Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Ruffled Feathers EP Release Show @ Red Room -- 06/28/14

It's been a while since I saw Vancouver's Ruffled Feathers live; so long, in fact, that they've undergone a bit of a lineup change. But they hit the Red Room to celebrate the release of their new EP, Bottom of the Blue, the last album recorded with the previous lineup.

Leading off the night was Chersea, who regular readers (all 24 of you) will remember as one of my favourite new discoveries of the year so far. On stage alone behind a fortress of instruments, Chersea builds her songs by looping keys, synth, drum pad, guitar, trumpet, even a metal water bottle for percussion. Songs ranged from electro-pop of "I Could Lose It All" to the darker and sexier "Grey Matter" to even a little tropical flavour for "Mind Porn", and while the half-hour set had a few technical glitches, they didn't detract from the overall enjoyment.

Next up was Rebel on a Mountain, a pretty basic folk-rock band. They had a trumpet in lieu of the requisite banjo, and maybe a little bit of a 90s-alt rock influence mixed in, as well as a good enthusiasm on stage -- one member telling corny jokes between songs -- but in the end were just not interesting enough to stand apart from the rest.

And finally, it was The Ruffled Feathers time to shine. Their set also had a few small technical problems, buzzing & popping cords, as well as a faint hum on and off through the set, and a couple times Gina Loes' lovely voice seemed a little too low in the mix. But again, it wasn't enough to hurt the set as they starting off with the lush "It Doesn't Last", the lead sing from the new EP.
The entire band was bubbling over with energy, and their chamber-pop sound was bolstered by their unique instrumentation. The interplay between Andrew Lee's trumpet and Molly MacKinnon's violin was interesting -- the unusual combination complimenting each other quite well -- and Andrew's backing vocals contrasted with Gina's nicely.
The hour-long set spanned their three albums, and even hinted some new stuff with a song that was either named "Boned" or "Beaune". Other highlights included "Tough Love", with Gina on the ukulele and swelled to a grand ending, as well as the jubilant "Home" and the final song of the main set "Kiss Me In The Moonlight", Andrew aptly introducing it as "one of the cutest songs you will hear all day".
But of course, they were back for the obligatory encore and wrapped up for real with the gigantic "Blueprints For Our Failed Revolution" ending the set with a bang.

The Ruffled Feathers have always been really fun live band, and I'm glad the new lineup reflected that.

It Doesn't Last, All My Cities, Home, Tough Love, New Song [Boned or Beaune], Buffalo, Siberian Springtime, Caravan, Little Sister, Kiss Me In The Moonlight.
(encore) Your Embrace, Blueprints For Our Failed Revolution.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty Three: Polaris Prize

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 like best drum solos. Some might be a little more... specific. Top six bands that sound nothing like their name implies.

Since the Polaris Music Prize announced their Long List was announced last week, I figure this episode I would take a look at that. And while I am not a part of that jury, why let that stop me from picking my top five from the short list, as well as one overlooked album, on the Top Six Albums I'd Pick Were I A Polaris Juror!

With cuts from nominated albums:

"Julia With Blue Jeans" On by Moonface
"#4" by AroarA
"Itchy Blood" by The Darcys
"Pretty Respectable" by Mounties
"Hall of Mirrors" by YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN
"King David" by We Are The City

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

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Royal Canoe @ Fortune -- 06/21/14

Two days into the Vancouver International Jazz Fest, and they've already shown me two of the best shows I've seen so far this year. Last night it was back to Fortune for one of my favourite groups to see live, Royal Canoe. It had been a while -- since before the release of their new album Today We're Believers -- but I was glad to see them back, especially on a stage that could hold all of their equipment and persons.

Starting off the night, however, was hometown band Copilots. With kind of a droning rock sound, they teased songs from an upcoming album, but a lot of them had the same vibe, and the lead singer's vocals were a little buried. The set didn't really do much for me -- aside from one song near the end, introduced as their dancey-song -- and can be summed up in their last song, a ten+ minute song that just kind of meandered through different sounds and dragged on to end the set.

