Sunday, February 28, 2010

Evolution 107.9 Turns Four!

BCIT's Evolution 107.9 is turning 4 on March 7th! To celebrate, we are having a huge B-Day bash on Friday March 5th at Professor Mugs, and of course everyone is invited.

Specials include a burger and an adult beverage for just $10! As well, we will be giving away some amazing prizes, like:
$150 package from Mirella's Tattoos
Jason Collett tickets from Biltmore Cabaret
Big Pink tickets from Live Nation
3D Imax Hubble Movie package from Warner Brothers
and tons more!!

Well what about the entertainment you ask? Well, we've got three amazing acts; Ben Sigston, Familia and Free City Collective will be performing live.

Tickets will be available through Evolution. Just ask me and I can hook you up! Or you can also find us hanging in the Great Hall at BCIT Mar 1-4 from 11am to 1pm.

Live music, sweet prizes and cheap food and drinks. This is a birthday celebration you do not want to miss!!

Olympic Shenanigans: The Big Finish.

Here it is,: the last few olympic shows. In the last two weeks I managed to see ten free olympic shows, one ticketed show and one CBC Radio 3 session. Sixteen different bands. As much as I wasn't a supporter of the olympics, I have to admit, the shows were unbelievable. Now, if only Vancouver could get a Rifflandia or SxSW type music festival going... Anyway, on to the last few shows:

Thursday, Feb 25
Backtracking a little before the Mangam/Fanshaw/R3 show, Two Hours Traffic was playing Thursday night at the Richmond O Zone. They were opening for Wintersleep, but I was going specifically to see them; especially because I missed the last time they were in town. Even though it was a short set, they managed to play a decent number of songs, kicking things off with the title track from the new album, "Territory". They played a good mix of songs from their oeuvre, though focusing on the newer material. There were a few I hadn't heard live before, like "Drop Alcohol" and "Happiness Burns", so those were especially great to hear. As usual, they were energetic, with a good stage presence, some other highlights were the infectious "Sure Can Start" and the always-fantastic "Heroes of the Sidewalk".
They capped off the set with "Jezebel", and I don't know how many people there knew them beforehand, but judging by the crowds reaction they gained more than a few fans that night. It was a pretty damn good set, and I can't wait until the next time they come through town for a proper show.
Territory, Stolen Earrings, Drop Alcohol, Nighthawks, New Love, Wicked Side, Noisemaker, Stuck for the Summer, Sure Can Start, Painted Halo, Heroes of the Sidewalk, Back Seat Sweetheart, Weightless One, I Did What I Could, Happiness Burns, Jezebel.

Saturday, Feb 27
This day was supposed to be a great day of music, and it was... but there just seemed to be a bunch of non-music-related minor annoyances that dampened my enjoyment (no, not the rain).

First up was Matt Mays at Livecity Yaletown. According to both the internet and the radio, he was supposed to start at 6:30, so imagine my surprise when I am standing in line outside and I hear his name being hollered... followed by the familiar strains of "City of Lakes". Luckily, I had gotten there early-ish, so I managed to get in at about 10 after six, only missing a couple of songs. (Also, the guy at the gate was an incredible jerkass). I was disappointed to miss "City of Lakes", since that is one of my favourite songs of his (especially live) and "Tall Trees", but the rest of the set was pretty awesome. Both "What Are We Gonna Do Come The Month of September" and "On The Hood" (another favourite) got extended versions, with the latter including Mays adding some Olympic-hype to it, with the line "A whole lot of gold, for us, for us" repeated. He finished with "Cocaine Cowgirl", which ended with Mays soliciting applause for his band, the city, the athletes and even the people in the apartments overlooking the park, before jumping into the crowd and running off, leaving the band to bring the song to an awesome finish.
The other annoyance was that the set was way too short. Lasting only 40 minutes, he only got to play a handful of songs, so there was a lot I wished he had played. But still, Short-Mays is better than No-Mays, so I was still glad to have heard him. I kind of wish I was able to make it to Atlantic House for his show later that night, but I had other plans.
City of Lakes, Tall Trees, Downtown, What Are We Gonna Do Come The Month of September, [mystery song], On The Hood, Cocaine Cowgirl.

