Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gay Nineties album release @ Fox Cabaret -- 02/26/15

Though they released their Liberal Guilt EP at the end of last month, Gay Nineties took to the Fox Cabaret Thursday night to celebrate with the official record release show.
And, strangely enough, of the three shows I've seen at the Fox Cabaret since it opened last year, two of then have been Gay Nineties.

Local boys JPNSGRLS ("Japanese Girls", as opposed to, say, "Japan's Grills") opened up the night, as they started the set with a Goonies reference, the lead singer yelling "Hey you guys!" before launching into a set worth of hard, fast, and raw indie rock. .
Singer Charlie Kerr hardly stood still for a minute, bouncing around stage, miming the lyrics, and even holding the mic stand upside down; he had energy and enthusiasm to spare, and more than once had the fans at the front of the stage singing along. Highlights from the set included the frantic "Smalls" and a song dedicated to sci fi nerds "A Girl From A Different Dimension".
They also did something that I'm not necessarily a fan of, the opening band encore. After they finished up with "Brandon", there were a few calls for an encore and the band came back out to play one last song -- to their credit, though they did ask if there was time, and there was plenty.

Then, after a little too long of a break while DJ Owen Ellis spun, the lights dimmed and the sound of wind chimes filled the cabaret while Gay Nineties took to the stage. They started, appropriately enough, with the first track of the EP, the building intensity of "Intro" exploding into their current single, "Hold Your Fire". Going through the entire EP over the course of the night, weaving older songs in as well, the band showed off their sound that is a distillation of a few decades and genres, that blended together well without ever feeling derivative; hook-filled rockers like "Hold Your Fire", the slightly sleazy "Turn Me On", the groovy hip shaking "Good Times", and the soulful harmonies of "Tangled" all came together for a fun set.
The entire band was on point, especially Malcolm Holt's drumming -- including tossing his drumstick high in the air and catching it literally without missing a beat several times throughout the set -- but especially Parker Bossley, who has an effortless confidence and presence on stage. As they ended the set with the ridiculously catchy "Letterman", Parker lead the crowd in a call-and-response, perched on the edge of the stage, sharing the microphone with fans along the front.
And of course they were back for more, one last song, a rockin' cover of David Bowie's "China Girl", dedicating it to JPNSGRLS.

It's almost hard to believe that Liberal Guilt is only Gay Nineties' second EP; they are still a relatively young band that hasn't even released a full length album, but they've already come out swinging. And judging by the show, I doubt they have any intention of slowing down.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

3am Mixtapes: Episode Sixty Eight: Places

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 as best song endings, but some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs That Are Exactly Five Minutes and Three Seconds Long. 

This week we're going travelling! Kind of. Sort of. Not really. What I mean is, it's the Top Six Songs With Places in the Title!

Let's go to:

"Siberian Springtime" by The Ruffled Feathers
"Montreal" by Towers and Trees
"End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story" by The Dears
"Vulcan, AB" by The Rural Alberta Advantage
"Paris" by Scenic Route to Alaska
"New York I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down" by LCD Soundsystem

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

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Arkells @ Commodore -- 02/20/15

Hamilton, Ontario's Arkells kicked off their High Noon tour in Vancouver this weekend, at the legendary Commodore Ballroom. The sold out show was a long way from their 2008 Vancouver debut, at the Penthouse (a strip club that, for some reason, used to host live music as well).

I've seen the band a good number of times, I would probably put them in the long list of my favourite Canadian bands, especially ones to see live, so I was naturally excited to catch them once more.

Vancouver's own Dear Rouge opened up the show, and it had been a while since I had seen a proper show from them, so I was interested to see what they were up to. The main duo of the band is married couple Drew and Danielle McTaggart, at the front of the stage, but Danielle as lead singer was definitely who all eyes were on. She stalked the stage charisma and a strong voice, as well as playing a little bit of guitar or synth for some songs.