As soon as they finished, the guys of Royal Canoe hit the stage to set up their stage-full of equipment; dual drums, mountains of keyboards and synth, a whole table for effects pedals and more, the six-piece band always fills the stage. Leading off with the high energy "Show Me Your Eyes", and by the second song, "Hold On To The Metal", the crowd was already clapping and singing along. In fact, it was a great crowd overall, lots of singing & clapping, and "recognition whoos". None more so than the massive "Bathtubs", one of the highlights.

I've said before, Royal Canoe is one of the best and most interesting bands, especially to watch live, with a vast range of sounds and influences reigned in to one great electro/pop/rock sound. And they proved it again with a set focused on the new album (and its preceding EPs), ranging from the soft and introspective "Exodus of the Year" to the R&B flavoured "Summersweat".

They finished off the set with Matt Peters' distorted vocals on "Nightcrawlin'" but were called back for one more from the crowd, a fantastic cover of the 90s R&B jam "No Diggity" by Blackstreet. I always like it when bands do something fun and unexpected with the obligatory encore -- aside from just another couple songs -- and this was a perfect example of that.

I've seen them a half a dozen times now, and while they have always blown me away, this was by far the best show I've seen from the Winnipeggers. They were tight with an amazing energy, feeding off the crowd's enthusiasm and giving back tenfold.

Show Me Your Eyes, Hold On To The Metal, Just Enough, Exodus Of The Year, Stemming, Bloodrush, Summersweat, Birthday, Bathtubs, Button Fumbla, Nightcrawlin'.
(encore) No Diggity [Blackstreet cover]

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ Fortune -- 06/20/14

It's that time of year again, the Vancouver International Jazz Fest descends upon the city with hundreds of bands across dozens of venues around the town, both free and ticketed shows. And the first night kicked off with I band I have been wanting to see for a couple years now, but have always eluded me. Fresh off their Polaris Prize Long List nomination for their new album Uzu, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.

The opening act was Vancouver's Sun Killer. Their instrumental jazzy songs flowed and weaved through the set as the venue filled. Being an instrumental band, there was no vocal mic on stage, so when guitarist Tom Wherrett talked between songs or introduced the band, it was unamplified and a bit weird. But the songs themselves were pretty engaging, and they were an interesting opening act.

It wasn't long after before Yamantaka // Sonic Titan hit the stage, and right off the bat, their whole set screamed "theatrical". From the costumes and the kabuki facepaint to the lighting and smoke, their flair for the dramatics was apparent, which fit perfectly with their self-described "noh-wave" art rock.

They hardly said a thing through the set, instead letting the music speak for itself. The soaring songs were driven by Ruby Kato Attwood's strong vocals, which were backed up by drummer Alaska B, and Ange Loft's almost entirely wordless vocals, her amazingly powerful voice filling the room even when she was off the microphone.

They opened with "Reverse Crystal // Murder of a Spider", a cacophonous opening leading into an intense song, which gave way to a set focused mostly on their new album Uzu. Highlights included "Atalanta", which lead into a song that would be perfect as a soundtrack for an epic cinematic battle, "Whalesong", as Attwood danced with some fans (literal fans, not audience members), and "Hall of Mirrors", that included an eerie & haunting almost spoken work interlude from Loft, and was punctuated with Alaska B's drumming so intense it pulsated through your chest.

After the raging "One" from the new album, they closed out with "Hoshi Neko" off their self-titled debut, building to a chaotic climax of intense noise, to end off an a simple incredible set. I had heard many great things about their live shows, and they lived up to every expectation. I can't wait until they inevitably grow out of the smaller, club venues, as they would sound so amazing playing larger, theatrical venues.

Reverse Crystal // Murder of a Spider, Queens, Lamia, Windflower, Hall of Mirrors, Atalanta, Whalesong, A Star Over Pureland, One, Hoshi Neko.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty Two: Peak Performance Project

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 like best guitar solos. Some might be a little more... specific. Top six song titles that are questions?