Those other plans? The Stills at the O Zone. This marked my seventh time seeing them live, and they were as good as ever, but the annoyances this time were the crowd of obnoxious teenagers and the freaking camera guy, who thought the best possible spot that he could stand was in front of the band. I don't know what kind of idiot he was, but I hope he ends up in the very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theatre.
Anyway! They hit the stage decked out in various hockey jerseys and started off with a song that is always great live, "Snakecharming The Masses". The extra floor tom gives it the extra power, but I do miss the saxamaphone -- the first time I saw the song live it included Dave playing a sax solo, but it was cut out of the album version for some reason.
Playing mostly from their first and third albums (for some reason Without Feathers got no love...) they got through a good blend of hits and fan favourites. Though despite being the headliner of the night, there set was inexplicably only 45 minutes, so again, there were a bunch of songs I was sad they didn't play... but hey, it was free Stills, I can't complain.
Snakecharming The Masses, Lola Stars & Stripes, Snow In California, Being Here, Of Montreal, Panic, Everything I Build, Hands On Fire, Gender Bombs, Don't Talk Down, I'm With You.

Now that the real world starts back up again tomorrow, I have a feeling I am going to be going some serious live music withdrawl.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dan Mangan (w/ Fanshaw) @ CBC Studio 1 -- 02/26/10

I have been incredibly fortunate with Dan Mangan shows. Aside from the fact that I've only seen him twice, the first time was his fantastic CD release party at the Cultch, which included him & his band, of course, but also an orchestral section and Shane Koyczan. Something, he confessed, that would probably never happen again. This time, he played a CBC Radio 3 sponsored show, going out live (and probably online in the near future) in Studio 1 at the CBC headquarters. The room couldn't have held more than a hundred or so people, so it was a very intimate setting.

First up, though, was Fanshaw. I saw her at the Mint Records X-Mas Show, and really liked the set, especially her voice. Simultaneously soft & powerful, Olivia Fetherstonhaugh (formerly of The Choir Practice) has a voice that commands attention even at a whisper. The three piece -- Oliva on guitar accompanied by bass & drums -- alternated between upbeat and down tempo songs, and even alternated members, with some songs being just Olivia, and one adding a french horn.
The set ended with a duet between Olivia and her drummer, who took over guitar duties, covering "Love Hurts". While they may not get points for originality (how many times has that song been covered?) it was a pretty damn good cover of the song, with their voices blending together really well. I've been idly looking for the album, Dark Eyes, which came out about a month ago, but I think after last night I am going to have to start seriously looking for it.

Between sets, Lisa Christiansen briefly interviewed both Olivia & Dan, and also gave out some prizes with trivia.

At 8 sharp, Dan Mangan took the stage with his backing musicians... a trio of horns & a trio of strings. He started off with "Sold" before going into "Fair Verona", which was already one of my favourite songs, but absolutely amazing with the horns & strings. And considering he mentioned they only had two rehearsal sessions together, it was pretty great. There was also the usual humour thrown in, cracking jokes between songs. I once likened Mangan's stage presence to that of Joel Plaskett, not only with the effortless stage banter and humour, but also using that to create intimacy in the set. Even if it wasn't already a small room, Mangan is able to make it seem like he's just a pal, playing in your living room. The highlight of the set would have to be "Basket", which just bled raw emotion. It was incredible and managed to give me chills; and I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few tears rolling down cheeks by the end of it. He "ended" the too-short-set with "Robots", with of course everyone singing and clapping along. There was a vaguely awkward moment as he wandered off, then back on for the requisite encore, asking the members of Fanshaw to lead the crowd in the background ooo-oooh's for "So Much For Everyone"
With just the orchestral section and Dan Mangan, it was an incredibly rich and beautiful sounding show, which was improved upon immensely with the intimacy of the room. I think I might just be slightly disappointed next time I see him live, since I am pretty sure shows like this will never be repeated. Luckily, it'll be up soon enough on R3 for repeated listening.

Sold, Fair Verona, The Indie Queens Are Waiting, Road Regrets, Et Les Mots Croisés, Pine For Cedars, Tina's Glorious Comeback, Basket, Robots. (encore) So Much For Everyone.

