Friday, April 30, 2010

Library Voices announce tours, including stops in libraries

Although you probably won't find them in the silent reading section, Regina octet Library Voices are taking their brand of intelligent yet danceable, well-composed yet chaotic pop to libraries across Saskatchewan before setting off on a tour through Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Library Voices will also be making an appearance at the S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival in St. Catharines. This is LV's second consecutive tour since the release of their debut full-length Denim on Denim, which is chock full of infectious party music, which, upon closer listens, reveal lyrical gems by keyboardist Michael Dawson.

Here's what the band had to say about the inspiration for this tour:
It’s hard to believe that an entire generation has never had to hike down to the library to do research for school reports on tigers or the Canadian Shield. They’ve never had to plagiarize a 1976 Encyclopedia Britannica as if it were the ‘be-all-end-all’ on any subject. Search engines computing algorithms have replaced the card catalogue. Tiny dancing pixels at 72dpi have replaced the tactile experience of sifting through pages. The txt message has even replaced the love letter. The Wiki-generation may single handily be responsible for the extinction of the public library. This concert series is Library Voices modest attempt from keeping their favourite social institution from going the way of the woolly mammoth, the honeybee, and Star Trek TNG. It is our hope that, if even for just one night, communities with gather somewhere besides their local watering hole – that they will converse face to face, that they will share in experiences, and if all goes well maybe even sign out a book or two. Library Voices would also like to take this opportunity to publicly vow that you won’t find us performing in internet cafes a few years down the road...
Whether you share their sentiment regarding good ol' analog books, you should still catch them as Library Voices put on a heck of a show. When they last played in Vancouver on April 10, 2010 opening for We Are the City, they ended up on stage with sparklers and sweat was dripping everywhere - on stage and in the audience. Needless to say, any show with LV will be a great time!

Here are the complete dates:

Saturday May 1 – Weyburn Public Library (2:30pm) – Weyburn, Saskatchewan
Saturday May 1 – Moose Jaw Library Theatre (7:00pm) – Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Saturday May 15 – Estevan Public Library (6:00pm) – Estevan, Saskatchewan

Friday June 11 – Winnipeg, MB – Royal Albert Arms
Saturday June 12 – Thunder Bay, ON – Crocks
Sunday June 13 – Sault Ste Marie, ON – Lop Lops
Wednesday June 16 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore w/ The Grates
Thursday June 17 – Ottawa, ON – Maverick w/ The Grates & Pack AD
Friday June 18 – Guelph, ON – Ebar w/ Besnard Lakes & Young Galaxy
Saturday June 19 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern (NXNE)
Monday June 21– Peterborough, ON – Red Dog
Thursday June 24 – London, ON – Call The Office
Friday June 25 – Waterloo, ON – Maxwell's w/ Off Victoria
Saturday June 26 – Windsor, ON – Phog Lounge
Sunday June 27 – St Catharines, ON – S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival (feat. Shad, Lights, & more)

(Photos courtesy of Michelle Edwards)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

STREAMING : The New Pornographers - Together

Take a listen through the entirety of Vancouver's The New Pornographers' new album Together before its release on May 4, 2010!

Stream courtesy of NPR.

Friday, April 23, 2010

For those of us who missed it... Broken Social Scene on Letterman - "Forced to Love"

Broken Social Scene perform "Forced to Love" off of their upcoming album Forgiveness Rock Record, due out May 4, 2010. You can also pre-order it now from Gallery AC.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NEW VIDEO : Jill Barber - All My Dreams

This lovely video for "All My Dreams" by Vancouver-based chanteuse Jill Barber is directed by Jonathan Bensimon. It's off of her latest and fantastic album Chances, which has a wonderful old-timey jazz sound and feel much like the video. It reminds me of something she tweeted after an online news site mistook her for an actress on the red carpet. She said something along the lines of "well, I have been directing my own love story," and you really get that sense in this video.


NEW VIDEO : Metric - "Gold Guns Girls"

I've lost track how many singles have been churned from Metric's latest (and fantastic) album Fantasies... but this latest is a good one. The video captures well the frantic-ness of the song, which ends with a feeling that all this rushing and anxiety didn't really accomplish anything. The constant running and picking up and dropping off instruments gets kind of humorous a couple times in.