They teased their upcoming album, ranging from the poppy songs like "I Heard I Had" to the darker and moodier "Black To Gold", and a good number of the sold out crowd was clearly there to see them, too, as they had the crowd clapping along during a few songs, including a breakdown in the final song (which I thought killed a little of the momentum at the end).

Ever since they won the Peak Performance Project back in '012, I feel like Dear Rouge is always just slightly playing catch-up to their own success. Which isn't a knock on the band, they've just had a great amount of it in a very short time, and are still a relatively new band. But with catchy dark pop and Danielle's charisma, I don't doubt they'll grow into it before long, and be headlining the Commodore themselves soon enough.

It wasn't too long before Arkells hit the stage, right on time at 10:30. Starting off with "Brought To Light" from High Noon, it was immediately apparent that all members of the band had loads of confidence and energy on stage. Especially frontman Max Kerman, who is one of my favourite lead singers to watch; he's got an unparalleled charm and enthusiasm, that is infectious. It's hard not to be drawn in, and from nearly the start he had the packed ballroom singing and clapping along, exemplified by a huge chorus of voices in unison singing along with "John Lennon" -- still one of my favourite Arkells songs which came early on -- and the "punching in/punching out" call & response from "Oh, The Boss Is Coming".

The set spanned all three of their albums thus far, from the softer and slower "I'm Not The Sun", a rarely played song from Jackson Square, to the title track of Michigan Left with a little Motown mixed in, to the slowburning "Never Thought That This Would Happen". 
Other highlights included "Pulling Punches" with Tony Carone's excellent keyboard solo, the anti-negativity of "Cynical Bastards", and one of my favourites from the new album, timed almost perfectly so when the clock struck 11:11, they were in the middle of the song "11:11" (and, come to think of it, the show may have ended just around 12:34). 

They drew the main set to a close with "Fake Money", and blasts of confetti to wrap it up (though, a missed opportunity in that it was just regular confetti, and not like, Monopoly money or anything).
And of course, it wouldn't be an Arkells set without some covers and/or Motown. They laid down a little Peter Gabriel in the main set, with a pretty great cover of "Sledgehammer", and in the encore Max invited Drew and Danielle from Dear Rouge back out for a rendition of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", a fun duet.

The encore also included an acoustic version of "Book Club", with Max, Tony, and Mike DeAngelis all sharing one microphone -- with Max telling a bit of the backstory behind the song and Tony & Mike imitating some of the songstresses from Women In Song -- and they ended off with their current single, and arguably biggest to date, one more time getting the sold out crowd to sing along to "Leather Jacket", both the band and the crowd still high energy after the two-hour set.

Max said at one point that they always seemed tired when coming into Vancouver, as they usually travel the country in the other direction, so it was nice to start things off in the city, fresh-faced and raring to go. And that's exactly what they did. It was a great strong show from the pride of The Hammer, and I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing them live.

Come To Light; Michigan Left; John Lennon; What Are You Holding On To; Hey Kids!; Oh, The Boss is Coming; Never Thought That This Would Happen; 11:11; I'm Not The Sun; Dirty Blonde; Systematic; Kiss Cam; On Paper; Pulling Punches; Sledgehammer [Peter Gabriel cover]; Cynical Bastards; Whistleblower; Fake Money.
(encore) Book Club; The Ballad of Hugo Chavez; Ain't No Mountain High Enough [Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell cover], Leather Jacket. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

3am Mixtapes: Episode Sixty Seven: Opening Riffs

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 as best French songs, but some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Interconnected Bands

This week we take a look listen at some songs that grab you right away, with the Top Six Opening Riffs!

