Sunday, November 29, 2009

Live Videos : The Swell Season in Vancouver

Firstly, a short comment on the show itself. I had avoided writing a review for this concert because of how deeply emotional my relationship is to the music of The Swell Season. I think there comes a point in every music commentator's concert-going life that you realize that by observing music for its merits, it detracts from the striking impact that the music should have on you. And sometimes that emotional distance is necessary. But anyway, the set was beautiful. Hansard and Irglova were pitch-perfect; The Frames were solid and clearly demonstrating the chemistry of a band that's performed together for 20 years. The venue had great acoustics and a great view, no matter where you sat. The show in short was spectacular, and stands to be my favourite live show, as Once is my favourite movie.

Below are a few clips of The Swell Season, composed of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, performing at The Centre In Vancouver For Performing Arts on November 25, 2009.

The sound turned out well, although the videos are pretty blurry. I was up in the balcony and zooming quite a bit.


Low Rising

In These Arms

If You Want Me

Falling Slowly (Encore) - the beeping and cutting out at the end due to memory card running out of space...

Rose Cousins live, featuring yours truly

My good friend Alex was able to record a clip of Rose Cousins performing "Sadie In The Kitchen" off of her latest The Send Off, on November 25 at the Media Club in Vancouver. Which, by the way, featured yours truly on the shaker egg. The song's a lovely one, Rose's humour is demonstrated, and I didn't do too badly either!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Swell Season Featuring Jason Segel

He's not likely to repeat the same antics in the Vancouver show this Wednesday night at the Centre for Performing Arts, but fans of the actor from How I Met Your Mother and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or fans of outrageous booty calls, should find this clip downright inspiring.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Concert Review : Rose Cousins & Royal Wood at the Media Club

Rose Cousins and headliner Royal Wood put on a fantastic show on November 17, 2009 at the Media Club in Vancouver-- one full of switching roles, great laughs and even greater appreciation of your loved ones.

Halifax-based Rose Cousins, touring her new album The Send Off, began her opening set by the strumming of her guitar and the clear, warm tone of her voice. Well, not completely accurate. She opened her set by commenting on the amount of people surrounded the stage and how it made her feel "popular." And indeed there was a unusually large crowd for an opening set, which consisted of a dedicated base of "Rosebuds," which included Vancouver artists such as Jill Barber, Nat Jay and T Nile. She also thanked Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio 3, who was in the audience, for interviewing her earlier on during the day and heaped praise on the CBCs across Canada.

It wasn't long into her set that the rest of the people in the room were equally captivated by her honest lyrics, perfect (can I say that?) voice and gut-busting banter, which ranged from touchingly personal to hilariously inappropriate. She also accompanied herself for the entire set on keyboards, guitar and mandolin, save the beautiful "All the Time It Takes to Wait" which was accompanied by the "talented and handsome" Royal Wood.

Rose had the attention of the entire crowd in the usually chatty Media Club. Mid-set, she put the audience on the spot by asking for things in a den-- with the crowd yelling things like "chesterfield!" and "Jenga!" and her constructing a vivid image of that idyllic childhood den with her descriptive imagination. She then transitioned into her song "The Dancers" which imagined an elderly ballroom aficionado couple waltzing around this constructed den.

This was not the only time she called out for audience participation, of course. In another great switching of roles, she called out for an audience member "who's good at keeping rhythm" before playing the last song in her set, "Sadie in the Kitchen." I volunteered hesitantly, and soon found myself sharing the stage with Rose accompanying her on the shaker egg. She gladly regaled myself, an audience member, with the spotlight (and microphone!) while she led the rest of the audience in a sing-along, complete with "random vocal projections." The adorable refrain "before bed, before bed, B for bed, B for bed..." was written with her friends' young daughter in mind, and meant to be an "adult children's song" that she composed for said friends' wedding. Her willingness to share the stage and completely engage the crowd in participation recalls the show by her good friend, Joel Plaskett, whom she supported in a Vancouver show in May.

So yes, I'm going to include that in my resume and CV from now on.

