Monday, May 31, 2010

PHOTO SET : Mumford & Sons outside Capones Restaurant

A secret show hosted by The Peak featuring UK folk rockers Mumford & Sons packed Hamilton street with hundreds to thousands of eager fans who couldn't get tickets to their sold-out show at 560 Club. At 2:00 pm in the afternoon on Sunday May 30, 2010, the quartet - freshly in town from their gig at Sasquatch Festival - stepped out onto the patio of Capones Restaurant in Yaletown to thunderous applause. They were dumbfounded by the sheer enormity of the spontaneous crowd and singer Marcus Mumford humbly remarked, "Sasquatch was beautiful, but this is beautiful in a completely different way" and promised to be back in Vancouver in the fall.

It's easy to see why such a large, rapturous crowd gathered for Mumford & Sons after only one song, and they played 4. Their tunes, steeped heavily with the best elements of folk, bluegrass and alt-country, were paired with soulful, melancholy and romantic lyrics. Mumford especially stood out with his rich and gravelly voice, his impassioned guitar strumming which saw him break 3 guitar strings on 2 separate guitars, and his simultaneous kick-drumming. Mumford & Sons is a band to see live, and I really envy the people who got tickets in the mere minutes before the Sunday night show sold out.

Check out the complete photo set on my Flickr.

Below is a video by The Peak which demonstrates the size of the impromptu crowd:

Peak Performance Project Top 20 Announced

Local Vancouver BC radio station and indie champions The Peak 100.5 FM have released the finalists for their second year of the Peak Performance Project, whose aim is to "educate, promote, develop and hopefully launch the careers of some of British Columbia’s top emerging artists." Last year's winners were the boys from We Are The City. Finalists will attend a rock & roll bootcamp at the end of August and be educated in the ins and outs of the industry. That 20 will then be thinned out to a top 3, after which a winner will be announced November 1.

According to the Peak Performance Project website, the 1st place artist will receive $100,500, 2nd is $75,000, 3rd is $50,000, 4th is $10,000, 5th is $5,000 and all 20 finalists will receive $3500 each in initial artists development funding. In addition to this, all of this year’s 20 finalists will receive a showcase spot at The Kelowna 2010 BreakOut West Festival presented by the Western Canadian Music Alliance October 21–24, 2010.

Congratulations to earbuds & ticket stubs mainstays Aidan Knight, Said the Whale and Debra-Jean (with Mother Mother) for making it onto the Top 20! Below you'll find the full list of 20 along with a short clip of their music. Enjoy!

Adaline (Vancouver)
Latest album: Famous For Fire (2008)

Kuba Oms (Victoria)
Latest album: How Much Time (2009)

Christopher Arruda (Nanaimo)
Associated acts: The Lady Esther, Open, Parachute!
Latest album: God Hates a Coward (2009)

Bodhi Jones (Vancouver)
Latest album: Where Do We Go From Here? (2010)

Greg Sczebel (Salmon Arm)
Latest album: Love and the Lack Thereof (2009)

Steph Macpherson (Victoria)
Latest EP: Keeping Time (2009).

Acres of Lions (Victoria)
Latest album: Working (2009)

Parlour Steps (Vancouver)
Latest album: The Hidden Names (2009)

Kyprios (North Vancouver)
Latest album: 12:12
Associated acts: Sweatshop Union

Jess Hill (Vancouver)
Latest album: Road (2006)

41st and Home (Vancouver)
Latest album: Left In Places (2010)

Delhi 2 Dublin (Vancouver)
Latest album: Planet Electric (2010)

Debra-Jean (Vancouver)
Associated acts: Mother Mother, Debra-Jean and the Means

Behind Sapphire (Vancouver)
Latest album: S/T (2010)

Said the Whale (Vancouver)
Latest album: Islands Disappear (2009), Bear Bones EP (2010)

Vince Vaccaro (Victoria)
Latest album: S/T (2009)

Yes Nice (Burnaby)
Latest album: Blindfolded (2009)

Christina Maria (Surrey)
Latest album: Straight Line (2010)

Aidan Knight (Victoria)
Latest album: Versicolour (2009)
Associated acts: Black Tie Social, Counting Heartbeats, Toco & Jorge, Maurice, Lotus Child and Vegan Holocaust
Read the interview I conducted with Aidan.

The Racoons (Vancouver)
Latest EP: Islomania (2009)

NEW VIDEO : Shad - "Rose Garden"

The video for "Rose Garden," the second track and second video off of Vancouver-based Shad's latest album. This track features Lisa Lobsinger of Broken Social Scene (total girl crush!).

TSOL is a fantastic album, by the way, and I'm definitely hoping to see it on the Polaris list this year. Make sure you catch him touring with Grand Analog and D-Sisive over the next month.

TSOL tour
6/02 whistler - garfinkel's
6/03 vancouver, bc - biltmore
6/04 victoria, bc - sugar
6/05 kelowna, bc - habitat
6/06 calgary, ab - republik
6/07 edmonton, ab - brixx
6/08 regina, sk - exchange
6/12 toronto, on - opera house
6/15 hamilton, on - casbah
6/16 peterborough, on - red dog
6/17 london, on - call the office
6/18 london, on - call the office

Summer Festivals
6/25 montreal - jazz festival
6/27 st. catharines - s.c.e.n.e.
7/01 ottawa - jazz festival
7/25 guelph - hillside festival
8/07 wolfe island - music fest

Friday, May 28, 2010

NEW VIDEO : Metric - "Stadium Love"

The latest single off of Metric's Polaris short-listed album Fantasies. Animals were definitely harmed in the production of this video.

