Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NEW VIDEO : Jason Collett - "Love Is A Dirty Word"

From Jason Collett's latest album Rat a Tat Tat, the infectious pop tune "Love Is A Dirty Word" gets the video treatment. Features the boys of Zeus, as well as Gentleman Reg.

(Love those furry costumes boys, although I'm not "into" that...)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SHOW REVIEW : The Bonfire Ball ft. Jason Collett, Zeus & Bahamas x2

"yes, it was good... but was it Bonfire Ball good?"

As the previous comment suggests, the Bonfire Ball tour featuring Toronto artists Jason Collett, Zeus and Bahamas holds as the golden standard for live shows from this point on. Where do I even begin to recount the camaraderie and phenomenal musicianship that I witnessed? It would be helpful to mention that I had the pleasure of attending the show twice, first in Vancouver at the Biltmore Cabaret on March 26, 2010, and then in Victoria at Sugar Night Club on March 27. So this review will be an amalgamation of both of these nights.

Firstly, a difference between the two nights. The Vancouver show was oversold-- I was told that 500 tickets were sold for the Biltmore, with a capacity of 380. Needless to say, the place was packed half an hour before the sets began, which is when I arrived decked out in a gown as promised to Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio 3, who had challenged attendees of the Bonfire Ball to dress with the "Ball" part in mind. The bands looked visibly surprised to see a crowd of about 10 extremely well-dressed indie kids at stage right, and commented as such when I chatted with members of Zeus post-show.

The low stage and wideness of the Biltmore contributed to being much closer to the band. On the other hand, the Victoria show was considerably more sparse, and the high stage, combined with a well-placed disco ball and other effective lighting, made the show at Sugar resemble prom night in the '70s. I even was asked spontaneously to slow dance during a Bahamas number, which was very fitting. Also, by the time of the Victoria show, which was the tour's second night back in Canada after weeks of touring down south, Collett and co. had caught wind of the challenge to dress up and spoke warmly of CBC Radio 3 during the show. In what was their longest stretch of banter, Jason Collett remarked to an audience member, asking him why he wasn't listening to "the most important radio station in Canada," chiding him for losing his Canadian spirit so soon after the Olympics had left.

Onto the music! Like I had alluded to in a previous post, the shows featured Bahamas, Zeus and Collett in 3 hours of collaborative play, as opposed to 3 distinct sets. This allowed the studio recordings to really come alive with full instrumentation which so often doesn't happen with touring bands. And from the moment Jason Collett steps onto the stage alone, seemingly to tune his guitar but actually starting the show with an acoustic number, the audience's expectations about show sequences are turned upside down.

Never again will you witness so much harmonizing and guitar duets in a single show. Nor like Jen Polk noted for Sticky Magazine, so much testosterone-- i.e. sex, oozing out of fingers and voices. Although appearances did come into play, the appeal of the Bonfire Ball which drove the audience into frenzies were Bahamas' sly, dirty charm, Zeus' tireless enthusiasm and Jason Collett's commanding sway. It's hard to say which was the most popular act of the night, as excited expressions were made anytime the acts were shuffled up. However, when Bahamas was on, you could expect a sexy, bluesy number with smirks and jesting with audience members. When Zeus took the stage, you knew minutes of pure groovy pop bliss were soon to follow... but never knew who was going to play what. And when headliner Jason Collett headed the band, you were taken by his soulful drawl to an era of rock-and-roll that frankly, I wasn't even around to be nostalgic for.

And when the show resumed for the encores, the audiences were treated to an entire set of inventive and totally danceable covers. The Vancouver night saw Neil Quin of Zeus cover R. Kelly's "Ignition" without a hint of irony, and Bahamas' rendition of "I've Never Found A Girl (Who Loves Me Like You Do)" pretty much left no females with a libido standing. For the Victoria show, the 3 bands came together and covered Kylie Minogue's "I Just Can't Get You Out of My Head." Both nights also had the (better than Genesis themselves) amazing Zeus cover of "That's All," which is on their EP Sounds Like Zeus.

Do me a favour; see the Bonfire Ball if you haven't. And if you have, see them again. You won't regret it!

