concerts

Rolling in the Grammy’s

Since I finished school last spring and started working, I haven’t had much time to follow the music industry as much as I’d like to. That being said, the Grammy Awards can be an easy — though not the most definitive — way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s being lauded in music.

But before the show gets going, here’s a couple of my own picks from some of the more the anticipated categories:

Record of the Year
Want to Win: “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele
Will Likely Win: “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele

Reason: It’s hard to imagine any other record in this category holding a flame to Adele’s work on “Rolling in the Deep.” Her raw talent completely surpasses Katy Perry’s sexual allure, Mumford & Sons’ indie credibility, and even Bruno Mars’ heart-wrenching lyrics.

Nominees:
“Rolling in the Deep,” Adele
“Holocene,” Bon Iver
“Grenade,” Bruno Mars
“The Cave,” Mumford & Sons
“Firework,” Katy Perry

Album of the Year
Want to Win: 21, Adele
Will Likely Win: Born This Way, Lady Gaga

Reason: Although I’m pulling for Adele, it’s easy to see how Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, with its deeper social message of acceptance and self-love, could usurp the English songbird for Album of the Year. Gaga’s effect on the pop world and music industry at large is so wide-spread, it’s hard to understand. Those who connected with the anthemic message, however, are largely to thank for propelling the album to its current status.

Nominees:
21
, Adele
Wasting Light, Foo Fighters
Born This Way, Lady Gaga
Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Bruno Mars
Loud, Rihanna

Song of the Year
Want to Win: “The Cave,” Performed by Mumford & Sons
Will Likely Win: “Rolling in the Deep,” Performed by Adele

Nominees:
“All of the Lights,” Performed by Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and Fergie
“The Cave,” Performed by Mumford & Sons
“Grenade,” Performed by Bruno Mars
“Holocene,” Performed by Bon Iver
“Rolling in the Deep,” Peformed by Adele

New Artist
Want to Win: Skrillex / Bon Iver
Will Likely Win: Nicki Minaj

Reason: This year’s Grammy Awards are a big turning point for the world of electronic music. Dubstep artist Skrillex (also known as Sonny Moore and former lead singer of From First To Last) is walking in with a small handful of nominations and if he wins any of them, it’ll be a huge step toward lending electronic music an air of credibility the rest of the industry has had a tough time understanding.

Nominees:
The Band Perry
Bon Iver
J. Cole
Nicki Minaj
Skrillex

Pop Vocal Album
Want to Win: 21, Adele
Will Likely Win: 21, Adele

Nominees:
21, Adele
The Lady Killer
, Cee Lo Green
Born This Way
, Lady Gaga
Doo-Wops & Hooligans
, Bruno Mars
Loud
, Rihanna

Rock Album
Want to Win: The Whole Love, Wilco
Will Likely Win: Come Around Sundown, Kings of Leon

Nominees:
Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul
, Jeff Beck
Wasting Light
, Foo Fighters
Come Around Sundown
, Kings of Leon
I’m With You
, Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Whole Love
, Wilco.

Rap Album
Want to Win: Watch the Throne, Jay-Z and Kanye West
Will Likely Win: Watch the Throne, Jay-Z and Kanye West

Reason: I don’t think I even need to explain, do I? You’ve got two of the biggest giants in rap music collaborating on an album that has given the world one of the best tours in recent history? Hands down, I’m telling you…

Nominees:
Watch the Throne, Jay-Z and Kanye West
Tha Carter IV
, Lil Wayne
Lasers
, Lupe Fiasco
Pink Friday
, Nicki Minaj
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
, Kanye West

Feature Image: Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (SCREEN GRAB)

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Top 10 Songs of 2011

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s hard to resist the allure of year-end lists. Just ask High Fidelity‘s Nick Hornby.

I haven’t devoted much time to music this year since I spent half of it completing my 20-year formal education and the other half starting my first full-time job. However, from what I did manage to absorb, it was the year of dance and pop. Compared to previous lists I’ve compiled, there’s a noticeable lack of artists who play live instruments on their own tracks.

Either way, here’s my  Top 10 Songs of 2011. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list or any sort of musical authority; it’s simply what I thought were great singles released this year. These songs are catchy, well-written and I just couldn’t shut them off. Enjoy.