Also, attention fans who bought tickets for the Vancouver shows!
Regrettably, there has been a change to our touring schedule. Due to a scheduling error by the venue, our June 11 performance at Malkin Bowl has been moved to June 13.

Tickets for June 11 will be honored at the door on the rescheduled show date. If you have tickets, but are unable to attend the June 13 date, you can get a refund at the point of purchase any time until June 10.

The June 12 show will remain as scheduled.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

STREAMING : New Arcade Fire singles "Month of May" and "The Suburbs"

These Arcade Fire singles, which were released for radio today, were broadcast on BBC Radio 1. For those of you who missed the broadcast, The End 107.7 has "Month of May" and "The Suburbs" streaming on their website here. I have to warn you, they're kind of ... upbeat!

Also, limited copies of the 7" are supposedly floating around in various record stores.

***NEW : download the MP3s here!

TRAILER : This Movie Is Broken

Featuring music and fan clips from Broken Social Scene's 2009 free Harbourfront Centre show in Toronto.
In theatres June 25, 2010. Keep an eye out for the movie's website, which is still in the works.

From the film synopsis:
Unbelievable! Bruno (Greg Calderone) wakes up in bed next to Caroline (Georgina Reilly), his long time crush. But tomorrow she's off for school in France, and maybe she only granted this miracle as a parting gift for her long time friend. So tonight -- tonight is Bruno's last chance. And tonight, as it happens, Broken Social Scene, her favourite band, is throwing a big outdoor bash. Maybe if Bruno, with the help of his best pal Blake (Kerr Hewitt), can score tickets and give Caroline a night to remember, he can keep this miracle alive. Directed by Bruce McDonald and featuring Broken Social Scene.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

INTERVIEW : Paul Murphy of Wintersleep talks New Inheritors and relentless touring

Having won a Juno for New Group of the Year and being hand picked by Paul McCartney as an opening act are just a few of the distinctions that Halifax, Nova Scotia's hottest exports Wintersleep have under their belt. Although they may be best known for that dang catchy song "Weighty Ghost," Wintersleep has churned out three previous albums' worth of their eerie and unsettling brand of indie rock. Their fourth album New Inheritors is now available every way you like your music in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Similarly, you can follow them in every way you like your online music stalking. Here they are on Facebook, TwitterLast.FM and Myspace. Loel Campbell, the drummer, also maintains a relatively prolific blog on the site.

I caught lead singer and guitarist Paul Murphy (also of Postdata) in the middle of their European tour where he answered some questions regarding touring and the newly released album New Inheritors.

Brenda: The new album is named “New Inheritors.” What’s the significance of the idea of inheritance to the album?
Paul: The title quotes Nathanial Hawthorne's "The New Adam & Eve," the full quote that was used in the song being 'new inheritors of earth." I initially just liked the juxtaposition of a word like new and the idea of inheritance, and the formal tag of a word like inheritance applied to something natural, the earth. We inherit things in whatever condition they come in and have a job to preserve these things, to live with them or despite them, and also have the power to fuck up.. The idea that there are things that exist before us and will outlive us and have a pretty immense impact.. The idea of inheritance and entitlement, property and ownership, but also the responsibility that these things come with or should come with but sometimes don't. To be clear, it isn't a concept record on the idea of inheritance, there are other ideas floating around there too!

B: There are a couple of songs on the upcoming album that evoke the imagery of death (black, mausoleum, blood, decay, etc). Was it a conscious decision to make a dark album thematically?
P: I don't think I've ever really consciously set out to make the lyrics dark or light.. There is a space that you pull the melody from, that you hear and that you work with. It is something that just hits you or occurs... Definitely don't sit in my room trying to think of the darkest possible thing I can say before writing a song!

B: How do you think the band and your sound have evolved since Welcome to the Night Sky [the previous album]?
P: Well, we have a new bass player in the lovely and talented Michael Bigelow and Mr. Jon Samuel on the keys; both played a big role on this record. That coupled with the immense amount of touring we've been up to since the WTTNS release, playing in different countries, writing during sound checks, having to really block off time and get shit done when we could certainly contributed... [It's] something we've never really had to do before and which was really difficult but somehow liberating, and in the end, seemed to be really crucial to the feel of this record.

B: Describe briefly the experience of crossing into another artistic realm in collaborating with Graeme Patterson to create the album artwork.
P: We have always been really adamant about the artwork for our records being unique and created by artists that we love and are friends with. We also like the idea of art work being inspired as directly by the music and lyrics as possible-- we send around lyrics and loose themes and early cuts from the record, that sort of stuff, hoping that something unique and special comes out. Graeme has been someone we've admired for such a long time, just someone with such a unique, great style. He seemed to have a good sense of what we wanted but also completely surprised us and amazed us in the end too, if that makes any sense at all.

B: Wintersleep has recently passed through Vancouver and played several shows at the Olympics. What was that experience like? Did you guys get a chance to enjoy the sights and sounds?
P: It was pretty great. Real nice energy in the city... and free shows, can't beat it..! I really like the feel of those sorts of shows. We were so busy every day just setting up and playing that we did not get a chance to see anything. Actually, we were 30,000 feet in the air when Crosby got the game winning goal for the men's hockey portion. That was a nice moment actually; on the plane, the captain announced it over the speakers as soon as he got word.

B: Wintersleep has garnered a reputation for being a really hard working band. Have you had a chance to rest in between promoting the last album and this one?
P: No.