For another more thorough write-up, check out 3amrevelations by my good friend Kirk.
Below are the set lists from the Vancouver and Victoria Bonfire Ball shows:

Vancouver (1&2), Victoria (3):

More upcoming Bonfire Ball dates:

31 Mar 2010 20:00
Pawn Shop, Edmonton, Alberta
1 Apr 2010 20:00
The Legion, Calgary, Alberta
2 Apr 2010 20:00
The Exchange, Regina, Saskatchewan
3 Apr 2010 20:00
West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
4 Apr 2010 20:00
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, Minnesota
6 Apr 2010 20:00
Majestic Theatre, Madison, Wisconsin
7 Apr 2010 20:00
Schuba’s, Chicago, Illinois
12 Apr 2010 20:00
Casbah, Hamilton, Ontario
13 Apr 2010 20:00
Starlight, Waterloo, Ontario
14 Apr 2010 20:00
Zaphods, Ottawa, Ontario
15 Apr 2010 20:00
Petit Campus, Montreal, Quebec
20 Apr 2010 20:00World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
21 Apr 2010 20:00
The Iron Horse, Northampton, Massachusetts
24 Apr 2010 20:00
Union Hall, Brooklyn, New York

SHOW REVIEW : Postdata and Julie Fader

I tend to judge the quality of a show at the Media Club by my ability to hear the performers. The shape of the venue, with the bar near the back of the rectangular room and the washrooms right beside the stage, ensures that your concert going experience is highly dependent upon the mood of the crowd. Using that criterion alone, Postdata (Paul Murphy of Wintersleep) and Julie Fader put on highly successful sets on March 20, 2010 in Vancouver.

But of course, a cooperative crowd is not the only element needed for a great show. And these also came in spades. After an opening set by Clinton St. John, Julie Fader approached the stage, dressed casually and playing a set that can be best described as comfortable. She's touring to promote her solo album, Outside In, after long stretches of supporting large names in Canadian independent music such as Feist, Great Lake Swimmers and Chad Van Gaalen.

In the best sense of the word comfortable, Fader drew in the near-silent, appreciative crowd, with many sitting on the wooden floor surrounding the stage. She commented at one point that she was glad that she didn't have to give each member of the audience a $20 bill to keep quiet. Observing from the back of the room, I was also surprised by the attention of the people at the bar. Every once in a while, I would catch a glance out the doors at the performance on the giant jumbotron across the street at LiveCity Downtown, before returning my gaze to the warm glow emitted by the stage lights, and Julie, equipped with only her guitar and soft voice. Her set was akin to escaping from the city into the warmth of a campfire. It was surreal and a quiet pleasure.

Julie Fader's set was accompanied by both members of Postdata, Paul and Tim, and in return Julie made frequent appearances on stage with Postdata as well. It was clear from the get-go that although many may have been there due to the band being comprised of two members of the highly successful Wintersleep, this wasn't going to be a derivative project. Gritty, stripped down, Murphy's voice commanded an intimate attention. And although I wasn't very familiar with the recording beforehand, I couldn't help but leave feeling like Murphy had shared something profoundly personal with each individual in the room. This feeling was best captured by a specific scene I witnessed-- 2 tall, enthusiastic fans, who began singing along to one of the tunes, grinning ear to ear with pleasure, gradually fading to silence with their eyes softening attentively towards the stage.

As a side note, after chatting with Julie after the sets, she mentioned how uncommon it is for people to approach artists after shows, and how it can make an artist feel disconnected from her audience. So let this be a lesson to you, to go up to the merch table and shake the hand of the person who just poured out their talent for you. Maybe give them a hug too!

Download two of Postdata's songs "Tobias" and "In Chemicals" off their self-titled:

VIDEOS : a capella You Say Party! We Say Die!, new single from Christina Aguilera

Vancouver band You Say Party! We Say Die! stopped by The New Gay and did an a capella version of their closing track for XXXX named "Heart of Gold." This recording shows that their harmonies hold up surprisingly well, which means that any vocal weaknesses in their live show must be from all the dancing and jumping around that Becky does on stage. A fair trade-off, I think.

And ... I did mention that this blog wasn't 100% Canadian focused... right? Christina Aguilera released her newest single from her website. Her newest effort, named Bionic, is slated to be released on June 8, 2010. Known for reinventing her image and sound, Aguilera went from pop princess to feminist diva, from old school femininity to this latest album, which seems very dance-oriented. Although her most recent greatest hits release was disappointing, I'm hoping this upcoming album will see her tapping into a similar creative vein that was evident in the double-disc Back to Basics.