As the newly minted 2010 Juno winners for best group of the year and best alternative album of the year, Metric will play two shows at Vancouver's Malkin Bowl on June 11 and 12, then in Toronto at the Molson Ampitheatre on July 9. All three concerts are all ages.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FREE DOWNLOAD : Shad - "Yaa I Get It"

Vancouver-based hip-hop artist Shad (born Shadrach Kabango) has released the first single of his yet-unreleased follow-up to 2007's Polaris short-listed The Old Prince. It's called "Yaa I Get It" and the new album is named TSOL. Although Shad has offered up numerous suggestions of what TSOL could stand for, my favourite guess is "the sultan of love." If you've got a better one, feel free to leave me a comment!

Download "Yaa I Get It" free here. Scroll to the bottom for some upcoming tour dates with Grand Analog and D-Sisive.

24 Apr 2010 22:00
Buffalo Bill’s Whistler, British Columbia
25 Apr 2010 15:00
Skier’s Plaza (Next to the Longhorn) Whistler, British Columbia
27 May 2010 20:00
Pyramid Cabaret Winnipeg, Manitoba
28 May 2010 20:00
Amigo’s Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
29 May 2010 20:00
Starlite Room Edmonton, Alberta
3 Jun 2010 20:00
The Biltmore Cabaret Vancouver, British Columbia
4 Jun 2010 20:00
Sugar Nightclub Victoria, British Columbia
5 Jun 2010 20:00
Habitat Kelowna, British Columbia
6 Jun 2010 20:00
Republik Calgary, Alberta
8 Jun 2010 20:00
The Exchange Regina, Saskatchewan
12 Jun 2010 20:00
The Opera House Toronto, Ontario
15 Jun 2010 20:00
Casbah Hamilton, Ontario
16 Jun 2010 20:00
The Red Dog Peterborough, Ontario
17 Jun 2010 20:00
Call the Office London, Ontario
18 Jun 2010 20:00
Call The Office London, Ontario

Broken Social Scene announce companion EP : Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights

From Broken Social Scene:

Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights was written during the recording of Forgiveness Rock Record in Chicago. During downtime band members would head into Soma's second smaller studio to test out new ideas and overdubs while John McEntire worked in the main room. Here they created lovely little soundscapes, one of which ended up being the closing song on Forgiveness Rock Record, ‘Me & My Hand’, and the rest became the beginnings of Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights.

A digital download of Lo-Fi will be included free for all pre-orders of Forgiveness Rock Record purchased before May 4th. A unique PIN code will be sent to all pre-order customers on May 3rd to download the digital EP one day early.

Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights is exclusively available as a digital download with pre-order of Forgiveness Rock Record at GalleryAC, or with purchase of the CD / vinyl at participating HMV and independent record stores (Canada) and selected CIMS / AIMS independent record stores (USA).

Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights

1 - New Instructions
2 - Sudden Foot Loss
3 - Shabba Lights
4 - Song For Dee
5 - Eling's Haus
6 - Professor Sambo
7 - Never Felt Alive
8 - Paperweight Room
9 - Turbo Mouse
10- Far Out
"I know that some bands write their songs, rehearse them and then record them. Not Broken Social Scene. In recording Forgiveness Rock Record we did it our usual way: swimming in chaos and making it up as we go along. We started by loosely sketching out 30 songs in my garage, driving to Chicago, recording 20 of those, and then writing 20 more. The point was to never stop working. Whenever we got exhausted or overwhelmed we would take a breath, pick up our instruments and jam purely ‘for spirit purposes’. It was musical-therapy of sorts. Part of what kept the ideas flowing was Soma’s smaller, second studio where we could test out new ideas and experiment with overdubs. While John worked in the main room, this B-Room quickly became our musical kitchen where we cooked up soups of sound without the pressures time and money.

One evening, as a kind of exercise in spontaneity, Kevin, Brendan and I each took turns writing and recording minute-long “songs” with minimal overdubs just to see what would happen. We kept saying to John “we’re making you an EP!” It was a sort of first-thought-best-thought approach to music making. Within a few hours we had six lovely little soundscapes, one of which ended up being the closing song on Forgiveness Rock Record, ‘Me & My Hand’, and the rest became the beginnings of Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights.

