Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Thirty: Tearjerkers

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like most joyful songs. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Opposite Songs.

This week I decided to go a little weepy. A wise man once said "Sad songs say so much" so this week it is the Top Six Songs To Make You Curl Up Into The Fetal Position and Bawl! Yes, tearjerkers and heartwrenchers (but not necessarily breakup songs, those are coming later) for a collection of songs that will just reach inside you, grab your heart, and punt it across the room.

Get your tissues out for:

"Margaret Downe" by Aidan Knight
"Casimir Pulaski Day" by Sufjan Stevens
"Basket" by Dan Mangan
"Breathe Me" by Sia
"You and Jake" by Evening Hymns
"Left and Leaving" by The Weakerthans

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

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mounties with Rich Aucoin @ Commodore -- 03/21/14

Whenever a musical "supergroup" is put together, there is always a certain amount of caution. Are they going to just going to sound like a lame mashup of the participating bands (Audioslave)? Or are they going to come together to make an interesting new band (Monsters of Folk)?
When Mounties first formed, I had the same amount of trepidation. 
I was a fan of Ryan Dahle and all of his work, from Limblifter to Age of Electric to his solo album; I always liked Hawksley Workman, but for some reason never delved too far into his catalogue; and, to be perfectly honest, I never really cared for Steve Bays' band Hot Hot Heat. 
But their first single "Headphones" was catchy as hell, and any lingering doubt was eradicated on the first spin of their debut album Thrash Rock Legacy. So when they announced their first ever tour, it was a no-brainer, especially since they would be paired with one of my favourite live acts.

Opening the night was Light Organ label mates JPNSGRLS (pronounced "Japanese Girls"). The four-piece from Vancouver was visibly excited and amazed to be playing the legendary Commodore Ballroom, and turned that into an incredibly energetic live show -- especially lead singer Charlie Kerr who could hardly stand still. With a collection of songs that sounded influenced by early 00's post-punk, they delivered fast and raw rock, getting the gathering crowd excited. 
The young band is still fairly new, with only a debut EP to their credits, and while some of their songs sounded a bit too much like a patchwork of other bands, I think once they hone their sound

Next up was a trip to the opposite side of the country for Halifax's Rich Aucoin, and anyone who regularly reads the blog (or follows my twitter) knows how much I love Aucoin, especially his live shows. 
Rich syncs up videos to his music, projected onto a bedsheet behind him, and the set stared with the "coming attractions", including an inspirational speech cobbled together from various movies, and the "opening credits" featuring names of audience members with heroic attributes. 
From there, the dancey pop-rock burst forth and the raw energy and intensity didn't slow down for a second. With the music streaming from his effects board and the intense rapid-fire drumming of Joel Waddell providing the backbone, Rich was off the stage as often as he was on it. Giving Commodore's bouncy floor a workout, Aucoin was frequently among the audience with an illuminated light bulb, to dance with the crowd, bring everyone together for huddles, and even unfurling his giant parachute which spanned the entire area of the Ballroom's dance floor.
Few people can rally a crowd like Rich Aucoin, and the ridiculously catchy songs definitely help, with lyrics easy to sing yell along to. From "We are not dead yet, we are undead" of the appropriately titled "Undead" to "This heart is all that keeps us up, this heart is beating", he gives the crowd a strong message that can be summed up with two words from the opening: BE AWESOME.
After about a half-dozen songs, the set ended with "It" making the crowd to vow not to "leave it all in our heads", as he rose back onto the stage, dripping with sweat and covered in confetti. 
It's hard to explain, but Rich Aucoin's music and live shows leave you with a sense of pure joy, and a grin plastered across your face a mile wide. Seeing Rich Aucoin live is something that everyone needs to do at least once in their life. 