Christina Aguilera - "Not Myself Tonight"

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Streaming 2 new songs from Broken Social Scene

These are two songs from Toronto's Broken Social Scene's yet-to-be released album Forgiveness Rock Record, due out May 4th. You can now buy the Forced To Love/All To All double A-Side single from iTunes and GalleryAC.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Matthew Barber plays Vancouver with Adaline & Laura Smith

Toronto crooner Matthew Barber will be playing Vancouver's Little Mountain Studios on April 15 in order to promote his newly released album True Believer. For more information, check out the venue website or Barber's myspace.

Openers include Vancouverites Adaline and Laura Smith.

More Matt Barber dates:
25 Mar 2010 20:00
The Princess Cinema Waterloo, Ontario
29 Mar 2010 19:00
Patchwork House Concerts Bedford, Nova Scotia
29 Mar 2010 20:00
The Carleton Halifax, Nova Scotia
1 Apr 2010 20:00
Hamilton Place Studio Theatre Hamilton, Ontario
6 Apr 2010 20:00
The Lo Pub Winnipeg, Manitoba
7 Apr 2010 20:00
Amigos Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
9 Apr 2010 20:00
The Haven Social Club Edmonton, Alberta
10 Apr 2010 20:00
The Marquee Room Calgary, Alberta
12 Apr 2010 20:00
The Slice Lethbridge, Alberta
13 Apr 2010 20:00
The Communitea Cafe Canmore, Alberta
14 Apr 2010 20:00
The Habitat Kelowna, British Columbia
15 Apr 2010 20:00
Little Mountain Studios Vancouver, British Columbia
16 Apr 2010 20:00
The Duncan Garage Showroom Duncan, British Columbia
17 Apr 2010 20:00
Lucky Bar Victoria, British Columbia
12 May 2010 20:00
The Mod Club Theatre Toronto, Ontario
21 May 2010 20:00
Aeolian Hall London, Ontario

Said the Whale - Kill 'em with Kindness Tour

Vancouver's Said the Whale has announced an upcoming Spring tour, which begins this Thursday night in Montreal. The facebook event is here and you can also see the dates on their myspace. The beginning nights through Ontario will be shared with In-Flight Safety as well as Graham Wright (of Tokyo Police Club fame), and the tail end through BC will be opening for Montreal's Plants and Animals.

Stars - The Five Ghosts Pre-release Tour

Canadian indie-pop/rock revolutionaries, Stars announce their seven city, Canadian pre-release tour will start on May 4, 2010 in Ottawa. Serving as a special introduction to their new album, The Five Ghosts - all shows are on sale as of Friday March 26 and Saturday March 27 (indicated below). Available on June 22, The Five Ghosts, the fifth studio album from Stars will be released on the bands own label imprint, Soft Revolution Records and distributed by Universal Music Canada.

The May gigs will allow fans to catch a sneak peek of the band in intimate venues and provide an exclusive preview of The Five Ghosts. Playing the new record in its entirety from start to finish, Stars are also letting fans select additional set list and encore tracks by voting at the bands website

Fans will be able to purchase a pre-release album at the upcoming May shows. On offer will be a limited edition lyric booklet with photos and written pieces from the band and download card. The Five Ghosts will be available in several formats, including special vinyl and digital versions and offering remixes and fan collectables in various packages. Full format release details will follow soon via the bands website.

Lead album single Fixed, a gorgeous, synth-driven, quintessentially classic Stars track sees Amy Millan (a 2010 Juno nominee in her own right for her solo work) on lead vocals and will be available as of April 20 through all digital music outlets. The Five Ghosts was written and recorded by all five Stars members in Montreal and sees a guest appearance from Broken Social Scene/Apostle Of Hustle’s Andrew Whiteman.

Also on the Stars website today is the second album webisode documenting the band’s collective journey in creating this newest musical installment of their incredible career. Additional webisodes and other details will precede the official album launch of The Five Ghosts on June 22.