Top 10 Songs of 2011


10. The Joy Formidable – “A Heavy Abacus” | LISTEN
From The Big Roar; Release Date: July 11; Peak Position: #29 on US Alt
It’s been awhile since I’ve heard a band that really commands your full attention. The Joy Formidable is great and I’m sad I missed them when they were in town August 2010 at the Media Club. The UK-based trio has a stadium presence that explodes from within and their aptly titled album, The Big Roar, is full of that huge, reckless sound that the present-day alternative scene often lacks.

—–


9. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “N*ggas in Paris” | LISTEN
From Watch The ThroneRelease Date: Sept. 13; Peak Position: #5 on US
Jay-Z and Kanye are great artists on their own but when they collaborate, even people not into rap or hip hop will sit up and take notice. It’s like the rap equivalent of superheroes joining forces or a crossover episode of a popular mid-90s TV show. (Forgive my similes.) The best way to explain the allure is by looking at the dialogue included on “N*ggas in Paris” taken from the Will Ferrell film, Blades of Glory:
“I don’t even know what that means!”
“No one knows what it means but it’s provocative. It gets the people going!”

—–


8. Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist” | LISTEN
From Codes and Keys; Release Date: March 29; Peak Position: #1 on US Alt
While there’s been criticism that Ben Gibbard has lost many of the original elements of the signature Death Cab sound, I’d argue that a lot of those elements are still there –just in different, more mature ways. “You Are A Tourist” was also accompanied by a live-streamed, one-take music video directed by Tim Nackashi, who has directed videos with Rye Rye, Maroon 5, OK GO and almost anyone else you can think of. The video used multiple cameras, live performers and no edits. Very cool.

—–


7. Benny Benassi ft. Gary Go – “Cinema (Skrillex Remix)” | LISTEN
From Electroman; Release Date: March 8; Peak Position: #6 on US Billboard
While dubstep’s become a bit of an inside joke as of late, I think it’s still worthy to note its popularity among EDM fans, both new and old. Skrillex’s dubstep remix of “Cinema” boasts a pretty heavy drop with a great build and it’s easy to see why some think it eclipses the original electro house cut by Benassi. The dubstep version definitely takes the song and turns it into a different beast completely.

—–


6. Beyonce – “Run the World (Girls)” | LISTEN
From 4; Release Date: April 21; Peak Position: #1 on US Dance/Club
While the song’s framework is built on a sample of Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor,” it’s really Beyonce’s lyrics that make this song work. Other critics weren’t fans, claiming it was a continuation of the same old themes of “independence” in Beyonce’s other songs such as “Diva” and “Single Ladies.” The difference is that Beyonce really hammers the message home in “Run The World (Girls),” taking prisoners and kicking down doors. “Run the World (Girls)” also lent itself to some great live performances, something that is difficult to do these days. (Skip to 3:00 to see the live performance.) Recognize, yo.

—–


5. M83 – “Midnight City” | LISTEN
From Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming; Release Date: Aug. 16; Peak Position: #20 on US
M83’s “Midnight City” has been listed by many publication as the best song of 2011. The song, which is synth-pop goodness at its best, feels familiar and yet, draws you into something unknown, as if the Back to the Future trilogy was the inspiration point. The gratuitous saxophone solo, while hilarious and strangely fitting, is admittedly, well, sexy. The haunting vocals add another surreal layer to this nostalgic trip of a song.

—–


4. Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” | LISTEN
From 21; Release Date: March 8; Peak Position: #1 on Various
There could not be enough praise in the world for Adele’s vocals. On “Rolling in the Deep,” however, she makes sure that you know it. Her vocals are delivered with a careful cutting edge that disguises itself until it’s time to strike. The lyrics are mournful and yet, the chorus’ wail lets her ex-lover know that yes, it hurts like a mother effin’ bitch but that’s just too damn bad, isn’t it? The song’s stomp-clap bridge also sets things up nicely.