B: Looking at your tour dates, the band is touring quite extensively through Europe and the US. When can we expect a Canadian tour for New Inheritors?
P: In the Fall... Gonna be pretty extensive! :)

They're going on a thorough U.S. tour but sprinkled in between are some Canadian festival dates. Here they are below:

26 May 2010 21:00
Mod Club Toronto, Ontario, CA
4 Jun 2010 20:00
First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvan, US
5 Jun 2010 20:00
Great Scott Allston, Massachuse, US
6 Jun 2010 20:30
Iron Horse Music Hall Northampton, Massachuse, US
8 Jun 2010 20:00
Lincoln Hall Chicago, Illinois, US
9 Jun 2010 20:00
7th Street Entry Minneapolis, Minnesota, US
12 Jun 2010 21:00
High Dive Seattle Seattle, Washington, US
13 Jun 2010 21:00
Doug Fir Lounge Portland, Oregon, US
15 Jun 2010 20:00
The Independent San Francisco, California, US
16 Jun 2010 21:00
Detroit Bar Costa Mesa, California, US
17 Jun 2010 20:00
Troubadour Los Angeles, California, US
18 Jun 2010 20:00
Sail Inn Tempe, Arizona , US
19 Jun 2010 20:00
Corazon Santa Fe, New Mexico, US
21 Jun 2010 20:00
Mohawk Austin, Texas , US
23 Jun 2010 20:00
Bottle Tree Birmingham, Alabama , US
24 Jun 2010 20:30
Earl East Atlanta, Georgia , US
27 Jun 2010 20:30
Bowery Ballroom New York, New York, US
28 Aug 2010 18:30
Molson Canadian Amphitheatre Toronto, Ontario , CA
4 Sep 2010 16:00
Northlands Grounds - SONiC BOOM Festival Edmonton, Alberta , CA

Sunday, May 23, 2010

SHOW REVIEW : Hannah Georgas album release for This Is Good at Venue

After playing a packed hometown show in Vancouver last night, Hannah Georgas is wrapping up her album release tour for This Is Good in Victoria tonight. With her undeniably catchy pop tunes, Hannah excited and energized a crowd filled with friends and family, including more fellow musicians than you can count with all your fingers and toes. And that certainly was a good indicator of the quality of Georgas' musicianship. Although she started the night on a slightly nervous note, which is understandable given that this is the hometown show of her first headlining tour, she soon loosened up after a few songs bolstered by the audience's affection of the fiery haired singer.

Hannah Georgas blasted through the majority of the material off of her The Beat Stuff EP and her recently released first full-length, This Is Good. Venue nightclub had emblazoned her name in lights as her and the band entered the stage, which was definitely a nice touch. Opening with the ukelele-led closer of her album "Something for You," she immediately transitioned into her single "Bang Bang You're Dead!" sans the help of the kids at her daycare, whom she got to sing the backup vocals (it was past bedtime, probably). This worked to her favour, as some of us that grew up in the era of scary movies narrated with children's voices might find it hard to take kids' voices in songs seriously. Other highlights of the set included the always, always awesome track off of her EP "Mama's Boy," which opener Colleen Brown earlier aptly defined as a "ball buster" of a track. This fierce yet totally relatable kiss-off song had, I'm sure, many girls mentally high-fiving Georgas.

After a short pause after her proper set, Hannah came back on stage for a three song encore. Fans were delighted by the more than night club friendly track "Dancefloor." In a move that somehow works due to Georgas' immense likeability, she slowed things right down with a new song "Ode to Mom," a more sombre ballad which she dedicated to her father's memory. The end of the song had Georgas singing the words, "if there's magic on this earth, it's in the water... if there's magic on this earth, it's in my blood." This vulnerable and contemplative theme carried over into the last track of the night, "Shine," which saw Georgas on the keys and probing, "is there a place for me in your eyes?" to which the crowd emphatically responded, yes, with their glowing smiles and loud applause.

Hannah Georgas was backed by David Vertesi on guitar/bass, who also acted as her first opener of the night. Better known as local favourites Hey Ocean!'s bassist, Vertesi has recently started churning out material of his own. And boy, did he look all alone on the wide stage of Venue nightclub. The lighting technician didn't entirely help matters either, often turning off the spotlight after a song, making it appear as if the set had ended. He played short set of about 5-6 songs characterized by quiet guitar strums and a deep baritone voice, which included a Hey Ocean! song "My Friends" which he dedicated to the following two acts, Colleen Brown and Hannah Georgas.

In between sets, the audience was treated to CBC Radio 3 trivia questions and swag giveaways by co-emcees Tariq Hussain and Chris Kelly. Chris in particular seemed very amped up and was hilarious on stage. If you need someone to introduce you for anything, I'd give him a call!

Colleen Brown is an artist that has dwelt somewhat under the radar since she started writing her own music in 2001. A damn shame, I say, because after seeing her open for Georgas, I wholeheartedly agreed with emcee Chris Kelly's advice, to go and thank Hannah Georgas for introducing us to this amazing singer-writer. As someone who grew up listening to rhythm and blues and musical theatre during high school, I'd always lamented the indie scene's relative lack of vocalists. If you're like me, take a listen to Brown, who slides in between octaves seamlessly, whose joy in using her voice permeates throughout her songs, which she admitted, were all "sappy love songs." But you won't find only ballads on her recently re-released album Foot in Heart if her live show is any indication; her playful and warm voice is punctuated by punchy keys that encourage dancing and swaying. Her set brought increasingly louder applause until the crowd was clapping and whooping when she left the stage.

For the complete photo set of Hannah's show, check out my Flickr.

Some live footage of Hannah Georgas at the Communitea Cafe in Canmore:
"Let's Talk"


Thursday, May 20, 2010

INTERVIEW : Royal Wood speaks on life, love and lust as muse

Reaching him in Winnipeg early yesterday afternoon, Royal Wood was bright and enthusiastic when we spoke over the phone. And why shouldn’t he be? Wood is halfway through a tour supporting label mate David Gray, playing to full theatres every night. On top of that, he has a new album to showcase to these crowds. The Waiting, Wood’s third full-length recording, is already out on iTunes and physical copies are set to be released via Maple Music Recordings on May 25. The future, as they say, is bright.