As we continued to work on Forgiveness the B-room became more and more important as both a musical and social outlet - there are a lot of us in Broken Social Scene and it’s hard for us to sit on our hands – so naturally Ohad, Sam and Sebastian each recorded a song in the same spontaneous way. ‘Song For Dee’, the only traditional “song” on Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights, Brendan, Kevin and I recorded when we found out that our good friend Wayne’s dog died and we wanted to cheer him up.

All of the songs on Lo-Fi For The Dividing Nights were recorded in Soma’s B-Room while Forgiveness Rock Record was being made. What these songs have in common is that they were all written in a spirit of playfulness and fearlessness where we could throw our discrimination to the wind and let the judges and critics take the night off. This tiny B-Room sanctuary fomented a very positive frame of mind, ultimately leading to one of the most enjoyable album-making experiences we’ve ever had. We hope you enjoy listening to these songs as much as we enjoyed recording them."

- Charles Spearin

Listen to the entire album of Forgiveness Rock Record streaming on NPR here. The album is due out May 4, 2010.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

LIVE VIDEOS : Matthew Barber at Little Mountain Studios

Toronto crooner Matthew Barber performed live at Little Mountain Studios in Vancouver on April 15, 2010 in support for his latest release True Believer. Below are some dimly lit videos for your listening pleasure!

"True Believer"

"Revolution of the Sun"

"While Away" - featuring Jill Barber:

RIP Devon Clifford of You Say Party! We Say Die!

Courtesy of Amanda Ash for CBC Radio 3:

Devon Clifford, the drummer for Abbottsford-based dance-punk group You Say Party! We Say Die!, passed away early Sunday morning after collapsing during a gig at Vancouver's Rickshaw Theatre Friday night.

"It is with absolute sadness to report that our dear friend Devon Clifford passed away just hours ago in a Vancouver hospital surrounded by his family and friends," the band's publicist said in a press release. "He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. I request that we respect the family's privacy during this incredibly difficult time."

The cause of death remains unconfirmed, although a source close to the band says he was rushed to hospital after lead singer Becky Ninkovic asked audience members at the Downtown Eastside venue to call 911 shortly after midnight. The source said Clifford was resuscitated on the way to the hospital, where doctors discovered he had bleeding of the brain. He was then put into a coma and put on life support.

It was reported that Clifford, 30, underwent surgery early Saturday morning. He was taken off life support early Sunday morning.

"DEVON CLIFFORD 1979 - 2010 R.I.P" read the message the band sent out via Twitter early Sunday morning. Previous tweets included "We are devastated and trying to keep hope. He needs at miracle. Thank you" and "there aren't alot of words right now. let the doctors do their job."

According to the Globe and Mail, Clifford worked for the Portland Hotel Society, a housing organization that helps the impoverished residents of the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.

The band had just returned from a North American tour in support of their latest release, XXXX, and were set to embark on an extensive European tour beginning April 26. It is unknown whether the band will complete the tour upcoming dates.

Devon was a hilarious, uplifting presence, full of banter and smiles at YSPWSD shows. His drumming was the back bone of the band and I suspect he was like that for his close ones as well. It was a pleasure having met him and I'm totally shocked and saddened by his death. And judging from the amount of tweets going to the band at this point, it's fair to say that the music community is grieving alongside. My prayers and thoughts go to Devon's family, friends and bandmates.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

INTERVIEW : Hannah Georgas talks swimming, family and "This Is Good"

Hannah Georgas has been described as a pop heroine; I'd like to take that description further by saying that she's like the gutsy friend whom you can't help but love and be captivated by her stories, whether they're ones of loss, betrayal, sadness or fresh-eyed excitement. The one who wears her heart on her sleeve and isn't afraid to crack a joke at herself while telling a story about a friend who's screwed her over.

Georgas has a real talent of writing catchy gems that get stuck in your head, such as the first single "Bang Bang You're Dead." The short jingle "Place Called Home" that she co-wrote for Wal-Mart became an online hit and demands were high enough that she was asked to write it into a full-length song. The free download of her Christmas ditty, which she sung into the microphone of her laptop, brought hundreds of visitors to this blog. Combine this pop sensibility with her immense likableness, I'd be willing to bet that 2010 will be a very big year for Hannah.

I recently had a chat with Hannah over the phone about what brought her to This Is Good, some tidbits you may not know about her and where she's going from here.