—–


3. Avicii – “Levels” | LISTEN
Release Date: Oct. 28; Peak Position: #1 on US Dance/Club
I know it’s super cliche to say so but Avicii’s “Levels” has taken the world by storm. I’ve only just become familiar with the electronic scene over the last year but I’ve heard enough to know Avicii is doing something crazy good and the club kids all love it. The song has hit #1 on charts across the UK and it won’t be long before Avicii becomes a staple on North American dance charts too.

—–


2. Foster the People – “Pumped Up Kicks” | LISTEN
From Torches; Release Date: Sept. 14; Peak Position: #1 on US Alt
“Pumped Up Kicks,” which made the rounds online long before Foster the People ever had a record deal in place, is a weird concoction of equal parts laid-back indie-rock, indie-pop and dance. The song’s strange little nuances and sounds — including whistles, warbles and fades —  make it all the more intriguing. Curiously, the lead single is drastically different from their other songs, though the same quirky character is still present.

—–


1. Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend” | LISTEN
From Body Talk; Release Date: April 1; Peak Position: #1 on US Dance/Club

You know when girls scream, “This is my jam!” when they’re in the club? Well, this is that song for me and it takes everything in my body to not yell out those exact same words every time this song comes on… and this song comes on a lot. (Mostly because it’s the most played song on my iPod from the past year.)

Robyn’s been making a hot comeback here in North America where most people remember her from the late 90s not-so-one-hit-wonder, “Show Me Love.” But what many don’t realize is that Robyn’s been doing quite well for herself over in Europe. Body Talk, however, has really launched Robyn back into the pop consciousness of North American music fans.

While all the tracks off Body Talk are impeccable and deserve attention, “Call Your Girlfriend” has a maturity not often found in pop music. Lyrically, Robyn is the Other Woman, telling her new boyfriend to break it off gently with his girlfriend. There’s a keen awareness of her position in the tricky situation, while also acknowledging the feelings of her lover and the scorned woman.

The song itself has a buzz, a hum of energy that never lets up. You can hear this in the initial notes where the beat almost feels ahead of the count, pulling the listener forward, driving the tempo with purpose. When the beat picks up about 0:30 seconds in, there’s a definite push that holds firm.

The accompanying music video also played a huge role in the success of the song. The video features Robyn in a warehouse, dancing as lights flash in the background. It’s an example of lights done well as the warehouse transforms from barren walls to a neon storm of colour. Filmed in one continuous take, the video’s unconventional dance routine has Robyn going all out, only a small hint of the energy exuded during live shows.

If 2010 and 2011 were any indication, it looks like Robyn’s got a lot more calls to make in 2012.

Honourable Mentions


Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris – “We Found Love” | LISTEN
From Talk That Talk; Release Date: Sept. 22; Peak Position: #1 on Various
I’m a sucker for a great dance-pop tune so it’s no surprise that “We Found Love” is noted here. The problem is that while Calvin Harris’ production, Rihanna’s vocals and the accompanying music video are very well done, the lyrics themselves do nothing for me. Sometimes, simplistic works but the song’s repetition loses me entirely.

 —


Kreayshawn – “Gucci Gucci” | LISTEN
Release Date: June 14, Peak Position: #18 on US Rap
While it’s by no means a masterpiece, Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” has pop cultural references that are all at once hilarious, shocking and quirky. There’s a carefree flow that only a petite white girl from Oakland can pull off. Or maybe I just really like singing along. “Yeah, you can kiss the ring / But you can never touch the crown.” The difficulty is that the entire song rests on these pop culture references; her other songs haven’t reached the same level of success.

Featured Image: A record shop in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Photo by Stephanie Ip.
Screen caps and titles captured and edited by Stephanie Ip.

Come back, baby.

If you’re a musician or a fan of music at all, you know one of the worst things ever is having your gear stolen. Not only is music gear expensive to replace but a lot of musicians develop a special bond with their gear, finetuning it to no end to get that perfect sound.

My friend Graham Madden (of Vancouver, B.C. band Tough Lovers) is missing his pedalboard. It was last seen after their most recent show Nov. 17 at the Media Club. The band took a two-week break before their next practice and that was when they discovered the pedalboard was missing. It had been loaded into the car following the show but seems like it never made it back to the band’s apartment where the rest of the gear was unloaded. It’s uncertain where or when it would’ve been lost in the mix or if it was lifted from the car during load-out.

