Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3 Minute Revelations: Grinderman II by Grinderman

A couple weeks ago I posted the New Music Now features I was doing for Evolution1079. They combined my joy of production with my false sense of smug superiority in telling you what you should like*, and since I've clearly failed at keeping up at full album write ups (the last one being six months ago... yipes) I figured I would keep doing these (but with a more relevant name).
There were a few albums last year that I didn't get a chance to write about, and while I won't do them all, I'll catch up on a couple of my favourites of 2010 before moving on to this year.
So what better way to start out than with one of my favourite musicians, Nick Cave.
Enjoy the inaugural edition of 3 Minute Revelations**.

Here is the Grinderman II by Grinderman


*please note blatant sarcasm.
** subtitle: Kirk Takes Three Minutes of Your Life and Awesomes It Up.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

West Coast Pop! w/ The Dudes, Treelines & Birthday Boy @ Red Room -- 03/26/11

After missing the last coupe weeks of West Coast Pop shows for various reasons, I knew that last night was one that should not be missed. And apparently quite a few people thought the same, what with the show being sold out.

Birthday Boys were on first, and they could be best described as RAWK!. They had all the hallmarks of a bro-rock band, alternating gravelly and screaming vocals, power chords and power stances, and that generic alt-rock sound. Though while it may not have been for me, I have to admit, they did have a pretty good energy on stage.

Second was Treelines, who are fresh back from their first cross-Canada tour. Playing mostly off their Young Man EP, they also tossed in a couple new ones; "Linked Arms", in which pockets of people in the crowd did just that, and another one I didn't catch the name of. The familiar stuff was great, too, with "Ghost Towns" bringing the place down, and "Young Man" building to its sing-along climax. Another highlight was the ballad-y "When I Get Grown", which saw drummer Grant take over bass, Steve on keys and Matt Kelly laying down some steel. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few teary eyes for that one. And as usual, the band had an incredible presence on stage, and even showed some polish after their tour. They're always a fun band to see live.

And last but not least, The Dudes. I have to admit, while I don't dislike the band, I have never really been too much into them. I enjoy hearing the odd single, but never bothered to pick up the album. That being said, their live show was fun as hell to watch. They had a fantastic energy and the crowd was eating out of the palm of their hands. From stage diving and crowd surfing to singing along to each one of the bands singles, the audience's enthusiasm was only outmatched by the band's. With the catchy collection of tunes, including "Dropkick Queen of the Weekend", "Girl Police" and "Pretty Lies", their songs ran the gamut from love to alcohol to... loving alcohol.
It was a really good set, I would definitely be interested in seeing them play live again.

The Dudes and Treelines were two bands that worked so well together, making a great and fun night of music. Though I have a feeling next week's show is going to be the one to set the bar.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mountains & The Trees @ St James and Jess Hill @ Joe's Apartment -- 03/24/11

It was a busy Thursday (really? Thursday?) in Vancouver with no less than four shows worth checking out. Aaide from a fundraiser for Said The Whale at Wise Hall and The Golden Dogs at the Biltmore, there were two acts I wanted to see. Luckily, the two people I wanted to see were staggered enough that I was able to venue hop and see both.

The first? Jon Janes, aka The Mountains & The Trees from Newfoundland. He was on first for an early show at St. James Hall, just him and his guitar (and, his kickdrum suitcase for a song). He played an all-too-short set of about half an hour of his folk-y, singer-songwriter songs. 
Starting the set with a new song that he wrote last time he was in Vancouver -- that I didn't catch the name of -- he alternated between old and new songs, with the highlights being a new song, "Oh Heart", that was incredibly heart wrenching, and the closing song, "Up & Down", a song that is really cool to see live, with his excellent use of looping and a bow to play guitar.
There were a few times in the set where you could tell he was battling an illness, but it wasn't so much during the songs, mostly in his banter -- which was no less charming and amusing. 

[new song], Little Town, Oh Heart, More & More & More, Winter Blues, Up & Down.

I had some time before the next show, so I was able to catch the next act, The Phonemes. Or, simply just Magali Meagher. She had a pretty nice voice, and a good folky sound, with some catchy tunes. She, too, played for about half an hour, and mid way through traded her guitar for the grand piano that was on stage for a song, bringing out Laura and Mark to help out. She went back to the guitar and Jon joined the three of them for a some with nifty crowd participation; everyone was given pieces of newspaper before the set and everyone clapped along with crumpled newsprint. They staryed out for her last song, which was a more energetic number and probably the best of the set.

