Tuesday, August 27, 2013

3am Mixtapes: Episode One: First Tracks

These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, "Me too!"

That's right. 3am Revelations once again has its very own podcast!

Each week on 3am Mixtapes, I will present to you, in my dulcet tones, the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as broad and vague and Best Summer Songs or Best Songs Featuring a Banjo,
or they can be as obscure and specific as Best Songs To Drive To At Dusk or Best Songs Featuring a Theremin.

The first week, I thought what better place to start than with the beginning. Top Six Opening Tracks. The first songs on an album. The ones that catch your attention and make you want to keep listening.

Featured on this weeks podcast is:

"Giant" by Matthew Good Band
"Like Eating Glass" by Bloc Party
"Nobody Moves Nobody Gets Hurt" by We Are Scientists
"Your Ex-Lover is Dead" by Stars
"New Goodbye" by Hey Rosetta!
"Fight Test" by The Flaming Lips

Any questions or comments or criticisms or suggestions for future themes are welcome!

 Subscribe in a reader (Feedburner) | Direct Download

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Then & Now @ Biltmore -- 08/20/13

The brainchild of Vancouver's beekeeper, Then and Now is a simple concept; take a handful of local artists, and get them to play a brand new song & an old song-- their newest, shiniest song, and one of the first songs they wrote, potentially embarrassing.
The night was also a fundraiser for Megaphone Magazine, a local publication that is sold by the homeless or low income people, who get to keep the profits of their sales.

Starting off the night was Redbird, and Savannah Leigh Wellman really took the concept to heart, setting the bar for the rest of the night. Her "then" song was one written in high school, influenced by pop-stars, called "Make Your Move", that peaked when Savannah started rapping. It was exactly in the spirit of the show, and as amazing as it was cringe-worthy. Her "now" was a brand new song, thematically similar but decidedly more mature.

Buckman Coe was up next, his older song being a folky love song, while his new was more reggae influenced.

Victoria musician Katie Schaan, better known as Ciseaux took the stage next, starting with an acoustic guitar and the song "Close To Me" off of Katie's debut album, which was put out under her own name.
Her new song was a love song about a boy, played on the ukulele. After wrestling with some technical problems, she ended up unplugged it and perched on the front of the stage, completely unamplified, her powerful voice still filling the room.

Devin Miller from Young Pacific was the first of the night to break from the acoustic, with his electric guitar. His first song was about friendship, or a lack thereof, and his newer one made use of his pedal board, for a song that was a bit more spacey and ethereal.

Wrapping up the first half of the night was the super secret surprise guest, Bed of Stars. Like many others throughout the night, his "then" song was a love song. His "now" was a pretty chill newer song.

After a brief intermezzo, Skye Wallace took the stage to start the second half. Joined by Alex the cellist, her first song was one written when she was a teenager. Her new song was one called "Monster" and built to some absolutely intense vocals.

There was a change of pace as spam poet Duncan Shields was up next, also joined by Alex the cellist. His nerd-themed pieces included a "then" which used video games as a metaphor for his ex-girlfriend, with great wordplay & puns, especially for video game lovers. His "now" was something he described as "filk music", which was taking folk songs and rewriting the words to make them nerdier. His was to the tune of "If You're Happy & You Know It" and was about Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Ford Pier. His "then" song had a very 90s-Canadian-vibe to it, and Pier took the concept of "now" to an extreme; he had only finished writing the new song at 6:30 that same morning, and it had never been performed out loud before.

And wrapping up the night, beekeeper themselves. The only full band electric set, Devon surprised his bandmated by choosing "Nice Lunch" for their "then", an old, rarely played song from their first album. They then wrapped up the night, with their newest, called "Arms Length". As with just about everyone throughout the night, it was an interesting juxtaposition between the then and the now, seeing how the songwriters have progressed.

The first time they did this show, last year, it ran a bit long, but this year did not drag at all. With a leaner lineup, the night zipped along at a fine clip, and I can only hope they plan on this again next year. It's a fantastic concept for a great cause.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shred Kelly w/ Loon Choir @ Biltmore -- 08/06/13

Shred Kelly and Loon Choir are two up and coming Canadian bands that you'll no doubt be hearing a lot more from in the future. They're no strangers to playing shows together, and their latest joint tour took them across the country with Vancouver being their last show together, at the Biltmore.

First up, though, was Vancouver's Jer Breaks. One half of Redgy Blackout (who are currently on a hiatus) Jer was performing his own solo material, just him with his guitar on stage.
His songs had a bit of a folky-country bent, that seemed personal and heartfelt -- including one he prefaced as about his first (and last) acid trip. There was also a medley of covers, including some Ryan Adams and Hank Williams, showing off some of his influences.
The set was fine, but there wasn't much variation between the songs. I'd like to see him with a full band, to see how they flesh out.