If you happen to hear of anything or come across something that sounds similar to this on Craigslist or from other folks, please contact him on Twitter at @g_madden or by email. You can also leave a comment on this post. Thanks.

Here’s his message that was posted to Facebook:
“Musician friends: My pedalboard was stolen.
If you have any info on the contents, please let me know ASAP.
The pedals from right to left are:

-Boss TU-2 Tuner
-Jetter Dual Overdrive
-Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion
-Boss DD-3 Delay
-Boss FL-3 Flanger
The pedal board was covered in recognizable burgundy fabric surrounding the pedals.
If you see it anywhere, please let me know.”

Tough Lovers – “Colours”
Exits EP; Released Feb. 4, 2011.

First Listen: Modern Romantics

Adaline's 'Modern Romantics' is due Nov. 1, 2011 on Light Organ Records. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

The first time I heard Shawna Beesley — known to most as Adaline — play “That’s What You Do Best” was at a piano recital at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver, B.C. The stage was covered in candles and in the center, a baby grand piano and a girl who just loved those black and white keys.

At that point, the song was a sultry, simple, flirtatious theme. I remember the way she introduced the song, laughing into the microphone, bantering playfully with her friends and audience. The song was bare and basic, living only on her deep, throaty vocals, accompanied by the classical twirl of its Spanish melody.

That’s What You Do Best

Now, it’s the lead off Adaline’s sophomore album, Modern Romantics. “That’s What You Do Best” is no longer the simple tune it once was — it’s been worked up to a multi-layered, driving, insane theme of passion, full of chaos and disorder, thrown about by the battered arms of lovers. Like the other songs on the album, there’s the same characteristic voice but it’s now surrounded by the textured and varied layers of skilled production and electronic elements — a sign of Adaline’s audio evoution.

Modern Romantics

The album due on Nov. 1 has been a long time coming since Adaline’s debut album, Famous For Fire, was released in 2008. Graduating from sweeping ballads to electrifying pop haunts, there’s almost a seasoned playfulness on Adaline’s latest effort that somehow wasn’t there before. But while the songs veer into a strange, unfamiliar, yet comfortable direction, Adaline’s lyrics are still very much the same voice listeners have grown to love.

“That’s what I think I was attracted to from the get-go: Somebody who can write a lyric – which again, I can’t stress enough — is just not common, y’know? People who have an elegance with language,” said Canadian quirk-rock artist Hawksley Workman who, along with Marten Tromm and Tino Zolfo, produced Modern Romantics in Toronto, Canada.

Adaline on the set of her new music video for "The Noise," directed by JP Poliquin at Pinewood Toronto Studios. (VANESSA HEINS PHOTO)

Sparks

While Adaline’s last album was very much a journey of sorts, her second album is broken down into different pieces of the same puzzle. Famous For Fire, as gorgeous as it was, couldn’t be fully appreciated in just one song. The 2008 release required a full end-to-end listening before the beauty in every detail shone through.

Modern Romantics, however, boasts more immediate satisfaction with each song carrying its own weight. The album definitely lends itself more easily to radio play and while some may critique that quality, it’s something highly sought after in a world full of disposible pop songs. With this latest offering, Adaline’s proven that she’s not just raw talent but that she can also harness that skill into mastering even the trickiest of pop formulas.

For a preview of Adaline’s Modern Romantics, visit her website at www.adalinemusic.com. Be sure to catch Adaline on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 at the Biltmore where she’ll be hosting her Vancouver album release party for Modern Romantics. Tickets are $14.74 (includes service fees) and are available on Ticket Web. Trust me. You won’t want to miss this one.

Featured photo by Vanessa Heins; graphic design by Justin Broadbent.

Full Disclosure: I worked as an intern with Adaline for a brief time in 2009. Take this review with a grain of salt — I’m a bit biased since she’s one of my favourite Vancouver (now Toronto) artists.

Review: Live at Squamish.

If you know me, you know I love Weezer. Which is why I bought a ticket for Live at Squamish the second they announced Weezer would be a main stage headliner. Done and done.

