Thursday, September 17, 2009

There's a first time for everything: Edmonton's Sonic Boom

A hot Saturday in September was the inaugural Sonic Boom festival in Edmonton. And I have to tell you, it was totally worth having to put up with the usual "first timer" kinks to go check it out. After figuring out where the hell the VIP entrance was, I hunkered down on a spot of wet grass with a piece of shitty pizza and waited for the face-melting rock to start. But it just didn't have the sweet, sweet view I assumed there was going to be, so as The Wet Secrets took the stage, I ventured out to brave the harsh concrete jungle.

The Wet Secrets are some seriously lovely Edmontonian talent, that I saw for the first time when they played at this year's Pride festival. I was instantly in love with their straight-forward story telling, and awesome costumes. The self-proclaimed homo-centric fuzz rockers are 2 parts hilarious and a whole-lot-of parts wicked.
There's something to be said about introducing songs. The "This is a song I wrote after my SO broke my heart and I was depressed for a while" trope is so tired... but when lead singer Lyle Bell leads into a track, people wanna hear it:

"This is song about having a roommate who hides cheeseburgers under their mattress. It's called 'Get Your Own Apartment'"

These guys are totes one of Edmonton's many gems, and I can't say loud enough, go check them out!!

Because all performances were from the main stage, I hunkered back to the grassy, shaded area while band USS got their gear in order. I ended up staying back for this set, but it was easily enjoyable from where I was. USS, to be totally blunt, kind of confused me. I mean, their sound was this intense mish-mash of Glitchy retro hip-hop and Indie rock + break beats and nu-metal vocals. Near the end of their set, up bubbled east coast influences. It was totally all over the map, yet still pretty cool.
I definitely appreciated the Street Fighter lift of "Sonic Boom" (one of Guile's power moves, for those who don't remember), even though it got a little overused. All in all, not my favourite band of the day, but for sure they were fun and energetic.


The next crew to hit the stage was Mississauga's Ill Scarlett. These guys did a great job of getting
the crowd going: I hadn't seen people headbanging in earnest in years, and this is the crew that started the crowd surfing. I've never been much of a fan of Reggae-Pop - I mean, I love Sublime as much as the next girl - but that's pretty much where my love begins and ends, so I can't really say how good or bad they were, since I wasn't paying that much attention. All I know is that the hardcore fans said they phoned this performance in. An unfortunate first introduction.


After locating burgers, corndogs and more beer, I hit the concrete to check out DJ Girl Talk. This was absolutely the most ill-fitting act of the whole day. And I am so glad for it. This mash-up artist brought a sullen crowd to life with and seamless blends of club-worthy dance tracks, oldies, hard rock, and million other genres. The dance pit that ensued brought out the clubbers,
the illicit drugs, and the disapproving looks of mothers
who accompanied their younger teens. I absolutely loved the gimmicky crowd pleasers (rolls of toilet paper attached to leaf blowers? Giant inflated pillows?) and the high-energy. Such a good call. I'd love to see him play again.


video

Finally, it was time for the band I was really there to see: Metric. Their set was awesome, as
per usual. Emily wore yet another sweet, sweet
dress and encouraged us all to "rock [our] faces off", a request I was more than happy to oblige. Keeping in mind that Sonic (being an E-town radio station) is a little more mainstream than I'm used to, Emily and crew understandably stuck to the newer material. Tracks like "Gimme Sympathy" and "Help, I'm Alive". Was it a little bit of a bummer to not hear "Dead Disco"? Yes. But Metric is like my crack, and I'm generally happy with even a little hit.
Side-note: super duper thanks to Sonic's production Manager, who got my Metric vinyl signed by the band. Legitimately a fan-girl now. Yikes.


Either I was wiped from all the booze and heat and rocking my face off to the prior bands, or Franz Ferdinand was way more boring than I'd have guessed they were. You could see the stream of hispters and cool kids leaving shortly after this performance. Yeah. I'm phoning this one in.
video

After this, I took off. I missed Alexis on Fire and Billy Talent. You're welcome.