The other thing I noticed about this show was how awesome the crowd was. Maybe it is because they all knew it was going out live, but everyone was incredibly respectful while both Fanshaw and Mangan were playing. Don't get me wrong, between songs and everything, people went nuts -- Dan got a standing ovation at the end -- but while they were actually playing/singing, the crowd was silent. It's been a while since I've been to a show and someone wasn't incessantly chatting the whole time... I kind of wish all shows had crowds like this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Your Hands (Together)

Cripes, May 4th is going to be a great day. As mentioned a couple days ago, you have the new Broken Social Scene album. But also? The brand new The New Ponographers album! Entitled Together, the first single from it was released today. So here is "Your Hands (Together)"

Download Your Hands (Together) by The New Pornographers

And if you preorder it from Matador, you get a free 7" with two unreleased tracks and a free poster! Clicky here for preorderage.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Shenanigans: Fit the Third

Even more great shows going on around, including one of the best surprises ever! I'll back track a tiny bit, to before the Hey Rosetta!/Stars show, and I won't try to ramble on too much, but that could be difficult considering last night.

Thursday, Feb 18
Back into Richmond to see Arkells. The park was pretty packed, but sadly that was probably because they were opening for Our Lady Peace. They played a pretty decent set, starting with "The Ballad of Hugo Chavez" and going through a few tracks off of Jackson Square, with at least one new one in there. The whole set seemed a bit... off, though. I don't know if it was bad positioning, where we were standing, or what, but the whole set just didn't sound right. Instruments were murky or too high or barely audible. During "Oh, The Boss Is Coming", for example, the bass seemed overpowering while the guitar nearly indistinguishable. Due to this, it was probably the worst least-good Arkells set I've seen thus far. But even despite that, they still put on a hell of a show to the packed field, and if the response was any indication, they won over their fair share of fans that night. Some other highlights were "Deadlines", which morphed into a brief cover of "My Boyfriend's Back" and the always awesome "John Lennon" to end the set, which again included a few lines from "Eleanor Rigby".
Due to my vast indifference for OLP, we bailed before they actually came on.

Friday, Feb 19
After the spectacular Stars show, we attempted to race over to Robson Square to check out the free show Said The Whale was doing. Unfortunately, it was way too insane, and we didn't really get a decent spot, ending up behind the band. Half the songs were not very audible, and it was getting pretty late, so we took off about half way through the set. I would have felt bad, but I'll be seeing StW soon enough, when they open for Plants & Animals in May.

Saturday, Feb 20
This was quite the tricky day. Right up until the night before, I was still unsure as to what to go to. Sam Roberts, Arkells & Coeur de Pirate at Livecity Yaletown? Or Hey Ocean!, Mother Mother & Said The Whale in Surrey? That was quite the predicament. Fortunately, my decision was made by Ontario House, of all places. The night before, they announced who their surprise guest was going to be, and that made my decision right there. For you see, the surprise guest was...

Broken Social Scene.

