Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Thirty Nine: Ballads

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 road trip songs. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs in 7/4 Time.

This week, instead of looking at the theme or the mood of the songs, I am going to go with the narratives, for the Top Six Ballads!

This week's tunes:

"The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane" by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
"Ballad of a Swan Lake, or Daniel's Song" by Swan Lake
"The Ballad of Joe Verreault" by Shaun Verreault
"Ballad of Hugo Chavez" by Arkells
"The Ballad of Humankindness" by The Dears
"The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and The Rage Cage" by Tenacious D

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

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Thirty Eight: Gritty Western

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 movie themes. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs over 20 minutes long.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, this whole podcast has more or less been about soundtracking your life. Perfect songs for the specific moment. Driving at dusk or making a blanket fort or beachcombing. And this week, I am going to take that to its logical conclusion with the Top Six Songs That I Would Use If I Were Making a Gritty Western!

This week's tunes:

"Monster" by Skye Wallace
"Rosin and Horsehair" by The Ruffled Feathers
"Demon" by Kandle
"Wild Fucking West" by Miss Quincy & The Showdown
"Don't Make 'em Like They Used To" by The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer
"Two Against One (f. Jack White)" by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi

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

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ma Petite CD release @ Prophouse Cafe -- 05/16/14

A couple years ago, Indiana Avent made the journey from her homeland of Australia to Canada to record her debut album in Vancouver. She had previously played violin for people like Bon Iver, Dan Mangan, Gotye, and Amanda Palmer, but decided it was time to put her own songs out into the world, and with loads of Vancouver's finest backing her she recorded The Road That Led Me To Fall.
The album was finally released it last month, and Indiana returned to her second home to celebrate its release.

Starting off the night was Savannah Leigh Wellman, frontwoman of Redbird playing solo. In contrast with Redbird's new hip-swaying rock, Savannah played some softer jams, her strong voice soaring over acoustic guitar, as she started with a newer song called "Wandering One".
Early on, she noted that most of her songs were a little more dour than Ma Petite's, so made sure to play a few happier songs, including a lovely song called "Morning Day and Night". There were also a few Redbird songs in the mix; "Some Birds" and "Oh Please My Heart".
She ended her set with what ended up being my favourite song of the night, an absolutely heartbreaking ghost-story-slash-breakup-song, called "The White Eagle", as Savannah poured everything into the song.

Next up was Twin Bandit, the pairing of Hannah Walker and Jamie Elliott. Also armed with only acoustic guitars, they had a country-ish sound with the two girls' voices intertwined into nice, soft harmonies, complimenting each other very well.
Standouts from the set were a cover of Ana Egge's "Hole in your Halo" and one of their own songs, which I didn't catch the name of, that was more fiery than the rest and introduced as a song about "the kind of love that makes you want to die"
They had gorgeous voices and a great presence, but I feel like they would make amazing scene-stealing backup singers -- the Ana Egge & Rose Cousins to someone's Joel Plaskett, or the Watson Twins to someone's Jenny Lewis -- as their own songs were just not quite strong enough.
They did mention near the end of their set that they would be playing the Media Club next weekend with a full band, so I would be interested to see how they are with a fleshed out sound.

And finally, it was time for Ma Petite to celebrate the release of her album. Completing the theme, Indiana took the stage alone with an acoustic guitar -- switching to ukulele halfway through -- with soft songs that were held aloft by her gentile, almost fragile voice.
She started with the sweet "Morning Song", and was incredibly charming on stage, introducing most every song with a little story; joking that a lot of the songs were about either birds or boys, before going into a song about both birds and boys.
Her storytelling extends through her music, with songs like "I Like That You Like Books" weaving through the narrative of working in a bookstore/coffeshop and flirting with customers (rather, a certain customer) or the longing of an ocean separating people in "Make Like A Bird".
As the set drew to a close, she led the crowd in a sing-along to a favourite "Man About Moon" before wrapping up the night with the upbeat "Two Big Thick Duffle Coats"

Often times it seems descriptors like "cute" can seem dismissive or condescending when it comes to music, but Indiana's soft and intimate songs -- even when they are about sad things -- are incredibly endearing and you can't help but smile while listening.

Morning Song, Lonesome, Winter Wind, I Like That You Like Books, Make Like A Bird, Sparrow, Words To Keep, Oh the Vampyre [AA Bondy cover], Man About Moon, Two Big Thick Duffle Coats. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Thirty Seven: Beachcombing (with Casey-Jo Loos)

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 Scottish bands. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs That End in a Question Mark?

And this week is another (in what I hope will become a monthly thing) guest co-host! Aside from people that make music, I wanted people that are in "the biz" to pick some songs, which is why this week I've asked Casey-Jo Loos. And when she's not on-air on 102.7 The Peak here in Vancouver, you can probably find her on the beach, which is this week is the Top Six Beachcombing Songs!

Sit in the surf with:

"Red Eyes" by The War on Drugs
"The Country Child" by Frog Eyes
"Stay Close Until We Reach The End" by Bike for Three!
"At Least My Heart was Open" by Foy Vance
"Simple Lives" by Krief
"Dye" by Tycho

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

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Thirty Six: A Box of Kittens

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 bands from Toronto. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Bands With "Black" In Their Name.