Some small not-band-related, but festival-related notes:

Jason Mewes was the "host" and a serious waste of money. Thanks for the "Stay hydrated" PSAs, Mewes. So disappointing.
The VIP section ended up being a waste of money, as by 4pm, they were letting anyone with a wristband in. Boo-urns.
The festival drew a bigger crowd that Warped Tour did in Calgary this summer (11,000 vs 9,000). That was a little unexpected.
Taking Back Sunday didn't make it. Tear.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Edmonton Folk Fest: Friday Shows

Friday ended up being a short day for me, as I missed some of the acts that played earlier in the evening. Two beers in, however, I found myself couched in front of the iconic Loudon Wainwright III. Yeah, Rufus, Lucy and Martha's Faja. 63 and still rocking hard. While he didn't play my favourites ("Rufus is a Tit Man", "I wish I Was a Lesbian"), his set was replete with his standard humorist-styled songs. He's one of those artists you didn't know you knew: to be expected, as his 21 albums have spanned nearly 40 years and countless movies and TV shows. Perhaps the humorist-folk answer to Nico Muhly. Wainwright had his audience chuckling and singing along for the whole set. It was interesting watching the looks of sudden recognition on people's faces as they made the connection between one of Loudon's songs and something they'd heard before. It was a short performance, but a wonderful warm-up for the rest of my evening. Photo Borrowed from CBC. My camera was dead this weekend.

After another hour in the beer gardens, I got myself situated at the main stage for perhaps the most exciting (and anticipated, for me) show of the entire weekend. Lovely, lovely Miss Neko Case. I think I expected a certain kind of exuberance from Case, as every release I'd ever heard from her had been passionate and full of energy. Don't take this the wrong way, Neko sings with passion in her live show. But she doesn't talk much. Her back-up singer did all the crowd-pleasing speaking stuff for her... Case just focused on blowing us away musically. It was a really interesting dynamic between the two, and, I suppose, not entirely surprising. In addition to Middle Cyclone jems, Neko regaled her crowd with samples from Blacklisted - mon favouri - and Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. The live renditions of "The Tigers Have Spoken" and "Deep Red Bells" were most certainly the highlights in an absolutely amazing set. My only complaint is that it was entirely too short. Count me in the line up next time she comes even remotely close to Edmonton (be it with The Sadies, The New Pornographers, or on her own. I will be there).


Friday was short, but intense. And the rest of the weekend would continue at the same pace.

Edmonton Folk Festival: Wednesday

My very first Edmonton Folk Fest was a fabulous experience. Glad I had a seasoned folk-fester take me by the hand for the duration, or I would have been ill-prepared for the bring-your-own-seating, dance barefoot in the grass celebration that the weekend is.

The festival didn't officially get underway until Thursday (august 6th), but there was a kick-off show on Wednesday with the cool premise of creating an endowment fund with the ticket sales from the extra evening. That way, next time Edmonton hits a cycle of economic crap, there would always been money put aside to make sure Folk Fests continue to happen unhindered. Absolutely wonderful approach to festival sustainability.


But how to convince FFsters to shell out even more cash for one more night?


Simple. Give them a line-up of performers that they'd be stupid to pass up.



First on the main stage was East Coast darling Meaghan Smith. I'd never heard the chanteuse, but my roommate assured me it would be love at first sight. And damnit, she was right.



Meaghan managed to earworm my brain right off the hop with the track "Five More Minutes"" a flashback to a childhood where one begged for the privilege to stay up later when the summer nights began to get unreasonably long, and children were tucked away long before sunlight left the skies. It certainly contains more adult connotations for me, as well. It leaves me in the haze of recall of weekday mornings: longing for five more minutes in bed with the person I love. It's a real testament to her versatility that such obvious lyrics can stir up such contrasting memories.