Royal Wood took to the stage with guitarist Dean Drouillard inconspicuously, launching into their first of many songs. Playing many songs from his latest The Lost and Found EP as well as his 2005 A Good Enough Day, Royal filled the Media Club with his romantic, melancholy ballads without his usual backing band. And was the show romantic! Couples lined the perimeter of the stage, as well as filling the rest of the venue, while Royal told of the songs inspired by his brother's wedding, his parents' love, his own love and that of his friend's grandparents. In one of the more poignant moments, he told the audience to never settle for less than the reverberating, lifelong love that they deserve, and for which he sings. These touching anecdotes were nicely interspersed in the song-heavy, banter-light set, which included hits "Juliet" and "Don't Fall Apart."

Royal invited Rose back on stage for 2 songs near the end of his set, and wrapped up with an extended, passionate "Acting Crazy (It's a Breakdown)." Before returning on stage for the encore, he seemed confounded by the presence of washrooms where backstage is supposed to be. The Media Club's backstage is actually at the back of the room, and he commented that he wasn't sure whether to enter the men or the women's washroom in order to get there. Matching Rose's incredible sense of humour, he poked fun at the men in the room by encouraging a final sing-along by saying "this is to show your sexual confidence," which of course, got a burst of laughter and the desired louder audience participation.

All in all, the show was a heartwarming experience, and concert goers exited the Media Club with muted smiles, holding their loved ones into the windy, rainy Vancouver night.

For more photos of the show, visit my Flickr set.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You Say Party! We Say Die! - XXXX ing catchy

" heart needs a lap dance...your heart needs a heart needs a lap dance..."

Abbotsford-based You Say Party! We Say Die! has released quite the sparkling gem with their latest, XXXX. There was an immense amount of hype prior to and following their release, which includes being the X3 Artist of the Month for October, as well as the glowing reception of music bloggers such as Amanda Ash, and being featured prominently in CBC Radio 3's recordings of the just-passed Halifax Pop Explosion. Oh, and the fact that they've topped Canadian campus charts for 4 weeks in a row since XXXX's release.

And let me tell you, the hype is well-deserved. XXXX is an album you can at once chill and frantically dance to. The sound is expansive and it's easy to imagine tracks such as "Lonely's Lunch" driving audiences to a frenzy in stadium settings. "Make XXXX" has a wicked bass intro. "Glory" packs a satisfying oomph ("sex! (gasp) drugs! (pause) ... GLORY..."), and the opening track "There is XXXX (Within My Heart)" is one you can't help but sing along to, even upon the first listen. The current single, "Laura Palmer's Prom," dare I say, takes the best parts of '80s synth sound and makes it even better. The album, simply put, is excellent.

By now, you may be wondering what the heck XXXX stands for. Simply put, it stands for LOVE. But it goes further than that. XXXX is lead singer Becky Ninkovic's conceptualization of a hope and love that keeps her afloat. The unnameable force that inspires continually. And after repeated listens through the entire disc, XXXX might as well stand for the kind of magic within music that captures first-time listeners and sucks you in, because that's exactly what happened with me with this album.

(Last note, I absolutely love the above photo, and completely understand why Ninkovic was on the final ballot for the Sexiest Musician category for CBC Radio 3's Bucky Awards.)

You Say Party! We Say Die! - There is XXXX (Within My Heart)

Buy XXXX on Zunior.
Find You Say Party! We Say Die! on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Joel Plaskett - Ireland, US show dates, Radio 2 SongQuest, Music Nova Scotia Awards

From email newsletter:

Joel in Ireland and the United States
November is the month for international Joel Plaskett Fans!  Joel will be hitting Massachusetts, New York and Ireland this month!  These are select shows and we recommend marking these dates down and getting out early.  They are not to be missed!!!! 

