Monday, February 28, 2011

New Music Now: Seeds by Hey Rosetta!

Regular readers (all thirteen of you) may know I am currently schooling at BCIT, in the Radio Broadcast program. In our second, and final, year we take over the station Evolution1079 and are given various jobs. For the next little while, I am doing New Music Now; a three minute feature about, well, I think it's pretty self explanatory. I will be doing six of then in the next little while and I figured I would share them with you here because why not.

The first one is Seeds by Hey Rosetta!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

United Steel Workers of Montreal with Redbird & The Sumner Brothers @ Railway -- 02/22/11

I don't know why, maybe it's by design (in fact, it probably is) but the Railway Club always seems to have a lot of great folk, roots rock, or alt country acts. Last night was a trio of bands that would definitely fit into that.

First up was The Sumner Brothers, and they started their set in a most excellent way, proclaiming "This song is about a giant" before getting right into it. They had a very folk, almost bluesy sound as the titular brothers shared vocal duties, which both contrasted and complimented each other. Both deep, one more smooth and one with a gritty rumble, but full of emotion; one of the brothers was singing through clenched teeth a couple times. He also changed instruments a few times, going from guitar to keys to banjo to soprano sax.
As well as their own songs, they covered Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)" and did a pretty good job of it, and ended with the  traditional song "Pay Me My Money Down".
They put on quite an entertaining show, and I would be interested in checking them out again.

Next up was Redbird, who I was quite looking forward to seeing. It would be my first time seeing them play a full band show since August, and thus my first time seeing the current lineup in full; who meshed very well together, despite being fairly new. Since that August show, I had seen and heard some acoustic songs, so it was interesting to see those same songs with the full band feel to them. The set started off with "Oh Please My Heart", which is one of the songs I knew acoustically. When the full band kicked in on it, I knew they would make the songs stronger than they already were.
Another song that I was more used to acoustic -- and one of my favourites of the songs I had heard -- was "No Game", and I was a little surprised by how much of a rocker it ended up being. But pleasantly so, as it worked very well. Definitely made me more excited for the upcoming EP.
There were, however, some technical problems with the set -- for a couple songs, Savannah's mic seemed low, and her vocals were drowned out a little, but it wasn't a persistent issue (at least not during Redbird's set) and not terribly noticeable or anything.
I've always liked the roots rock, as well as being a sucker for strong voices like Savannah's, and so the more I see Redbird, the more I am enjoying them. I am certainly looking forward to the next time I will be able to see them live (whenever that might be)

And finally was the United Steel Workers of Montreal. I had heard a lot of good things about them, so was quite intrigued. They hit the stage six people strong, and I immediately noticed there was no drummer -- just guitars, stand up bass, banjo, mandolin and accordion. The launched right into it, and pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night when they broke a string during the first song. And not only that, but they managed to joke and banter enough to keep the crowd entertained while the guitar was being restrung.
Despite being from Montreal (imagine that, a band who is actually from their namesake) they gave off more of a maritime, folk-alt-country feel, reminding me a little of the Tom Fun Orchestra, with the dual male/female vocals and raucous, fun sound. They put on a show that was just plain fun to watch, with the singer even going into the crowd and involving those in the front, from singing to/at them to getting them to shout to actually dancing with a guy. And of course, it was made that much better by the fact that the music itself was actually really good, very catchy.
The aforementioned mic problems reared up again, though, as Felicity Hamer seemed to be continually having issues with any mic she tried. But they didn't let that slow them down as they soldiered through their set.
The encore consisted of the incredibly powerful "Jesus We Sweat", and a slower song that they encouraged everyone to dance for, promising that any pair of people who did so would be getting laid that night.

Definitely a great trio of bands that, despite the technical difficulties, each put on a great show.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

West Coast Pop! w/ Bend Sinister, The Racoons & Rococode @ Red Room -- 02/19/11

The West Coast Pop concert series kicked off in fine fashion last night at the Red Room, where it will be running every Saturday for the next 13 weeks. Future acts include 41st & Home, Kyprios, The Dudes, Treelines, and the show I am most looking forward to thus far: We Are The City with Aidan Knight and Analog Bell Service. There will also be more shows announced soon (like, next week soon).