Up next was Loon Choir. It was the first time in Vancouver for Ottawa band, and they packed the stage with seven members, including keys, synth, and violin.
High energy, dance-inducing synth-rock, with a ton of passion in all the members. But especially lead singer Derek Atkinson who had a fiery spirit; running around the stage, into the crowd, miming actions during songs, there was hardly a minute when he was standing still.
Atkinson was joined occasionally on vocals by Nikki Yates on keys, whose smooth voice balanced out his uniquely imperfect vocals.
The set was full of big, grandiose songs like "Nowhere To Go" and "All Boats Don't Rise", a catchy song with an intense breakdown.
They put on a really strong set, though there were a few times where they could have been a bit tighter, more cohesive -- but they are still a relatively young band, so I have no doubt they'll soon be a force to be reckoned with.

And finally, the five members of Shred Kelly took the stage, the stoke-folk band from Fernie launching right into it with "New Black", the first song of their newest album, In The Hills. The had a huge energy that didn't relent through the set, and their obvious enthusiasm was infectious as the Tuesday night crowd was dancing along.
"Rowed Away" was a great example of their sound, starting soft with keyboardist Sage McBride's gorgeous voice, then exploding into Tim Newton's blurry-handed banjo playing. Sage's strong vocals are a nice counterbalance to Tim's rougher voice -- a lot of bands hardly have one charismatic lead singer, Shred Kelly has two.
Other highlights of the set were the explosive "Cabin Fever" and "Fossils and Tin", a waltz-y song that had the crowd stomping and clapping along. They ended the set with "Tornado Alley", which lives up to its name perfectly, building to a frantic cacophony of sound, as if you're in the storm.
But a vocal section of the crowd was adamant about one more song, a specific one, so they obliged by calling Loon Choir up on stage to help out with the anthemic "I Hate Work", which culminated in the crowd clapping along and shouting their own dissatisfaction with their employment.

New Black, Cabin Fever, Leaving Town, Ghost Inside My Head, Time is Passing, Rowed Away, White River, Fossils and Tin, The Bear. Tornado Alley.
(encore) I Hate Work.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Evening Hymns @ Railway Club -- 08/01/13

Sometimes you build up shows in your head to almost unreasonable expectations. That was kind of the case for me and Evening Hymns. One of my absolute favourite albums of last year was Spectral Dusk -- an album that Jonas Bonnetta wrote to cope with the death of his father, a hauntingly beautiful and powerful album that is full of emotion -- and while I missed the show back in the fall, I had heard nothing but good things about their live show. So when I heard they were coming back for an early show at the Railway Club, I knew I couldn't miss it, but was also sort of worried I had overhyped it.
Turns out I was wrong to be worried.

First up, though, was Vancouver's own The Abramson Singers. Their mellow, folky sound was driven by Leah Abramson's lovely voice. A couple songs stood out, including "Marguerite" and "Factory" -- the latter about the chicken factory on Main St in Vancouver -- but a lot of the songs in the set had the same tempo to them; a collection of slower, sad songs. Nothing was bad, but it would have been nice to have some variance in the set.
Leah also had a good stage presence, joking between songs telling awkward-road-stories and introducing songs.

It wasn't long after that before Evening Hymns took the stage with their dark folk rock sound. Joining Jonas was Sylvie Smith (bass, backup vocals), Jon Hynes (drums), and Shaun Brodie (guitar, trumpet, accordion). They started with a slow yet intense build up to "Family Tree", off Spectral Dusk, the song adding some weight and emotion to the set right off the bat.
From there they played a mix of old and new; "Mtn. Song", which had a little bit of Ronnette's "Be My Baby" slipped into the intro; and they including a couple brand new songs, a more rocking number called "Evil Forces" stood out.
Half way through the set he introduced "You and Jake" by telling a bit of the story behind Spectral Dusk, and specifically the meaning of the song, about the relationship between his father and Jake, his brother. The soft and gorgeous song was so full of raw emotion that (most of) the bar was silent, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few tears were shed.
Jonas chatted with the crowd between songs, his casual and effortless demeanour gave the show a comfortable feel as he introduced each song. He gave the impression that even in the largest of venues, he would be able to make the show feel small and intimate, like he was just telling stories and playing around a campfire.
The all-too-short set ended with "Cabin in the Burn", drawing to a nice finale, as all my worries about expecting "too much" melted away. It was a gorgeous and powerful set, and I can only hope Jonas is back with Evening Hymns before too long with a much longer set. 

Family Tree, Dead Deer, Evil Forces, You and Jake, You Will Walk Again and Again, Mtn. Song, Cabin in the Burn.