Being incredibly paranoid, I ended up heading down far too early, so after soaking in some of the sights around the area, I met up with people and got in line around 6. For the 10:00 show. And they were not admitting people in til 9. Though considering I hadn't seen them live for almost three years (not counting the Kevin Drew show two years ago) and since it was Broken Freaking Social Scene, I was more than willing to wait in line.
After an epic wait, they hit the stage around 10. It's always interesting to see who is going to show up to the shows, and just after they came out, Kevin Drew made the introductions. There was Drew, Canning and Peroff, of course, as well as Jimmy Shaw, Bill Priddle and a few others, some new to the band. (Random aside: Canning was clean shaven, which looked kinda weird and made him look really young!) They kicked off with "Superconnected", before bringing out another BSS veteran, the lovely Lisa Lobsinger for "7/4 Shoreline".
The set consisted mostly of older songs, spanning the BSS library as well as a few from the Drew and Canning solo albums. Half way through the set they brought out a surprise, Julie Doiron! For a cover of Neil Young's "Out On The Weekend"!! They followed that up with one of my favourite songs, "Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl", with Lobsinger fitting in almost perfectly for Haines. As they set came to a close, they brought Doiron back out and rocked through one of her songs, "Consolation Prize" (which was, apparently, unrehearsed!). They finally "ended" the night with another one of my favourites, and a fantastic live song, the ten minute epic "It's All Gonna Break", dedicated to the city of Vancouver. Perhaps a sly way of getting around the contract they signed not to speak ill of the olympics? It was an incredibly sublime sight, especially to see all ten of them out there, absolutely rocking out. The song ended and members slowly filtered off with just Drew left on stage, thanking us profusely and promising to be back soon. He then spontaneously (or "spontaneously") proclaiming he didn't want to leave, and would do one more, but a song made up on the spot (or "made up on the spot"). It started with just Drew and his guitar, but he was joined first by Peroff, then Canning as the night ended with the three core members, proving that Broken Social Scene didn't need a stage full of people to be amazing.
They took their leave at 1130, but the crowd was still fanatical to see more, even though the roadie removing all instruments and equipment seemed like a bad sign. But Drew eventually made his way back on stage and apologized for not being able to play more, due to the curfew... before leading the crowd in an impromptu karaoke of the first verse & chorus of U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

The setlist was as follows:
Superconnected, 7/4 Shoreline, Backed Out On The..., Churches Under The Stairs, Love Is New, Stars & Sons, Out On The Weekend (Neil Young cover), Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl, Frightening Lives, Sweetest Kill, Consolation Prize (Julie Doiron "cover"), It's All Gonna Break, "spontaneous" song, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (U2 a cappella sing-along cover)

It's probably a good thing I am taking the next few days off from the free shows -- partially to recharge, partially because there is nothing I need to see -- because there is no way anyone is going to be able to top that.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stars w/ Hey Rosetta! @ Orpheum -- 02/19/10

And to think, there was a moment when I wasn't going to go to the show. When it was first announced as an Olympic show, I was still in the mind-set of hiding in my house to avoid the two weeks of insanity the olympics would deliver. I had seen Stars a few times before, and the tickets were kind of pricey, so at first I opted out. But then the clincher came when I found out Hey Rosetta! was going to be the opening band. How could I not go with these two stellar bands on the same bill?

About quarter after eight, Hey Rosetta! hit the stage. They started off with "Red Song" (I think; if not, it was a new song) a new-ish song, Bandages, then went into "New Goodbye". By the end of that, they had the crowd hooked. With their rich sound, helped out by their own small strings section (a cello & a violin), superb songwriting, and of course Tim Baker's flawless and heartfelt vocals teeming with emotion, they put on a show that will not soon be forgotten by anyone in attendance. Playing mostly off of Into Your Lungs, they also threw in a few new songs; and if those were any indication, the new album is going to be brilliant. The way-too-short set ended with "Psalms" & "A Thousand Suns", and the band absolutely tore the place down. As they were leaving, they got an almost complete standing ovation from the crowd. The lights even stayed off for a few minutes, teasing us to the encore that was demanded, but it was not to be. The crowd actually started booing when the house lights rose again. My only complaints was that the 45 minute set was not nearly long enough, and they didn't get to a couple of my favourite songs. Other than those minor qualms... wow. Just wow. Even Toquil Campbell admitted they would have a hard time following that, and joked that Hey Rosetta! would never open for them again.
I am also pretty sure they had a new/substitute violinist. If only because he seemed to be reading sheet music as he was going. But not that he wasn't great, it was just strange.

Stars hit the stage around 930 and opened strong with "Set Yourself On Fire". They had a good mix of old and new -- and even brand new. They played three songs off their as-yet-unannounced new album. Campbell introduced "Dead Heart" by joking it was in the usual cheery Stars fashion; "Winter Bells" (or Balls, maybe) was played in the encore; but my favourite of the three was one I didn't catch the name of, but was insanely catchy and included my new favourite lyrics "I died just to I could haunt you". It was also great to hear some of the songs off the Sad robot EP live, since I hadn't heard those before. "Thread Cut With A Carving Knife" was especially great. Other highlights included the song-alongs to both the beautiful "Calendar Girls" and the energetic "Take Me To The Riot", Campbell hoping this was the year we booted Harper right before launching into the politically charged "Soft Revolution", and the strings from Hey Rosetta! coming out to help out with "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead". Campbell & Millan were, as usual, on the top of their game. And of course the rest of the band, Cranley, McGee and Seligman were just as great. The night ended with Campbell profusely thanking us for coming and supporting the band as they got closer to "Pete Townshend age" and then promptly flipped things by introducing the next song with "That being said, here's a song about fucking someone to death" and finishing with "One More Night" and coming full circle with the last verse of "Set Yourself on Fire"