I don't envy any band that has to follow Aucoin, but as a remixed "Headphones" played over the speakers, Mounties took the stage for their first ever Vancouver show -- and only their fourth as a band. 
Hawksley took a seat behind the drums with Ryan on guitar and Steve on keys, and they were joined by Parker Bossley (of The Gay Nineties, and both Fur Trade & Hot Hot Heat with Bays) on bass and Carey Pratt (Prairie Cat) on percussion to round out the band. 
With Workman behind the drums, and a low-key Dahle content to shred on guitar, Bays was almost the de facto frontman, moving around and getting right up to the edge of the crowd when not behind the keyboard. But all three members shared vocals, and had equal time in the spotlight as they kicked off the set with "Pretty Respectable", the opening track of the album (and no doubt source of puns for many album reviews) and played nearly the entire Thrash Rock Legacy over the next hour-and-a-bit. 
Their songs spanned from the frantic groove of "Made Up My Mind" to the bouncy "Hall & Oats" to "The Twig & The Tree", which saw Parker came up from the back of the stage to help on vocals. 
"If This Dance Catches On", swirled into a psychedelic jam ending with crunchy guitar from Dahle and Bossley playing his bass with a bow, and they wrapped up the set, as you would expect, with the massive "Headphones" as they ending the main set with a huge jam. 
But of course, they were not done as the three came out for the encore with the soft "Latch Key Kids" intertwining Workman & Bays' voices, before exploding into the instrumental "Guaranteed Blonde Enough" 
and finally ending the night with the mellow "Tokyo Summer".

When talking about their origins, all three members will say they just wanted to do something to get together to jam & have fun, and the album is the results of that. Hawksley particularly has said he wanted to just do something where he got to sit behind the drums, which is exactly what he got to do. That passion, that sense that they are doing this because they love it, more than came through in their live show, spreading their enthusiasm into the crowd.
After seeing the show, it was incredibly to realise these three guys have not been playing together for the last twenty years, and with a start this strong, I can't wait to see where they go next.

Pretty Respectable, Feeling Low, Made Up My Mind, Hall & Oats, The Twig & The Tree, Waking Up On Time, Minimum Effort, If This Dance Catches On, Headphones.
Latch Key Kids, Guaranteed Blonde Enough, Tokyo Summer.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Twenty Nine: Springtime

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like Top Six Guitar Solos. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Kazoo Solos.

Seeing as it will officially be the first day of spring in a couple days, I figure this week will be the Top Six Songs To Help You De-Hibernate! Unless you live in the crazy parts of Canada where it's still snowing, the sun will be (or has been) back and you'll need song songs to put the proverbial spring in your step.

Featuring tunage:

"I'll Bring The Sun" by Jason Collett
"We Won't Keep Secrets" by Math and Physics Club
"Yer Spring" by Hey Rosetta!
"Pineapple" by BESTiE
"Summer Dress" by HIGHS
"Turn Off This Song" by The Lonely Forest

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

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Twenty Eight: Around the World

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like best concept albums. Or some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Male Falsettos.

If you've listened to even a single episode before, you may have noticed my focus can be on Canadian music. It's what I'm into. But this week I figured I would expand a little and take a look at the Top Six International Bands.

With musical songs:

"Stand on the Horizon" by Franz Ferdinand
"The Pin Drop" by Steven Wilson
"The Soft Fall" by dEUS
"It Was There That I Saw You" by ...And You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead
"Confusion" by Major Tom & The Atoms
"Kveikur" by Sigur Rós

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

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Twenty Seven: Ladies

Each week on the 3am Mixtapes podcast, I will share with you the Top Six Songs of a certain subject. The topics can be as general like best ballads. Or some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Fictional Bands From TV Shows.

Seeing as International Women's Day is coming up this week, I figured I'd use that as an excuse to look at the Top Six Female Musicians! I think I've had a pretty good mix of genders in the podcast up until now, but this episode is all-ladies.

With musical songs:

"Who Are You?" by Kathryn Calder
"Shotgun" by Rykka
"Knots" by Lisa Hannigan
"Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene
"Orchard" by Jess Hill
"And We Still Move" by Crissi Cochrane

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

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Matinée @ Imperial -- 03/01/14

It's been quite song time since the last time The Matinée played a hometown show in Vancouver, and even longer still since they headlined a show of their own. But the Vancouver roots rock band had the Imperial packed for somewhat of a homecoming this weekend.

Opening the night were a couple of bands with ties to The Matinée. Gastown Royals had played shows with them all the way back to their time at the Bourbon, and Good For Grapes had done at least a half dozen shows with. But unfortunately I missed both bands, getting there just as Good for Grapes were wrapping up.