The Waiting differs from Royal Wood’s previous efforts in that it was not self-produced. Wood had previously arranged and played almost all of the instruments in all his records. However, this time around, he felt the “uncomfortable” challenge to take the album “to another level that you can only achieve with someone else.” This someone else turned out to be producer Pierre Marchand (who had previously worked with the likes of Sarah MaLachlan) who produced 3 tracks off The Waiting. The remaining tracks were co-produced by Wood and Dean Drouillard, who also supports Wood on guitar. The Waiting was recorded in Marchand’s studio in Montreal over a span of two days.

Below, Royal joins me in a conversation regarding the experience of letting go of control in the production process, the muse (almost with a capital M) of his music, and becoming a confident songwriter.

Brenda: What do you think the goal of this record was?
Royal: Sonically, I wanted to enter into a new territory. I wanted it to not just be about me anymore. And when you’re self-producing, it’s hard to expand into that since you’re calling all the shots, and you’re pigeonholed by your own choices and limits. That’s why it’s so valuable to have a producer and artist coming together to make something that you alone couldn’t make. That really was the vision I wanted to enter upon, this artistic realm where I had the producer and my band with me. My band that I had with me throughout the years, having them there to have a say. So it wasn’t just me writing the parts and dictating it for them, but having them come up with the parts together in the studio. It was a big group effort.

B: Having produced all your previous albums, what was it like to let someone else grab hold of the reins?
R: It was terrifying. That drive up to Montreal to Pierre’s studio was definitely nerve-wracking. There were a couple of sleepless nights. I knew what I wanted, but it’s strange to play your songs for others and for them to add their own ideas.

B: It’s like having your songs before a panel discussion before you record it.
R: Yeah, exactly. But Pierre acted as a captain. Everyone had their own vision of what they wanted the album to sound like, and Pierre filtered a lot of the ideas so we don’t have the cello or whatever going off in a complete different direction.

B: Do you feel like there was a cohesiveness to The Waiting?
R: Most definitely. I knew what my budget was going in; I knew how many songs I could make. Some artists could record 18 tracks and pick out 11 of the best songs, but I didn’t have that luxury at this point. I was recording with Pierre in his incredible studio, in a different city; expenses were very high. So I had to plan out the songs, which ones would be ballads, which ones would be rockier, or mid tempo, and also met the story I wanted to tell.

In terms of inspiration, Royal Wood returns to the muse of life and love again and again. Known for writing love songs, Wood emphasizes that he can’t write jingles or “hokey pop songs that make someone cry.” Songs seem to flow from the pen for him. That’s not to say that The Waiting is an album which only addresses love; for example, “Birds on Sunday” is a song about faith, whether religious or atheistic, about having it, losing it and trying to regain it. All in all, Wood emphatically states that life is the only muse. “That’s what inspires every artist, and what inspires every human being; it’s our existence.”

B: Tell me a little bit of the title, "The Waiting." What does that signify to you and how does that weave into the songs?
R: "The Waiting" is in all intents and purposes an awakening. Hitting my 30s, and realizing that I had spent a good deal of my 20s becoming the man I am, and learning how to have relationships in life, whether that’s with family or your lover, or whomever. Sometimes I found myself waiting for mirror experiences to happen. If you’re in a great relationship, waiting for it to split, and when it has, waiting for it to come back.
With everything, so many of us are not existing in the moment, and The Waiting is about that. In this industry we also live by a calendar, you live on a tour and you have all your days planned out. You’re always thinking of the next 12 shows but what you should be thinking about is the one show you’re doing. So the songs are about that, the duality that we live with, and what I had learned through the process of writing the songs over the course of the two years - how to live in the moment.

B: In your bio, you mention that this is your first album with “real love songs.” Why do you think you can write those real love songs now, as opposed to before?
R: They were love songs, but they were different. They were honest, obviously. When I was a teenager and trying to write, those songs were fake and forced and I never let them see the light of day. That’s why I didn’t produce my first record until I was 24. I just didn’t know how to write something from a place of truth. It was always just about trying to write a song. What differed this time was that search for true relationships, unlike the majority of relationships in my 20s. That’s what I ended up writing about back then, songs based in love but mostly about figuring out what love is – love of your family, love of yourself, love of your partner. It was about learning how to navigate life as your own person but also how to share your life with someone else. Once you actually learn to share your life with someone and let someone in, then I think you truly learn what love is, and that’s what led to some of the songs on The Waiting, this opening up.

B: At your last Vancouver show, you had mentioned that you recently got married. Do you think that the album was a manifestation of that in your life, to be able to write about this love?
R: Oh absolutely. That’s the muse that led to songs that were strictly about having love – not losing it, not wanting to lose it, not trying to lose it, but about just having it.

B: Yet your first single, “On Top of Your Love,” is a song strictly about lust.
R: That song was purely about lust, yes. Lust of someone that you can’t have. In my industry, we have to work a lot of time away from our loved ones. I certainly have to spend a lot of time away from my wife. That definitely led to that song.