Kick into gear with:

"One Big Holiday" by My Morning Jacket
"Gold Guns Girls" by Metric
"3000 Flowers" by Destroyer
"I Love Not Loving You" by Wide Mouth Mason
"Rock Ranger Record" by Matt Mays + El Torpedo
"Hold Your Fire" by Gay Nineties

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

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Savvie Album Release @ Hindenburg -- 02/13/15

About four and a half years ago was the first time I saw Savannah Leigh Wellman performing live, under the moniker Redbird. It wasn't long after that when she released the EP We're All Friends and Lovers Until It Falls Apart, which I was quite taken by -- especially thanks to her strong voice and lyrics.
Flash forward a few years, and now Savannah has scrapped her folksy singer-songwriter sound in favour of a decidedly more rock & roll direction, with something that she has tongue-in-cheek dubbed "Sex Rock". Her brand new album, Night Eyes, was released just last week, and she took to one of Vancouver's newest venues, the Hindenburg, to celebrate.

Unfortunately, thanks to another show happening on the same night I missed both opening acts, Jody Glenham and Black River Killers, arriving just as the latter wrapped up.

Joining Savvie on stage was a band that consisted of a few familiar faces; Nick Petrowich (of Willhorse), Joseph Blood (of Bend Sinister), Jody Glenham (of, uh, Jody Glenham), and Brendan Krieg (who I believe was part of Savannah's old old band), and to celebrate the album's release, they played it in its entirety, front to back.

The tone was set right off the bat with "Break You In", which teases "I could be the one to break you... in" and the mood continued on with the crunchy guitars and reverb-drenched vocals of the first single "Without You", as Savannah owned the stage with a confidence and presence fitting to the term "sex rock".

Other highlights of the set included the catchy, gritty-pop of "Gravity" and the smoother "I Fall Again" which, like many of her songs, simultaneously makes you want to drown your sorrows in whiskey, and get right back out there -- or as Savannah put it between songs, lamenting on the fact that the next day was Valentine's Day: "don't sit at home feeling fucking sad, sit at home feeling fucking sexy"

But my favourite of the night (which is, unsurprisingly, a favourite from the album as well) came exactly halfway through with a heartwrenching and passionate song of a doomed romance called "Dreams of Surrender". Savannah's soaring voice wailing in the choruses literally gave me chills, as the song built to a huge ending with Jason Blood letting loose on guitar. 

They ended the set with "The Tower", the only song released as Redbird reworked for her new sound, with Savannah warning that "nostalgia is a fool's addiction", and which once more saw Blood shred on the guitar for its explosive climax.
But, seeing as they were playing the full album, Savannah came back out alone, guitar in hand, for the hidden track on the album as an encore. It was a beautiful, stripped down song that was a great ending to the set, both sonically and emotionally.

As someone that had stated before that the whole "folk singer-songwriter" thing is starting to wear out its welcome, I have been really digging the new direction Wellman has taken. I quite like the album, and this was a great debut show. If I'm not mistaken, it was only the second or third time the band had done a show together, and aside from a couple small things, they seemed to be working pretty well together.
Plus, it was my first time at the Hindenburg, and I really liked the venue. It had a nice layout, and sounded really good. Hopefully there will be more shows there worth checking out in the near future.

Break You In, Without You, Trust the In Between, Gravity, It's OK, Dreams of Surrender, Beautiful Pain, I Fall Again, Where We Wanna Be, A Blur and A Haze, The Tower.
(encore) [secret song]

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

3am Mixtapes: Episode Sixty Six: Infidelity

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 as best American bands, but some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Opening Riffs. 

This week we celebrate everyone's favourite day in February with the Top Six Unfaithful Songs!

Get in a love triangle with:

"Man of Two Minds" by The Trews
"Ashtray Rock" by Joel Plaskett Emergency
"Good Winter" by Rah Rah
"Telephone" by Mo Kenney
"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers
"The Other Man" by Sloan

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

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

3am Mixtapes: Episode Sixty Five: Title Tracks

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 as best banjo songs, but some might be a little more... specific. Top Six Songs Over Twenty Minutes Long. 

This week is a pretty simple concept, it's the Top Six Title Tracks!

Check it out:

"Sing to the Night" by Shred Kelly
"Club Meds" by Dan Mangan + Blacksmith
"Seeds" by TV On The Radio
"Whipping Boy" by Miranda Mulholland
"Foxtrot" by Jasper Sloan Yip
"No One Is Lost" by Stars

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

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