Since this week The Peak and Music BC announced the new batch of bands for their battle of the bands, I thought this week we'd take a look at some of my previous favourites, the Top Six Peak Performance Project Bands!

With tunage from:

"I Got Love" by Bend Sinister
"Reaction" by Acres of Lions
"Little Wars (Causing Your Trouble)" by The Belle Game
"Letterman" by The Gay Nineties
"Stoke it Up" by Willhorse
"Joanne" by Altered By Mom

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

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

CBC Music Festival @ Deer Lake Park -- 06/14/14

Last year the inaugural CBC Music Festival took place at Echo Beach far away in time in Toronto, but this year they decided to take the show to Vancouver -- or more specifically, Burnaby's Deer Lake Park. And a little bit of rain couldn't keep people away for a day included dozens of musicians and CBC personalities, from Radio 3's Grant Lawrence, to Radio 2's Tom Power and Rich Terfry (aka Buck 65, who also performed a DJ set), Radio 1's Jian Ghomeshi, and more.
The Irrelevant Show was also there to do a live taping, and the music was spread across two stages, the main stage by the lake and a smaller "garden" stage off to the side.

Some of the early music in the day included local up & coming Wake Owl and the winner of the CBC Music Searchlight competition for "best new band", Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, but the first act that I caught was Vancouver's own Hannah Georgas on the main stage. The half-hour set ranged from "Shortie" which got people moving in the misty rain (one girl in the audience loudly proclaiming it was her jam) to the other end of the spectrum, the softer and touching "Ode to Mom". And as the set came to a close with "Waiting Game", Hannah's voice single-handedly beat back the clouds, and held off the precipitation for the majority of the day.

Next up on the main stage was the pride of Hamilton, with the well-earned reputation as one of the countries best live band, Arkells.
They teased their upcoming new album by leading off with a brand new song, "Come To Light", but aside from that and the slow-burning jam "Never Thought That This Would Happen" they stuck to older material.
"Oh, The Boss is Coming" had Max whip the crowd up with a singalong, and "Pulling Punches" featured an aces piano solo from Anthony Carone on keys.
And as is Arkells way, they slipped in some brief covers; a dash of Al Green in "Michigan Left", and part of Shad's "Rose Garden" during "Book Club" (specifically, the hook reminded Max of the weekend's weather: "There's gotta be some rain sometimes"). They invited a special guest on stage for a full-blown cover, Talking Head's "Psycho Killer" with Arkells fronted by Jian Ghomeshi.
Early on, lead singer Max Kerman mentioned it was their job, as an opening band, to pump the crowd up and that is exactly what they did, ending their explosive set with "Whistleblower"

The festival ran like clockwork, and almost immediately after Arkells ended, The Belle Game started on the Garden Stage. It was a change of pace from Arkells' high-tilt rock to their darker and moodier indiepop, but they still got people moving, starting off with the groovin' "Wasted Light".
The all-too short set included a new song, possibly called "Mess Around", which they have played a few times before and it has always amazed me, and of course Andrea Lo's powerful voice filled the park on songs like "River". They ended off as they usually do, getting people dancing with "Wait Up For You" building into a fantastic ending of duelling guitars.

Back again on the main stage, Searchlight winner Lauren Mann (who had "never played for this many people") was briefly out to perform her Searchlight winning song "I Lost Myself", before what was was essentially the debut of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith. Aside from a small UBC show, Dan hadn't played in his hometown in about a year and a half, and this was the unveiling of his new band, Blacksmith. The members were largely the same; the usual faces of Gord Grdina, Kenton Loewen, John Walsh, among others, but the new name signalled a new direction in his music, with the writing process being more collaborative.
And based on the new songs -- "Mouthpiece" and one I didn't catch the name of -- it is a great new direction. Both new songs were very intense, dense and layered, but still felt very "Mangan". It seemed like the natural progression for Dan, judging by the last couple albums.
While there were only couple brand new songs, the "new sound" was very much spread across their entire set, through the older songs. "Post-War Blues" started with a swell of instruments before the passionate song swelled to its explosive climax, and "Sold" was slowed to a calmer pace.
Part way through the set the band took a break for Dan to perform the heartbreaking "Basket" alone, and during the usual massive singalong to "Robots", he spotted a couple of girls with cardboard robot heads in the crowd and invited them on stage.
They wrapped up the set with "Rows of Houses" which built to a chaotic display that, once again, got me really excited about the sum of Dan Mangan + Blacksmith.

