd probably check them out again if they were part of a good bill, but probably wouldn't on their own.

And finally, Bend Sinister. Even after seeing them opening for Young Galaxy about a month and a half ago, I was still absolutely blown away. These guys are absolutely amazing live and seem to get better every time I am able to see them. They started off with Things Will Get Better, which they most certainly did, since right after was one of my favourite songs, Julianna. I am pretty sure I had never see them do that live before, so that was pretty damn awesome. CT, and a few other songs through the night, showed off Jason Dana's intense drumming and after a new song (which I didn't catch the name of, but will dub Cruel Joke because why not) and bringing things down with Give In To The Night, they launched into Brothers Of Humankind, which absolutely brought down the house with its incredible intensity and power. And I've said it before, and I am sure I will say it again, but Dan Moxon is an animal on the keyboard. They ended the night in the best possibly way, by announcing they had a cover song they've been working on for a while, and it was time to bust it out. After a familiar opening, you better believe they had everyone in the place singing along to the opening lines "Just a small town girl..." That's right, Don't Stop Believin'. Epic!
Even though they played for about an hour, it still seemed too short of a set and I already can't wait until they come back.

An awesome night of music, with my two top picks for the Peak Performance Project sharing the stage. If one, or both, of these bands doesn't make it into at least the top three of the Peak Performance Project, I think I will lose a little bit of faith in the station.

setlist, with what seems to be the new norm of me getting all but one song.
Things Will Get Better, Julianna, CT, New Song (which I dub Cruel Joke), Careless, Give In To The Night (w/ reprise), Brothers of Humankind, Dr Lee, [mystery song], Don't Stop Believin' (Journey cover)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dragonslayer by Sunset Rubdown

I am going to let you in on a secret, even though I may risk losing some "indie cred" for it. I have never really been too fond of Wolf Parade (oh no, get the Pitchforks!). I don't hate them, by any means, but I do think they have been incredibly over hyped, and I don't looooooooove them like I am probably "supposed" to. Though, I should be more specific; I think it's just Dan Boeckner I don't care for, as I've never really been into Handsome Furs, either. Spencer Krug, on the other hand... He is not only the other half of Wolf Parade, but also one third of Swan Lake, and leads Sunset Rubdown which is, in my eyes, his best band. What had started as a side/solo project has, four full length albums and a handful of EP's later, flourished into a full band where Krug is able to let his ideas flow. Their latest release is the awesomely titled Dragonslayer, which was recorded almost entirely live off the floor, giving the album the same energy and vibe of their (awesome) live show.

It starts off with Silver Moons, an interesting song as it almost sounds like it could be a closing song, and with lyrics telling us "maybe these days are over now", it doesn't even just feel like the end of an album, but the end of something much more significant... but yet, it's just the beginning.The first single, Idiot Heart completely changes things around; a rousing anthem with boundless energy and some of my favourite lyrics of the year; one such example is the Bucky nominated line "I hope that you die in a decent pair of shoes / You got a lot more walking to do where you're going to."
Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh! is one of my favourite songs off the album, and not just for the great title. An almost majestic song, with references to Greek mythology and excellent story telling, it is one of the perfect examples of how well Krug constructs his songs, not just musically by lyrically. Another great example of just that is Black Swan which starts out with an almost controlled chaos which bursts forth between verses only to be reigned back until it is allowed to come together and explode at the end. Paper Lace is a "remake", I suppose, of his Swan Lake song from this year's Beast Moans and... I think I like the Swan Lake version a bit better. And from a remake to a sequel, of sorts, You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II) follows Trumpet Trumpet Toot Toot from the previous album, directly referencing the chorus. It is another stand-out of the album, building to an awesome ending.
Nightingale/December Song is an assault of drums and has an almost tribal feel that leads excellently into the closer, Dragon's Lair. A ten minute epic of a song, opening with a light piano, it slowly gains momentum into what is not only the highlight of the album, but perhaps a highlight of any of the bands Krug is involved in. He doesn't just tell a story, but creates a whole world within the lyrics, and music, of the song. A superb way to end a great album.