Though I was a little sad to miss Laura Barrett and Woodpigeon, it was then time to head over to Joe's Apartment (yes, an actual venue, not the dwelling of Joseph). This was the first time I had been there for a live performance, and it was a pretty decent venue.
The show was the CD release of Orchard, the new album from Vancouver's Jess Hill. She went all out with a full band, which even included some strings and a foley guy for random sound effects. The set consisted of most of her new album, which the band did a fantastic job of recreating;  Her powerful voice blended excellently with the great string arrangements.
Highlights were the song that first hooked me on Jess Hill, "Orchard", the building intensity of "Stagger" and the eerily haunting (pun fully intended) "Give Me Your Ghost", with included a saw for added atmosphere.
She ended the set with a pair of songs I have seen a few times, but never seem to catch the name of (so for the sake of why not, I'll call it "Digging A Hole") the first just her singing, and getting the crowd to scream at a couple points, then launching into a fast paced closer.
Jess also had great charisma on stage, with some charmingly-nervous banter and story telling, giving the night a real intimate feel. None of the venues I've seen Jess in have been all that big, but I have a feeling she would be able to make a room of any size feel as intimate as a coffee house.

I've seen Jess Hill a few times since finding out about her through the Peak Performance Project last year, and I would definitely say it was the best show I've seen her play. Combined with The Mountains & The Trees earlier, it was a a great night of country-spanning music.

A Common Bird, Of A Shadow, Apple Tree, Orchard, Give me Your Ghost, An Open Letter To My Heart, In The Evening, Stagger, Don't Cry, Grow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Henry & The Nightcrawlers with David Vertesi and Redbird @ Biltmore Cabaret -- 03/21/11

Originally, I was not sure if I was going to blog about this show. As you should may know, I was instrumental in the organization of it, bringing the three bands together on one night. I felt that a) blogging about it would be too conflict of interest-y, and 2) during the show I was half watching, and making sure everything was going smoothly. But after a brief twitter-poll, I decided I would, but just focus on the performances. And so, inspired by Henry and his reading poetry in lieu of stage banter, I decided to review all three sets... in haiku.

Beautiful voices
And masterful guitar work
They don't have No Game

David Vertesi
David does it all
Shoulder shimmies to heartbreak
He is Broadcasting

Henry & The Nightcrawlers
Some new Nightcrawlers
Henry rocked On A Week Night
Poetry and all.

For all of you that came to the show support my endeavour and, more importantly, Evolution1079... thank you so much. I can't express how much it meant to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In a Place Of Lesser Men by Matthew Good

I have made it pretty clear that Matthew Good is one of my top four favourite musicians (if not number one). I have been a fan for over a decade, and I always get more excited than a small child in a confection store when a new album comes out. And now is no exception. Lights of Endangered Species is due out May 31, and if the first single is any indication, it's going to be a bit of a departure. It's not a drastic change, but very moody and atmospheric, with woodwind (flute and english horn) and lap steel and piano. But why read my write about it, listen for yourself:

In a Place Of Lesser Men by Matthew Good

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Portage & Main CD Release @ Anza Club -- 03/18/11

Last night was the much anticipated CD release show for Vancouver's Portage & Main. So anticipated, that the Anza club ended out being sold out by the end of the night. And rightfully so, as it was a pretty good lineup of Vancouver talent.

Adrian Glynn was first for the night, hitting stage alone with his guitar -- though for a couple songs he added a harmonica or a kick drum. He seemed really comfortable on stage, with a good presence; mostly because you could see the emotion put into his heartfelt folk songs. And even though a few of them sounded a bit similar, it was quite an enjoyable set. It came to a close with some audience-assisted stomp/clapping in a song, but by the end of the set the din of the crowd was getting a little loud. I think last time I saw Glynn, it was also with a noisy crowds, so I wouldn't mind catching him live again, where people are a bit quieter.

Sumner Bros were next up. I had seen them a couple weeks back at the Railway and enjoyed the set, and last night was no different. Well, except for the sound. It was a bit off at the beginning of the set, but after a few songs it seemed to be quite a bit better. Aside from that, the set was pretty similar, with their cover of Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" the traditional "Pay Me My Money Down", and their own catchy, blues influenced songs. They were pretty lively and energetic, and definitely worth seeing again.

