Friday, June 20, 2008

The Return of Girl 1 feat. The Wooden Sky, The D'Urbervilles, and Leif Vollebekk

Although I have lived in the National Capital Region for almost four years now, last night marked my first-ever venture to the notorious Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec, located a mere 45 minutes from Ottawa. Even though I was upset to have missed out on what I think is one of the best music venues I have ever been to, with the outdoor patio looking out onto a beautiful lake and the Gatineau Hills and the inside atmosphere so inviting and entertaining as the owner’s pet pug runs between the legs of concert-goers and locals, the spectacular performances from Ottawa’s very own Leif Vollebekk, Guelph, ON’s The D’Urbervilles, and Toronto’s The Wooden Sky were enough to make me forget my initial disappointment.

Vollebekk took the stage as the majority of the crowd grabbed seats at candlelit tables with pitchers of local beer close at hand. A sense of awe could soon be felt as Vollebekk’s soothing voice, strikingly reminiscent of Patrick Watson, and his mesmerizing stage presence left the audience staring at the modest musician before them with complete admiration. Vollebekk played the first few songs with the help of his acoustic guitar, some beautiful finger picking, and occasionally his harmonica, switching to an electric guitar, the piano, and even the violin with much ease. Vollebekk also made fine usage of his looping pedal to layer the many instruments, creating the lovely music that accompanied his thoughtful lyrics. Vollebekk takes up little room on the stage, but the sound he creates is big enough to fill any room.

The D’Urbervilles were up next, and the quartet’s usual high-energy performance, though slow to appear, was very present by the end of their set. With their catchy hooks, driving percussion, and keyboard-playing that makes you want to get off your ass and start dancing, The D’Urbervilles easily entertained the crowd with songs off both their EP and their full-length, We Are The Hunters. By the end of the set, the band had left us pumped and ready for more rock, soon to come from The Wooden Sky. Props go out to D'Urbervilles lead singer John O’Regan for wearing a shirt commemorative of my conception (Spring Break ’86 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL).

The Wooden Sky, formerly known as Friday Morning’s Regret, produce a brand of what can be described as alt-country that makes most crowds take notice, and last night’s show was no exception. Lead vocalist Gavin Gardiner has both a strong stage presence and powerful lyrics, and having seen them many times over the past six years, it is evident how the band has evolved in terms of songwriting -- and as a whole -- making a name change very understandable and necessary. The band played songs from their LP Lost at Sea along with some new tracks that were easy to enjoy upon the first listen. Gavin and bassist Andrew Wyatt even humoured me when I asked for an old Friday Morning’s Regret song from their 2004 self-titled release by playing what they remembered. And last, but certainly not least, the set was topped off with a rockin’ cover of "American Girl" by Tom Petty. What more could the Thursday night show-goers ask for?

It is safe to say that the packed Black Sheep Inn crowd left that night knowing they got their money’s worth. Along with a few new cds and band t-shirts, hopefully.

***photo by Tyler Ross

Wooden Sky - The Wooden Sky

We Are The Hunters - The D'Urbervilles

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Things I like about today.

1. Getting to work and discovering that the entire office is playing an online game where you get to paint Miley Cyrus' nails.
2. Painting Miley Cyrus' nails.
3. Eating two Egg McMuffins and Nibs for breakfast.
4. Getting Sylvain in trouble for sending me the world's longest email consisting only of happy faces.
5. Woodhands (and their quirky band photos).

Woodhands - Dancer


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It’s pronounced Dah-veed.

I’ve been meaning to update my mp3 player for some time now, and I think it’s actually been on my floor charging for a week, untouched. I just haven't gotten around to it, and since it’s been a while, I know that the update will be quite the upheaval. I’m simply not ready to deal with that much change, plus it's old and dingy and that makes the whole operation even more unmotivating.

So to compensate for this lack of a constant soundtrack, I’ve resorted to listening to online radio at work (sadly, since my commute has become a bike ride, there is no listening to music in transit for the time being – I would most certainly perish).