A couple of weeks ago I did the "Top Six Songs To Make You Curl Up Into The Fetal Position and Bawl" (you know, tearjerkers) so I figured I had to do the other side of the coin, with happy songs. It's the Top Six  Songs That Make You Feel Like Someone Dumped A Box of Kittens On You!

Smile along with:

"The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song" by The Flaming Lips
"Are You Experiencing?" by Rich Aucoin
"Cameras" by Matt & Kim
"Animal Arithmetic" by Jónsi
"Float On" by Modest Mouse
"I Like That You Like Books" by Ma Petite

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

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Miss Quincy @ Media Club -- 05/03/14

Miss Quincy's third album -- and first with backing band The Showdown -- came out a month ago, and they've been touring non-stop through western Canada ever since. But they wrapped up the the tour in Vancouver at the Media Club to celebrate Roadside Recovery, an album produced by The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer's Matt Rogers.

Ben Rogers & The Bloodred Yonder started the night, his band including some familiar locals, brother Matt "The Axe Murderer" Rogers and John "Johnny 99" Sponarski. He began the set with a country twang that set the mood for most of the set, weaving stories in (and out) of his songs.
Part way through the set, he dismissed his band for a song, introducing a murder ballad as he strummed the guitar alone, and aside from his own material he broke out a cover of a Muddy Waters song.
To be honest, a lot of his set was just a little too countrified for me, but there were a couple songs that picked things up I liked; a call & response audience-participation song called "Panhandler", and last song of the night, which I didn't catch the name of but ended with the entire band going all out -- especially both Ben and Sponarski, tearing up their guitars.

Soon after that, Miss Quincy was joined by her trusty sidewomen in The Showdown as the four-piece started with an almost hymnal song called "Take It To The Well". A slow-dancing song came early on, as they gradually built up the intensity through the set with their rockin' bluesy sound.
Miss Quincy's raw, powerful vocals were definitely the star, but the backup vocals of keyboardist Christie Rose blended perfectly. Part way through the set Rose even took over vocals for a cover of Dylan's "Love Sick".
Other highlights included "What Is Life If It Ain't Strange" and "Rush Hour Traffic With a Hangover" as the set climaxed with my favourite of the night, the badass and sultry "Bad Love", the first single from the album.
After the gritty "Wild Fucking West" and one other, the band was done for the night, but Miss Quincy and Christie Rose came back for one last song, a sweet acoustic Patsy Cline cover.

The set had a great energy; it's always nice as an audience member when you can tell the band is having fun, and all four members of the band were obviously having a blast on stage. I've had a soft spot for bluesy rock for many years now, and Miss Quincy & The Showdown are definitely a band I'll be seeing in the future.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

We Are Scientists @ Electric Owl -- 05/02/14

"...hopefully we convinced them to not wait another four years for a show." was the last thing I said in the blog post the last time We Are Scientists came through town. In 2010.
So I guess not, but the New York three-piece -- one of my favourite bands to come out of the indie rock boom of the mid-00's -- hit the Electric Owl in support of their newest album, TV En Français.

First up was Scottish trio Paws, for their first time in Vancouver (but they had heard good things from their European tour mates, a local band you may have heard of named Japandroids)
They started hard and fast, and barely slowed down for their half-hour set, with a noisy sound was definitely giving off vibes of 90s alt-rock and grunge, as they thrashed around stage with reckless abandon.
Songs came in short bursts of energy, ending abruptly more often than not, with almost a sense of urgency. The only one that seemed out of place was a bit of a mellower song, which was very obviously written as "the single" even without them introducing it as such.
They put on a really fun set, and I would definitely catch them again if they come through to tour their brand new album Youth Culture Fever. 

Thanks to the curfew on the show, it was not too long after when REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You" blasted over the speakers as the three members of We Are Scientists took the stage.
They kicked things off with a signature tune "Return the Favor", for a set spanning all four of their albums. Their ridiculously catchy indie-rock had people singing along to old favourites "After Hours" and the explosive "Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt", as well as songs from the new album like the fast-paced, riff-tastic "Dumb Luck".
The humour of Keith Murray (guitar and "golden pipes") and Chris Cain (backup vocals and "bass guitar instrument") also shone through in their banter, with great back and forths, and off-the-cuff humour. It was pretty clear that after over a dozen years of being a band, they still have fun on stage and with each other. They also paused part way through the set to wish drummer Keith Carneage a happy birthday, complete with a cake being delivered and the crowd singing.
As "Impatience" brought the main set came to a close, they were back out with "Dinosaurs" which erupted into an intense ending of shredding guitars, and they wrapped up with the familiar frantic cymbals opening "The Great Escape", from their breakthrough album With Love and Squalor, for another big singalong to end things perfectly.

Sometimes the Electric Owl can be a little hit or miss with their sound, and while it was not bad last night, I found that a few songs in the set were just a little too loud; sometimes drowning out individual members of the band or just being too harsh. But that aside, We Are Scientists definitely still puts on an incredibly fun show; they are a tight band with genuinely funny banter, and songs that will be stuck in your head for the next week.
I can't wait for them to be back in 2018.

Return the Favor; After Hours; Dumb Luck; Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt; Nice Guys; Sprinkles; Lousy Reputation; Lethal Enforcer; Textbook; Take An Arrow; Chick Lit; Rules Don't Stop; I Don't Bite; Make It Easy; Impatience.
(encore) Dinosaurs; Slow Down; The Great Escape.