As for the first show... I am not going to lie, I am still disappointed that Young Galaxy had to drop out, but Bend Sinister is always a good time, and the other band I really wanted to see was still on the bill.

That band? Rococode. I had seen this new project from Laura Smith and Andrew Braun in December at the Biltmore (and acoustic at Sitka) and was really impressed, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing them again. Despite being a brand new band, they are not unfamiliar with playing together, which helped them sound incredibly tight. Braun and Smith shared vocals -- and for at least one song, keys -- for some insanely catchy power-pop songs, and even though the crowd was a bit thin due to an early start, they soon drew everyone's attention and filled the dance floor area. I have no doubt they won over more than a few fans, and I especially can't wait until they have some recorded material out; one of their songs, "Empire", was still stuck in my head all morning.

Next up was The Racoons who, after a bit of a false start, got right into it. They were a bit harder rocking, and at times reminded me a little of The Constantines, in both sound and especially vocals. Their songs were good, if lacking a little in variety, and they had a pretty good stage presence as well. I did have some issues with the sound, though. The other two sets sounded fine, but for some reason, the bass was really overpowering; especially at the start of the set. That aside, I did enjoy their set; I wasn't overwhelmed by it, but I liked it well enough and would be interested in seeing them again.

And rounding out the night was Bend Sinister. They are always incredibly fun to watch live, and last night was no exception. Even being the first show with the new bass player, they were firing on all cylinders, with intense energy from the whole band, especially Dan Moxon. Sprinkled throughout their set were some new songs, as they teased a new release at some point. They were definitely "Bend Sinister songs", lively and enthusiastic, and one of which was introduced as "an ode to Hall & Oats". Among the older songs, "CT" and "Dr. Lee" were both highlights, being incredibly frantic, and the pairing of "Don't Let Us Bring You Down" leading into "Things Will Get Better" was pretty great.
At the end, they broke out a Billy Joel cover (I think "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)") before an intense ending with another new song (I think) and, refreshingly, just left the stage, all done with no encore. I think I've ranted before about how I think the encore break is a waste of time, now that everyone expects it, so it's always nice to see a band just use their full time without it.

In all, a damn good launch to what is sure to be an excellent concert series.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Plants & Animals w/ Yukon Blonde @ Commodore -- 02/18/11

Plants and Animals are getting in the habit of picking some really good touring partners. Last time they were here Said The Whale opened for them, and the second leg of their current tour will be with Karkwa. To be honest, I am disappointed that Karkwa didn't make it out west with them, but that disappointment was sated a little when I found out who would be opening.

That band? Yukon Blonde, with a set consisting of some old and new songs. The new ones were great, though not too much of a departure from the bands sound; but they did have the same excellent energy. The four members on stage had a fantastic energy as they rocked through the set. From the harmonies of "Wind Blows" to the great solos and guitar work throughout, the band owned the stage. And they talked about being incredibly happy to play the Commodore -- and to find out the double-headed showers in the back were not mythical.
I wish they had played for a little longer, but it was a good length for an opening slot, and I have a feeling they'll be playing again soon enough.

setlist: (taken from their setlist, which was all shorthand, so a couple of the songs may not be the full title)
Oregon Shores, Wind Blows, Brides Song, Water [?], Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore , Radio [?], Breathing Tiger, Nico Canmore.

Every time I see Plants and Animals live, they never fail to astonish me on how they have such a huge sound with only the three of them, and last night was no different. They started with a new song that they later identified as "2010" (or "Twenty-Ten") before some more familiar material. The set started off a little mellow, with a couple from the new album and "Good Friends", from Parc Avenue, which was fantastic live and really got the crowd into it.
Frontman Warren Spicer broke out an acoustic guitar for an older song that I didn't catch the name of it, but I think it's all the With/Avec EP. That was followed by another new song, "Why & Why Not"; it was more rocking, and raised the energy, which was continually topped for the next few songs. "Bye Bye Bye" got everyone moving and "Mercy" was, as always, stupendous live -- definitely one of my favourite songs to see performed. They had the crowd singing, clapping and chanting along, and as the song came to a crashing finale, Spicer and Nicolas Basque met mid stage, and began playing each others, and their own, guitars simultaneously.
"The Mama Papa" managed to match that energy, with everyone dancing, and the set came to a "close" with the sprawling and epic "Faerie Dance".
But of course, there was the encore. Another new song started soft with Spicer on the acoustic guitar again, before switching to electric mid-song for a rousing ending. And their last song of the night left the crowd in high spirits, getting "recognition applause" for the whistling intro of the raucous "Feedback In The Field" for a superb ending.