On her hidden talents - you can find her by the pool:
I grew up in the water. My dad was a swimming instructor and our house had a swimming pool attached in the back... that was his family business. If I had a pool I’d use it all the time because now I’m always paying for it, every other day!

I was a lifeguard at age 17… and then I expired (laughs). There’s something about lifeguarding that makes me really uneasy. You have to do these situations when you get your NLS (National Lifeguard Service)... The examiner will take you out of the room and when you come back in, all of the people in your class have to fake these injuries. So one will be drowning in the deep end, one’s like lost their leg on the slide, one’s having a spinal injury and there’s a bomb threat in the steam room! What do you do with it all?! It’s so stressful! I hated it! I remember shaking and thinking “I never want to do this again!”

But I still love to swim. I swim all the time… but just for fun!
On school, music and starting out:
The reason I moved out of Newmarket, Ontario in the first place is because it felt a little stale. I wanted to find my own way and make my home somewhere else. I went to the University of Victoria in 2003; going to school was more like an excuse for me to find my way out. So I was there for 2 and a half years and realized more and more that I didn’t want to go to school and that I wanted to be playing music. And that led me to Vancouver.

I was taking psychology and any musical electives I could take. When I was trying to figure out what to do with psychology, I thought it would be a good idea to get my prerequisites for this music therapy program that was offered at Capilano College. So I did that but realized I just really wanted to be playing music. I remembered, every time going to a live show, thinking I just want to be doing this so badly.

I had prepared this demo; Aidan Knight and I made it together. We met through Maurice. The two of us had worked together at this after school care program. I told him I was leaving and I wanted to get some of these songs recorded and he offered to help.

When I got to Vancouver, Winston contacted me and told me he liked my music and asked me if I’d like to work with him. After meeting for a coffee, we decided to make the demo together and that’s how we demoed “The Beat Stuff” and “The National.” I submitted “The Beat Stuff” to this MusicBC contest for songwriting. And I won it! And that obviously encouraged me to go back and say, well let’s go record more! And things really snowballed from there.

On her dad's death and inspiration:
My dad passed away while I was in the studio recording this latest album. I remember getting a call from my sister where she told me, “dad just died.” I felt awful. It was really hard. I was really glad that it happened then and I wasn’t by myself, I was with Ryan [Guldemond, who produced This Is Good] and Shawn the engineer, and was so thankful to have that support from them. It was challenging to say, forget it, we have to put this on the side, it’s not as important right now and I have to go be with my family.

For me, this situation with my dad had been going on for a long time and I had been building myself up to prepare for his death for years. He was really sick for a long time, and every time I went back to visit him I told myself, “you know what, this could be my last time with him. I need to be prepared for this.” So it wasn’t a shock when it came, but it’s never easy.

There’s no songs that are about my dad on the record. But since then, I’ve been writing a lot of music, and a lot of that has been about my dad. I recently played a new song called “Ode to Mom” which was inspired by my dad, and about how my mom dealt with his death.

I’m pretty open, songs for me are pretty personal so I have no choice but to share them. I think it’s important to redeem these things and be vocal about it. Somebody else may be going through the same thing as me so you might be helping somebody.

On opening track "Chit Chat":
"Chit Chat" is about the kind of people that you meet all the time-- you’re talking to them and they don’t even really care what you have to say. They just want to get all this verbal negative crap out and it’s really draining. That was the experience I had, and I just came home and unloaded it through song. I find that I do that a lot if I am affected by something. It’s my way of getting my shit out.

On "Bang Bang You're Dead," the current single:

It's about being in high school and the silly friendships in them. You’re growing up and finding out about yourself, who you are, where you sit with friends and what makes you comfortable or not. I remember having these girlfriends who were very superficial who reminded me of "Mean Girls" (laughs). I hung out with the cliquey group for a little while and realized... I couldn’t do this! It’s not who I am. It was in the beginning of high school and I was still trying to find my friends, my group. I remember going to this sleepover with them and they were playing truth or dare. They just want to get dirt out of you to make you feel silly! It’s all part of growing up, and that was the inspiration behind that song.