May 4 – Live Lounge – Ottawa, ON * Presented by LIVE 88.5 ** WIN TO GET IN ONLY **
May 5 – The Mod Club – Toronto, ON * Presented by THE EDGE 102.1 ** ON SALE – Friday March 26 ** ALL AGES
May 6 – Starlight Room – Waterloo, ON ** ON SALE – Friday March 26 **
May 7 – The Casbah – Hamilton ON ** ON SALE – Friday March 26 **
May 8 – London Music Hall – London, ON ** ON SALE – Friday March 26 ** ALL AGES
May 10 – Pyramid Cabaret – Winnipeg, MB * Presented by CURVE 94.3 ** ON SALE – Saturday March 27 **
May 11 – The Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB * Presented by SONIC 102.9 ** ON SALE – Saturday March 27 **

The Five Ghosts, making of, Pt II

Prepping for the Bonfire Ball

I thought I'd prepare any Vancouver readers for what's shaping up to be one of the best shows of 2010-- The Bonfire Ball, featuring Bahamas, Zeus and Jason Collett, all hailing from Toronto. Their tour, which has the three acts sharing the stage for one another's songs as opposed to 3 distinct sets, has already gathered rave reviews across the country. Another highlight is that a challenge has been sent out by Grant Lawrence of CBC Radio 3 for all Bonfire Ball attendees to dress to the nines, like you would going to an actual ball. Can't wait to see if only a few indie kids glammed up!

Firstly, let's have Bahamas seduce you with his bluesy guitar. He opened for Amy Millan a couple of months ago, and half stole my heart since then.

BAHAMAS - Already Yours from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.

Next, we have one of the most exciting upcoming bands out of Toronto, Zeus. Having played as Jason Collett's backing band for some time, these boys have since shown that they have more than enough chops to strike out on their own. When I caught them at Rifflandia Festival back in September, the first word that came to mind was "groovy."

Zeus - "Marching Through Your Head"

And last but certainly not least, we have the band leader, the rough and tumble veteran of the bunch. Collett, known prior to his solo career as part of the Toronto supergroup Broken Social Scene, is Canada's answer to Dylan. He has a characteristic drawl and a certain nostalgic warmth to his tone.

And here's a taste of what the collaborative show will sound like: Collett, Zeus & Bahamas cover Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" at Canadian Music Week in Toronto.

And for those elsewhere in Canada, here are the remaining tour dates of the Bonfire Ball:

26 Mar 2010 20:00
Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, British Columbia
27 Mar 2010 20:00
Sugar, Victoria, British Columbia
29 Mar 2010 20:00
Communitea Cafe, Canmore, Alberta
31 Mar 2010 20:00
Pawn Shop, Edmonton, Alberta
1 Apr 2010 20:00
The Legion, Calgary, Alberta
2 Apr 2010 20:00
The Exchange, Regina, Saskatchewan
3 Apr 2010 20:00
West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
4 Apr 2010 20:00
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, Minnesota
6 Apr 2010 20:00
Majestic Theatre, Madison, Wisconsin
7 Apr 2010 20:00
Schuba’s, Chicago, Illinois
12 Apr 2010 20:00
Casbah, Hamilton, Ontario
13 Apr 2010 20:00
Starlight, Waterloo, Ontario
14 Apr 2010 20:00
Zaphods, Ottawa, Ontario
15 Apr 2010 20:00
Petit Campus, Montreal, Quebec
20 Apr 2010 20:00World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
21 Apr 2010 20:00
The Iron Horse, Northampton, Massachusetts
24 Apr 2010 20:00
Union Hall, Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thrush Hermit show streaming live!

Well, I'm not sure if it's still live, but Thrush Hermit's show in Waterloo Ontario at the Starlight Club is streaming from the venue's website... That will have to do for this west coaster.

Enjoy ladies and gents, I'll be back in an hour and a half.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Some fun videos: Coeur de Pirate covers Phoenix & Chat Roulette tributes

First up, we have Beatrice Martin, aka. 2009 Polaris long-lister Coeur de Pirate covering one of my favourite songs from French pop band Phoenix's latest album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.

Then we have Merton, the one shining jewel from Chat Roulette, which is a web service that lets you chat with strangers via webcam online. Hmm. Well, he serenades whomever connects to his feed, and it's very adorable. And penis free.

And due to his supposed resemblance to Ben Folds, the American singer-songwriter did a tribute to Merton while 2,000 fans witnessed in the background. Watch for the guy on the can. A true example of life imitating art imitating life...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Great Lake Swimmers - limited edition The Legion Sessions CD

It is with great pleasure to share with you the release of The Legion Sessions; a limited edition physical CD from Great Lake Swimmers' acclaimed live recordings at the Royal Canadian Legion Pub in February 2009.

While previously released digitally in September, the physical release is slated for April 17th, 2010. In celebration of Record Store Day, the album will be exclusively available at independent record stores only, followed by widespread availability on Amazon and other retail portals in on May 18th. And once the record sells out, it will not go back into reprint.