Music video for "On Top of Your Love":

Royal Wood also had some songwriting advice for aspiring musicians. A pianist friend had asked a technical question about the song "Thinking About" on his Lost and Found EP, in particular why he had left it unresolved. He points out the importance of intuition, of letting the ideas flow before trying to impose a structure upon them. (Yes, it does pay off to follow me on twitter)

B: I have one more question from someone who’s a big fan of yours. He’s also a pianist and asked you a technical question – why is the song “Thinking About” on the Lost & Found EP left unresolved at the end?
R: Why I left it unresolved! Good question! You can tell him that with everyone song I make, I wait for a particular feeling. I just have to respect that; something tells me what the song will be, when I’m lyrically exhausted. I’m never thinking in a musically technical way, like whether something is unresolved, or this shouldn’t be diminished because it leaves this feeling. I don’t write it from that standpoint; I write it from the muse first. Afterwards, when the song is complete, then I can think about it in a musical, technical way when I’m doing charts or scores or arrangements for my musicians. It’s just what comes out.

B: So the technical follows what your intuition tells you.
R: Correct. Intuition first, technical after. I find that part of the problem of when I was a teenager writing, I would think technical, of what my peers were writing or what people I was listening to were writing. Listening to them, gathering up all that musical knowledge, and trying to write something. It was technical, it wasn’t inspired and it wasn’t from the muse, nor the heart. If you think technical and write technical, it’s going to sound that way. It’s going to sound like music theory. So there wasn’t a specific reason for me to leave it that way, strictly that’s what had felt right to do.

Below are the upcoming Royal Wood dates as he travels through central Canada and the east coast. North by East West has a contest going on, so you should hop on over and take a look if you'd like to win spots on the guest list for yourself and a guest :

20 May 2010 20:00
Foster’s Inn Stratford, Ontario , CA
22 May 2010 20:00
Hamilton Place Theatre Hamilton, CA
23 May 2010 20:00
National Arts Centre - Southam Hall Ottawa, Ontario , CA
25 May 2010 20:00
Centre In The Square Kitchener, Ontario , CA
26 May 2010 20:00
St. Denis Theatre Montreal, Quebec , CA
28 May 2010 20:00
Halifax Metro Centre Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA
2 Jul 2010 20:00
Stan Rogers Folk Festival Canso, Nova Scotia, CA
14 Aug 2010 20:00
Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Fest Salmon Arm, BC, CA

Sunday, May 16, 2010

SHOW REVIEW : David Gray & Royal Wood at Queen Elizabeth Theatre

British singer-songwriter David Gray played to a sold-out show last Friday, the second of two shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. If someone walked in to the show mid-way, they could be forgiven for thinking that it was a revival, not a concert, judging by the amount of arms waving in the air. He played a long set and encore filled with hits spanning his 17-year career, blasting off his set appearing from behind a white screen for crowd favourite "Babylon." The audience, filled to equal measure with screaming men and women, clapped, sang and screamed shrilly whenever the opportunity arose. In fact, the numerous standing ovations that the crowd lavished upon Gray, interspersed with male audience members yelling "I LOVE YOU!" and "HAVE MY BABIES!" made the singer smile and pause several times during his set. And the love was mutual; during his few pauses for banter, Gray thanked the crowd numerous times, and attributed his supposed moodiness to the lack of whales he saw during his tour on a whale-watching expedition earlier in the day.

David Gray and his band demonstrated considerable presence in order to fill the large venue in which they played. Gray in particular swayed from side to side, and swaggered like nobody's business. The crowd reciprocated, and by the time he strapped on the electric guitar for "The One I Love," the aisles of the classy theatre filled with middle aged men and women, swaying, dancing and waving their arms. To add to the comparisons to a spiritual revival, Gray barked "you may rise!" for one particular upbeat song in the encore, bringing scores of audience members to their feet. I had the novel experience of witnessing the (slightly) older generation losing their shit as I grinned in my seat, bemused.

Some other highlights of the set included the slow, burning build up of "The Other Side" in the beginning of the set. "Nemesis," which Gray saved for the second song of the encore, saw the band jamming in an extended mix while he improvised with the lyrics.

Toronto's Royal Wood opened the show with a short 30-minute set, with an even split of older material and new songs off of his yet-to-be-released latest album The Waiting. The people I chatted to during intermission around where I sat, which included two women who had seen the show 3 times and a few people from Seattle, had nothing but glowing reviews for Wood. "Charming," "funny" and "beautiful voice" were words they used, with one of the women enthusiastically retelling the joke that Royal told in order to encourage audience participation in his last song "Lady in White" - sing, for it shows your sexual confidence! A perfect lead-up to the singing, dancing crowd of Gray's set.

David Gray and Royal Wood will be continuing on tour throughout Canada, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming contest involving Royal Wood! Below are the remainder of the tour dates:

17 May 2010 20:00
Jack Singer Concert Hall Calgary, Alberta , CA
18 May 2010 20:00
TCU Place Saskatoon, Saskatchew, CA
19 May 2010 20:00
Centennial Concert Hall Winnipeg, Manitoba , CA
20 May 2010 20:00
Foster’s Inn Stratford, Ontario , CA
22 May 2010 20:00
Hamilton Place Theatre Hamilton, CA
23 May 2010 20:00
National Arts Centre - Southam Hall Ottawa, Ontario , CA
25 May 2010 20:00
Centre In The Square Kitchener, Ontario , CA
26 May 2010 20:00
St. Denis Theatre Montreal, Quebec , CA
28 May 2010 20:00
Halifax Metro Centre Halifax, Nova Scotia, CA
2 Jul 2010 20:00
Stan Rogers Folk Festival Canso, Nova Scotia, CA
14 Aug 2010 20:00
Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Fest Salmon Arm, BC, CA

(Photos by Nicole Gibbs)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Malahat Revue featuring Jeremy Fisher, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas and Aidan Knight

BC-based Jeremy Fisher, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas and Aidan Knight have come together to form The Malahat Revue, an eight-piece musical collective that will begin touring their beloved province by bicycle on Thursday July 8, 2010 in Salt Spring Island. The tour will take them through smaller towns on Vancouver Island, eventually taking them to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival on July 18.