After Meaghan had the crowd pumped up on her sassy neo-50's bluesy crooning, Clevelander Tracy Chapman took the stage. Chapman's liberal-politiking music found fabulous footing in front of Edmonton's folksters (I had to do it...). She delighted crowds with tracks old and new. "Fast Cars" and "Gimme one Reason" were clearly fan favourites, while renditions of songs (which I admittedly had not heard prior) like "Material World" and "Talkin' Bout a Revolution" tended to tug on the heartstrings. I wasn't sure exactly what I had been expecting from Tracy's performance, but I did end up thoroughly enjoying it. She was emotive and sincere... one of the best live solo performances I had seen in some time (Minor spoiler alert: this was just a taste of what was to come for me over the weekend). There's something sexy about a woman in a leather jacket, alone with her guitar.


Headlining the evening was Canada's beloved Sarah McLachlan. Full disclaimer, I've been a fan of Sarah since her '93 release Fumbling Towards Ecstasy - which, much to the chagrin of my family, I played often and played loud. So you can imagine how much anticipation was bubbling inside of me; this would be the first time I'd ever seen what amounts to my musical hero live. She did not disappoint. Her stage banter was warm, friendly, and oft hilarious. She played everything from the iconic Fumbling album, to a brand new track she has yet to release (I can't for the life of me remember the name, though I do know it's an optimistic love song? What?) and everything in between. A consummate professional, she never faltered tickling those ivories, interspersing the set with jokes about breastfeeding her two kids, bringing back Lilith Fair next year (You heard it here first, people) and fond memories of the last Lilith show in Edmonton. There was the expected audience-participation for the live version of "Ice Cream", and slow dances to "World On Fire". Everything I was hoping for. A decade + of high expectations for an artist is a difficult pedestal to perform from - just ask Axel Rose... [too soon?] - but she did it with a poise I will remember for years to come. It was just as magical for me as it was for her.

So I come to close of this gushing and unabashed obsession disguised as a review to say this: my first night at Folk Fest was more than worth the extra 90 bucks. Let's get together and do this again next year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Saskatoon's Volcanoless in Canada gets some love on CBC's T.O.D.

Check out the track Mexican Circus (March to the Holly Dome) off their new album "The Way Forward". (which you can grab here, if you love it. And I think you will...)

They'll be at the Regina Folk Festival August 7-9, which I am sadly missing - lousy unemployment. If you have a chance to check it out, do: the line-up is enviable. Then you can tell me all about it, and I can live vicariously through you. It's a win-win, people.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Swap, swap, swap.

We'll now interrupt the regular programming with a blog swap. Sorry dear readers, today you won't be getting goodies to caress your auditory senses from Chels, but something completely different from Adorably Bitter. Consider yourself warned...

Because the thing is, in my daily life I am not really an active music-listener. I can pretty much put up with anything as long as it is there, in the background, not interrupting me. That is why I tend to gravitate towards jazz and blues - it creates an atmosphere without attacking your eardrums (makes me sound like a bitter 70-year old grandfather, doesn't it?) and playing it actually requires talent and effort. And I am all for supporting talent and effort. One of the few names I can come up with to suggest you is Torsten Goods, for example,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwXYxIJmfhE

Now, if you are a musician and expect me to actually pay attention to your beloved creation, you better come up with either very good lyrics or an interesting twist to your arrangement. And The Streets have both of that
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EntNNddAnw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUi-ATRnMwI

However, there is a field in my life where my views on music turn 180 degrees. No, I do not turn into a music-critic-superhero after the sunset roaming the streets of my city and unplugging the microphones of all the terrible musicians in our pubs. Although I might save that plan to fill my days after retirement. But right now I am an oriental dance student. And dance is all about visualizing music - for yourself and for those who watch you dance. I literally spend hours listening to pieces from Egyptian classics to Saudi folklore, trying to figure out instruments and practising the rhythm patterns on my zills. So, here I present you some of my favourites.