I was slightly disappointed they didn't play "Guru/Sinnerman", which I've seen them play every time, or especially "American Idol", my favourite off the La La Land. But despite those small qualms, it was still a great set, and reminded me why Plants & Animals is such a great live band.

Twenty Ten [new], Undone Melody, Jeans Jeans Jeans, Good Friend, [older song], New Kind Of Love, Why & Why Not [new], Bye Bye Bye, Mercy, The Mama Papa, Faerie Dance.
(encore) [New song], Feedback in the Field.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jill Barber @ CBC Studio 40 -- 02/16/11

The first, and only, time I saw Jill Barber live was almost exactly one year ago, at a free Olympic show. And to be quite honest, I kinda fell in love with her a little at the show (don't tell Grant). So I was glad to find out she would be taping concert for both CBC Radio & Television, and it would only cost an email to get in.

The stage in CBC Vancovuer's Studio 40 was quite fancy, and the band dressed to the nines to match. Barber was not only debuting songs from her upcoming release, Mischievous Moon, but also singing a few songs en fran├žais. The new songs definitely had me looking forward to the album, and her jazz influence and sultry voice made me feel like I should be wearing a suit, at a table in a dimly lit room, with a glass of fine whiskey -- though only one third of that was true, sadly.

Aside from small flubs at the beginning of a couple songs, the band was great throughout the night, with a nice variety of strings, brass and a grand piano, and Barber's captivating stage presence. As well as the new songs, there was some old -- "Chances" got some "recognition applause" at the beginning -- and also a cover of Charles Aznavour's "Plus Bleu Que Tes Yeux".
Some other highlights were "Ashes to Ashes", which started with just her and a guitar, until the band kicked in near the end with an incredible and grandiose ending. The new single, "Tell Me" was great, and was repeated in French after a quick pause for a tape change in the cameras.
As the set came to an end, Jill told the story of a dream she once had, and the song it inspired. As she told the story, the band played under her narration, giving it a very noir feeling. It was a really cool intro that led straight into the great "Oh My My", which had everyone clapping along.

That "ended" the set, but she was back out with appropriate songs for the encore, "Leaving You" and "One More Time". Leaving us with the lyrics "If you don't mind / Just before you go away / Won't you kiss me / One more time", I wouldn't be surprised if about half the room left the night having kinda fallen in love with her a little.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Get Your Heart On @ Sitka -- 02/14/11

To be honest, usually I just let Valentine's Day slip by unnoticed. But thanks to David Vertesi and Vancouver Is Awesome, I had a destination for the night: Sitka Surf and Skate Shop (of all places). Vertesi had organized a free Valentine's Day show -- what with his album being titled Cardiography and all -- that was a who's who of Vancouver talent. With ten acts on the poster, and a couple surprises, it was a packed night. Each played a few acoustic songs, mostly love songs, with a few covers thrown in for good measure.
(And since there were so many, with short sets, I'll [try to] do short blurbs for each)

Starting off the night was Katie Schaan, out with her ukulele. Her strong voice (more or less) silenced the crowd right off the bat, as she played a song written specifically for VDay. She also called up Thom Kolb for a cover of "In Your Eyes", which they had not only done live before, and was one of the special duet videos for VIA (see them all here).

This led straight into 41st & Home, as Thom stayed on stage, with Katie, and recruited David Vertesi and Adaline to help on backup vocals on his song about Steveston. Adaline, who was not on the bill but pulled out of the crowd, was convinced to play a song, one that had an interesting crowd participation aspect. Instead of just clapping along, she had everyone jingle their keys. Then Thom popped back with his banjo for one more song.