The Matinée took to the stage with the classic "Maybe Tomorrow" blasting over the speakers, unveiling a different lineup than fans were used to. They were joined by Georges "CoolKeys" Couling on keyboard, and filling in for the departed Mike Young on bass was Marcus Rainer (who has played with, I think, about 78% of all Vancouver bands).

They opened the show with a pair of new songs, both high energy getting the crowd into it, before "L'Absinthe" from their album We Swore We'd See The Sunrise. Throughout the night they had a few guests on stage; Kendel Carson came out on violin for a couple songs, absolutely shredding for "Let Her Go", and Shawn Hall from The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer on harmonica for a cover of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Ain't No Easy Way".

I've seen The Matinée several times live, and while they never fail to impress, they were certainly on top of their game. Each member has such a great stage presence, from guitarist Geoff Petrie's effortless cool to other guitarist Matt Rose burning up the guitar (or banjo) on his solos. And Matt Layzell has one of the best (and most rare) qualities in a lead singer, knowing when not to be in the spotlight. When not singing he would often fade into the background and let his bandmates -- or even guests on stage -- take the spotlight.

After a huge sing (and clap) along to "Sweetwater" and their big hit "Young & Lazy", they ending the set with "This Town", that build to an explosive end, but of course were back out for a few more. They started the encore joined by Michelle and Michael from the Four on the Floor String Quartet, for the haunting "The Sinking of The Greenhill Park", and after another new song that featured a fantastic drum solo from Peter Lemon, they wrapped up the night as they usually do, with "The Road" and its full-band drum breakdown, making for one hell of a finale.

[New Song][New Song], L'Absinthe, Let Her Go, On Our Own, Ain't No Easy Way [Black Rebel Motorcycle Club cover], [New Song], Sweetwater, Young & Lazy, This Town.
(encore) The Sinking of the Greenhill Park, [New Song], The Road. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Toque Sessions: Hannah Georgas & Ryan Guldemond @ CBC Vancouver -- 02/28/14

For a fifth year, the CBC Toque Sessions return to CBC Vancouver. The sessions are a series of free shows featuring some great local talent, running through the end of February, and are recorded for later broadcast of CBC Radio 2, and streaming on CBC Music.

The final toque session of this year was hosted by Radio 3's Grant Lawrence, and featured the musical union of Hannah Georgas and Ryan Guldemond. The two friends are frequent collaborators, and recently recorded a handful of songs for CBC Music titled the Love Motel Sessions, appropriately titled for a collection of songs about love recorded in a... "charming" motel.

They were joined onstage by Ryan's Mother Mother bandmate Ali Siadat on drums, for an intimate and spontaneous hour of music; partially due to the small and attentive crowd, partly due to Hannah returning from European tour the previous day, as Ryan admitted they hadn't rehearsed much but wanted to capture the moment live. He was also taking the opportunity of the intimate show to pontificating on life between songs; on doing what you want as opposed to what you should, why not to retell stories, and needing to point out the elephant in the room (and "make a piano out of its tusks"). Every time I've seen Ryan perform -- especially solo shows -- he is very weird enigmatic with seemingly stream-of-consciousness stage banter, but always interesting nonetheless.

They started off with Hannah's "Robotic" and "Fantasize" and traded off throughout the set. Ryan's songs were about various stages of love, from his own lovelorn "Academe", to Mother Mother's deceptively charming "Love It Dissipates". He also dazzled with his amazing guitar chops, effortlessly throwing in jazz or blues riffs to songs.
Hannah's amazing voice lent power to the simplified songs, hers going from the gorgeous and heartbreaking "Ode to Mom" to the vitriolic "Millions", that didn't lose an ounce of attitude when stripped down.
A cover of The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" wrapped up the set, but the pair was coaxed back on stage by Grant for one last song, a beautiful version of "I Melt With You" by Modern English.

One of my favourite things about the Toque Sessions is when they do more unique shows, more than just "here's a band, watch them play". Things like putting together two musicians that play off each other, and this was a perfect example of that. It was a captivating show and all three musicians on stage had great chemistry together, especially Hannah & Ryan.

Robotic, Fantasize, Academe. Love It Dissipates, Enemy, Happy, Ode to Mom, Millions, Alone And Sublime, I Go Hungry, Bye Bye Love [Everly Brothers cover]
(encore) I Melt With You [Modern English cover]