As his set wrapped up, Dan urged everyone to head over and see Chad VanGaalen, who was headlining the Garden Stage for the day. Of all the bands playing, I was most excited to see CVG, as I hadn't seen him live in a couple of years (and also I was interested to see how he would be in a big festival setting).
As Rich Terfry made his introduction, Chad played drums behind him before being joined by his two bandmates for the first song of the set, "Cut Off Your Hands" -- also the lead-off track to his new album Shrink Dust. "Where Are You?" was a little more bass-y than the album, and ended with CVG pulling out his saxophone for a jazz-influenced jam ending, before picking things up with a couple of more punk-ish songs. "Poisonous Heads" ending with Chad shushing the crowd and indicating for a bass solo... only for his bass player to decline and Chad take the bass and perform the solo himself.
Once again feeling way too short, he came to a close with "Hangman's Son" for yet another excellent set.

I could have left right there and it would have been a day to remember, but there were still a couple acts left. While I have have never really gotten in to Spoon, I had heard nothing but good things, so I made sure to stick around for them. And despite only knowing a couple songs -- "Don't You Evah" and the fun and bouncy "Underdog" -- they put on a very enjoyable set. Lead singer Britt Daniel had a great presence, and the whole band was incredibly tight. It definitely made me want to delve into their six-album history.

After a DJ set from Buck 65, Tegan & Sara took the stage, but I've never been much of a fan, and the rain had come back with a vengeance, so I decided to beat the inevitable rush of leaving traffic and take off early.

In all it was a fantastic festival -- I can't remember the last time I saw so many excellent sets in a row -- and I really hope CBC gets enough support to continue the festival every year, be it in Toronto, Vancouver, or if they decide to move it around the country.


Hannah Georgas
Robotic, Somebody, Shortie, Enemies, The Deep End, Ode To Mom, Waiting Game. 

Come To Light; Ballad of Hugo Chavez; Michigan Left; Never Thought That This Would Happen; Book Club; Oh, The Boss is Coming!; Kiss Cam; Pulling Punches; Psycho Killer [Talking Heads cover]; Whistleblower.

The Belle Game
Wasted Light, Keeps Me Up At Night, Little Wars (Causing Your Trouble), [new song], River, Wait Up For You. 

Dan Mangan
Oh Fortune; About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All; Mouthpiece; [new song]; Post-War Blues; Basket; Leaves, Trees, Forest; Robots; Sold; Rows of Houses.

Chad VanGaalen
Cut Off My Hands, Where Are You?, Burning Photographs, Poisonous Heads, Peace on the Rise, Hangman's Son.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Zolas @ Imperial -- 06/13/14

Just yesterday I was talking about a Vancouver venue I didn't much care for, so it's appropriate to swing the other way and celebrate one of the better new venues in the city. This weekend marks the first anniversary of The Imperial, and they celebrated with a whole weekend of goodness; Hey Ocean! on Thursday night, The Zolas on Friday, and The Dudes on Saturday.

I got to the venue part way through the first band of the night, Damn Fools, who were recently announced as one of the top twelve bands for this year's Peak Performance Project. The six-piece had a pretty straightforward classic rock sound, without much variety to the songs, and lots of random solos and jamming spread throughout.
Even though I came in mid-way through the set, they seemed to be playing for abnormally long (for the first of three bands) and while they were fine musicians, their music wasn't all that interesting; just a generic, Black Crowes-ish southern rock sound. They seem like they would be a great "house band" at a bar, or another place you're not really paying attention to the music. But nothing I would see again on purpose.