This was my fourth time seeing then live, and while I think the show at Malkin Bowl is still my favourite, this one absolutely did not disappoint. Especially with the Hey Rosetta! opening.

Friday, February 19, 2010

World Sick

Hooray! This has been a long time coming: the awesome first single from the brand new Broken Social Scene album! The album is entitled Forgiveness Rock Record and will be out on May 4th.

Download World Sick by Broken Social Scene

Or get it from their site:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Shenanigans: The Second Part

I wasn't going to post again so soon after yesterday, but last night was just so packed with awesome that it requires its own post. Again, I'll try to keep things brief, but I may not be able to contain my ravings.

Wednesday, Feb 17 - Evening

First up was a trip out to Granville Island for Karkwa at the Place de la Francophonie. Last time I saw Karkwa was about a year ago when I am still pretty sure they blew out a speaker at the Biltmore. That show absolutely amazed me and I've loved them ever since, but I was kind of afraid that I had built that show up so much in my mind that nothing would be able to compare. So when they hit the stage at 6, there was some trepidation. Especially since I convinced others to go based solely on my ravings.
They opened with "Le Computer", and halfway through the song any fears I had were promptly crushed by the dual drummers, masterful keys and intense wall of sound. They were every bit as good as I remember them, if not better.
The stage banter was there, but mostly en français (which made sense, since it was the "French Quarter"), however it wasn't too often; they mostly let the music speak for itself. And even though they have only five members, their sound is so layered and dense that you would almost expect there to be twice as many people on stage. In my previous review of them I described them as difficult to describe, and I stick by my made-up genre of: indie-prog-dream-pop-rock-awesome.
They closed with my favourite song of theirs, "La Façade", and cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands to see live. Pretty impressive after only two short shows.

From there, I had the option of staying on Granville Island and brave what was bound to be an insane line to attempt to see Two Hours Traffic; go down to Holland Park to catch Ryan Dahle and Bend Sinister; or head to the O Zone in Richmond for Jill Barber & Hawksley Workman. I figured because I had seen, and would be willing to pay to see, Two Hours Traffic & Bend Sinister I would give Barber & Workman the chance, since I wasn't sure if I would pay to see them. And also because someone is always raving about how good Workman is live.

Anyway, we got there just in time, as Jill Barber was just hitting the stage. I wasn't too familiar with her outside of a couple songs, but her sultry serenading and adorable stage presence kind of won me over (and don't tell Grant Lawrence, but I think I may be a little bit in love with her after the show). Aside from her own songs, she slipped in a cover of a Leonard Cohen song... that was not Hallelujah. I am as shocked as you! (it was "Dance Me To The End Of Love"). She ended off the show with a sing-a-long of "Oh My My", even changing it at the end, from "Oh my my" and "Please don't let me go" to "Ca-na-da" and "Please just go for gold" (Even though it did end up with a couple of mix-ups of "Please don't go for gold"). The only thing that hurt her was the setting. She managed to make it somewhat intimate, but her music was not meant to be played on a big, open air stage, but rather a small, dimly lit, vaguely smoky room, with a glass of scotch.

Finally was Hawksley Workman, and he was every bit the showman that I have been lead to believe. Even sick, as he mentioned at the start, he managed to put on one hell of a show. And although the only three songs I recognized were the last three he played, he grabbed my attention from the start and never let it go. With his on stage theatrics and engaging, hillarious and/or completely random stories, he had pretty much the whole crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He even managed to slip in quick covers of other songs, mostly just a verse or chorus inserted into one of his own. Prince, Cheap Trick, Culture Club and A-Ha all got a quick "cover". And you could tell he was having a blast doing what he was doing. He, too, won me over, and I would seriously consider going to see him next time he's in town.