Conceived by Jeremy Fisher who has toured across North America by bike three times and at 33, doesn’t own a car. Fisher endeavours to do as much as possible by bike. It’s with that ethic in mind that The Malahat Revue will hit the road on their bicycles, playing six shows from July 8-18. With only a single support vehicle to carry drums and larger gear, the musicians will carry more portable gear with them, and rack up over 500 kilometers as they pedal from gig to gig in a little more than a week.

With eight musicians together on stage, playing a selection of favourites from one another's back catalogues, it will be an unpredictable atmosphere of spontaneity and experimentation. And if The Malahat Revue is anything like the Bonfire Ball Revue, it will be more than worth biking to!


Thursday July 8 – Artspring Theatre – Salt Spring Island, BC
Friday July 9 – Pender Island Community Hall, Pender Island, BC
Saturday July 10 – Sugar – Victoria, BC (*ON SALE MAY 15)
Sunday July 11 – Duncan Garage Showroom – Duncan, BC
Friday July 16 – Nanaimo Entertainment Centre – Nanaimo, BC (*ON SALE MAY 15)
Sunday July 18 – Vancouver Folk Fest – Vancouver, BC (*CURRENTLY ON SALE)

The Malahat Revue Teaser from Jonathan Taggart on Vimeo.

Library Voices will honour tour dates despite losing all gear in studio flood

This is just devastating. Regina's 8-piece pop band Library Voices, whom I had the pleasure of seeing last month while promoting their latest release Denim On Denim, had their studio/rehearsal space destroyed in a flood on May 6. A burst water main in the basement of the Regina Cultural Exchange, where the band stored all of their gear and then some, flooded the rehearsal space with some 598,000 gallons of water. The picture above shows the band sitting in (what I assume) the stripped and barren space where their gear used to be.

According to the press release, "literally every instrument and piece of gear was destroyed except for a saxophone and a Moog synth that miraculously floated to safety." Musicians and music lovers alike will cringe at the list of instruments lost in the flood, which includes: a vintage Roland Juno 6, a Korg SV-1, a Fender Jazz Bass, an Ernie Ball Music Man, a vintage Korg PS-900, countless guitars, amps, horns, drums, organs, microphones, reel to reel tape machines and tape, and a Casio Sk-1 circuit bent by Tablebeast with only 100 in circulation (other owners include Trent Reznor of NIN and Devo).

Other things destroyed in the flood include several thousand dollars of rented equipment, which is not being covered by the rental insurance, as well as band members' artwork, academic projects, massive comic book and record collections.

All that is to say, Library Voices will need all their fans, die-hard and casual, to party hard with them to cover some of those losses. The band have pledged to borrow, rent and extend their lines of credit to ensure they don't have to cancel any upcoming tour dates. That is not the only reason to see them, of course; LV puts on a phenomenal live show which lives up to their slogan "Pop as Fuck." There's good reason why Canadian indie fans voted LV into the shortlist for Best Live Act in the CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards. Their upcoming summer tour dates are listed below.


June 11, 2010 - Winnipeg / Royal Albert Arms
June 12, 2010 - Thunder Bay / Crocks
June 13, 2010 - Sault Ste Marie / Lop Lops
June 16, 2010 - Montreal / Il Motore
June 17, 2010 - Ottawa / Maverick
June 18, 2010 - Guelph / Ebar
June 19, 2010 - Toronto / Horseshoe *NXNE Show
June 21, 2010 - Peterborough / Red Dog
June 24, 2010 - London / Call The Office
June 25, 2010 - Waterloo / Maxwell's
June 26, 2010 – Windsor / Phog Lounge
June 27, 2010 - St. Catharines / S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival
July 15th- 18th - Ness Creek Music Festival
July 22nd - 25th- Calgary Folk Music Festival

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GIVEAWAY! : Henry and the Nightcrawlers

Henry Alcock-White (centre), who goes by the stage name of Henry and the Nightcrawlers, is no stranger to the music scene. Those familiar with local Vancouver music will recognize him as the guitarist in the Vancouver prog band Bend Sinister, although he has recently left the band on amicable terms. Nowadays, you might see Henry and his luscious blond locks backing up fellow Vancouver band The Zolas on bass guitar. And although Henry and the Nightcrawlers is in its infancy, with nary but an EP to his name, Alcock-White demonstrates a pop sensibility influenced by his friends, and many of these friends contribute to the recording of his album and live shows.

You can expect a full-length from Henry and the Nightcrawlers in September 2010. This upcoming album, 100 Blows, was co-produced by Alcock-White and Tony Marriott, who also played drums on four of the songs. Peter Carruthers from Said the Whale played bass on a few tracks, and Tom Dobrzanski of Vertical Studios and The Zolas helped with mixing. Those expecting to hear escalating guitar solos a la Bend Sinister will be pleasantly surprised by Alcock-White's bouncy, beat-driven pop, best characterized by "100 Blows," the title track off of his upcoming full-length.

I have a copy of Henry and the Nightcrawlers' 5-song EP for one lucky reader. These babies are only available at shows and only 100 were printed! All you have to do is post a comment below with the following things:
1) your email
2) your favourite night crawler and why
Be creative! Best entry will receive an email within the next 2 weeks.

Henry and the Nightcrawlers will be playing the following Vancouver dates:
May 22 Lab Magazine Party with Maurice and TV Heart Attack at the Media Club
July 1 with We Were Lovers at the Media Club
As H&NC and The Zolas effectively share the same band members, you will also be able to catch Henry supporting The Zolas on many upcoming tour dates in June. You can check out those dates here.