Further celebration for the album release will take form in a series of Record Store Day week events throughout Canada, where free tickets will be provided to fans who purchase the Legion Sessions CD at their local independent record store. Additional details will be announced shortly.

To support this release, please click here and RSVP to the album event on Facebook for full information on album availability, special event performances, and more.

Below, enjoy the limited edition album packaging layout, and click here to check out The Legion Sessions' micros-site with 9 full videos of each Legion Session performance.

Joel Plaskett's reaction to ECMA wins

This has been a great year for Halifax's Joel Plaskett since release of his latest triple album Three. He racked up plenty of awards and accolades since then, including being short-listed for the prestigious 2009 Polaris Prize, a CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award for Best Lyrics for his infectious single "Through & Through & Through." Juno nominations, Indie Award wins, and great demand for the reunion tour for the band of his teenaged years, Thrush Hermit.

The most impressive of feats, arguably, is the 7 East Coast Music Award wins that he took home for Entertainer of the Year, Male Solo Recording of the Year, Recording of the Year, Single of the Year ("Through & Through & Through"), Songwriter of the Year ("Through & Through & Through"), and Pop Recording of the Year, as well as Producer of the Year Awards.

Below is his reaction. From Joel Plaskett's website:

Hey Internet,
I’m truly honoured to have won some awards at the ECMAS in Sydney this past weekend although I’d like nothing more than to carve them up and share them with my super talented fellow nominees and friends: Dave Marsh, Classified, Jenn Grant, Catherine MacLellan and Two Hours Traffic amongst others. Best part of the weekend was seeing some killer music in the various venues. Smoking sets by Carmen Townsend, English Words, Mardeen, THT, Dead Letter Chorus from Australia, The True Love Rules and Amelia Curran were all inspiring. Old Man Leudecke rules too.
CMW then the Hermit. Let’s roll.
- Joel
PS- Just unpacked my bags and I found the crumpled poem I wrote as an acceptance speech:
This is an honour I thank you sincerely
It’s great to sing songs and have some body hear me
Awards are bizarre and they make me feel strange
But I love playing music in my home on the range
The boys from the beach said “hang on to your ego”
Marsh’s new rocker’s called “Super Amigo”
My hands they hang heavy and my feet they feel lighter
I’m a songwriting singer, not a singer-songwriter
So many friends deserve this acclaim
They rock in the fire and they roll in the flame
They write for themselves and they fight for their peoples
They sing like the Byrds and they scream like the Eagles
Musicians musicians in nooks and in crannies
I miss my old grandpa and I miss my granny
But coming to Sydney it makes me feel merry
‘Cause they are buried uptown in that beautiful cemetery
So thank you Cape Breton above and beyond
Your stars in your sky and your tar in your pond
I’m a deer in your headlight, a tear in your eye
I hope I get old before I die
You’re sitting there watching me standing here sweatin’
So here’s to good music and here’s to Cape Breton

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CBC Radio 3's Extended Play #7: Do Music Bloggers Have All the Power?

CBC Radio 3's Lisa Christiansen (that's her on the left) hosts a really interesting podcast every two weeks named Extended Play. These podcasts focus on issues concerning music, current events and so on, which veers from the Radio 3 norm of musical podcasts. Some issues that have been addressed in the past include technology and music and the "colour" of indie. The most current podcast, available here, features yours truly and focuses on the issue of music criticism and how music blogs such as this one affect the field, the artists, and the readers/music lovers. The podcast also features Carl Wilson of the Globe & Mail, as well as Vancouver band Yukon Blonde.

I encourage you to take a listen and think about the sources of musical information you take in and trust. And while on my little pedestal, make sure you support your favourite music bloggers, either with a nice comment here and there or a drop in the Paypal bucket. It goes a long way for those of us who don't write to get paid, but to support you, the music lover, and the artists. Thanks for sticking with me!

And also, I want to thank CBC Radio 3 for finding new and innovative ways to support not only artists, but Canadian music lovers such as myself as well. Grant Lawrence in particular has put me on the air several times to mention the blog, as well as provided vital advice. Please remember that when you hear about budget cuts to the CBC.

Metric announces unreleased Fantasies B-Sides

From Metric:

Click here to listen to two unreleased B-sides from our album "Fantasies" called "Black Sheep" and "The Gates", both of which we're super excited to share with you!
Last year our genre smashing director friend Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) told us he was working on a new movie called "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" starring Michael Cera and asked us if we'd be interested in working with him and legendary Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on some music for the film. Of course, we said YES!  It just so happened we had the beginnings of a song that suited the project perfectly from our early "Fantasies" recording sessions at Bear Creek, and with a little work we finished the song, called it "Black Sheep" and it became a pivotal track in the movie, which is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley that centers around a young group of musicians and is due out later this year.  