In all, an utterly fantastic night of music. And the best part? It was all for free.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Shenanigans Thus Far.

Oh, the Olympics. As much as I dislike them and their waste of money, I can not deny the massive amounts of free shows and other enjoyable events that have come because of them. Here are some highlights. I'll try to keep them brief, but we all know how that usually turns out.

Sunday, Feb 14
Despite going to see two shows, I didn't get to actually witness any live music, which was kind of disappointing. Because someone was running late, we didn't get to Livecity Yaletown for Mother Mother until the line was well passed the alleged half-hour mark. So we said nuts to this, and found a perch on a fence across the street where is sounded just fine, and a big screen was in view. Aside from some issues with levels -- which you would think would be slightly important for a band with harmonies like Mother Mother -- it sounded almost perfect. Every once in a while it would sound a little muffled, but
And even from across the street, Hayloft, which seems to be the favourite of a lot of people (me included) sounded killer.

After which we raced on down to Livecity Downtown for Elliott BROOD. The line moved quite quick and we were inside after only ten minutes, just as they were starting. However, the lineup was just to get into the pavilion or whatever. Inside there was ANOTHER line (Yo dawg, I heard you like waiting...) to get into this pretty small building where the band was actually playing. But outside there was a giant screen, so we ended up just watching them on that. It was still decent, and as great as it was to see Elliott BROOD "live" again, it just wasn't the same. Especially when they handed out the specially made, custom maple leaf'd baking sheets with the wooden spoons for everyone to play along to "This Valley Town" & "Write It All Down For You" to. They threw in a few covers, CCR and Neil Young before ending perfectly with "Miss You Now", which was dedicated to Dan Mangan.

Monday, Feb 15
After finding out the line for Sloan at Atlantic Canada House was insane, I went with plan b, which was to head down to the O Zone in Richmond for Jenn Grant & Kathleen Edwards. And boy, am I glad I did. Grant was on first, and I admit I hadn't heard much from her other than whatever is played on R3. But she was pretty good with her folk-y pop sounds and made a fan out of me. I should also mention before she went on, the trickle of rain turned into a full-on downpour and didn't stop until, of course, Kathleen Edwards was done.
And then Kathleen Edwards was up, Peruvian poncho and all. I hadn't seen her live before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but damn was she good. Her band, which includes the great Jim Bryson, was firing on all cylinders, despite needing to warm up their hands between (and sometimes during) songs. There were more than a few songs that ended with the the whole band rocking out, but "The Cheapest Key" was definitely a highlight of the night.
Despite the soaking rain, I am really glad I ended up at that show, and now can't wait to see Edwards again.

Wednesday, Feb 17 - Morning (Non musical, but too awesome not to mention)
Stephen. Freaking. Colbert. That's right, The Colbert Report hit Vancouver for two days of taping, and even though I had to get up at 6:30 to get down to Science World, it was more than worth it. There was a huge line already at 7:45, but that kind of ended up as an epic failure as around 9 they let people in to the field and there was a mad dash toward the stage.
It wasn't a whole show; he taped the intro and a couple of good byes, did a "better know a riding" with the South Vancouver MP Ujjal Dosanjh (which he intro'd, then was played for our benefit on a couple tv screens no one could see). After he did three interviews: Michael Buble, The captain of the Miracle on Ice team and Bob Costas.
The crowd was awesome, and was chanting everything -- when Colbert said we were starting to seem like chanting whores... we chanted "chanting whores". At some point a chant of "Ride the Moose" started, and persisted a few times, to the point where Colbert worked it in to the Costas intro... and then had him actually ride the moose. It was all sorts of awesome. Hopefully most of it makes it on air for his shows next week, which is the Olympic spotlights.

That is all for now. Stay tuned for part two, where I will have tales of Karkwa, wherever I end up tonight, Arkells and my major decision between seeing Sam Roberts, Coeur de Pirate & Arkells Downtown... or Said The Whale, Mother Mother & Hey Ocean in Surrey.
There'll also be a full review of the Hey Rosetta! & Stars show.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Originally I wanted to review every album I bought/otherwise listened to last 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 I'm almost done my reviews for 09 albums! Just a few more to go!

