Thursday, June 3, 2010

Looking for Awesome Shows in E-town this week? Here, let me help.

I hate the feeling I get in my gut when I discover some amazing new artist/album/whatever and then find out that they played in Edmonton the week before. I wish someone could just tell me: "Hey. This band is coming to play. You've never heard them, but you will soon fall in love with them".

Also, I am often told that blogs should cater to a niche subject or service, so why not this? So I'm going to add this as a regular feature. That being said, if you know of hot upcoming shows, please e-mail me and give me a heads up!!

Here is a show hitting Edmonton this weekend that (granted, you like the rest of the tunes on this blog) you will probably kick yourself for missing in two weeks:

Volcanoless in Canada
 These guys are making their FIRST ever stop in Edmonton while on tour supporting their new album "The Way Forward". If you want rock-tastic music and DANCING, this is the show for you. It's a rare occasion I leave one of their shows without bruised up shins and hair so damp from sweat it sticks to my neck. They're a big crowd-favourite in Saskatoon and are skilled at packing the house and melting faces. This show is a must-see. They're playing at Haven Social Club with Florida-based group Look Mexico on Saturday, June 5th. Come check it out!

Volcanoless in Canada - Drown with the Rest of Them

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Edmonton Folk Fest Line-up

Aggggh, I've been under vow of secrecy punishable by death for the last week regarding the line-up announcements for this summer's Edmonton Folk festival. But now, it is Wednesday. So I get to tell you. Ready?

Jakob Dylan (with Neko F*cking Case on Sunday night!)
Sarah Harmer
Gord Downie
and Patrick Watson.

Whew. Feels so good to get that off my chest! They will be joining Ben Harper, Calexico and Dan Wilson, among others. I hope to see you there, Folk festers! This is looking like it's going to be a great year! Check out the main stage schedule HERE

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Broken Social Scene concert announcement

For all of you BSS fans out there, the ensemble is passing through Edmonton October 9th in support of their new album: Forgiveness Rock Record. Now, I've never had the opportunity to catch these guys live before, but I've been told by some trustworthy sources that it is a must-see show. Tickets are not on sale yet, but I will be keeping a sharp eye out (they've gone on sale in other cities, but alas, E-town has a different promoter).

Check in here next Wednesday afternoon for a Folk Fest line up announcement. It's burning a hole. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick fix: Blue Scholars take me back to school

I've been loving this Seattle-based Hip hop pair for a few years now (ever since they were name-dropped on one of my favourite webcomics. Commence making fun of the uber-nerd). They're political, energetic, emotional, melodic, and totally fucking amazing.

So I figured I'd bring out some samples for everyone to snack on. Betcha can't eat just one*.

Blue Scholars - North by Northwest
Blue Scholars - Evening Chai

Check out their albums Here and Here. Can't wait till you guys hit Canada!

*And this is where I get sued.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's About Fucking Time.


After eight years of pent up (musical) frustration - much like the wait I endured for Radiohead and Coldplay - Muse finally gave me the release I waitied so long for: a live show where we made sweet, sweet music together.

The night was not for the faint of hear (nor those prone to epilepsy), with laser shows that drew parallels to acid trips and being trapped in a Frankie Goes to Hollywood music video... plus face melting guitar work. Of course. They peppered the show with homage after homage to those that came before them: AC/DC's back in black and Rage Against the Machine's Bulls on Parade both made sneaky little appearances during the performance, along with a hat tip to to Mr. Freddie Mercury himself. It was everything [this] little girl could have hoped for. The only thing I worried about was that they wouldn't play much old material. Muse wasn't exactly selling out Rexall before Absolution dropped. But no... there were renditions of Time Is Running out, Stockholm Syndrome, Butterflies and Hurricanes, Rule by Secrecy and Hysteria to sate the geezer fans like myself. And yet, enough of the Twilight-soundtracking, Guitar Hero jazz to keep the new guard happy. Frankly, I'm jealous of that latter group: if my first rock show at 11 could have been a Legend like Muse (rather than Christian Rock group Hocus Pick), I might have ditched N'sync and their puppet-dancing ways years sooner.

The stage set-up was a million kinds of cool. Raised and sectioned platforms made to look like high-rise buildings were used to different effect over and over and over throughout the show.  Whoever they paid for set design, well... I hope they were paid a buttload of money: it was totally creative and totally fabulous.

I'll only briefly mention openers Silversun Pickups: they were low-energy and a little boring. I wouldn't have missed out on much if I had shown up late. But I'll admit to my sampling bias: I never really liked them much anyway, and they did nothing to sway me at this show.

If these guys ever come through town, or even near a town I'm kind of close by, it will be like going to see Radiohead: I will sell a limb to the gypsies if I have to. These guys put on a live show worth the money you pay. It's high-energy, fairly lengthly, and a has a perfect mix of older material and the new stuff. I would do it all over again tomorrow if I could.