And finally was Portage & Main. Had I not known, I never would have guessed this was their first show. True, John Sponarski and Harold Donnelly, who share vocals and guitar duties, have been playing in bands and with each other for years, but for the first show as this incarnation; and they were incredibly tight and firing on all cylinders. Their sound was very folk- and roots-rock influenced, and they played their new self titled album front to back.
Savannah of Redbird (a band that John also plays with) was out for backup vocals on "The Morning After", and other highlists included the infectious "What Have I Done", the incredibly energetic "Tonight pt. 2", and the slow build of "I'd Never Climbed A Mountain", that "ended" the set. But they were back out, with Savannah joining them again, for the album closer "Carolina", another high energy song and a great way to end the night.

In all, a pretty great night of music, and an impressive debut from Portage & Main. I already can't wait to see them live again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Destroyer @ Commodore -- 03/17/11

I have always felt that Dan Bejar rides that line between genius and insanity, and Destroyer has always fascinated me. Having seen them live a few times before, it's always been a different show -- including one show that was just Bejar solo and acoustic -- and the new album, Kaputt, takes such a different direction that I really wasn't sure what to expect from the show.

First up though, was Blackout Beach, who I was quite excited to see. The band is a solo project of Carey Mercer (who you may better know from Frog Eyes or Swan Lake) and I hadn't seen him play, in any incarnation, in a couple years. The band consisted of Mercer, with a keyboarsist and drummer, so the set was pretty minimal, and a little calmer than his other works. The songs were quite catchy, and nothing you wouldn't expect from Mercer, and even though it was more chill, he had no less energy on stage. Despite a couple lulls between songs, when he was playing, Mercer had a pretty song stage presence, and even stronger voice. A few times he stepped back off the mic and just let loose.
The set was only about a half hour, and it would have been nice to see some more, but it definitely had me wanting to see Frog Eyes again.

After a pretty quick turnaround, it was time for The War On Drugs. They had a more pop-rock sound, that I was actually not expecting from their name, or look. It was pretty catchy, and aside from one misstep at the start of a song, they were quite musically adept, but it didn't really do anything for me. A few of the songs sounded a bit similar, and the lead singers voice didn't really have too much range. It was Perfectly Acceptable Music, but not much more.

And then was Destroyer, as Bejar and the band of eight came out of the fog to take the stage. The band included horns, keys and one member who occasionally playing the trumpet at they keys at the same time.
The set started off with the first couple songs off of the new album, Kaputt, and while there were a few older songs, they focused mostly on that. Because of this, the show was a bit more slow and relaxed, given the albums more jazzy influence. Though not completely mellow, as midway through the set, they launched in to "3000 Flowers", one of my favourite Destroyer songs, and one I have never seen played live. It was, however, a bit odd, with Bejar reading the lyrics off of a piece of paper, but it was an incredible song otherwise. Probably my favourite of the main set, along with the hauntingly beautiful "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker"
And then came the encore, with Bejar joking if we had half an hour to kill, and then the familiar strains of "Bay of Pigs" starting. I was pretty thrilled at that, as I adore the song and I wasn't sure if they'd be playing it live in its 12 minute glory. It wasn't perfect, though; a little bit into the song there was a bit of a mixup, and at least twice Bejar started to crack up while singing -- and a little more of reading the lyrics during a portion of the song -- but those small things really didn't detract from the song too much, and it was still pretty incredible to hear live. I'm just wondering, since this was the first show of the tour, if it was maybe the first time they had played it live.

In all, though, it was a pretty great show. Two songs I did not really expect to hear live, and some incredibly talented musicians sharing the stage.

Chinatown, Blue Eyes, It's Gonna Take An Airplane, Downtown, Savage Night At The Opera, Certain Things You Ought To Know , Kaputt, 3000 Flowers, Painter In Your Pocket, Suicide Demo For Kara Walker, Song For America.
(encore) Bay of Pigs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Music Now: Eureka by Mother Mother

Regular readers (all sixteen 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 few weeks and I figured I would share them with you here because why not.