The Beat Stuff (EP) by Hannah Georgas
Insanely catchy
She has a fantastic voice
Not without an edge

Download Mama's Boy by Hannah Georgas

Good as Dead by Grady
Not unexpected
The kings of "Cowboy Metal"
Rocking the hell out

Download When The Boots Come Off by Grady

Embryonic by The Flaming Lips
Insanely brilliant
Perhaps brilliantly insane?
Does not disappoint

Download Worm Mountain by The Flaming Lips

Monday, February 8, 2010

Vancouver by Matthew Good

I am not going to lie, I have sort of been dreading doing my write up/review/whatever for this album. Most people who know me, or regular readers (both of you) know what Matthew Good is my favourite musician, so I was worried that I would come across as bias (at best) or a gushing fanboy (at worst). But here we go, I'll give it a shot.
His eighth full length album (counting back to the Band) is, as you can probably tell from the title, about Vancouver. Though it is not the theme of the album, but more the backdrop. It is both a love letter and a critique; as someone who has lived here his entire life, Good doesn't shy away from what is wrong with the city, but it is also clear that he cares about its ills because he loves it so.

First single "Last Parade" kicks the album off, and all ready you can tell it is going to be a bit more grandiose than the last few albums; more in line with his first solo outing, Avalanche. It also kind of introduces the theme of the album, when he spits out "It feels like time to fuck or leave" but then assures us with the chorus line "Baby, ain't it good to be back home?" It transitions nicely into "The Boy Who Could Explode", which builds from an almost haunting beginning to a soaring chorus, and even though it runs just over seven minutes, it manages not to get to boring or repetitive. Which actually happens a few times in the album, as it's only ten songs but just shy of an hour long. "Great Whales of the Sea" starts ominously, and appropriately, enough with some thunder, rain and soft whale-sounding calls before the song creeps in, for a very muted first half. The whales return mid-song before exploding into a climactic and energetic finish. I only wish it were longer; it is packed with great songwriting, yet somehow manages to be the shortest song of the album (and the only one under four minutes). Next up is "Us Remains Impossible", one of the more catchy tracks that could easily be the next single. "On Nights Like Tonight" is a bit moodier, and incredibly powerful & heartbreaking. You can feel the raw emotion as the song almost grinds to a halt for the pleading "just sit tight and I'll make my way to you" followed by the chorus "If I'm not on time / Remember that I tried". It all culminates with a beautiful swell of strings. The atmospheric "Volcanoes" follows, another slow build to a soaring chorus and is followed by "A Silent Army In The Trees", quite possibly the most powerful song on the album. It presents the disillusioned soldier who does not at all resemble the heroic fantasies of youth, lamenting "Never thought I'd live to see see the day, I'd be / Afraid of little kids playing in the streets". And the fantastic rise and fall of the music does nothing but add to the tragic beauty. "Fought To Fight It" is the most high energy and balls-out-rock song of the album, with a harshness to the music and Good spitting the lyrics through grit teeth for the verses, but ringing out with unparallelled confidence in the chorus. The album draws to a close with two absolutely epic songs. "The Vancouver National Anthem" times in at almost seven minutes, and is, as you may expect, the probably the only song "about" Vancouver, with lines like "We all live downtown / We all die downtown / Step over ourselves" evoking certain areas of the city. It is also, again as you would expect, very anthemic and grand. The incredibly ambitious "Empty's Theme Park" brings the album to an amazing close. With it's raw emotion, magnificent strings and subdued energy which is always just bubbling at the top, it does more with it's nine and a half minutes than many bands do in a whole album.
"Tell me will I dream?
And tell me will it be serene?
Or tell me will I stay
With my feet in exactly the same place?"

As with a lot of his work, Good's lyrics are still his best asset. From vague & intriguing to poignant and everywhere in between, that is the lynch pin of the album. Which is, of course, not to say that the music isn't top notch as well. It is still identifiable as Matthew Good, but he hasn't stopped taking leaps. It may sound reminiscent, but never repetitive.
Do I think of Vancouver so highly because I am such a Matthew Good fan? Or am I such a Matthew Good fan because of albums like this, which I am going to go out on a limb and call my favourite of the year? I would like to think that because I am so enamoured with his music, that gives me a much more critical ear to it. All I know for sure is, I can't wait to see what is next.

