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!)

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.