Even though it's only eight tracks, is about fifty minutes, and those 50 minutes are packed with briliance. It had been said before, but with Dragonslayer, Krug cements just how much of a music genius he truly is. He knows precisely what he is doing and delivers it in an exquisite way, and that is what makes this album so great. There are very few bands that sound like Sunset Rubdown... or even could sound like them. This is a perfect example of why Sunset Rubdown is my favourite of all of Krug's bands.

Download Idiot Heart

Download Black Swan

Download You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mint Records Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party @ The Biltmore -- 12/04/09

Last night was Mint Records annual Ridiculously Early X-Mas Party and my second year going. I think I liked the overall lineup a little better last year, but it was definitely a better venue this time. And, I managed to be one of the first 75 people in, so got a free gift! $20 gift certificates for Black Dog Video (any relation to Red Cat Records?). Though they had some other cool gifts, like $50 for Zulu Records, gift packs, giant pocky sticks and more. And best of all, free pocky sticks!
Like other years, they had a whole host of bands playing, and they somehow fit in eight bands in their 7-or-so-hour window. They all got about 30-40 minutes and the show, surprisingly, ran more or less on time! I'll try to only say a few lines about each set, so as not to go on forever, so here we go!

Aunts & Uncles: As a band, I really liked them... up until the lead singer started in. The music was really nice and almost symphonic -- they included a cello & violin, among others -- but the lead singer was really nasal-y, and a little whiny. Though, as it went on he either got better, or I just got used to it... but it was still quite the contrast.

Kathryn Calder: She was one of the two main acts I wanted to see, being a fan of Immaculate Machine (and New Pornos, of course). It was her first show with the backing band she had collected, and her first show playing guitar as well as keyboard, but it didn't show at all. It was a pretty good set, and got me excited for whatever solo material she plans to release.

Fanshaw: Mint's newest acquisition put on a pretty darn good set. With an almost jazzy or lounge feel to them, they kind of reminded me of a more minimalistic Jane Vain & The Dark Matter. I really dug them, and as I understand there is an album out in February with a CD release party at the Railway on Feb 4th. I think I might just have to check that out.

Kellarissa: Comprised solely (I think) of Larissa Loyva, formerly of The Choir Practice and p:ano. The set seemed a little shorter than the rest, and almost seemed to end abruptly, but she was pretty good. It also seemed really... subtle. Like, no one realized when she started, and there seemed to be more chatter during her set than all others. But with haunting vocals and looping -- which I am always intrigued by -- and I wouldn't mind hearing/seeing more, but it's nothing that I am going to rush out and get.

Hot Panda: I have seem them a few times before, even at last years Mint party, and while they're certainly not bad, I've just never been able to get into them all that much. They just don't do anything for me. That being said, they do have a great energy on stage and they still do put on an enjoyable live show.

Vancougar: I feel like I could copy & paste what I said about Hot Panda here, and it would be just as apt. I do like their song Obvious, but some of the stuff is a little.... same-y. But, much like hot Panda, they too put on a pretty damn good live show, and while I don't think I would go to a show just to see them, I have enjoyed seeing them the last couple years for the Mint X-Mas party.

Carolyn Mark: The second of the two acts I wanted to see. I've liked Mark for a while, but for whatever reason have never really picked anything of hers up; usually just hearing her on CBCR3. Her set, however, changed my mind for sure. Her voice is quite amazing, up there with Neko Case (which is appropriate, since the two of them put out an album under The Corn Sisters). The highlight of the set was definitely when all the members (save drummer, of course) put their instruments behind their head to play... even they keyboardist.

The Pack A.D.: Capped off the night and flat out admitted that since they were the last ones, they had the longest time to drink. And were, to put it generously, a little tipsy. Though, of all the bands to play, they would probably be the least conspicuous when drunk. Not to mean that as an insult, but they already have a pretty loose and raw style anyway. When I saw them earlier in the year opening for Pink Mountaintops, I said "boy, do they know how to put on a fucking rock show", and that was the same for tonight. They rocked out pretty damn hard, and had some hilarious banter between songs... mostly revolving around and due to alcohol.

Even though eight bands in one night did seem to drag on a couple times, it was still a great night of music and I can't wait for next years party. And it was pretty cool to meet some other R3 listeners, or people I only knew via the interwebs, at the show!