Next up was former Sun Wizard co-frontman, James Younger. I had seen him a couple months ago, opening for The Gay Nineties, and his set (and my opinion) didn't differ too much from that show. His 70s-influenced throwback rock sound got the crowd moving, but as I said last time:
There was nothing about the set that made me dislike it, but not much that made it particularly stand out either. Younger and his bandmates -- which included Andy Bishop, who plays in about 37% of all Vancouver bands -- were all unarguably strong musicians, but there wasn't much variety to the songs. It was Perfectly Acceptable Music, and a good opening act.

And after the weirdest between-set music (the thumping techno dance remixes were not really fitting) the emcee was out to announce a couple Peak DJs who were out to announce The Zolas
They kicked it off with the first couple songs from their most recent album Ancient Mars, "In Heaven" and the insanely infectious "Knot In My Heart", before announcing that this would be the last time they play that album in full. Zach even joking that this was less a show and more a focus group to decide which songs to keep. 
And so most of the set was dedicated to the album, with only a few exceptions; my favourite b-side "Cultured Man", the chaotic "Marlaina Kamikaze" where Tom really let loose on the keys, and their newest song, a one-off single "Invisible". Other highlights included the quirky "Observatory", and "Strange Girl", which got the crowd clapping along (or attempting to, anyway). 

The band was in fine form, especially Zach with his usual barely-contained ball-of-energy self, jumping around the stage, trying to find his roommate a date between songs, and even going into the crowd to sing the last song of the main set, "Escape Artist". 
And of course, after they finished the main set, they were back for a couple more, with Zach first taking stage alone for the soft and creepy "Cold Moon" before the band joined in, and ending on (of course) their breakout hit "You're Too Cool", the entire crowd singing along, some even in the appropriate falsetto. 

Unsurprisingly, it was a great set from the band, as they fed off the energy of the sold-out  hometown crowd, and while I am sad to see some of the songs from Ancient Mars go, I am definitely excited to what's next from Zach and Tom.

In Heaven, Knot in my Heart, Observatory, Ancient Mars, Local Swan, Cultured Man, Strange Girl, Euphrates and Tigris, Marlaina Kamikaze, Invisible, Escape Artist. 
(encore) Cold Moon, You're Too Cool.

There is one thing that did bother me, though: I am getting more and more annoyed by Vancouver shows running late. It's by no means a new phenomenon and not limited to one venue, but The Zolas didn't hit the stage until quarter after midnight -- 45 minutes after the advertised set time. I understand that shows run late, set times are "subject to change", things happen and all that... but 45 minutes is ridiculous, even for a weekend. 

But scheduling and strange house-music aside, I still really like The Imperial as a venue. It's got great sound and is a good room, size- and sight-line-wise, and I am looking forward to checking out more shows there in the years to come.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Destroyer w/ Blackout Beach @ Rickshaw Theatre -- 06/12/14

I've never really been a fan of the Rickshaw Theatre as a venue. The first time I was there the poor sound ruined what should have been an otherwise great show, and the few shows I saw after were not much better. It got to the point where I just avoided going to shows there.
So when Dan Bejar announced a solo Destroyer show -- with Blackout Beach opening as well -- I was conflicted. But I decided to give the Rickshaw another chance, figuring it would be hard to mess up the sound for a single guy with an acoustic guitar. And you know what? It sounded pretty good.

It had been a while since I've seen Carey Mercer in any incarnation, so I was very glad that the Frog Eyes frontman (and Bejar's bandmate in Swan Lake) was opening under his solo alter-ego Blackout Beach. He took the stage with an acoustic guitar, and a bag of tricks in the form of looped beats and plenty of distortion pedals. His incredibly powerful voice drove most of the songs -- a couple times he even stepped off the mic and belted out the words -- with an almost frantic intensity. Never more apparent than in "Three Men Drowned In The River" from his Skin of Evil album.