I’ve been finding this web-radio experience suprisingly enlightening, because every once in a while something totally new comes on that kind of blows me away. So I write it on a Post-It, come home and dance to it.

This is an example of such an occurrence.

David Ramos (see above for correct pronunciation) is completely random in the coolest way. Last year, he was named one of Modern Drummer Magazine's Top 10 Progressive Drummers of Today for his work on the Toca album. He also dabbles in hardcore metal, indie folk and rap. Sceptical? I hear you.

Surprisingly enough, his diverse mix of musical skills all come together, right here. It’s kind of drone-y or straight up weird at times, but then the synth stream gets interrupted by random instruments or Ramos’ own brand of awkward yet endearing rapping. Try it out with an open mind – this album sometimes sounds like it was self-produced in a basement. But that’s only because, well, it WAS.

I recommend Pulse Myopathic Scubacop RMX and Face Full.

This video for Kings and Queens is pretty haunting too, though I'm not a huge fan of this song.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

dear Coldplay haters,

lets talk about how much we all hate Coldplay.
lets talk about how infinitely better all the other bands we listen to are.
lets compare every word Chris Martin has ever written and sung,
to every other word written and sung by every other artist in the world.

after that, we should critique every note and melody for being unoriginal.
because no true musician or artist would ever let themselves be influenced by artists that preceded them. (or be honest about it, ahem Daft Punk.)

and when we’ve run out of negative things to say about the music,
we should probably extend our dislike to personal attacks on their front man.
we can all discuss how <> he is, not only for making music,
but for existing as well.
how dare he.

or, and please bear with me, because this is only a suggestion,
we could not take ourselves so seriously.

and maybe,
we can choose not to listen to music we don’t appreciate,
without being judge jury and executioner.
(i don't remember Ms. Spears's album getting such subjective reviews...)

just a thought.

i know how rare an occasion it is for us music snobs to prove how much more pretentious we are than one another…so by all means, if it’s too tempting, don’t let this chance pass you by…
tear them to shreds…

p.s. Chris Martin sends his love.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Writer of fictions...

About a week ago, I decided to change my desktop background to a picture of Colin Meloy. Not so much because he’s a heartthrob, but because he is a poetic genius and maybe if I look at him more I might absorb some of his witty eloquence. Sigh.

To my chagrin, my computer did not agree with the picture’s dimensions and /or resolution, so The Decemberists' frontman's face became grossly stretched out and disfigured. Still, I left it there.

This being said, today I have decided that it’s time for a change of scenery , as I feel I might begin to experience nightmares in which Colin is a) some kind of deformed, blood-thirsty monster or b) being stretched to a gruesome death because of me. To avoid this, his prestigious desktop spot will soon be lost to a picture of wiener dogs. Um, I mean, a cool Banksy print...

To feel better about my decision, I’ve decided to share my love for all things Colin Meloy here.

Here are my preferred tracks off Colin Meloy Sings Live! (an album I believe everyone should own, en passant).


Colin Meloy – The Engine Driver

Colin Meloy – California One / Youth and Beauty Brigade

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

New Wolf Parade!

Fighting the urge to simply write “weeeee!” and post the songs, I will take a time out from the tedious apartment renovation projects I am undertaking and write a few words about this.

At Mount Zoomer is the long anticipated new album from Montreal’s Wolf Parade. It officially comes out June 17, almost 3 whole years after the bands first LP, Apologies to the Queen Mary. Although Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs and the band members' numerous other side projects have managed to tide us over until now, I’m REALLY stoked about this album. Note that I would never say, nor have I ever said ‘stoked’ out loud. But it looks good written down, no?

I was anxious to see what the band would put together after its members strayed in almost every possible direction with other musical aspirations, and I’m glad to report that it’s pretty tight. Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner still have the sobbing voices we’ve grown to love, and the melodies are much more complex, with a decent amount of their signature dissonance. I was disappointed to notice that raw, dance-seizure-inducing tunes such as Shine a Light seem absent, but I see it as a necessary evolution. Producing a sophomore album after an acclaimed debut is kind of like going to high school after a supercool older sibling – you’re going to be judged pretty harshly if you try to be a carbon copy.