Next up was Steph Macpherson. She opened with a cover of The Magnetic Fields' "Book of Love", before snagging Katie and third great voice, Redbird's Savannah Leigh out to help with vocals on "Best Of You". Katie stayed on stage for Steph's last song, "Summer Salute".

Following the trend of lovely ladies with great voices was Ali Milner. She took the keys for a set consisting of a duet with Vertesi (already the heardest working guy that night) and a cover of "Heard It Through The Grapevine" that had many people singing along.

Treelines, represented by Matt Lockhart, was next. He started off with a "cover" of their song "Calendar" before a proper cover, introduced as "Neil Fucking Diamond!", getting everyone to sing along to "Sweet Caroline", flubbed lyrics and all. He ended with the new VDay song "When I Get Grown", which you can download for free from their website.

Laura Smith and Andrew Braun of Rococode followed and they seemed to play the shortest set. I had only seen them once before, so an acoustic set was interesting, and pretty cool. The songs were no less catchy than with the full band, and I am still eagerly anticipating recorded material from them.

David Vertesi needed no introduction, as he had already been on stage several times throughout the night. Dan Klenner helped out on keytar for "Gentlemen Say". At the show Friday, I mentioned I was vaguely disappointed a certain someone wasn't out to help with backup vocals... so I was thrilled when he pulled surprise guest on stage for "Mountainside". David (and the loud cheers) then convinced Hannah Georgas to play a song of her own, and she complied, singing "The Deep End"

Up next was Shad, laying down rhymes over some back tracks. Ashleigh Ball and Hannah Georgas were out to help out for "Rose Garden", and he ended with some a capella rapping. To be honest, I hadn't heard too much of him outside the singles on the radio, but he was quite impressive live.

Follow that was one of the best band names ever, Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party. Their first song had Ali Milner on organ and some strings, which the most "elaborate" setup of the night. The next couple songs were more stripped down, though, with guitar and keytar. Oh, and there were sparkles eveywhere.

And the night drew to an end with Hey Ocean!, Vertesi back on stage with Ashleigh Ball. "Beatboxer (Who Broke My Heart)" segued into Beck's "Where It's At" and the whole night was brought to an end with another cover, The Ronettes' "Be My Baby". By the end of it, the stage was full of some of the nights performers and the whole crowd was singing along.

By the end of the night, the store was absolutely packed to the door with people, and the atmosphere was more like a group of friends getting together to have some fun -- which is pretty much what it was. I don't how feasible it would be to plan this type of thing every Valentine's Day... but a great night full of awesome talent and covers and collaborations would certainly be a great way to celebrate again next year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dan Mangan w/ Hannah Georgas, The Zolas and David Vertesi @ Massey Theatre -- 02/11/11

Last night was a benefit concert that featured probably the single best lineup of artists I have seen in quite some time. Each of the four acts I would, without hesitation, go see individually, so to have them all put together was pretty great.
The show was for 65_RedRoses, helping raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis. In between sets there were speakers out to talk about Eva Markvoort, the movie, and to inform those at the show about CF and being an organ donor.

We were a few minutes late, so missed the first couple songs from David Vertesi. He was on stage alone, but we caught him in time to introduce the other member of the band that night: his trusty keytar. Both that and the opening lines of "Gentlemen Say" got some laughs & applause. He also played a Hey Ocean! tune, "Jolene", and "Mountainside" brought his set to a close. Even solo, he was smooth as ever on stage, and judging by the reaction, I wouldn't be surprised if he gained more than a few new fans after the show.
I was slightly disappointed, though, that Hannah Georgas didn't pop out to do backup on the songs she sang for on the album, but wasn't really expecting it to happen, it just would have been a nice bonus.