Check out Henry and the Nightcrawlers on:
New Music Canada

Here's a small clip showing the making of H&NC's 100 Blows:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Polaris Music Prize 2010 - announcements and guesses!

Here are the details on this year's Polaris Music Prize:
The Long List of 40 titles will be announced June 17th. The Short List of 10 nominees will be announced on July 6th.
Both lists will be revealed live at events to be held at the Drake Hotel in Toronto.
The winner will be revealed Monday, September 20th at the Polaris gala and exclusively broadcast live to North America on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 86 and to the world on CBC Radio 3.
The event will be at at CTV’s Concert Hall studios at Toronto’s Masonic Temple and will feature live performances by this year’s short list nominees. It will be broadcast on MuchMusic, Saturday, Sept. 25th at 9 p.m. and midnight ET.
The Long List and Short List are determined by an independent jury of over 200 music journalists, broadcasters and music bloggers from across Canada. Eleven people are selected from the larger jury pool to serve on the Grand Jury. The grand jury will convene the night of the 20th during the gala to select the 2010 Polaris Music Prize winner.
The Polaris Music Prize awards $20,000 to the artist who creates the Canadian Album of the Year. It is judged solely on artistic merit, without consideration of genre or record sales. Past winners have been Final Fantasy [now known as Owen Pallett] for He Poos Clouds (2006), Patrick Watson for Close To Paradise (2007), Caribou for Andorra (2008) and Fucked Up for The Chemistry of Common Life last year.
The eligibility period for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize runs from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010.

And now, here are my picks for this year's long and short lists. After my last year's picks ended up being quite accurate considering the newness of my in-depth music exploration, I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring to make predictions again after a year's worth of increased understanding of the Canadian music scene!
[Ed. Disagree? Want to change my mind? You can always email me and make your case. brendahlee [at]]

Likely short-listers:

Jason Collett - Rat A Tat Tat
Collett's latest showcases the story telling quality in his songs, the tight compositions, the near-flawless pop anthems he crafts about love and love lost ("Love Is A Chain," "Love Is A Dirty Word") and his sexy drawl of a voice. Although with a unabashed 70's influence, the album never feels like a derivative of times past but a morphing of the best of those elements to capture a contemporary audience.

Zeus' debut album brings to full light what those of us who had their EP and had seen their live shows have known for months, that these guys are phenomenal. There's not a single weak track on the album, and the talent is evenly distributed between the 4 members, with 3 songwriters and vocalists with distinct styles. The album flows from one track to another, from feel-good sing-alongs to fuzzed out guitar rock, with a unity which you rarely encounter in a debut album. Their cohesion and energy as a live band, as well as their skill in harnessing that bubbling, youthful creativity also swing the vote in their favour.

For all the close ties that the two bands have to one another, with members of Zeus being the backing band of Collett, I loved both of their albums for distinct reasons. However, I realistically don't think BOTH of them will be short-listed, simply because of that connection named above. And I can't imagine either of them winning, because their sounds are too nostalgic for an award that tends to reward innovation.

You Say Party! We Say Die! - XXXX
My favourite album from 2009 that's not already been nominated for a Polaris. I gave it a glowing review upon first listen and it's only grown on me over time. Their sound is polished, the raw animal that they are on stage purrs through the album and occasionally lets out a snarl. Producer Howard Redekopp deserves a lot of credit for being able to capture the energy of the album. And what is that energy? It's not only physical, but emotional and spiritual, as evidenced by a band who had undergone "Dark Days" and redeemed them for something greater. Which makes the recent death of drummer Devon Clifford all the more devastating. All in all, a mature, confident album that snuck up on me and turned me into a rabid fan.

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record.
I've listened through it countless times since receiving it just under a week ago in my email inbox; it has literally been on repeat, on the stereo in the shower, in my iPod during my commutes, and on iTunes when working on my laptop. Some of the songs are immediately intimate, and some are immediately catchy. Knowing the complexity of BSS' compositions, I can only expect them to unfold further over time. Members new (Lisa Lobsinger) and old (Emily Haines) shone on their respective songs "All to All" and "Sentimental X's." Call it the debut of BSS v.2, the pared down, leaner and meaner Toronto indie machine. Only time will tell if it'll reach the revered status of You Forgot It in People, but I would tentatively say yes. Some people believe that the extreme expectations from being the band that released one of the greatest albums in Canadian indie will hurt the perception of the latest album, but I haven't yet seen that backlash. Probably because the album is incredible.

Likely long-listers:

Rose Cousins - The Send Off
Cousins' latest is haunting yet soothing. An album that grabs you by the heartstrings. Rose Cousins' voice is like a pristine lake. Second half of album falters somewhat in energy and intensity...

Amy Millan - Masters of the Burial
Smoky, dark, lustful... the mood is right. The voice is heavenly. Being part of Stars helps, but there are many artists doing similar things.

Aidan Knight - Versicolour
There's the suggestion of greatness in Knight's debut LP, which is about the length of an EP. Hints of Broken Social Scene can be heard in opening and stand-out track "The Sun," which has the O'Darling on subtle group harmonies in the background. However, Not all tracks are equally strong, and it doesn't take too many weak songs to sink an 8 track album (pretty much just 7 as "Sorrows" is more of an intro).

Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice
I woke up in the middle of the night with a fit of shakes for forgetting the bearded bard of Vancouver. A comment from Kirk also helped. His latest is strong, propelled by the cohesiveness of his band, the earthy growl of his voice and his immense touring and consequent popularity across Canada. However, I can't overlook the relative weakness of his album compared to his live show, which has not harnessed the explosive strength that I mentioned above adequately. But, he has a great chance of making it onto even the short list.