A beautiful piece from the golden era of Egyptian cinema - Ya msafer Wahdak by Mohammed Abdel Wahab
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCZNCVtk0c4

And a fun drum solo Serena's Step from Hossam Ramzy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5v1XFhIQ9U

Love and light,

Adorably Bitter

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Great Saskatchewan Mix Tape.

I don't know a single person who hasn't been enjoying the indie music coming out of Canada for the last couple of years. Well... let me rephrase that. People have been enjoying the indie music coming out of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal [myself included]. A real crime has been committed in overlooking the talent in the more sparsely-populated provinces that make up this great nation.


So, my Canadian Mix Tape project has begun: the plan is to pick a province, and dig through it's respective talent pool to showcase the other Canadiana sound that isn't rolling out of that musical clown-car we call Montreal.



First up to plate is Saskatchewan. I may be an Alberta girl now, but that misunderstood prairie province is where I transitioned from a love of the Backstreet Boys to an obsession with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - insane, right? It's where all my magic happened. It only seems right to start this project there.


Library Voices is a Regina band I caught for the first time in February (on one of my frequent jaunts back to Saskatoon). Once I absorbed the fact that LV boasts a 10-member ensemble, I became enamored with their sound: something like the 306's answer to Broken Social Scene... or maybe The Most Serene Republic. And their live show pretty much kicks ass.




My 22nd birthday treat to myself was an Amigos show featuring Golden Smoke, with openers The Vicious Crystals. They both do a kind of psychedelic rock that reminds me of the more experimental phases of the Stones. That was a gooood birthday.





Carbon Dating Service will forever remind me of University. The first tracks I ever heard of theirs all revolved around the Synchrotron (which I saw everyday on my hikes to and from campus). Their Shoegaze-pop was part of the soundtrack to my textbook toting years.




Recently reformed, Junior Pantherz are a well-known staple in the SK music scene, and we're so happy they're putting out tunes again. I really dig the vaguely BRMC sound of this track:




Fronted by past Canadian Idol contestant Josh Palmer, comes Saskatoon's The Rebellion. These guys can write a catchy fucking pop hook and between the three of them, have a pretty freaking bad-ass backstory.




For the times I need some chilled out alt-country with a touch of indie-rock, I'll throw on some Slow Down, Molasses. These guys are pretty much a pillar of the Saskatoon scene. Now you're in the know.




Be ready to switch gears in a hurry, because next is prog-metal band Adolyne. These guys were my very first show at Amigos after moving to S'toon, and subsequently taught me that earplugs at live shows are a great, great investment. Read: play them loud.




Quite and unassuming in person, and forces to be reckoned with on stage, is Saskatoon's best kept secret: The Fjords. They also happened to provide the background to a pretty awesome date I went on... I'll keep the music + experience = tied memories rambling to a minimum. Have a listen!




You may have heard him before, as the introductory track to Live on CBC Radio 3 with Grant Lawrence. That's SK's Maybe Smith! And we really, really love him. Too bad he's always touring in Japan and stuff. I still haven't had a chance to see this guy live.

Edit: turns out he's playing at the Brixx in Edmonton on July 8th. I love how I ask and then receive, as of late. ^^


Maybe Smith - Hearts Like Bears





Full disclosure: this next band is composed of some friends of mine. Don't let that detract from their awesomeness. Ready to drop their second effort, is Volcanoless in Canada. If you have the chance to see them live, do it: there ain't no party like a ViC party. For reals. I've had the bruises to prove it.



Even though I've talked about them before, they deserve another mention. Deep Dark Woods is kicking ass and taking names lately. Blame it on the recession... their alt country twang is perfect for the dark days.



This is just the sampler plate of Saskatchewan's offerings to Canada's amazing music scene... tapas, if you will. Hopefully it has whet your appetite.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Two Brooklyn Bands come to Edmonton and leave with my heart: TVotR and Dirty Projectors

Easily one of the best shows I've had the opportunity to catch this year has been TV on the Radio, with their guests, Dirty projectors. I didn't know what to expect going in: it was at a venue I'd never been to that I'd heard horrible things about (in the West Edmonton mall?), I had no idea who was opening, and I really hadn't listened to much of TVotR's material beforehand.