And sure enough, the show was every bit as wonderful as they always are when I see them live. It was my fourth time in four years and for the most part, I’d expected that they’d play a lot of older songs because of the recent Memories Tour they’d been doing. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID! (Except nothing off Pinkerton… sigh.) They again had Josh Freese on the drums, freeing up Pat Wilson to shred. So radical! Anyway, I won’t go too far into details but I’ll highlight a couple of fun things.

I thought I’d end up going by myself since I couldn’t convince any of my friends to buy a ticket but! A friend of a friend saw my post on the Live at Squamish Facebook group, looking for carpools so she messaged me and here we are. Lindsey also brought a camera so all the photos here are to her credit. Cool!

It was also my first time seeing Metric live and holy smokes. Can Emily Haines ever perform! I think I developed a pretty substantial girl crush on her when she was kicking around on stage with those boots.

While the stage was being set up, Karl Koch, the band’s tech/social media guy, was putting around on stage, setting up cameras and what have you. I was, because I was so stoked and not because I’m a jerk, yelling at Karl the whole time. “Hey Karl! You’re awesome, man! Don’t let the man get you down!” Anyway, people around me had no idea who Karl was and I think I freaked out some folks with how much random Weezer knowledge I tossed out there.

Rivers, as per usual, jumped into the crowd with gusto! Except at one point, he entered the crowd from stage right and I couldn’t see where had gone. Then Lindsey started yanking on my arm and telling me to turn around. And this was what I saw. RIVERS! The closest I’ve ever been to shaking the man’s hand. Instead, I’m pretty sure I grabbed his mic and yelled, “HIP MOTHERF*CKING HIP.” Call it a spur of the moment decision. He was singing “Island in the Sun” and I guess that’s what adrenaline does to you.

(Sidenote: “Island in the Sun” had two music videos, one featuring a Mexican wedding and the other that has Rivers, Brian Bell and Pat Wilson playing with animals in a field. While I love both, I think I like the Animal Kingdom version slightly more if only because it’s cute to see grown men playing with baby animals.)

Anyway, the show was wonderful, Karl got me a setlist and I yelled into Rivers’ mic for “Island in the Sun”… I think it’s safe to say that’s a weekend well spent at Live at Squamish. Like that, my live Weezer quota of the year has been fulfilled. (But for real, I’m nervous next year will be the year where I have to fly to see Weezer play live… but ’til then!)

I’ll also leave you off with a clip of Weezer covering Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks.” I’d written a post about Foster The People back in March so to hear my favourite band covering one of my favourite songs of the summer live in concert? It was pretty damn wonderful. Enjoy!

All photos on this page are by Lindsey Bolivar.

EDIT (Aug. 27, 2011): It’s been requested I post a copy of the setlist so here it is!

2011-08-21 Squamish, B.C. – Live at Squamish: Surf Wax America, We Are All On Drugs, Keep Fishin’, Perfect Situation, Pumped Up Kicks (Foster The People cover), Say It Ain’t So, Dope Nose, No One Else, Undone, Beverly Hills, My Name Is Jonas, Paranoid Android (Radiohead cover), Troublemaker, Hash Pipe, I Want You To, Island in the Sun.
Encore: Buddy Holly, Pork and Beans.

Feature: Kulth Festival, Coombs, B.C.

Kulth: The Little Festival That Could
July 16 – 17 in Coombs, B.C.
Featuring Ron Sexsmith, Stars, Aidan Knight and more.

By STEPHANIE IP

Anyone who’s ever been to a music festival will tell you that it’s pretty easy to make friends. There’s just something about camping alongside fellow music fans that does something to break down social barriers. As someone who attended their first music festival this year, I can vouch for that.

The Kulth Festival, however, wants to take that one step further.

The Music Festival Next Door

“What we’re trying to do is create an environment that’s a little more … community oriented. It’s a real grassroots type of thing,” said James Boatman, Kulth Festival’s music director. “We strive to make everybody matter.”

The Kulth Festival, which is in its inaugural year, is being held in Coombs, B.C., just minutes outside of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. July 16 and 17 will see the festival set up for two days of music, art and community fun.

“We want people on both sides of the fence to feel like they’re going over to a friend’s house. It’s something a little more intimate,” Boatman said of the festival’s approach.