I had never seen The Zolas in a soft seat theatre type venue, so it was pretty interesting to see them in that setting. In fact same could be said about the first three acts of the night.
They kicking off their set with the new(ish) song "Guest", and were their usual high energy selves -- especially Zach, jumping around the stage, singing the end bit of "Marlena Kamikaze" to Tom, and generally being a ball of energy. Midway through the set, Zach mused on how strange it was to have the crowd not chatting while the band was playing, and jokingly encouraging everyone to yell over them -- but missed a golden opportunity by not playing "No Talking" next. "Cab Driver" was as dynamic as always, and they played another new song, "Strange Girl" before finishing it off with "You're Too Cool". Interestingly enough, this is probably the first time I've seen them play where they did not start with that song, and end with "Cab Driver".

Not counting One Night Stands and Malahats, it had been way too long since the last time I saw Hannah Georgas, so I think I was most excited to see her set that night. She was backed buy her usual accomplice Robbie Driscoll, as well as Andrew Braun of Rococode and the set started off with "All I Need" -- which is a great opener, starting soft and building to an intense climax. From there she mostly played off of This Is Good, going from the high energy "Chit Chat" to soft and contemplative "Lovers Breakdown" to the almost haunting "Thick Skin", showing off the range of her songwriting, and vocal talents. She is also completely at home on stage, with the words just flowing out of her effortlessly.
I guess it was because they had so much to get through in the evening, Hannah's set was only about half an hour, meaning there were a few songs I would have liked to hear that weren't played. So while it was still a great set, it kind of made me want to see her live again even more.

And finally -- after an intermission and the short film A Wish Where The Wind Once Blew -- Dan Mangan was up. He started on stage alone, with an older song, "Unnatural Progression", before the full band was out for "Sold". And they were out in fine form, with drummer Kenton Loewen and guitarist Gord Grdina taking over Veda Hille's part in "The Indie Queens Are Waiting", even with the appropriate falsetto. Dan was joking around a few times too, bantering with the fans, sometimes even during a song. I think I've said it before, but his stage manner reminds me of Joel Plaskett; the effortless transitions between talking, joking, stories and songs.
There were a few new songs in the set as well, one called (I think) "Post War Blues" and "Rows of Houses" (re-titled "Rose of Houses" for the night). Both of which were a bit more punched-up, and if they are any indication of the new album, I am very intrigued.
After an emotionally charged "Basket", the set came to an end with "Robots" and the usual sing-along, with Dan inviting everyone from the opening bands and 65 Red Roses out on stage.

I kind of wish they had a bit more time for the night, as any curfewed show with four acts is bound to be rushed, but it was still an excellent assortment of local talent out to support a good cause.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hey Marseilles w/ Ruffled Feathers and Henry & The Nightcrawlers @ Biltmore -- 02/10/11

It's always kind of odd going to a show where you are looking forward to the opener more than the headliner. I think for this one, the order of the lineup was the opposite of who I wanted to see most. Henry is always great to see live; after seeing them last month at the Media Club, I was interested in seeing The Ruffled Feathers again; and I had never even heard anything from Hey Marseilles.

Up first was Henry and the Nightcrawlers, and it's always fun to see who Henry has on stage with him. Last night was Tom & Zach from The Zolas, on keys & bass and Andy of We Are The City on the drums. The first few songs of the set were plagued by crackling speakers -- which, in all my time going to the Biltmore, this is only the second time I can remember audio problems -- but they were corrected a few songs in. The pause while fixing was a bit of a momentum killer, but they managed to get that, and the crowds attention, back soon enough, especially with the always incredible ending of "On A Week Night".
Aside from the usual songs off the debut album, there was also a new one which sounded pretty good, and the set closed with an extended ending on "100 Blows", which had each member of the band just go nuts for a great climax.