At the after school care program I work at with these 9-12 year olds, I made an out trip out of going to the studio. The kids came down to the studio and they sang gang vocals on the chorus! [ed. ah, child labour] It was awesome! I got consent forms from all the parents and had the lyrics printed out, and they did their thing. There's this one little girl that I teach songwriting to; she came in and did more work and she’s the voice in the beginning of the song. She was so stoked and excited to be a part of it.
This was last summer in June, and to get all of the kids into a hot studio for more than 20 minutes means I had to have the Oreos and fruit juice ready (laughs). Their patience is slim!

On filming in the buff for the music video for "Thick Skin":

It was my first video and I was really nervous on the days leading up to it. It wasn’t an issue once I got into it. Sean Wainsteim the director and the crew were totally professional and great.

The song is about family drama; I had a conflict with one of my siblings. Your family, they think they know you best, and in some aspects of you they do. They know how to push your buttons and make you feel exposed, feel like you’re naked. Sean’s idea was totally what I was trying to convey in my song, a representation of me having thick skin, being exposed through this terrain of dirt and mud and craziness, all these different stages, and coming through at the end.

For me, I don’t think this video is sexy in the least; I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s not about being naked. It made sense for what I feel about the song. My mom was like, “why did you have to be naked?!” I hope people will understand it beyond “whoa, she’s naked. That’s hot," or whatever!

This Is Good will be available April 27, 2010. It is now available for pre-order from iTunes if you can't wait!

In support of the album release, Hannah Georgas will be doing a cross-Canada tour starting with 3 dates supporting An Horse in central Canada. After a few solo dates, Hannah will be taking the whole band out for the dates through western Canada. Dave Vertesi (Hey Ocean!) and Colleen Brown will be opening.
If you're from her adoptive hometown Vancouver, make sure to come out to her show at Venue on May 22nd, because in her own words, "it'll be a big party"!

Video for "Thick Skin":

Below are some tour dates in support of This Is Good:

Apr 22 2010 The Blacksheep Inn Wakefield, Quebec
Apr 23 2010 La Sala Rossa Montreal, QC
Apr 25 2010 The Red Dog Peterbrough, Ontario
Apr 26 2010 The Garrison Toronto, Ontario
Apr 27 2010 Criminal Records Toronto, Ontario
May 7 2010 The Loft Kamloops, BC*
May 8 2010 Blue Church Nelson, BC*
May 10 2010 Lyric Theatre Swift Current, SK*
May 12 2010 West End Cultural Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba*
May 13 2010 O’Hanlon’s Regina, SK*
May 14 2010 Amigo’s Cafe Saskatoon, SK*
May 15 2010 Starlite Room Edmonton, Alberta*
May 16 2010 Communitea Canmore, Alberta*
May 19 2010 Henotic Lethbridge, Alberta*
May 20 2010 Marquee Room Calgary, Alberta*
May 21 2010 Habitat Kelowna, BC*
May 22 2010 The Venue Vancouver, BC*
May 29 2010 St. Ann’s Auditorium Victoria, BC

* May 7-22nd w/ Colleen Brown and David Vertesi.

Friday, April 16, 2010

LIVE VIDEO : Matthew Barber ft. Jill Barber - While Away

Toronto crooner Matthew Barber played an intimate, packed show at Vancouver's Little Mountain Studios on April 15, 2010 promoting his latest album True Believer. For the song "While Away," which was unplugged, he was joined by his sister Jill Barber on backup vocals.

As you can tell from the video, although the room was very dimly lit, the acoustics were excellent. Enjoy!

There are only a handful of tour dates left, but Mattber will be on the road again come fall:
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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

REVIEW : Jonas Shandel - S/T

A little context is in order. How did I find out about Jonas Shandel and his brand of lush roots folk? I have BC Ferries to thank for that. Coming back home from a weekend spent in Victoria on the island, I was curled up with a book at the front end of the ferry when I heard guitars and banjos being plucked and the sound of 3-part harmonies coming from in front of me. A couple of songs in, a small crowd had gathered and were applauding earnestly after each song. The 4-man band's name was Headwater, and they were headed back to the mainland after playing the northern end of Vancouver Island. Their music so enthralled the passengers on the boat that they sold out the box of albums that they had with them, which leads me to think that BC Ferries should be so wise to have live music for every sailing... preferably with Headwater in tow.

