Wednesday, December 23, 2009

FREE EP from Novels

(Photo Credit: Marshall Angus)
And who is Novels, you ask? This new supergroup in Canadian music consists of Graham Wright of Tokyo Police Club, Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians, Will Currie of Will Currie & The Country French, Dean Marino of Ex~po and Jason Sadlowski of Jay Sad.

From their website:
In January of 2009, five of us locked ourselves away in Chemical Sound Studios in Toronto with the goal of writing, arranging, and recording an EP from scratch in one marathon session.  When we stumbled out the door in the wee hours of the next morning, we found ourselves with what we're now calling NOVELS.
NOVELS won't be sold in CD stores, on the internet, or anywhere else.  Instead, we'll give them away, or put them places.  Maybe you'll find a copy sitting on a park bench.  Maybe a masked man will hand you one as he passes you on the street.  Maybe none of these things will happen.  But we'll make sure that everyone gets a chance to listen if they want to.
We also had some friends come along to take pictures and video, which can be found on this website as well as in various other places on the internet.
Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

So go on! Download this EP and see if you'd like to be a part of the army of fans sharing this EP to friends and stranger alike.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Great Lake Swimmers - Song Sung Blue EP

Listen to Great Lake Swimmers' new EP Song Sung Blue, scored for the documentary of the same name by Greg Kohs. It's streaming in full from the soundcloud below.

The soundtrack, of course, is gorgeous, as one comes to expect from Tony Dekker's compositions.

You can purchase the EP on Zunior here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FREE DOWNLOAD : Hannah Georgas - Christmas Touch

This holiday season, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas would like to wish you a merry Christmas by serenading you with her quirky, upbeat pop stylings. This free song by the recent winner of CBC Radio 3's Bucky Award for Best New Artist will only be available for the next week, or for the first 100 people, so grab it while you can!

[editor's note: never mind, we've changed the download location. it's available forever and ever and in infinite quantities!]

Hannah Georgas - Christmas Touch

Visit Hannah Georgas' MySpace if you like what you hear.
She currently has an EP out called The Beat Stuff that you can get online at iTunes. If you can hold out until the new year (and really, why would you?), she has a new album coming out called This Is Good.

(Photo from her recent show opening for Said The Whale's album release in Vancouver. More here.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

NEW VIDEO : Joel Plaskett - You Let Me Down

Off of his latest, Three (Disc 1), comes the latest video for Joel Plaskett's second single off his 2009 Polaris-nominated record.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Top Albums & Live Shows for 2009

As 2009 is coming to a close, let's wrap up a formidable year in (Canadian independent) music by listing my personal highlights. Feel free to disagree and point me in the direction of your personal favourites!

Top Albums of 2009
Ha, it's not until I researched a bit deeper that I realized a good chunk of my current favourite albums are actually from late 2008! Nevertheless, 2009 saw some strong releases in both full-length and EP categories. Some are Polaris-nominated and some, well, should be.

Honourable Mentions (EPs):  
Zeus - Sounds Like Zeus
J.Period & K'naan - The Messengers EP

7. Metric - Fantasies
6. Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms
5. Rose Cousins - The Send Off
4. The Swell Season - Strict Joy*
**1. You Say Party! We Say Die! - XXXX
**1. Joel Plaskett - Three
**1. Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels
*note: The Swell Season are not Canadian.
** These 3 albums are virtually tied and are in alphabetical order.

Top Shows of 2009
This past year saw the beginning of my infatuation, now full-blown love with attending live shows. It began in January with the Sam Roberts Band and The Stills at the Orpheum, and ended with Patrick Watson and Aidan Knight**. I've both gone to huge stadium shows (U2, Coldplay) and witnessed small, inattentive crowds in bars (Matthew Barber). 2009 also saw the Junos descend upon Vancouver, and early 2010 will see the Olympics with its associated Cultural Olympiad. I was also able to attend festivals, new (Rifflandia) and old (Vancouver Folk Fest). Who stood out? Keep reading!

Honourable Mention: Hey Rosetta! at Rifflandia -- the set was just way too short.

10. Mother Mother at UBC Pit Pub
Being in the crowd for this fanatic-making show was "like watching Rock Band live," according to the reviewer for the Ubyssey (UBC campus paper). No casual fan left without feeling fanatic and extremely impassioned about this talented Vancouver band.