Here is the Eureka by Mother Mother


All right. So. The thing is, I originally did six over a three week span, and this is the last of them. But I really liked doing them; it combined my love of production with my love of rambling about music and telling you what you should like. So the question is... should I continue to do these?
They would be on my own time and specifically for the blog, so I'd probably also need a new name, as New Music Now is from Evolution. Plus I'm sure I could think of something better. So far, the leading suggestion is "3 Minute Revelations Colon Subtitle Kirk Takes 3 Minutes Of Your Time and Awesomes It Up"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New Music Now: Here Comes A City by Memphis

Regular readers (all fourteen 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 few weeks and I figured I would share them with you here because why not.

Here is the Here Comes A City by Memphis


Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Music Now: Bystander EP by Jets Overhead

Regular readers (all fourteen 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 few weeks and I figured I would share them with you here because why not.

Here is the Bystander EP by Jets Overhead


Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Music Now: Repeat Offender by Peter Elkas

Regular readers (all fourteen 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 few weeks and I figured I would share them with you here because why not.

Here is Repeat Offender by Peter Elkas


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Upcoming concert: Henry & The Nightcrawlers, David Vertesi & Redbird @ Biltmore Cabaret -- 03/21/11

Hey chums. As I've mentioned a few times, I am currently in BCIT Radio Broadcast Program, and the music director for Evolution1079, which just celebrated five years on the FM dial (it was just on cable before that).
I am also currently planning a concert. Myself and another student, for a marketing project, are putting this on:

March 21st at the Biltmore Cabaret.
Henry & The Nightcrawlers.
David Vertesi.

Regular readers will know how much of a fan I am of all three acts, so I am  excited to be able to present them all in the same show, and I would absolutely love it if you, dear reader, would be able to come. Here is a link to the facey books event page, or you can buy tickets from Ticketweb here.

Planning this has been a long (and at times frustrating) process, and it would mean a lot if you were able to come!

See you on the 21st?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Dears @ Venue -- 03/05/11

I am going to come clean with you right off the bat. The Dears are one of my favourite bands. I hadn't seen them live in almost two years, and was more than a little excited for this show. It was an early show at Venue, which I both liked because I was able to get home early-ish (for I am apparently an old man), but also disliked, because I felt it cut the set short.

As it was a curfewed show with three bands, he first, The Tender Box, hit the stage around 7:20. There weren't too many people when they started, but by the end of their half hour set, there was a decent crowd. They had a pretty basic rock sound, with a high energy, but most of their songs sounded pretty similar. Two back to back songs even had the same "sing along to this part where we just go ooohh-ooooooh" template. Nothing terrible, and enjoyable enough to watch, but not too memorable either.

Next up was Eulogies. I had only heard one song prior to the show, and I liked it so I was intrigued to see them. I was won over, if for no other reason than the lead singer had a Fantastic Four guitar, but also at the incredibly catchy and well written songs. They had a sound that I immediately though to classify as "dark pop", even if that isn't a genre and makes no sense, but the songs managed to be equal amounts upbeat and intense. There wasn't much by way of banter, but the lead singer still had a charm and charisma to him, and did a good job of engaging the crowd. I will definitely be checking them out next time they're through town, and had I the monies, I would have picked up their new album. (But I will have to make do with it streaming from their website for now)

And then the lights dimmed, and "Love me Tender" started to play. At first I wasn't sure if it was The Dears intro music or not, but as the song ended, they hit the stage and launched right into it with the first four songs off their new album, Degeneration Street. "Omega Dog" was brilliant live, with Pat Krief's amazing guitar work melting faces early on and "Tigerblood" (as Murray introduced it), bound to be one of my favourite songs of the year, was incredible live. They went on to play a good cross section of their material, with "Whites Only Party" getting everyone dancing, and Natalia's vocals coming to the forefront with "Crisis 1 & 2". The pair of "Lost in the Plot" and "We Can Have It" were great sing-alongs, and it was nice to see the latter live, as that is more or less the song that hooked me on The Dears. (I had seen them open for Matt Good and liked them enough to get No Cities Left after, and by that song, track one, I was a fan)
There wasn't much chit chat, other than some thank you's and song intros, and near the end of the set Murray explained that since they had a curfew, they wanted to cram as much music in as possible. The "curfew" fact got a few boos, but Murray calmed everyone by quipping that the "shiny shirts" need somewhere to go, too. As the set came to an "end", with a couple more off the new album, there was almost no encore fake-out -- or at least it looked like Natalia was questioning it -- but indeed "left" anyway, for a moment, before came back out with two of my favourite songs, "You & I Are A Gang Of Losers", which was incredibly emotional live, but was somehow topped by the last song, "22: The Death Of All The Romance"
The song began with Murray getting the appropriate parts of the crowd to sing along to the gender specific lines, and by the chorus, he was down on his knees, facing his wife Natalia, vowing to "avenge the death of all the romance". It's hard to convey in text (or blurry cellphone pictures), but it was an incredible moment, and an unforgettable tableau.
After some incredible guitar work (and more melting of faces) by both Krief and Murray, the song ended with Lightburn crouched at the front of the stage, microphone in the crowd, looking emotionally drained.