The Ruffled Feathers were up next, with a wide assortment of instruments, from the slide trumpet to the mandolin. As I mentioned last time I saw them, they are a very fun band to watch live. Not only is the music itself bubbling over with energy, but each and every member looks like they are having a ton of fun on stage. They had a good portion of the crowd up front dancing along, too. Near the end of the set they announced they were going to play their song "Home", followed by a different "Home". Turns out it was Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes (see a decent-quality cellphone video here), and a pretty fun cover, aside from a brief unplugging mishap. They ended the show with one of the members go into the crowd with a megaphone, and all the members lining the front of the stage -- even the drummer, with a snare.
Finally was Hey Marseilles. They started off with a maritimey sound, before pretty much channelling The Decemberists. I love The Decemberists, so I still liked the set well enough, but it was almost distracting how much they sounded like them. There was a stage full of people with strings and horns, but most damning of all was the lead singer, who both sounded like, and had the same cadence as, Colin Meloy. Even the lyrics were rather Meloyesque, just without being as verbose.
There were a couple songs, most notably the last of the night, that sounded a bit more like the band was branching out into their own sound -- though still very maritime-folk -- that were quite good, but for the most part, I couldn't get past the heavy influence (to put it nicely) of The Decemberists.

Even with those complaints, though, it was still a fun night of music.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald w/ Steph Macpherson @ Biltmore -- 02/09/11

It feels like forever since I had been to a live show (it was really only a week and a half), so it was nice to break the drought with a double bill like this.

Steph Macpherson hit the stage a little after nine, with a full band in tow -- among them Garth from 41st & Home on drums and Adaline on backing vocals. It was the first time I had seen her with a band since her Peak Performance Project show (which was, incidentally, the first time I saw her at all). As much as I've enjoyed her acoustic shows have been, having a full band added a nice depth to the songs. She started the night off with the title track from her EP To You, and hit all of the songs off of it.
Steph looked completely natural on stage, getting the crowd to stomp-2-3 snap-2-3 along with "Something In You" and clap along to a few others. Another highlight of the set was the heartwrenching "Letters" -- it's such a simple line, and maybe it's just the way it's sung, but I've always been struck by the lyric "caught me on the exhale".
She ended the set with the backup singers donning sailor hats and a song that I think was called "Summer Salute", which was a great song; quite a bit more upbeat than the rest of the set.
I liked Steph's music well enough the first time I saw her, but I think the more I see her live, the more I am liking it. And it's always interesting, as each time I've seen her, there has been a different arrangements of musicians and instruments on stage.

And headlining the night was Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. I really liked his set at Live at Squamish, and I had been looking forward to seeing him since. His band, which had some double drumming action, was all matching in white shirts and black suspenders; a bit of a contrast to MBF's basketball jersey.
With a great and energetic stage presence, MBF had the crowd eating out of his hand, especially the female contingency. From the beginning, people were dancing, clapping and singing along, with MBF even encouraging the odd make-out or two.
Midway through the set, the band took a break and MBF played a few on his own, but they were back soon enough for a cover, and a pretty good one at that, of "Dancing In The Dark" -- though no one was brought on stage to dance, Courtney Cox style. He followed that with "Movie Life", which sadly did not include his looping vocals, but did include a pop song medley at the end, which has, among others, "Thong Song", "Waterfalls", "Get Low", "I Like Big Butts" and was capped off with a little "Bed Intruder".
He brought the set to and "end" with "Brand New Spaces", getting everyone to join in on the stomping & clapping that went along with it, but was back out moments later for a brief, one song encore.
In contrast to what I said about Steph, I think I liked MBF's solo set from Squamish a little more than the full band, but I will definitely make sure to catch him next time he comes through town, regardless.

As I said above, it was a good way to end a dearth of live music drought, and a great way to kick off the abundance of shows coming up in the next week -- something like six in the next seven days.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CBC Radio 3 Searchlight 2011

CBC Radio 3 Searchlight 2011
So CBC Radio 3 released the long list for their latest Searchlight contest today, which is for Canada’s Best Music Website. And guess who is on it? That's right, your friendly neighbourhood 3am Revelations. You can find out more information, or see the near-150 sites nominated by clicking the fancy pictographic they supplied, or go directly here and vote. There are a lot of amazing sites on the list, so I won't be terribly offended if you don't vote for me. But on the other hand, it would be all sorts of awesome if you did.

And just so this isn't completely self-serving, here is the brand new We Are The City song, from their upcoming EP High School, released by Adventure Boys Club. It's a pretty darn nifty song, and makes me quite excited for March 22.

Download Happy New Year