All in all, I'm happy these guys are back. Watch for a tour starting in July, with Canadian dates as of August.

Here a few ditties (another word I write but do not say) for you.

Wolf Parade - California Dreamer

Wolf Parade - Language City

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This festival is overwhelming my life right now. There are so many shows and venues to choose from, and every night out has to be planned carefully around location, talent and proximity to a McDonald's. Plus, like any such festival with wristband admission, you run the risk of not getting in, remaining stuck outside listening to the droning echoes of what could have been the best show of your life. Whatever, at least there’s no snow this time, although these thunderstorms are promising. (PS have you guys been following the stories about all the crazy tornadoes?)

Here are my picks:

Thursday, June 12th
The Horseshoe only, because I work at 8:30am on Friday. Aaand because the bands are sweet.

9pm – The Coast

10pm – The West Secret

11pm – Small Sins

12am – Money Mark

1am – Flash Lightnin

Friday, June 13th

Drake Hotel

9pm – Ruby Coast

10pm – Winter Gloves (or Great Lake Swimmers at the Reverb)

11pm – probable McDonald’s break

Cameron House

12am – Orillia Opry (or EVAN DANDO at the Horseshoe)


1am – Opopo

Drake Hotel

2am – Jokers of the Scene (Ottawa’s very own)

Saturday, June 14th

Silver Dollar

11pm – Elfin Saddle


12am – The High Dials

1am – We Are Wolves (or The D’Urbervilles at the Horseshoe, if time allows)

That’s all I’ve got so far. You can find the lineup here. And feel free to make recommendations!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This week’s band-crush.

The Republic Tigers believe that music is the career they were destined for (I’m actually laughing at how cliché this first sentence is, but I’m going to leave it here for my own amusement). In their late twenties and early thirties, these guys are hardly starry-eyed youngsters with rock-star dreams; they’ve had the time to think about it, experience crummy jobs and other failed musical efforts to finally make a well-planned out decision to ‘go for it’. And they’re still cute, despite the old age...

Aww, I kid.

Seriously though – their bassist left (read: got fired from) his job at RadioShack to devote himself to the band. So you know they’re serious about making music.

The band has just released their first LP, Keep Color (Chop Shop Records) and appeared on Letterman last week in their very first televised performance. Things are looking promising, I must say! I stumbled upon their album and have been obsessed with its opening track Buildings and Mountains ever since. And when I took it off ‘Repeat’ and gave the rest of the album a chance, I was very pleased.

Keep Color is happy and smooth, with an exaggerated amount of layers that just so happen to fit together seamlessly and give the whole album a cinematic sound. There’s a little bit of rock, a lot of synth and a crazy pile of vocals. In my opinion, if The Republic Tigers was a food product, they would be Orbitz: fizzy, sometimes heavy, and constantly shifting with an excess of strange bubbliness, but so pleasant and gratifying that you don’t ask questions. Was that analogy just an excuse for me to include yet another ‘90s throwback into my post? Perhaps.

Hopefully, The Republic Tigers will have a longer shelf life than this now-defunct soft drink. Keep Color seems to convince me that this could in fact be the case. Some of my favourite songs: Fight Song, which is pleasingly upbeat with an impressive variety of percussion and a funk influence, and Air Guitar, which is not as solid musically, but is good in that its lyrics paint a hilarious portrait of the sport that is, well... air guitar: ‘I don’t care if you are tall, black or white or very small, grab your axe and play guitar’. Written as a joke and combined with an overdramatic melody, this piece is smack in the middle of the album and quite enjoyably breaks up the album with humour.

Here are some tracks for your listening pleasure! Also – if you are interested, I found a petition to bring back Orbitz, just because.


The Republic Tigers - Buildings and Mountains

The Republic Tigers - Fight Song