Part of the reason I love The Dears so much is their live shows. The whole band is passionate, but Murray especially just exudes raw emotion; soaring hope, bitter heartache, and everything in between, he makes the audience feel it. While I think their last show here, at Richard's, was better* it was still an incredible show, and just cemented why The Dears are one of my favourites.
*though to be fair that one is one of my favourite live shows, ever

Omega Dog, 5 Chords, [Tiger]Blood, Thrones, Whites Only Party, Crisis 1 & 2, Hate Then Love, Lost In The Plot, We Can Have It, Yesteryear, 1854.
(encore) Gang of Losers, 22: The Death of All the Romance.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hey Rosetta! @ Rio Theatre -- 03/04/11

Aside from their all-too-short opening set for Stars last year, it had been far too long since I saw Hey Rosetta! play live, so I was quite excited for their show last night. Especially at the Rio Theatre, which is a surprisingly great venue to see live shows in. Not surprising that a movie theatre has great sound, and the seats are incredibly comfortable. Which also have cupholders for your... beverage of choice. It also must be a rarity across Canada, as every show I've seen there, the band has made a comment about how odd it is to be playing a movie theatre.

Up first was Gramercy Riffs from St John's. They had a bit of a pop-rock flavour, with harmonizing male/female vocals, and were really fun to watch. The band was tight, and put on a good set, but while they weren't necessarily generic, they weren't really much of anything I hadn't heard before. A couple songs followed the 'start poppy and then explode into dense guitars and rocking drums' template, and the songs were incredibly catchy, but a bit repetitive. Ultimately, though, I quite enjoyed them and they were a pretty great pick to open for HR! and Perfectly Acceptable Music.

And then was Hey Rosetta!, taking the stage to an instrumental intro. They started the set off, appropriately enough, with "Welcome", from the set a high energy for the night. "Yer Spring" kept the energy up, as they went into some older songs. They played a good amount from their repertoire, spanning all three of their albums. They also proved how great a live band they are, as midway through "Another Pilot" all the stage lights went out and the band finished the song in the dark, without missing a single note.
Throughout the show, front man Tim Baker was oozing both charm and energy; talking between songs, joking about the movie theatre, and jumping and dancing around while playing -- even when he was on the keys, he was chair-dancing a little. Other highlights of the set were the intense "Young Glass", the beautiful "We Made A Pact" and the "closing" song "Red Heart", which got recognition applause.
For the encore, Tim came out wearing a Newfoundland (and Labrador) flag -- that someone had put on stage for them -- as a scarf, and his acoustic guitar for "Bandages", getting everyone to sing along by the end of it. Following that, Mara Pellerin from Gramercy Riffs came out for an awesome cover of "Time After Time". I always love it when bands do covers, and this was a great interpretation of the song, making it very Hey Rosetta-esque. The set wrapped up as appropriately as it began, with "New Goodbye", bringing the show to an intense and climactic ending.

There were a few songs that I was a little sad they didn't play -- "Yer Fall", "Parson Brown", "Handshake the Gangster", and "Holy Shit (What A Relief)" namely -- and at the beginning the sound mix seemed a little off, but it was fixed soon enough and the show was pretty amazing, those minor quibbles aside.

Welcome, Yer Spring, Another Pilot, There's An Arc, Bricks, Young Glass, I've Been Asleep For A Long, Long Time, We Made A Pact, Swing The Cellar Door, Seeds, Red Heart.
(encore) Bandages, Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper cover), New Goodbye.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Music Now: Temporary Resident by Imaginary Cities

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.

Here is Temporary Resident by Imaginary Cities