The Kids Are Alright

Despite the selection of festivals to choose from in the Pacific Northwest – Sasquatch, Bumbershoot, Live at Squamish and so many other smaller festivals – Kulth knows that there is a specific niche of festival attendees who are looking for a family-friendly event and not a drunken four-day bender.

Boatman described the kids’ zones being set up near each stage where families can relax without missing out on performances. The festival’s organizers – many of whom have kids themselves – have also included children’s musical acts and family activities.

Keep It Green

Another interesting twist: Kulth also aims to be a completely environmentally sustainable festival. While many festivals include green initiatives into their organization, Kulth builds its identity on the Coast Salish land where it takes place.

“Picking a (Coast Salish) name like that brings in that we’re aware of where we are we are and our surroundings,” said Boatman, adding that the festival will not be selling bottled water, but instead, selling $4 re-usuable bottles and providing water-refill stations.

Additionally, the Nanaimo district has a “zero-waste policy,” which Kulth will be taking into account. Festival organizers will measure all resources brought into the festival and at the end of the weekend, all waste will be calculated, leaving organizers with an idea of how much waste was produced, a number that they will aim to lower in 2012.

“We would hope whatever people are bringing, they’re bringing reusable products … anything that would not be left behind.”

Keeping Famous Company

Although Kulth is young and will be competing against larger festivals in the area, their lineup is nothing to scoff at. Boatman, who has been in the Vancouver music scene for more than 15 years, had more than his fair share of connections to tap into when he agreed to become Kulth’s music director.

“We’re playing with good karma. We’re very lucky they said yes,” Boatman said of Canadian indie darlings Stars. Of the festival’s main headliner, the legendary Ron Sexsmith, Boatman added, “He’s just one of these guys that we think is a Canadian icon.” Other acts include TopLessGayLoveTeknoParty, Current Swell, Louise Burns, Memphis and Piper Davis.

“I think the island has a number of little festivals and we want to maintain this high quality of artists so we’re doing something a little different there. We’re going to bring in some bigger name artists,” Boatman said. His own personal highlight, however, is homegrown talent, Aidan Knight.

“He just blew us away. He’s the next thing,” Boatman said of his first experience with Knight at Canadian Music Week months earlier.

Aidan Knight – “Knitting Something Nice For You”

Starting At Square One

How the festival fares in its first year, however, remains to be seen. While organizers originally planned for 2,000 people, the city has since notified Kulth the festival grounds can hold close to 5,000. But Boatman is realistic and understands that it’s merely a “stepping stone.”

“We would be happy with under a thousand people. We understand it’s the first year,” Boatman said. “We just hope people come and we hope we do a good job for everybody.”

Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”

Tickets are available to purchase at Red Cat Records, Beatstreet Records, Zulu Records and Subeez Café. Adult weekend passes are $135; youth/student/senior weekend passes are $100. Adult single day tickets are $65 – $75; youth/student/senior single day tickets are $50 – $60. Camping prices vary. Children under 12 years are free. For more ticket information, visit http://shop.thekulth.ca. For more festival information, visit http://thekulth.ca.

Photo: Ron Sexsmith, Google Images.
Video: Aidan Knight – “Knitting Something Nice For You”, Youtube.
Video: Louise Burns – “What Do You Wanna Do?”, Youtube.

First Listen: Pumped Up Kicks.


Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”

I love clicking around on blogs, Soundcloud, Youtube, etc. and stumbling onto a band that I’ve never heard of before. Sometimes, you’re on a mission to find new music. Sometimes, you just happen to be bored. Either way, I love the feeling of finding new music that catches my ear.

It’s hard to explain what makes me stop and pay attention to a band. Not that I feel like I have such supreme taste in music that I’m hard to impress, but I feel like I have a very specific sound that I’m drawn to. When people ask me what type of music I like, I have a hard time describing it so often, I’ll just start listing off a bunch of bands that seem mismatched and out-of-place in comparison to each other.

Foster The People is one such band that I found just clicking through random links on Youtube. These guys are from Los Angeles, California and it definitely seeps through in their first single, “Pumped Up Kicks.” Its relaxed drum and bass line sit just behind the tempo, giving off a nonchalant, semi-drug induced fog to the song. Vocalist Mark Foster sings through a vintage filter and the song almost feels like early Strokes, had Julian Casablancas taken a couple of Ambien and a glass of red wine. It probably doesn’t help that Foster channels the same unwashed hair attitude as Casablancas.