9. Champion at Rifflandia
His feverish conducting of his team of guitarists and bassists stirred the large crowd into the most rhythmic, hypnotized mosh pit that I've ever witnessed.

8. Hannah Georgas opening for Said The Whale at St. James Hall
This winner of the 2009 CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award for Best New Artist showcased her whimsical lyrics, her playful voice and her chops on guitar with a full backing band consisting of members from Said The Whale.

7. Rose Cousins opening for Royal Wood at the Media Club
I'm not just biased from playing shaker egg for her; it was a phenomenal show. Hilarious and tight knit, musically and personally engaging. Voice like an angel. Upstaged her headliner Royal Wood.

6. Great Lake Swimmers (backed by members of The Breakmen and Rock Plaza Central) at Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Imagine lying in the hot July sun by Vancouver's waterfront, dragonflies flitting above while listening to the angelic melodies of GLS compositions. Tony Dekker's voice surely haunts the halls of heaven.

5. Dan Mangan CD Release for Nice, Nice, Very Nice at the Cultch
There's a drawback to this excellent show; since hearing his material live, I've had a hard time listening to Dan's album. It's hard to capture the raw energy of the band and of Dan's voice that made him so feverishly popular with audiences across Canada and abroad.

4. Joel Plaskett Emergency at the Surrey Fusion Festival
This seemingly impromptu concert, held in one of the most surprising of locales (a relatively far away suburb of Vancouver), was free of charge in a large field in the middle of the city. That didn't stop JPE from putting on an impassioned show filled with favourites from their long career, including from their latest album Three. Peter Elkas singing the back up parts in lieu of Ana Egge and Rose Cousins was the cherry on top.

3. The Swell Season at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts
The romance of The Swell Season continues to seduce audiences. To borrow Glen Hansard's phrase, this concert has only made the love for their music "more buoyant." No matter if Hansard or Marketa Irglova was on stage solo, with one another or backed by The Frames, they filled the large theatre with earnest love songs soaked in passion and the grittiness of Hansard's voice.

2. Patrick Watson at the Vogue Theatre
What an inventive, musically satisfying night. Patrick Watson and his band had all ears from the second they took the stage as well as when they left the stage to play through the audience (yes, with the megaphone pack that he sported at the Polaris gala). The delicate, intricate compositions of his latest Wooden Arms came to roaring life in his live show. The audience forgot to breathe and saliva was everywhere from dropped jaws.

1. Joel Plaskett w/ Family and Friends at the Vogue Theatre
A 3-set, 3 hour show from the most personable, lyrically gifted singer-songwriter that Canada has to offer, backed by his father Bill Plaskett, who's an admirable songwriter in his own right, as well as Ana Egge and Rose Cousins, established singer-songwriters with their own critically acclaimed careers. Each artist supported one another and was given their own chance to shine and impress with their personal material, giving the audience a true taste of what the music community should be like.

(Joel Plaskett Emergency, shot at Surrey Fusion Fest)

** or possibly will end with the NYE party at the Media Club known as One Night Stand, featuring Hannah Georgas, Laura Smith, and members of Said The Whale, The Painted Birds, Elias, Bend Sinister, & The Gentle Infidels. For more details ... here!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thrush Hermit Reunion Tour in 2010

Now that I've stopped hyperventilating out of sheer excitement, here are the details.

Thrush Hermit was formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1992 by Joel Plaskett (vocals, guitar), Rob Benvie (vocals, guitar), Ian McGettigan (vocals, bass), and Michael Catano (drums). They split in 1999, with the members working on various projects since then, including Joel Plaskett's solo career, the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Camouflage Nights (consisting of Benvie and McGettigan) and working as producers for various other bands. Plaskett also has his own record label, New Scotland Records.

Current dates:
Fri 03/19/10

Halifax, NS
Paragon Theatre

Sat 03/20/10

Halifax, NS
Paragon Theatre

Wed 03/24/10

Peterborough, ON
The Historic Red Dog

Thu 03/25/10

Ottawa, ON
New Capital Music Hall

Fri 03/26/10

Toronto, ON
Lee's Palace

Sat 03/27/10

Toronto, ON
Lee's Palace

Update: West Coast dates will be released soon!
"From The Back of The Film" from Thrush Hermit's Clayton Park

Monday, December 7, 2009

Great Lake Swimmers' The Legion Sessions

You see by the lines on my hands
I’ve been carrying a heavy load
You follow them across my palms
Where they run like roads

Trace the palm on the cover of Great Lake Swimmers' latest album Lost Channels. You'll appreciate the symbolism, listen to some lovely renditions of their Polaris-nominated tunes, and if you find all 9 hidden videos, get a free download of a previously unreleased song. (I'm currently stuck on 7...)