However, after numerous listens, I was even more impressed with Headwater member Jonas Shandel's self-titled solo album. From the slowly accumulating introduction to the last, echoing chord, this 7-song album leaves you feeling deeply content and rejuvenated. Less country than the 4-piece project, it's a roots/folk album, true to every sense of the word. It'll be a great one for the cabin this summer.

My favourite tracks off of this much too short album include "Drinking the Water" with its light, ethereal harmonies. The album closer, a cover of Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street," highlights the musicality of the song and fades out with a subtle kick drum. It's lovely.

If you like what you hear off of Jonas' myspace, you can get the album from CD Baby.
Below are a couple of upcoming dates in Vancouver:

21 Apr 2010 6:00
Vancouver Roundhouse Vancouver, British Columbia
29 Apr 2010 20:00
Little Mountain Studios Vancouver, British Columbia
14 May 2010 20:00
Wise Hall East Vancouver, British Columbia

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Balconies - Serious Bedtime

I had the pleasure of seeing Ottawa ex-pats, now Toronto-based trio The Balconies play the UBC Pit Pub on April 8, 2010. Fellow NxEW bloggers Ming Wu pretty much told me to drop everything I'm doing and check them out, so I finished a research paper early and hopped on a bus back to school. Despite a small, end-of-term crowd, The Balconies blew the socks off of the few of us who were lucky/smart enough to witness the band's first ever show in Vancouver.

Consisting of Jacquie Neville on lead vocals and guitar, Steve Neville on bass and Liam Jaeger on drums, The Balconies plays a brand of bright, glamorous pop that's reminiscent of early era U2. As an ex-vocal jazz member, I was awed by Jacquie's voice and incredible range. The deftness with which she leapt across the stage, thrashing her guitar and shimmering under the glow of the stage lights with her sequined jacket screamed rock star. That's not to say her band didn't match her in energy and talent; notably, Jacquie's brother Steve complemented her soaring voice with a warm and dark one of his own.

Their self-titled first album is available in all those different ways you like to purchase your music. Or you can grab their infectious single "Serious Bedtime" here.

Here are some remaining tour dates as The Balconies make their way home:

16 Apr 2010 20:00
In to the Music in-store (Record Store Day Eve!) 5pm Winnipeg, Manitoba
16 Apr 2010 20:00
Mondragon Winnipeg, Manitoba
17 Apr 2010 20:00
The Office Thunder Bay, Ontario
29 Apr 2010 20:00
Montreal House Peterborough, Ontario
1 May 2010 20:00
Green Room Montreal, Quebec
28 May 2010 20:00
STEAMWHISTLE UNSIGNED @ the Steamwhistle Roundhouse Toronto, Ontario

Rah Rah announces new album Breaking Hearts

Rah Rah, Regina, Saskatchewan’s pop-rock collective announce, their new sophomore album, Breaking Hearts (Young Soul Records) will be released on June 1, 2010. It follows the widespread industry praise for 2008’s debut album, Going Steady and reinforces the increasing visibility that has accompanied Rah Rah’s relentless tour schedule. Rah Rah were crowned “Best New Canadian Band” and “Best New Alternative Band” by iTunes in 2009.

Breaking Hearts was recorded and mixed in Montreal by Kees Dekker (Plants & Animals). A companion EP to the full–length will also follow later this year. But don’t let their fresh faces, confetti cannons and constant sugar highs fool you, Rah Rah are old souls. This young, seven-member ensemble artfully bridge sincerity with the absurd. Despite lyrics that touch on underwater sea creatures, stockbrokers, Saskatchewan (and now Montreal) and impressionist painters - their songs are built to break your heart.

From the instantly ear-catching album opener "Arrows," to the piano intro of "Lightning" - which opens up into a chorus of female vocals, to the quirky "What About Love," Breaking Hearts is diverse, direct, duet-filled and the bands best work. It is also the recorded introduction of newest band member and guitarist Leif Thorseth to the band. His addition to the group, according to lead vocalist Marshall Burns “has really influenced the writing to be more collaborative and provided more sweet guitar interplays!”

Erin Passmore, drummer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist in Rah Rah, offers the following about the new record; "You still have Marshall's recognizable voice and lyrics, all the quirkiness and instrumentation, but it sounds more mature, more complete. I really think this record displays better what we are as a group of artists.”

Rah Rah will tour Breaking Hearts this summer. Full dates will be announced shortly.