If you are a fan of METRIC on Facebook you can unlock an exclusive sneak preview stream of the final version of "Black Sheep" by clicking  here and be among the first to hear the song!

You can also Share it with your friends to unlock a second stream of another early contender for Fantasies, an acoustic song called "The Gates". And finally, if you let us know what you think by commenting on the songs and we will automatically enter you into a drawing to win a free autographed version of Fantasies! Thanks! We hope you like them!

 P.S. "Black Sheep" is distorted goodness. And I can't for the life of me unlock the other track, so someone else will have to tell me how it sounds!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Young Artists for Haiti

Young Artists for Haiti is a group of Canadian musicians who have come together to record an alternate version of K'naan's track "Wavin' Flag" (off of his latest Troubadour) in order to raise funds in relief of the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. All proceeds from the single and video sales go toward War Child Canada, Free the Children and World Vision. Download link HERE.

Here is a full list of all the artists who participated. As you can tell, there are plenty of Canadian indie talent represented. Can you find them all?

Nelly Furtado
Avril Lavigne
Sam Roberts
Pierre Bouvier (Simple Plan)
Tyler Connolly (Theory Of A Deadman)
Kardinal Offishall
Jully Black
Josh Ramsay (Marianas Trench)
Jay Malinowski (Bedouin Soundclash)
Chin Injeti
Jacob Hoggard (Hedley)
Red 1
Derek Whibley (Sum 41)
Serena Ryder
Emily Haines (Metric)
James Shaw (Metric)
Hawksley Workman
Pierre Lapointe
Corb Lund
Fefe Dobson
Jim Creegan (Barenaked Ladies)
Tom Cochrane
Kevin Parent
Lamar Ashe
Colin James
Nikki Yanofsky
Suzie McNeil
Stephan Moccio
Aoin Clarke
Kathleen Edwards
Jim Cuddy
Stacey McKitrick
Jessie Farrell
Colin MacDonald
Justin Nozuka
Hayley Sales
Matt Mays
City & Colour
Arkells (and Max with the CBC Radio 3 toque!)
Pat Kordyback (Stereos)
Dave Faber
Brandon Lehti
The Canadian Tenors
Justin Bieber
Torquil Campbell (Stars)
Broken Social Scene

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NEW ALBUM : Stars announce The Five Ghosts

Montreal's pop supergroup Stars have released details on their new album, which follows on the tails of 2008's beautiful and more experimental Sad Robot EP. If the songs they've played live are any indication, The Five Ghosts seems to have Stars returning to their older, more rock-driven sound.

The Five Ghosts Track List:

1. “Dead Hearts”
2. “Wasted Daylight”
3. “I Died So I Could Haunt You”
4. “Fixed”
5. “We Don't Want Your Body”
6. “He Dreams He's Awake”
7. “Never Been Good With Change”
8. “The Passenger”
9. “The Last Song Ever Written”
10. “How Much More”
11. “Winter Bones”

For more photos (like the above) from Stars' most recent Cultural Olympiad show in Vancouver, check out my Flickr.

Also, check out "Dead Hearts" performed live on CBC Q taping:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Free music in Vancouver during the Paralympics

Below are all the free concerts at LiveCity Downtown during the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics between March 12-21st. Enjoy!

Friday Mar 12
8pm - Said the Whale

Saturday Mar 13
5pm - Mama Cutsworth and DJ Co-op
7pm - The Weakerthans

Sunday Mar 14
3:30pm - The Trews
7pm - Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba

Thursday Mar 18
5:30pm - Justin Hines

Friday Mar 19
5:30pm - La Bottine Souriante

Saturday Mar 20
7:30pm - Serena Ryder

Sunday Mar 21
4pm - Hey Ocean!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Aidan Knight – a stabbing, Versicolour, cereal, and starting a label

(For North by East West.)