In contrast to the intensity of the songs, though, his stage banter was light and funny. Part off-the-cuff, with a dash of self-effacing humour, Mercer joked with the crowd between each song, asking things like if the beats were "too techno, or not techno enough?" (they were somewhere in the middle).
He wrapped up the set with a pair of Frog Eyes songs from his most recent album Carey's Cold Spring; "Claxxon's Lament" provided unparalleled emotion, and he wrapped up with the advice "Don't Give Up Your Dreams", his distorted guitar wailing to an ending.

The last time I saw Destroyer, it was the full band at the Vogue Theatre, with the band filling out the rich and lustrous sound of their last couple albums. But this time it was only Dan Bejar, armed with his acoustic guitar, and speaking a word he silenced the din of the crowd just by launching into his first song, "My Favourite Year". In fact, other than some recognition applause and cheers at the start of most songs, the crowd was in an awed silence the entire night, as long as Bejar was playing -- the one memorable occasion being when half the packed show shouted "the fucking maniac" at the appropriate part of "European Oils"

Bejar played a packed set, just shy of an hour and a half which spanned his illustrious career, going back to almost twenty years for the song "Streets of Fire" from We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge all the way up to "Bye Bye" from his newest Five Spanish Songs EP.
Other highlights included the gorgeous and fragile songs like "Chinatown" and "Foam Hands" as well as dramatically stripped down versions of more upbeat tunes, "Your Blood" and "Savage Night At The Opera", and also the aforementioned "European Oils", a personal favourite.

In contrast to Mercer's humour, Bejar didn't say too much between songs (as you would expect) but as the set went on he loosened up and a few times his dry sense of humour came through; joking that a few of his songs were suspiciously similar when stripped down to the acoustic, and proclaiming the last song of the night would be the best (and them promptly feigning a complete loss of self-confidence) before launching into a stunning rendition of "Don't Become The Thing You Hated".
But of course the packed theatre was not done yet, cheering for more as Dan came back out with another couple songs to cap off the night with "Virgin With a Memory" from 2001's Streethawk: A Seduction

And with that he bowed one last time, leaving the audience with one of the better shows I've seen so far this year.

My Favourite Year; Your Blood; The Chosen Few; Bye Bye; Foam Hands; Light Travels Down The Catwalk; Downtown; Helena; European Oils; Self Portrait With Thing (Tonight Is Not Your Night); Chinatown; Streets of Fire; To the Heart of the Sun on the Back of the Vulture, I'll Go; Farrar, Straus And Giroux (Sea Of Tears); Savage Night at the Opera; Don't Become The Thing You Hated.
(encore) What Road; Virgin With a Memory.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Peak Performance Project: Year Six

It's that time of year again, time for the Peak Performance Project. This sixth year sees some big changes in the competition, as not only will it help BC bands through 102.7 The Peak and Music BC, but for the first time ever, Alberta bands through the newly launched 95.3 The Peak and Alberta Music. There will be two separate top twelves (instead of the usual top twenty) and aside from the rock 'n' roll bootcamp, which all 24 band will attend, there will be two completely independent competitions; two introduction days, two sets of showcases, two top threes, two big winners.
This year, they kicked it off at Fortune Sound Club -- where the showcases will happen later this year -- with sets from past PPP alumni after the announcement. Last year's second place Hannah Epperson dazzled everyone with her gorgeous violin loops. Rococode teased a new album of catchy electro-pop. And JP Maurice burst everyone's hearts with his pop-rock.

But more importantly, this year's BC top twelve, in no particular order:

The Tourist Company - North Vancouver David Newberry - Vancouver Miss Quincy & The Showdown - Fort St John Derrival - Langley Altered By Mom - Vancouver The Wild Romantics - Nanaimo Damn Fools - Vancouver Jodi Pederson - Vernon Goodwood Atoms - Vancouver Shred Kelly - Fernie Jon Bryant - Surrey Good For Grapes - Surrey

Some initial thoughts?