I'm starting to think that's the best way to walk into a show... because when I'm blown away, it's always been in an epic manner. This show was one of those.

Dirty Projectors started their set with just two band members. My natural assumption at that point was that they were going to be a mellow opener. Just a guy, a girl, and their guitars.Holy crap, was I horribly mistaken. After the blissfully pretty Two Doves, out tumbled the other 4 members of the 6 piece group, ready to melt faces. The rest of their set was mind-bending time signatures, inventive guitar riffs and amazing harmonies. The girls had the latter down so perfectly for the live show that at points I couldn't believe that sound was being created sans-laptop - mind you, there was a laptop... it just wasn't being put to use to tweak their vocal work. Those same three rocked out vocal acrobatics bouncing over ranges so fluidly that it would have made Mariah Carey blush (shut up... I loved her when I was 11). I think I stood for their entire set wide-eyed with my jaw on the floor, poking at my friend every time the group did something else that took my breath away. She may or may not have had horribly bruised arms by the end of the show. Looking out over the crowd, I could see my reaction mirrored in the faces of a handful of other people. Dirty Projectors: You blew my freaking mind. Pretty much an awesome reason to go visit Brooklyn again. After four full-length albums, this might be the one that makes everyone sit up and listen. Even though it's only June, Bitte Orca is seriously contending for a spot on my inevitable "favourites of 2009" list (which you can pick up HERE and HERE, btw).









(See how entranced they are?)




On to the main event: I would be more inclined to call this a religious experience than a rock show. Don't jump all over me for the comparison: rather than "it changed my life, I'm a TVotR die-hard forever and ever now" kind of experience, it was the atmosphere of the whole production. Energetic, euphoric, and overwhelming at points... like something you'd experience in a Southern Baptist church; but with more alcohol and better dressed young people. I really felt like TVotR's live sound is miles away from what you hear on their albums (well, at least what I'd heard on Return to Cookie Mountain). Rather than the mellow(er), trip-hopish sound that I'd grown accustomed to, the live sound was pure, instrument-driven rock. The focus was intense guitars, hammering drums, and my love of all loves: saxophone and clarinet. If they'd left the mix table at home, I wouldn't have even noticed. And dancing! Oh my god, every time Tunde Adebimpe starting hopping, swaying and bouncing all over the stage, I was seriously disinclined to keep my feet planted in one spot (considering the space I had to move in, this may have caused me some issues throughout the night). The last song of the encore, Satellite, brought out members of Dirty Projectors for a climaxing cacophony of glorious sound. Oh, my ears were happy... until the following day, when they wouldn't stop ringing. The intensity of the night left the band with a broken floor tom - from a rendition of Young Liars - and the crowd exhausted and satiated, despite the questionable venue. I really wish my batteries had lasted long enough to get a good video clip, because the words just don't seem to measure up to the experience (apologies for the shaky camera work!)


video


They're on tour all over the place until the end of August, so for sure check them out if they stop anywhere close to you. You can grab a copy of their newest release Dear Science (or any album, for that matter), from their label Interscope Records, or any decent music store.




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Just a little reminder...

... only 5 days until the new release from Phoenix drops.

Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. 

Mother mother

Rocking the fuck out of Vancouver, British Columbia - as are many bands after my own heart these days - comes Mother Mother. This five piece ensemble does some magical things to the auditory sensory area of my brain. Their second release, O My Heart, is a whirlwind tour of dark, layered pop that's at once creepy and accessible: not a bad combination to master on a sophomore attempt! So like, Kudos. I just can't get enough of the falsetto-ish girl/boy harmonies and crisp annunciation (yeah, sounds like a weird thing to love... but it really makes some of the tracks).