Check out their latest album, The Resitance, Here and Here. But being the geez that I am, I would recommend Absolution first: quite possibly their finest piece of work to date.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Concert Review: Vampire Weekend and The Blow

First, let's talk about The Blow. The Blow is the moniker of a one-woman act hailing out of New York. Her initial stage presence was timid, if not a little self-depreciating. Totally hip cred? Check. I wasn't blown away at first (hur hur hur. I know). I was more captivated by the Ian Curtis-esque dance moves than what she was singing. There was a lot of intentional off-key moments that just didn't resonate. I've seen off-key get used in magical ways that really jar the audience and make a point... but this was like... well, imagine an under-prepared band of 16-17 year olds playing their first gig. It's awkward and lacking in some confidence. You know it could be really enjoyable, but it's just not quiet there yet.

"Chels, you snot!" You may be thinking at this point. "Don't be such a dick!"

But here's where her performance just upped its game. After going on a diatribe about a certain (redheaded, bi, train-wreck) celebrity of certain renown who could not be named, for whom she wrote some tracks, it was like a different person. A different show. Suddenly, I was enraptured! Her minimalist electro-pop grew a spine and spun me onto the dance floor! I was tickled pink by the cutsey lyrics in Parentheses. That was enough to hold my attention: a groove-inducing beat overlayed with casio-rock licks. Absolutely delicious! Following that (and possibly one of my favourites) was this bare-bones track with a foundation of snares driving the beat forward and forward and forward. God love me, I didn't catch the name of it. Dear readers, if you know, please share. Finally, there was True Affection. I thought this track was just made to rock socks. It sounded like it could have been air-lifted from the repetoire of Karin Dreijer Andersson herself. Only love. And applesauce... sorry. Just got back into the groove of non-sequiter awesomeness that was the Blow's performance. Check her out under her other pseudonyms too!

And onto the main act: Vampire Weekend. By now, everyone who hasn't been living underneath a rock has heard something by these guys. Which is great, because I've been a pretty big fan since I first heard M79 in the spring of 2008. So, there's probably little need to tell you about their funky afro-pop meets New York Indie sound. It's insanely catchy, melodic, dancable, and extremely fun. How does this translate to a live audience you may ask? Well, to put it succinctly: perfectly. I mean, how can you go wrong with a set covered in glittery chandeliers? Rainbows? Creepy faces with glowing eyes? Answer: You cannot.

To their credit (and my great happiness), the band played a number of tracks from their freshman release, including M79, Bryn and One (Blake's Got A New Face). The latter turned into a crowd sing-a-long encouraged by Ezra himself. If you listen to the song, you can only imagine how that sounded amplified a few hundred times over!

The encore was a stronger finish than I could have imagined putting together - perhaps why I write about music rather than having a band of my own... The boys rocked out Horchata, Mansard Roof and Walcott for the eager crowd. It was a perfect finish to a perfect night. And as per usual, not close to long enough. Always a good sign.

Vampire Weekend is still touring if you want to check them out (good luck scoring tickets, though)... or grab a copy of their self-titled or Contra from these fine locations.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You Say Party! I Say: Get the Fuck on the Dancefloor

So I scored a couple of tickets to see Vancouver's You Say Party! We Say Die! do an acoustic set at a local radio staion. I was pretty pumped for this intimate set, and YSP!WSD! delivered. Not really surprised. This latest album has me rethinking their genre label of "dance punk". I mean, maybe it was the acoustic set, but it wasn't so dance-y as I remember the first one. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that's a bad thing. XXXX is just a totally grown up sound from their sophomore effort. That being said, hearing dance punk with only vocals, an accompanying acoustic guitar and a tambourine is almost an unsettling experience. Becky's haunting voice turned ethereal and you could see down to the bare soul of the tracks. Pretty Prose over, I Promise.

Laura Palmer's Prom, a song about the a character from Twin Peaks, was absolutely chilling sans synths. I can't stop myself from singing the chorus at random intervals. It's a bit nonsensical ("My heart needs a love-dance"), but it's perfect. It's romantic and melancholy and above all, so yearny! I can't get enough.

Dark Days is highly emotional: Becky looked like she's going to cry during this song. I do the same thing, though, when I'm working hard to hit those lower notes. But you can't really dismiss the fact that a song called "Dark Days" didn't come from somewhere painful. Whatever the inspiration, you can hear it in every single lyric. Not the most danceable track on the album, but one of the most honest. I think it's a YSP! WSD! classic.

So like, my first "interview". Kinda. The below is paraphrased, since I didn't have the foresight to record the convo:

Me: "So last time I saw you guys perform was at Amigo's in Saskatoon a few years back. One of the most memorable things about the show was [Becky's] huge hair. It's pretty short now. Was it traumatic cutting it all off?"

Becky: "The first few days were really tough. I had to keep reminding myself I'd cut it off for a good reason. When it was long, I loved to dance with it, and it really was bad on my neck because it was so heavy. I think everyone needs to cut off all their hair every few years. I can see my features again. It's nice to see them again."

Me: "So what did you find was the biggest difference in writing/recording the material from "Lose All Time" and the new album (XXXX)?"

Derek: "We took a lot longer! Last album, everyone kind of did their own thing. It was all very compartmentalized, with the intention of everyone's individual sound coming through. This was much more of a group process."

Becky: "Definitely. Plus this time around I had  vocal coach. She was with me all the time, even in the studio. It made a huge difference for me."

Thanks guys, for letting me be intrusive. :)

Pick up a copy of XXXX of Lose All Time HERE or on iTunes