What just happened? I was in 7-11 across the street from Sugar [night club] where Said the Whale just played to a sold out, packed out house. And I was buying a 500ml carton of chocolate milk. While we were in line, one of the 7-11 employees ran beside us, literally ran beside us, and took off his belt and made a make shift tourniquet out of his belt and probably really helped out a guy who got stabbed. And then there was blood…

Aidan Knight, a singer-songwriter (in air quotes) from Victoria, BC joined me for an interview after opening for a sold-out set by Vancouver favourites Said the Whale and Hannah Georgas on a cold January night at a bus bench, with both of us reeling from a violent attack in downtown Victoria. The affable, tall Knight describes his music as indie rock mixed with pop, classical and country, “like a big gumbo of music.”

B: You’ve been described before as a sad Jack Johnson. Is that right? [laughs]

A: I guess I should clarify that it’s only because I play an acoustic guitar sometimes. And I put that jokingly, sarcastically in a bio, that people describe me as “sad” and “like Jack Johnson,” because someone who was really drunk once told me, “your music is like… it’s so sad!” And honestly, there’s this one guy at this other show who was like, “hey man, did you open Tegan & Sara’s show at Rifflandia?” And I said yeah. He was like “so great man, so great. You totally remind me of John Mayer.”

B: That’s a different one…

A: … And I get that people think that because I happen to have an acoustic guitar, and that I sing with it… I think it’s cool that people want to come and talk to me and tell me how much they enjoyed the set, and if that’s what their musical comparison is, then that’s what they like and they also like me, then I think that’s okay. At the same time, I have taken that off my bio officially, because that’s all I ever get quoted. Literally, the back of the Rifflandia program was one paragraph: ‘Aidan Knight: he’s from Victoria BC and his music is described as “sad” and “like Jack Johnson.”’ Period. So … if you’re asking what my music sounds in 5 words, I would not say—

B: “Sad and like Jack Johnson.”

Knight has played in several bands since he was a teenager, including Black Tie Social when he was 17, Counting Heartbeats, Toco & Jorge, Maurice, Lotus Child and Vegan Holocaust. He’s supported such mainstay Canadian acts as Julie Doiron, Patrick Watson, Tegan and Sara, Dan Mangan and Said the Whale.

On his latest album, Versicolour, he collaborates with Julia Wakal of Victoria’s gypsy band Bučan Bučan, Toronto’s The O’Darling and teams up with producer Jon Anderson. The name “Versicolour” is inspired by the name of a freckle-like skin condition that he had as a youth (tinea versicolor), which captured the sense of embarrassment and shyness which he can feel in sharing his music.

B: On Versicolour, was there a sound you were trying to achieve?

A: When I went in and first recorded, I wanted it to be very ‘70s-meets-Broken Social Scene. The O’Darling came and we were pretty much 10 people. In the beginning, I had an idea in mind of what I wanted certain tones and sounds to sound like. I just had no idea what the songs were going to be like when it was all finished. And then by the end of it, it just came together in the most unaffected kind of way. All the choices that I made in the beginning, and the choices I made later all compounded on top of those things and were what I would do, or what the O’Darling would do, or what Jon Anderson, the producer—he also played on it—so, there was just a great collaboration.

B: Would you say that other than Broken Social Scene, that the sound was influenced by anybody?

A: Yeah; Julie Doiron—I really like Désormais, it’s one of my favourite albums. My music has a lot more parts to it, like that album is very stripped down and basic, but the kind of spirit of what the guitars sound like, some of the time I was trying to cop her style. Also, I got to see Chet a lot… who are a Victoria institution. I remember going to see them a lot and really like the way that Ryan plays guitar, and the way he sang. I listen to a lot of specifically of Canadian music, and it’d be hard for me to go through and name everything. But yes, definitely Julie Doiron and Chet and Broken Social Scene. And Wilco is a huge influence for me but I think they’d just be in everything that I do, so I won’t even mention that.

One of the stand out tracks in Versicolour is the soulful, spiritual-esque closer “Jasper.” Upon hearing it for the first time, I thought it was a cover because it just sounds classic.  
You can grab a free mp3 of "Jasper" here.

B: Is “Jasper” about the place?

A: It’s about the Athabasca River. I was touring with Maurice at the time and it was the hottest day. And we stopped at this lake and we got out and all these people… hundreds and hundreds of feet out. And it was just up to their knees, and you could go all the way out. And the lyric “oh and I was frightened/when you put your face in/the mouth of the canyon” was about JP just like, diving into the water backwards and laying under the water and the water wasn’t even tall enough to fully cover him. It was inspired by that day; it was so crazy and coincidental that we ended up there that I thought to honour it with a song. And I was feeling a little bit twangy that day, and that’s the song that came out!