Download Great Whales of the Sea

Download On Nights Like Tonight

Download A Silent Army in the Trees

Clicky to exchange monies for music

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Do Make Say Think @ Biltmore -- 02/06/10

I didn't know how close I was to doom. This show kind of snuck up on me, and due to my own fault (and ticketmaster's utter failure) I wasn't able to get advance tickets to the show. And then I find out advance tickets were sold out! Luckily, there were some available at the door and we got there early enough to ensure tickets. And I am glad I did, because this was an experience I would not want to have missed.

The show started a little early, surprisingly enough, with Ohad Benchetrit taking the stage and talking about how the show was going to be a "moon landing" since there was a curfew and they had to be off at 11. He also mentioned the "format", for lack of a better term. Since all three bands were variations of Do Make Say Think, there would be minimal time for reorganization between sets. It was actually pretty cool the way they did it, and the result was two and a half hours of almost constant music. Which is especially nice on curfew shows like this.

First up was Years, Ohad's solo project. It started with him on guitar with a trumpeteer, who left after a song leaving Benchetrit up there solo with just a guitar and looping/effects pedal. He created an incredible sound, and had I just heard it, not seen it live, I would never have guessed it was one guy. After a few songs he invited the band to come back on and help him out. It was a bit lighter and less intense than Do Make Say Think, but at the same time it was a bit too similar. Not that that is a bad thing by any means, but the songs felt like they were DMST b-sides rather than a solo project. I liked his first few songs quite a bit more, when it was Benchetrit and his guitar. Years was on for about half an hour before a five minute break for the "next band".

The second incarnation was The Happiness Project. Which isn't really the name of the band, but the "project". It is Charles Spearin's "science experiment" (as he puts it) and was actually one of the most intriguing albums I've heard this year. The project revolves around Spearin taking interview clips with his neighbours and building music around the natural cadence and flow of their voices, so before every song he would introduce the subject of the song and they would go into the song. Going into the show I was just as interested in seeing this live as I was DMST, but also kind of hesitant. It's pretty high concept, and I had no idea how it would turn out live... but me of little faith. He had the interview clips at his beck and call on his pedals, and the band wove some fantastic music with and around the voices. The most interesting was Vanessa. She was born deaf, but got a microchip and microphone inserted in her brain and at the age of 30 heard sound for the first time. The clip was about how she processed that, and again, they built around her voice magnificently. The project as a whole is pretty ambitious, and it was absolutely unreal seeing it performed live.

And after about a ten minute break, everyone came back in the guise of Do Make Say Think. They started with "Make" off the new album and played right up until they were kicked off, just after 11. And the show made me come to the conclusion that Do Make Say Think is not a band. They are a force of nature. Their albums are full of depth and complexities, and they managed to not only match that in their live show, but perhaps top it with even more depth. It helped that there were nine of them packed on the stage, complete with guitars, bass, trumpets, cornets, saxophone, keyboard, violin and two drummers. Yet despite the large numbers, and long songs, it never felt like it was "too much"; too bulky or too meandering. They hit the perfect stride, with the quiet lows balancing the epic crescendos. Crescendos that, at times, had the band going batshit insane, and melting your face with an incredible wall of noise. As you may be able to tell from my somewhat awkward attempts, it was almost indescribable how powerful they are live. Sometimes, I find, instrumental music can be difficult to get into live, but Do Make Say Think captivates you and draws you in at the first note. They are definitely an essential live experience.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Boy Lilikoi by Jónsi

When I heard the other day that Sigur Rós was on indefinite hiatus, I was more than a little devastated. But then I noticed something that cushioned the blow a little. Lead singer Jónsi is coming out with his own solo album. Go will be available April 5th, and the first single Boy Lilikoi is simply amazing. Check his page for full tour dates, but he'll be in Vancouver on April 6th & 7th at the Vogue.

Download Boy Lilikoi by Jónsi