1. Arrows
2. Ghosts
3. Henry
4. Beaches
5.Communist Man
6. Salty Cities
7. Hurt You Bad
8. Joey
9. What About Love?
10. Lightning
11. Waltz
12. Breaking Hearts
13. Parkade

Check out a video from good friend Christine McAvoy of the making of Breaking Hearts...

Rose Cousins & Amelia Curran tour Western Canada

From Rose Cousins:

Amelia Curran and I are joining forces and heading west this month to play Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC. Amelia is currently at the 2010 Junos nominated for Roots/Traditional Solo Album of the Year! We don't often get to share the stage so I'm really looking forward to these shows!

Please join us....


April 22, 2010 - 8:30pm, doors at 8pm
Communitea Cafe
117 1001 6th Avenue
Canmore, AB
$15 advance, $18 at the door
for tickets: 403-678-6818


April 24, 2010 - 8pm, doors at 7:30pm
The Haven Soclal Club
15120 A Stony Plain Road
Edmonton, AB
780 756 6010
Tickets $10 At The Door


April 25, 2010 - 8pm
The Ironwood
1429 - 9th Avenue S.E.
Calgary, AB


April 27, 2010 - 8pm
650 Broadway Avenue
Saskatoon, SK
Tickets $15
Please call Robert Hodgins at (306) 653-0901


April 29, 2010 - 8pm
The Park Theatre
698 Osborne Street
Winnipeg, MB
Tickets available at


April 30, 2010 - 7:30pm, doors at 7pm
Orange Hall
1620 Fernwood Road
Victoria, BC
$15 at the door


May 1, 2010 - 7pm SHARP, doors at 6pm
The Media Club
695 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
tickets available at
$10 advance, $12 at the door


May 2, 2010 - 8pm
St. Bart's Hall
659 North Road
Gibsons, BC
tickets available at Gaia's Fair Trade in Gibsons,
MELOmania in Roberts Creek and
WindSong Gallery in Sechelt

Sunday, April 4, 2010

OPINION : Music and Politics

I recently received an email from someone who was looking for my opinion regarding the questions below:
Do you think music today is more or less political than it was in the past?
How do you think musicians approach politics?
What musicians in the Canadian [indie] scene are the most political?
Do you find yourself addressing political issues in your blog?
Do you find that politics and music tend to go in hand in hand, or can there be music without politics?
Modern-day music is very youth-centric; do you find that this generation seems to be more nihilistic?
She asked a lot of questions, so she'll get a long answer! What do you think about the relationship between music and politics? How would you answer the questions above?

Here's what I replied:

I think it depends on what you define as political. In terms of opinions regarding who's in government, many musicians express their displeasure with current governments. For example, many artists, both BC-based and not, spoke up against the recent drastic cuts to arts funding by the BC Liberals. Many artists are vocally against the federal Conservative government because of Stephen Harper and several of his ministers' views on everything from their stances on same-sex marriages, to military presence abroad, to the seal hunt. It's not limited to Canadian politics either; Arcade Fire were open supporters of Obama during his presidential run, playing shows for his volunteers during the elections. So many artists were outspoken during the various American issues, such as California's Prop 8, the health care reform debate, and so on. Vancouver's Geoff Berner recorded a song, released free on his website, that was his Olympic anthem, which protested having the games due to mainly the homeless population and poverty in the downtown east side.

However, if you define political beyond the traditional sense of government, you'll find that almost every musician has a pet cause or platform that they're passionate about. For example, Tegan and Sara are big proponents for gender and queer issues, Broken Social Scene are fundraising for street youth, and Metric for prevention of trafficking of women. Arcade Fire were among the first to broach the devastation of the Haitian earthquakes, and Jason Collett is married to a social worker. It goes on and on and on, from the environment to poverty to preservation of arts and culture in a specific city. With such an emotional impact, many of these themes necessarily come across in their art.

As for how they approach and support their respective causes/platforms, many play shows with a certain percentage going toward specific charities/causes. For example, War Child Canada, a charity which specifically aims to protect children in war zones, has done a fantastic job in collaborating with artists in their Busking For Change series in major Canadian cities. The Vancouver edition happened back in January I believe, and artists such as Said the Whale, Elias, We Are the City and many more busked downtown to fundraise for War Child. Artists such as Jeremy Fisher have openly spoken about War Child and had volunteers soliciting donations at shows. Many artists also play fundraisers for local venues, organizations and causes, and many would note the importance of preserving a local culture.