  • Thu, Nov. 12th The Middle East Cambridge, Massachusetts 

  • Fri, Nov. 13th Union Hall Performance, Bell House/Union Hall Brooklyn, New York 

  • Thu, Nov. 26th Whelan's Showcase Show-Joel Plaskett , Whelan's (Upstairs Venue) - Dublin

  • Fri, Nov. 27th The Set Theatre - Kilkenny -Joel Plaskett , The Set Theatre - Kilkenny Ireland

  • Sat, Nov. 28th The Opera House, Cork, Ireland-Joel Plaskett , The Opera House - Cork, Ireland

  • Sun, Nov. 29th The Roundy - Cork , Ireland-Joel Plaskett , The Roundy, Cork, Ireland

  • Congrats to Joel on the Great Canadian SongQuest!
    We are delighted to announce that Joel Plaskett has been chosen as the Nova Scotia winner for CBC Radio 2s Great Canadian SongQuest. Joel will be writing about the beautiful Cabot Trail and on November 23rd you can tune in to CBC Radio 2 for the final result!  Congrats Joel!

    Joel Plaskett wins Music Nova Scotia Awards!
    Congratulations to Joel Plaskett who took home four Music Nova Scotia Awards over the weekend at the Molson Canadian Nova Scotia Music Week.  Joel’s hit album “Three” won Pop/Rock Artist/Group Recording, Album of the Year, Male Artist Recording and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year. Congrats Joel!

    Joel Plaskett Emergency online:

    Saturday, November 7, 2009

    Royal Wood & Rose Cousins Western Canadian Tour

    Toronto-based singer-songwriter Royal Wood is currently on a cross-Canada tour and will touch down on the west coast mid-November. He is being supported by Rose Cousins, who's currently promoting her new record named The Send Off.

    Royal Wood has been compared to the likes of Ron Sexsmith, the Beatles to Rufus Wainwright, and is hailed for his prowess as a multi-instrumentalist, vocal styling and catchy lyrics. In his previous albums, Wood had enlisted the help of fellow artists such as Hawksley Workman, In-Flight Safety and Valery Gore.

    Rose Cousins, recently known for her vocals in Joel Plaskett's Polaris short-listed Three, is a well-established Atlantic Canadian singer-songwriter in her own right. With 5 albums under her belt, her warm and clear voice can also be found on albums of other Canadian artists like Jenn Grant, Old Man Leudecke, Matt Mays and Jill Barber.

    If you're not completely convinced to go to the shows by these artists' accolades alone, take a listen to their respective albums streaming on their websites. Royal Wood here, and Rose Cousins here (player at bottom). You can also check out their Myspace:
    Royal Wood
    Rose Cousins

    Here are the upcoming dates featuring both artists (links lead to Facebook events w/ ticket information):

    Nov 17th, Media Club, Vancouver, BC
    Nov 18th, Communitea Café, Canmore, AB
    Nov 19th, Marquee, Calgary, AB
    Nov 20th, Haven, Edmonton, AB
    Nov 21st, Haven, Edmonton, AB
    Nov 23rd, Lydia’s Loft, Saskatoon, SK
    Nov 24th, The Exchange, Regina, SK
    Nov 25th, The Park Theatre, Winnipeg, MB

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    The Swell Season-- or, hey! a non-Canadian band that's awesome.

    The Swell Season, a.k.a. Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard (of Once fame) is coming to Vancouver on November 25 and playing at The Centre for Performing Arts. I haven't gotten my ticket yet because I'm a poor student, and because the music produced by this duo has an eerie and haunting emotional pull on me that's frankly a little frightening. However, after watching this set of acoustic performances via Spiegel Online, I think I might have to give in and fall hopelessly back in love with this pair.
    [Update- one hour later: I am going. Yay]

    See The Swell Season perform:
    Low Rising
    In These Arms
    Feeling The Pull
    Fantasy Man

    Irglova (vocals, piano) and Hansard (vocals, guitar), for those of you who haven't seen the excellent, Academy Award-winning film Once, play the kind of acoustic folk ballads that will tug strongly at your heart strings with raw emotional honesty and beautiful melodies. Hansard's gruff of a voice more than occasionally crescendos to a divine falsetto, which is complemented by Irglova's breathy, endearing Czech lilt.

    The Swell Season are currently touring to promote the release of their second album, named Strict Joy, which is almost oxymoronic. (I like it.) The album is available everywhere, and is streaming via their website.

    Check them out on Myspace.
    Follow The Swell Season, and Glen Hansard on Twitter!