Right off the bat, I am honestly a little disappointed to see Good For Grapes in it again. Nothing against them, but I was really hoping that with a slimmed down list, it would be all bands new to the project.
There are a few bands I know I don't care for, and a bunch I am not familiar enough with to have a solid opinion, and some I have never heard before, but to focus on the positive: I am very stoked for Altered By Mom, Miss Quincy & The Showdown, and Shred Kelly.

Altered by Mom is the new project from ex-beekeeper Devon Lougheed, and takes all the best of the 90s and crams it into some hook-filled rock; Miss Quincy & The Showdown is some damn fine gritty blues; and Shred Kelly have been a favourite since I first discovered them -- almost exactly two years ago, on the Tracks on Tracks train trip -- with their "stoke folk".

Those are the three I am pulling for out of the gate, but I look forward to listening to all of them and the discovery of new talent. And the first chance for that will be during the Khatsahlano Festival, July 12th on West 4th, where all 12 bands will play throughout the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty One: Unusual Instruments (with Sidney York)

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 handclapping songs. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Bands with Punctuation in their name.

And this week I am joined by not one, but two guest co-hosts! Brandi Sidoryk and Krista Wodelet of Calgary's Sidney York sat down with me here in Vancouver, and since they are well versed in instruments like bassoons and french horns, I figured what better than the Top Six Songs With Unusual Instruments!

Tuning up this week:

"General Dome" by Buke & Gase
"Monster" by Chad VanGaalen
"Dear Pressure" by Miracles of Modern Science
"Three Ghosts" by RBKE
"It Cant Be You" by Basia Bulat
"Weapons-Grade Love (Watch Your Back)" by Sidney York

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

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

3am Mixtapes: Episode Forty: Victory Strut

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. Some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs to Play For Your Boss When You Quit Your Job.

And you know what? I had a pretty good weekend, so I need a way to celebrate. And what better way than this week's Top Six Songs To Strut Victoriously To!

Get your groove on with:

"Feedback in the Field" by Plants & Animals
"Eats Darkness" by Apostle of Hustle
"Guns & Ammunition" by July Talk
"Metal Skin" by Sam Roberts Band
"The Scene" by Big Sugar
"Sexy Results" by Death From Above 1979

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

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Jordan Klassen w/ Chersea @ Biltmore -- 05/31/14

Wrapping up a month-long Canadian tour, Jordan Klassen returned home for a show at the Biltmore. Which was especially enticing, as it also included one of my favourite new discoveries of this year.

Behind a mountain of equipment, Chersea took the stage starting off with a dark and moody song, which she dedicated to a friend who recently passed away. From there the set was decidedly more upbeat as she single-handedly looped combinations of keys, synth, drum machine, trumpet, and even harmonized with herself. The only song of the set she didn't loop was a brand new, never-before-played song that she was debuting.
Other highlights from the all-too-short half-hour set included "Mr. Cullum" a jazzy tune both named after and inspired by British jazz-pop legend Jamie Cullum, and the ridiculously catchy "I Could Lose It All" off her recently released EP Grey Matter.

Thanks to the curfew, it wasn't long before Jordan Klassen and friends took the stage. Often the last show of a tour can be hit-or-miss; either the fatigue of the tour weighs on the band, or they are more in sync than ever. This was definitely the latter, as the four members of the band were firing on all cylinders. Kicking the set off with "The Scribe of Doorposts", all four members of the band had a great energy, especially Klassen who can barely stand still on stage. One song near the end of the set, he and Jocelyn Price even jumped off the stage and into the crowd as Jordan tore at his acoustic guitar.
Working around a few patch-cord related technical issues, the set was full of songs that built to grand endings from his Repentance album, but they also covered "Falling", the only Haim song I know (I think), and sprinkled a few new songs throughout. One called "Miles" especially caught my ear.
After about an hour, they ended off with a bit of a crowd singalong to "Balcony" before quickly coming back for the encore, one last song before curfew, an explosive "Call and Answer".

I've seen Jordan Klassen a few times over the years, and this was was probably the best show I've seen yet from him. The intensity seemed like it was ratcheted up a notch, and whatever people mean when they talk about a band hitting "the next level", I think Jordan has done.