Click here to try your luck and listen to some gorgeous music!

If you like what you hear, Great Lake Swimmers will be in Vancouver on January 29, 2010 at the Vogue Theatre. They are also playing for free at the Whistler Village Stage as part of the Olympic festivities on February 13, 2010. Perfect Valentines idea if I ever saw one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Photo Set : Hannah Georgas and Said The Whale at St. James Hall

Oops, totally forgot to post this up earlier. Look at that wicked shot huh? There's more where that came from.

The above set of photos is from Said The Whale's CD release for their latest Islands Disappear. Hannah Georgas opened and played a phenomenal, high energy set with a full backing band. Although I like her solo shows, the energy and fun factor goes up about 10 notches when she's backed by a band. Very much looking forward to her upcoming full-length.

I seem to be cursed with regards to Said The Whale. Every time I intend to see them, something comes up, whether it's a friend's car breaking down, another friend's car getting towed, or having to run to another show... regardless, I was able to catch 2 (yes, count 'em) songs by this infectious, tight-knit Vancouver band before running off. Lucky for me, one of those songs was a personal favourite, This City's A Mess, and it sounded fantastic. The crowd for the all-ages show was visibly excited to hear their hometown heroes, and as my friend who attended the 19+ set later commented, must've danced up a sweaty, frenzy storm.

So no, unfortunately I can't give a full account of STW's set. However, I'm more than anxious now to catch them live after being very, very impressed after 2 songs. Will definitely clear my schedule the next time they play their hometown.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NxEW Canadian Album Hall of Fame Finalist : Arcade Fire's Funeral

[Note: Originally posted at NxEW, my lovely blog home, which is being nominated for 6 (!!) 2009 Canadian Blog Awards!]

Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Merge Records
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Really, who didn't see this coming? From the bright piano tinkling of the opening seconds of "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)," to the triumphant swell and fade of strings in the final seconds of "In the Backseat," Funeral maintains its artistic tension and delights with orchestral beauty. Win Butler and Régine Chassagne's voices, at times urgent and discomforting, complement the ambitious instrumentalists in theatricality. Not a singles album by any stretch of the imagination-- although it did produce five (Neighborhood #1, #2, #3, Rebellion (Lies) and Haiti), Funeral grabs a hold of you for the duration of its 48 minutes and paints a musical landscape that lingers long after its last notes. And boy, does it grow on you over time.

There's little doubt as to why Funeral remains one of the most highly regarded, most critically acclaimed and best-selling indie (over half a million sold) records in not just Canada, but the world. It garnered near-perfect rankings and scores with international music critics, landing on more "best of" lists than could be counted with all your fingers and toes. It was nominated for the Grammy for Best Alternative Rock Album and Arcade Fire won Songwriters Of The Year at the Junos for three of Funeral's singles. Despite its name, the album injected a shudder of life in the Canadian independent music scene. This album also helped launch the formidable careers of successful Canadian independent artists Final Fantasy and Bell Orchestre. So although the album was inspired by deaths, many regard Funeral as a milestone in the coming of age of Canadian independent music.

Big name fans of Arcade Fire include David Bowie, U2, US President Barack Obama and director Spike Jonze, who reportedly said that he listened to Funeral while writing the screenplay for his adaptation of the popular children's book Where the Wild Things Are

Current Arcade Fire line-up: Win Butler, Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld, Jeremy Gara.

Track listing:
1. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" – 4:48
2. "Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)" – 3:31
3. "Une année sans lumière" – 3:40
4. "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" – 5:12
5. "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)" – 4:49
6. "Crown of Love" – 4:42
7. "Wake Up" – 5:35
8. "Haïti" – 4:07
9. "Rebellion (Lies)" – 5:10
10. "In the Backseat" – 6:20

Arcade Fire website, Twitter, Myspace.
More of Arcade Fire on NxEW.

Another note: Arcade Fire has stated that they have a new album in the works and due for release sometime in 2010. More info here!