B: It’s definitely almost a spiritual.

A: Yeah. I also feel like I hear that sometimes. The lyrics are a little bit baptismal, and I know that the whole bathed in the water and stuff like that, that it’s a very classic religious allegory.

Knight definitely has been inspired by Christian allegory and experience in the church as a kid and youth. In his track “Alter Boys,” he drew from his experiences as one and credits years in the church choir with the hymnal quality to his music and his appreciation for harmony and choral classics such as “Once in Royal David’s City.”

A: Talking about influences, I listen to a lot of David Bazan because I love him as a lyrics writer. He’s the lead singer of Pedro the Lion. He’s very influential to me as a lyricist because he has very sardonic wit about how disenfranchised with God he is. I feel like it’s very edgy and raw and personal. And although I don’t want to write in that style, the things that he says have really captured my lyrical imagination. I love the way that he pieces together songs. I don’t want to steal all of his things, but in terms of adding those religious allusions in my lyrics, I just find that there are things that hint toward that.

You can grab a copy of Versicolour in stores by March 9, which will be under the label Adventure Boys Club. A digitally copy is available as of March 2. If you’re a vinyl person, you can pre-order it at

B: Tell us about your plans of starting a new label with a mysterious co-conspirator.

A: Tyler, from Said The Whale, and I are the adventure boys of The Adventure Boys Club. Which is our high-fidelity recording society. [laughs] It’s very elite. Right now we’re just setting the whole thing up. Releasing Versicolour is the only thing we’re doing right now. So hopefully it turns into more things with more bands we want to support. It’ll probably be a great British Columbian label.

B: Kind of like, what Arts & Crafts is like for Toronto?

A: I’m going to go on record and say that if it ever did become the Arts & Crafts of Vancouver or wherever, if it turned out to be the Arts & Crafts of the Georgia Strait, I’m sure that Tyler and I will be very happy about it. Things are looking good.

B: Who would you love to sign?

A: We Are The City. For sure. Even before they won the Peak Performance Project and got the money, they’re just fantastic and great friends. They’re young and have so much music and career and touring ahead of them. And my friends The O’Darling, I would love to give them a label home where we can just pay them money to live and create great music. Right now it’s pretty low key, a little independent label. Incredible friends and incredible musicians.

Aidan Knight had just concluded a tour with Vancouver’s Dan Mangan through BC and Alberta. He is currently on tour with We Are the City, going all the way to Montreal, Canadian Music Week in Toronto, and then heading home. Below are some upcoming tour dates:

Mar 6 - Montreal, QC @ The Green Room w/ We Are The City
Mar 8 - Sherbrooke, QC @ L’Antiquarius w/ We Are The City
Mar 9 - Ottawa, ON @ The Observatory w/ We Are The City
Mar 10 - Toronto, ON @ Global Village
Mar 13 - Toronto, ON @ Criminal Records (Free Instore Show) w/ Dan Mangan & Hollerado
Mar 24 - Calgary, AB @ The Gateway (SAIT) w/ We Are The City
Mar 25 - Lethbridge, AB @ Henotic w/ We Are The City
Mar 27 - Edmonton, AB @ Haven Social Club w/ We Are The City

B: And our last question, which is completely non-music related, and since you’re holding chocolate milk, what’s with the obsession with cereal?

A: I think my cereal thing is just out of nerves of not knowing what to talk about. I’m not really an expert on anything, but if I had to be an expert on something, it would probably be cereal since I’ve eaten so many varieties, looked at so many different nutritional information panels on the boxes. Right now my thing is trying to eat more local food. So I’ve been really supporting Nature’s Path cereal, which is all over. Their main office is in Richmond BC, and their production facilities are all over there. The amount of distance for shipping is much less than Kelloggs, or Post, or General Mills.

B: It’s totally within the 100 mile diet.

A: Exactly! I’m trying to support them, and I’m trying to support local dairies. So companies like Avalon, Island Farms, stuff from the Comox Valley. If I can make just one simple change like that, if everyone could make a simple change to just eat one variety of food locally, it would be supporting our local industry and the idea of food security if there’s ever a problem.

How fitting that Said the Whale also had one of their songs featured in an ad for orange juice. Watching the two of them play is like having a complete nutritious breakfast! If you’re interested in checking Aidan Knight out further, his various websites/social networking things are below: (vinyl and stream full album)
** Note, if you buy the vinyl, you’ll instantly get a digital version of the album.