The music video reflects the laid-back, almost lazy nature of the song, featuring clips of the guys on tour and pit stops in parking lots and on beaches. While the V-neck shirt count and vaguely dated metro faux-hawks feel incredibly forced, it’s still a fun video diary of sorts. But it seems accurate as well, considering the guys have been touring consistently over the last year. From the sounds of it, I think they’re actually at SXSW this week.

Anyway, check out their video posted at the top. Their debut album Torches is scheduled for May 24, 2011 so be sure to listen for that. I’ve also posted two other tracks I found online so have at it. When you’re done all of that, make sure you comment and let me know what you think of these guys.

“Houdini”

“Helena Beat”

Vancouver band Said The Whale’s gear stolen in California

Vancouver band Said The Whale is currently touring through California but unfortunately, have had a ton of their gear stolen. The lock on their trailer was cut off and thousands of dollars worth of gear was stolen. Because they’re still on tour and have a ton of shows coming up, they’ll need to replace everything while in the States. So if anyone can hook them up, please do so! Your best bet to contact them is via Twitter at www.twitter.com/saidthewhale.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for these items:

Gear:

  • CB snare drum (SN: 204656)
  • Simon & Patrick acoustic guitar
  • Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar.
  • MicroKorg (SN: 018904)
  • 2 x glockenspeil

Guitar Pedals:

  • Ibanez Tube Screamer
  • Danelecro Daddio boost pedal
  • Electro Harmonix “Holy Grail” reverb pedal
  • Electro Harmonix “Memory Toy” delay pedal
  • Boss tuner pedal
  • Diamond bass compressor
  • Korg Pitch Black tuner pedal

Miscellaneous Gear:

  • An assortment of planet waves patch cords
  • Shure SM58 microphone

Playlist: Your smile’s on fire.

This mix started off as just whatever I had been listening to that week. But, like everything else in my life, it quickly became something more than that.

I know I sound extremely dramatic and overwhelming but that’s how I felt that week. Each song in this mix made me feel bigger than my body, to borrow words from John Mayer. There were a couple days where I drove home from school under a huge expanse of bright blue, feeling like I could’ve kept driving for miles and it wouldn’t have mattered to anyone else but me.

I wasn’t exactly happy or feeling perfect — but I knew I would be okay.

Xavia, Who Will Save Us?
February 2011.


1. The Submarines – “Xavia”
“Xavia, who will save us? / Your smile’s on fire / And still my hear won’t let you down.” I first heard this song on the Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist soundtrack and wish I’d heard the Submarines sooner. The song is adorable and cute but I think what I love about it are the lyrics. They make sense and yet, not quite.


2. Miike Snow – “Song For No One”
I heard this song at Lucy’s when I was having a post-break up relationship dissection with Alisa. The song’s jaunty guitar riff catches me off guard everytime, which is probably why I liked this song so much at first. I was too busy feeling down on myself and this song picked me up again.


3. The Strokes – “Under Cover of Darkness”
Finally! I’ve been waiting for new material from the Strokes for YEARS. And that’s not even an exaggeration. The song is funny partially because it’s so very Strokes-esque, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel like they’ve fallen short of all the expectations we had drawn up for them in their extended absence. Either way, Julian Casablancas will forever look like he needs a shower.


4. Felix Cartal – “Popular Music Intro”
Felix Cartal is the DJ name of Taelor Deitcher, a sort of Vancouver wunderkind. He’s my age and strangely enough, I used to take photos of his old band, Orange Orange. Now, he’s Felix Cartal, jetting around the world, hanging with Steve Aoki and whoever else is hot in the electronic music world. A girl I went to high school with is tight with him and mentioned him a couple times but I didn’t start listening to him ’til this month. I dig it. It’s rad. Proud that he’s from Vancouver.