The title track - O My Heart - starts off with a bass line that gives the initial impression that this is going to be a pretty pop song. That lasts for about ten seconds before the ringing lead guitar picks up the melody in a minor. From this point forward, there's no mistaking the heart-wrenching (pun fully intended) intention of the track. Which I leave for you to discover, dear reader. Despite it all... I could really still dance to this. It's a perfectly-crafted pop song, after all. Just with some seriously dark undertones. And overtones. Mmmm.

The next masterpiece to stumble gracefully off the album is the track Hayloft. The sound is a hybrid of pure Canadian indie-rock and Japanese pop-punk. I absolutely love the aggressive sound and the innocently kinky lyrics, not to mention the drums that sound like tripping iambs. Talk about getting a wave of the horns. There's a really neat fan-made video on YouTube if you've got a few minutes that need killing.

Arms Tonight has a pretty standard love-song construction from the instrumental side of things. Coupled with some mushy lyrics [that eventually turn literal], it gives me warm-fuzzies everytime it comes on. Shit... I haven't said warm-fuzzies since Kindergarten. Whatever, I still love this track and crank it often.

There's a ton of other gems on this album, so the best advice I can give at this point is to get your hands on a copy. This is for sure the kind of album I had to listen to a few times over besides more than a song or two stood out, but it was worth the investment.

If you're in the Ottawa area this summer, they'll be playing the Blues Festival on July 12th!



Pretty, pretty please come do a show in Edmonton soon. :)

Update: Playing at Capital Ex in Edmonton on July 23rd!







Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An intimate evening with Emily Haines

Metric frontwoman Emily Haines and her partner in [almost] crime[s] Jimmy Shaw, have taken it to the road. And it is so good to hear it. To promote the new Fantasies album, the pair gave a special acoustic performance for Edmontonians who had either pre-ordered the new album, or had been lucky enough to win tickets. My album wasn't pre-ordered, nor am I a lucky person: good thing a friend of mine always wins shit.


The venue was a little theatre on the north end with all the seating removed to accommodate the 300+ hardcores that had run all over the city trying to grab tickets being given away by a local radio station. I loved the anticipation: you knew these were, for the most part, the fans that would know every word to every song on the new album.

Listening to the pair do their hard-rockin' tracks from Fantasies as acoustic numbers was really interesting. It certainly added new dimensions to tracks like Gold Guns Girls and Gimmie Sympathy and the rendition of Front Row was like hearing it whispered from Emily's lips to my ears. It's amazing how personal it got in that space.

video
Gems of the night, for sure, included the impromptu break-out of Anthem for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl and the cover of Pink Floyd's Nobody's Home, with vocals by Shaw.



On the same stroke, previous Metric shows had me geared up for some really high energy; not only from Emily, but from the crowd as well. It was a little disappointing to look around and see one or two people swaying along to the music. It was calm enough to hear camera flashes going off. I got shushed when I started singing along to the first song. What the Fuck? At least the crowd was singing along by the end of the 10-song set (with some serious urging from Ms. Haines), but still... did all the old Metric fans get married and buy a house and start having babies or something? What happened here?!

Let's move on to the new album. It is Metric through and through: Rock! Guitars! Dancing! Beats! Electronica! Everything we've come to expect... but pared down a little. More simplistic. Live It Out (don't get me wrong, I love that album) got a little heavy at some points, like the band was focusing so hard on making a point that it starting dragging on the music. Fantasies simply doesn't make that mistake. It comes back to the listener playful and [light]-hearted. Not to say that the album ooozes cheery pop licks and pollyanna lyrics; but rather that they took a hard look at themselves and were satisfied with what they saw.

This third (or fourth... depending on how die-hard you are) album really showcases a band comfortable with their trademark sound. Is this a good thing, though? Only the next album will tell. Let's hope this contentment doesn't lead to stagnation.