Hannah Georgas - This Is Good
There's a lot of positive buzz surrounding Georgas prior to the release of her debut, with prominent ad placements and heavy touring. Her album is surprising in its variety, easily accessible and relatable, but perhaps too much so to be seriously considered by the jurors.

We Are the City - In A Quiet World
This (very) young prog/rock/pop group's debut (a lot of debut albums on my list...) is very cohesive, flows naturally, shows lyrical depth beyond their years and intelligent composition. Their live show demonstrates the chemistry of the band and how in sync they are with one another's musical tendencies. However, I doubt WATC is well known beyond BC, lessening the chance of them garnering enough votes to get on the long-list, which is a shame.

The Balconies - S/T
Imagine U2's sound in their early days, with the bright sparkling guitar riffs but more polished and skilled. Funny thing is, this trio has the reverse handicap of not being known very well outside central Canada. I doubt that's as devastating as not being known within central Canada, but I suppose we'll see.

Bahamas - Pink Strat
His solo debut apart from supporting artists such as Feist and Jason Collett shows that it's possible to serenade and seduce an audience with solely his guitar prowess. His live shows demonstrate that he's got amazing stagemanship to boot. Is that enough to get him on the long-list?

Thrush Hermit box set
... hey, Leonard Cohen did it ;)

Likely short- and long-listers that I can't vouch for:
These are all albums that either have received great critical reception although I may not have had the opportunity to purchase/review it, or are hotly anticipated releases from previously Polaris nominated artists.

Basia Bulat - Heart of My Own
Caribou - Swim
Owen Pallett - Heartland
New Pornographers - Together
Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten
Holy Fuck - Latin (May 11)
Wintersleep - New Inheritors (May 18)
Shad - TSOL (May 25)

Who are YOUR picks for Polaris, short- or long- list? Who did I miss?

Monday, May 3, 2010

NEW ALBUM & FREE DOWNLOADS : Wolf Parade - Expo 86

Montreal's Wolf Parade have announced their third full-length album, Expo 86, set to drop June 29 via Sub Pop. Pitchfork recently interviewed co-frontmen Dan Boeckner (also of Handsome Furs) and Spencer Krug (also of Sunset Rubdown) separately regarding the inspiration for the newest album.

Click here to check out the latest interview and grab two free songs from the new album, named "Ghost Pressure" and "What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)."

Tracklist for Expo 86:

01 Cloud Shadow on the Mountain
02 Palm Road
03 What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)
04 Little Golden Age
05 In the Direction of the Moon
06 Ghost Pressure
07 Pobody's Nerfect
08 Two Men in New Tuxedos
09 Oh You, Old Thing
10 Yulia
11 Cave-o-Sapien

ALBUM REVIEW : Scott Lanaway - Mergers & Acquisitions

Toronto's Scott Lanaway had been completely under the radar for me, so when his album came in my mailbox, it languished in purgatory (on my shelf) for a while during the busiest period of school season. It wasn't until one morning, when I absentmindedly popped it in the stereo in the shower, that I perked up my ears to Lanaway's airy yet beat-driven pop.

The new album, Mergers & Acquisitions, is Lanaway's second, the first being 2006's Answering Machine Diaries. It opens with "Let's Be Together," a track that starts with a simple snare/kick-drum beat before expanding into spacey keys and Lanaways' light voice. Through the album's entire 13-track journey, the listener is led by an almost constant hypnotic beat, characterized by a strong electronic-laden soundscape. There are also more acoustic-driven tracks, but the strength of the album is in its beat-driven, mood-infused quality. The atmospheric and comically-named "Oprah, God Wants You To Have a Private Jet" is a highlight; positively floating off into the air, dreamy but not sleepy.

The album is available in its entirety for streaming on, and is available on iTunes, Amazon and your local record store.

Some tracks off the album:

"Oprah, God Wants You To Have a Private Jet":


Wintersleep "New Inheritors": full stream, free download, pre-orders, tour dates

Halifax's Wintersleep has announced that their fourth album New Inheritors is set for release on May 18th, and they're streaming the entire album on their website. You can also download the title track for free while you're at it. After catching them live a few times during the Olympics in Vancouver, I'm excited to hear more of the bleak, riotous rock Wintersleep is known for.

CD presales for North America will start tomorrow, May 4th in the store or digitally on iTunes (Canada / Europe). Ticket pre-sales are also available on their website for the Halifax and Toronto album release shows.

Tour Dates:
5/2 - Camden, UK - Gaymers Camden Crawl
5/3 - Birmingham, GB - Hare & Hounds
5/4 - Manchester, UK - Ruby Lounge
5/6 - Amsterdam, Ntherlands - Bitterzoet
5/7 - Dortmund, Germany - FZW (Visions Party)
5/8 - Cologne, Germany - Werkstatt (Visions Party)
5/11 - Zurich, Switzerland - Abart
5/12 - Berlin, Germany - Bang Bang Club
5/15 - Paris, France - Scopitone
5/17 - London, UK - Lexington
5/20 - Halifax, NS - The Paragon
5/26 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club
6/4 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
6/5 - Allston, MA - Great Scott
6/6 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse
6/8 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
6/9 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry
6/12 - Seattle, WA - High Dive
6/13 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
6/15 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
6/16 - Costa Mesa, CA - Detroit Bar
6/17 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour
6/18 - Tempe, AZ - Sail Inn
6/19 - Santa Fe, NM - Corazon
6/21 - Austin, TX - Mohawk
6/23 - Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree
6/24 - Atlanta, GA - Earl
6/27 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
8/28 - Toronto, ON - Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
9/4 - Edmonton, AB - Northlands Grounds (SONiC BOOM Festival)