5. Ratatat – “Bare Feast”
A classmate and I were talking about the crossover between indie and electronic bands, music that you can dance too without feeling like a top 40 fool. She suggested Ratatat as a band that even those who were into all the subtle nuances of electronic music could appreciate. A confession though. I wathced Eat, Pray, Love the same day I heard this song so in my mind, “Bare Feast” makes me feel like I’m riding a bicycle down a dirt path in Bali or something.


6. Caribou – “Odessa”
Another friend noticed that I was on a bit of an electronic music kick recently and offered up Caribou. I’m still slowly familiarizing myself with their album, Swim, but this track caught my ears. It has a bit of a dark, club feel to it but it’s not stagnant or morbid. It’s still very danceable and moves along nicely.


7. Trentemøller – “Miss You”
I don’t want to say too much about this song since it speaks for itself. Simple, peaceful, honest.


8. Rusko ft. Amber Coffman – “Hold On”
A friend was trying to explain what “dubstep” was and sent me this as a sample. I don’t know if this exactly fits into what dubstep usually is, but Amber Coffman’s voice makes this track so much more. Without her, I doubt I’d pay attention to the track at all. Sorry, Rusko.


9. Kings of Leon – “The End”
Pained vocals over a sparse bassline, clashing guitar riffs, the obvious title… this is a break up song, dudes. It hurts to listen to and yet, I can’t stop. It’s the song they play in the scene of the movie where they’re kissing passioantely and you know it’s the last time they’ll ever see each other. And then someone dies? Yeah, that’s usually how it goes.

REVIEW: The Painted Birds, Adaline.


Josh McNorton, Guitar, The Painted Birds
Photo credit: Stephanie Ip

The Nearly Famous Music Festival
The Painted Birds, Adaline, Hot Little Rocket
November 14th, 2008
The Anza Club

I’m one of those people who hate getting to the venue after the show has started. I always feel like I”m missing out on the first band or that I won’t get my money’s worth. In this case, I was very much mistaken. Not only did I get my $12 worth, but I felt like I should’ve been paying a full $45 for a seat at a classier venue. Not that I don’t love the Anza Club — I do! But Adaline and The Painted Birds definitely deserve to be playing much larger and nicer venues.

Stepping inside the Anza Club, you always get the feeling of being transported into your best friend’s garage, where the patch cords are all tangled up and you’re not quite sure if the fuse box will hold out. Hot Little Rocket was playing when I arrived — some solid musical chops but lackluster vocals. I guess after ten years together, you start to get a little tired. They are from Calgary, though. So maybe I’ll attribute their weak performance to the long drive.

Adaline, perhaps sensing the audience’s restlessness, took to the stage quickly. Despite technical difficulties, lead vocalist and pianist Shawna Beesley forged on , determined to deliver a show. Beesley’s luscious melodies, supported by a solid group of musicians brough to mind what Radiohead would probably sound like if Thom Yorke were a female. Onstage to help her out was her dear ol’ papa on violin and trumpet — can you say adorable father/daughter combo? And although she had just performed the night before at the Media Club and was partially suffering from a sore throat, the gorgeous songstress sang her heart out and kindly bantered back and forth with her friends in the audience.

A welcome sight and sound were the headliners — our very own hometown boys, The Painted Birds. Their recent two-month cross-country tour took them and their erratic, energy-driven rock away from Vancouver as they hopped from bar to bar and venue to venue. Perhaps a few more bars than venues, remarked guitarist Josh McNorton before the show. Nontheless, the Birds were glad to be back in town and it showed — they marched on, full-throttle, as if their bodies had never been away from the comfort of their own beds. If anything, their recent tour provided them with jokes aplenty to share with the audience — they weren’t embarassed about having placed East Coast shows where there were more band members than audience members. They were just glad to have their friends and family around to share those stories with.

As the night wore on, the energy continued to drive forward. Not only was this a celebration of The Painted Birds’ triumphant homecoming, but it was a celebration of Vancouver’s finest musical talent. Those who are jaded about the local music scene need only to peek within the doors of a venue where Adaline or The Painted Birds are playing. And they’ll begin to understand that “nearly famous” isn’t too far off the mark.

For more information on Adailne, check out www.adalinemusic.com. Or if you’re looking for The Painted Birds, you can find them at www.thepaintedbirds.com.

Originally published in the February 2009 issue of Grounder Magazine.