You can buy the album HERE

Metric - Gimme Sympathy (can I get a "Fuck-Yeah"? My rock-out track of the year so far!)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick Fix Friday - Because Alliteration is Fun.

Okay, everyone is in love with Passion Pit right now and eagerly awaiting the drop of the new album, Manners (If you're not, here's your first head's up).

Sleepyhead has been on my iPod for almost 6 months. It was love at first listen.

However, my love for Sleepyhead has been surpassed by the track Moth's Wings. Have a little listen for yourselves. And another one. And maybe one more.

Pick up your Manners, here.

Happy Friday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bare Feet on Wet Griptape; or how I stopped worrying and learned to love my flavour of the week. (Over-used? Absolutely!)

At the behest of a good friend, two weekend's ago I picked up Calgary artist Chad VanGaalen's third release, Soft Airplane. It hasn't left my CD player since. Sure, I feel bad that I will play this album until I can't stand it anymore, put it away for two months and then do it all over again, but it's well-deserving of such obsession.


VanGaalen's amazingly creative DIY sound is a mix of indie [folk-]rock, glitchy electronica and abrasive distortion. The one-man band recorded the tracks in the basement of his Calgary home on an old tape machine and the conversation he starts with listeners covers topics from death and murder to griptape. Not since I listened to Murder Ballads have I heard songs about death that are so pleasing to the ears.


While I usually pick a few tracks to highlight my favourite creations on an album, it's been difficult to refrain from just putting up the entire package: I am absolutely smitten from start to finish. So I'll do my best to keep it down to a couple without starting them all off "My favourite track..."

The opening track, Willow Tree, is a mellow folky piece essentially about the disposal of a body post-mortem. Chad's vocal work on this track is definitely in the higher octaves of his range, which translates into a slightly trembling sound that really emphasizes the emotion a person would feel when taking stock of their mortality. I keep waiting for his voice to crack, but it never does: the difficult subject is approached with enough resolution to keep his vocals relatively stable. The interesting contrast here is the upbeat melody of the track: the cheerful sound mixed with the talk of freedom through death seems contradictory but meshes in an amazing way. Who ever thought a song about death could be so damn pretty? Lesson learned: death can be a beautiful thing.


Bare Feet on Wet Griptape is rock to it's core and easily one of the more dancable tracks of the album. Compared to the rest of the songs, this one is traditionally constructed: rad (yes, rad) guitar riffs, tambourine, drums, et al. But you still have to keep in mind that's relative to the rest of the album; samplers, wavering guitar melodies and Chad's achingly emotive voice keep his indie-cred in check.

So the first day I brought this album to work, one of the women in my department picked it up and was reading the track list on the back. TMNT Mask jumped right out at her, because her kids do ever so much love the Ninja Turtles (a reference that had entirely blown over my head until that point. How embarrassing). This piece is ranked up there in my awesome register because it is so glitchy. The intro sounds like one of the standard beats that came with the early-nineties casio keyboards that my girlfriend's and I used to pretend to play. Combined with the TMNT reference, the track plays like a relic of my childhood. Except, a lot more introspective. And a lot darker too (and time, it aligned, is swirling and swimming/clouds rolling over themselves/twisting and boiling and growing out of nothing).


Then a word about my absolute stand-out love: Molten Light (YouTube). Just a heads up, this video might be considered NSFW, depending on the variying stodginess of your workplace. It's drawn entirely by our protagonist and is creepy as fuck. Therefore, I love it. I won't tell you any more. Just go listen to it!



I cannot wait to catch VanGaalen live at the Flemish Eye Ball in Calgary on May 16th - you can grab some tickets Here. The show is a party celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Flemish Eye record label, and Chad will be performing alongside his label-mates. From what I've seen of the snippets of live shows on Youtube, it looks like it'll be an amazing night. After that, he's embarking on a Europen Tour, so if you happen to be in the area, go out and show some support! You can pick up Soft Airplanes from Flemish Eye (Canada Only) SubPop Records and various other fine music establishments.