Artists also speak out for/against things during interviews and shows. The media love controversy, and many of their opinions are often magnified when spoken to media sources. Many also keep personal blogs and websites to express their opinions about current issues. For example, a member of hardcore band Fucked Up recently wrote a thoughtful piece on the commercialization of popular music festival South by South West (SxSW) [ed. note: I still think the piece is legit even with the April Fools prank]. You'll find that when a band is successful, especially if their success is partially based off of insight in their music, people will seek out their opinion on issues.

Music has always been a form of protest and questioning. That's a core part of its power, and why bands such as Rage Against the Machine speak to people way beyond their prime years. The power of art is to move... whether to action or to contemplation. In that sense, I think music, being a form of communication with immense emotional power, is political. Even if it's not overtly so. For example, successful Quebec bands such as Malajube choose to sing in French rather than English although it would probably help them expand their audience. So music the art form, combined with music's culture (the identities music lovers adopt, the general ideological tendencies, being counter culture to some sort of norm) as well as musicians' personal choices all have political implications.

I occasionally write opinion pieces outside of reviews, but not often. I was critical of the funding cuts to arts and culture by the provincial government last year and blogged about it, but mainly that kind of stuff I save for Twitter or Facebook. I contribute also to a crowd-sourced Canadian music blog named North by East West ( and there are definitely opinionated people on there. A discussion can spring up about everything from equal representation of music from all parts of Canada (one of the reason for the blog's genesis) to whether you have to be hot to rock. CBC Radio 3's Lisa Christiansen does an incredible blog series called Extended Play which explores a lot of issues surrounding music which include politics.

I don't see as much youth-centrism in independent music as I do in mainstream music. Usually, bands have to really build up a base over time in order to have a solid presence in the indie scene. The most successful examples, such as Sam Roberts, Feist, Metric, Joel Plaskett, Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire... generally are in their 30-40s. Most of them had played in bands since their early 20s (if not earlier), in many different bands, and moved numerous times before they had a solid fan base/got greater exposure like from an iPod commercial. That's not to say that there's not a lot of young indie bands that are successful, but an overnight teen sensation is unlikely to happen in the indie scene because there's not a dominant force pushing a specific band to be "hot" and get radio play and advertisement deals the way that happens in mainstream music.

I don't think it's the youth-centrism which contributes to our culture's nihilism. I think our pervasive doubt of authority, which is related to the postmodern rejection of a dominant world view, is something that we've been taught for a long time. How often have we been told to question every source in school by doing more research and doubt everything? So no, I don't think this current music culture is any more nihilistic. Our central authorities have been teaching us nihilism in the form of scientific skepticism for a while... isn't that ironic?

Friday, April 2, 2010

VIDEOS : Patrick Watson in a bar & Bonfire Ball favourites

Wow. Patrick Watson's drummer/percussionist Robbie Kuster never ceases to amaze me with his inventive accompaniment to Watson's floating falsetto. In this video courtesy of Watsonia, Kuster uses wine glasses to lay down a beat for "Big Bird in a Small Cage," played in a Japanese bar.

As an aside, if you go to, the results are pretty funny.

Patrick Watson & The Wooden Arms-Big Bird In A Small Cage (Bar session in Shibuya,Tokyo 2010) from Qetic Channel on Vimeo.

And of course, I'm not yet over my love-fest with the men of the Bonfire Ball. And of course, after such phenomenal shows, I think I'm allowed a good recovery period!

Like I previously mentioned, Afie Jurvanen, aka. Bahamas, does this cover of Al Green's "I've Never Found a Girl (Who Loves Me Like You Do)" which leaves no women and few men unmelted.

Next we have 2 new songs from Bahamas, which aren't on his current (and only) album Pink Strat. Tentative titles: "I've Got You" and "Never Again." I remember slow dancing to these songs during the show, and although the recording is not optimal, I assure you they were lovely.

Jason Collett does "Rave On Sad Songs" from his latest, fantastic album Rat a Tat Tat:

Zeus playing "I Know" off of their EP Sounds Like Zeus as well as their latest full-length Say Us. Featuring Carlin Nicholson on vocals and keys: