Sunday, September 28, 2008

Live: Two Hours Traffic: Pop to Go

Nobody wants to get stuck for the summer. Nor do they want to miss Two Hours Traffic.
Okay, that sounded lame. But you shouldn't have missed this show.

Thinking i was about to miss The Danks, Ryan and i rushed over to Lee's Palace last night only to find out that yet again, whenever i think i'll be late for a show, i'm so, so not. first of all, we didn't miss the danks (yaaaay), second of all, they are awesome, and third of all, i finally got to purchase their first EP, Samples, after chatting with their lead singer Brohan about their North by Northeast set for a bit. (i reviewed it, check here)(he also remembered that i gave them a good review, good enough it landed them on ChartAttack's highest marks for that festival). oh Brohan and company, your tunes please me so.

next up was the i spies. gah, not so fun. their lead singer was entertaining whenever he reached the climax of the songs, but other than that, i don't remember anything besides thinking they all looked way too much like an american apparel ad as well as trying a little too hard. they have a solid following, and their songs aren't bad, but... meh.

but Two Hours Traffic of course brought the party. this polaris prize-nominated band carried all of their poppy tunes to their even hoppier-crowd. they played all of the solid tracks off of Little Jabs, such as "Nighthawks," "Stuck for the Summer," "Backseat Sweetheart," "Jezebel," and "Whenever We Finish." They also played their new song "Drop Alcohol," which i already love. i want! Oh, and i can't get enough of "New Love." so much fun. if i was to ask for something from THT, i would ask for them to show a little bit more personality in their sets, but i can live without as their energy is pretty high. i don't think they'll be winning the polaris, but they definitely deserved to be nominated.

fun fact: jian ghomeshi came on stage to play tambourine for a song. random? yes. awkward? yes. but guitarist alec seemed to enjoy it very much so.

so, as i was serving as ChartAttack photographer for the night, i will now show you the rest of the show. (sadly forgot my other camera in my rush to catch the danks, so no videos.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Live: Sigur Ros: A Mystical Adventure

Alright, second review of the day. This was Sept. 22 at Massey Hall.

"How many cardigans do you think are in this theatre?"
"Probably 90 per cent."

Yeah folks, I saw so many colourful and slick sweaters and rad buttons. But what I also saw was a lot of icelanders.

It was actually quite nice that i didn't know any of the words for the entire night. it made for an interesting zone-out period, and thus i realized how mystical Sigur Ros sounds. mystical in the sense that a) if aliens were to exist, they were not terrifying-looking, and they were to come to canada, they would be just like sigur ros and b) they also sounded like mermen. not the kind in harry potter, but... close.

openers Parachutes, also from iceland, had a nice sound as well, but too similar to their main act. it was like, if you were to imagine your dreamworld that had an airy chorus, they would be it. just not with the same vocals. too high! they were cute though.

anyways, sigur. amazing! such a thrilling and yet meditative show. i loved the video aspects they did (like radiohead) except these were larger (therefore i could see) and watching a close shot of singer jonsi push his e-bow back and forth on his guitar was special. they powered through a two hour set without any stops and no english words thrown around until the end, (fancily enough, swear words). they did an encore of gobbledigook, and it was magical with rainbow lights shooting up to the ceiling, parachutes playing huge drums, and plenty of confetti (that even reached me on the top balcony). so great! as my roommate said "it's like the best kid in the world's birthday party!"

i'm glad i saw them.

one thing i noticed during the show, as i was on the top balcony facing straight forward, as i could see both sides as everyone was turned towards the stage how everyone's face was half-illuminated in the mystical glow of sigur ros. it's safe to say by the end of the night, everyone had a sigur high.

Live: The Swell Season: LoveLoveLove

If you've seen the movie Once, you know that if a European couple has melodies and electricity, they're bound to become not only the cutest couple ever but also quite successful.

Now, i've seen the movie, only once (sorry), and it was a while ago so i wasn't as highly anticipating this show at Massey Hall as much as i should have. But as soon as they began, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, their spark of light was infectious and i was captured in the glow for two straight hours, never falling into the dark.

But let's back up here for a second. Opener Bill Calahan = ghastly. Within his first song i already dozed off for a few seconds, his baritone more than i could handle (and i already get enough of it from The National). he had a few good songs, but i couldn't grasp onto his lyrics i.e. something alond the lines of: "i love my momma, my poppa, my sisters too. but i bought this guitar to sing about my love for you". yeah. So, he's actually formerly known as Smog and had a song on the High Fidelity soundtrack. therefore he has slight props. but as Bill, he didn't do it for me. it was quite funny after the set my roommate and i turned to each other, as i said "uuuurgh that was terrible" and she said "really? i thought it was amazing". conflicting tastes.

i want to gush about The Swell Season now. Yes, they're an actual real band, they're not just playing around after they made a movie. There's four other members: electric guitar, bass, drums, and violin. Together, while Marketa's on piano and Glen's on acoutsic guitar, they made beauty.

there were two things about this show that i want to share with you:
1 -- the amount of love that filled the room as glen and marketa wove their melodies together (i.e. "The Moon" will make you cry and "Falling Slowly" will make you stop what you're doing) was so powerful. the entire crowd that filled massey hall's crazy seats at even crazier steep heights was still for the two hours that they played. couples everywhere. aww's floating about. now, normally i would be all "euuuch" but that day i was just so happy off of some other people's warmth. (ha).

2 -- glen hansard feels music in his bones. this man lives and breathes musical notes and lyrics and his life experiences that he shared can prove it, along with the way he yells during some songs as he stomps the floor. it's not pain, it's something greater. it's emotion and dedication. he can make anything into a song (i.e. an entire story about a dog that would watch cars go by on the street for years). he explained almost every song, which made the concert so much better. you can just feel the shakes he shoves as he pushes out the notes from his throat. it's like nothing i've ever seen.

Here are some videos up on YouTube by other people with better views: (i really just wish everyone could have seen this show)
To see "Go With Happiness", click here. Also, at the end, you'll see what i was talking about with Glen. oh, and here too: "I Have Loved You Wrong"
"Back Broke"
the effect of Glen's storytelling with "Low Rising"
"Say It To Me Now"

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Live: Plants & Animals: Among the nature of French Canadians

As promised, here is a short review of Thursday's Plants and Animals concert at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Well, i had a pleasant surprise of finding out the Ruby Coast was opening. i was excited because i've been hearing so much about them lately and missed a couple shows. They were fun, young, and poppy. i'll definitely look into getting their album soon. They may have had too many hand claps and the girl in front of me didn't stop hopping for the entire set (a friend said "too much red bull?") and some other girl who ran into me was all "oh my gahd, this is like an aerobics class!!!", therefore that is one high-energy set. It was fun, a strange pairing with P&A, but i'm glad i saw them. i later saw them heading across the street to McDonalds. Late-night concert jonesing, boys? Nothing gets you hopped up like a good cheezbugah.

But what i've been waiting for for months, Plants and Animals, finally came. i have been spinning this record with adoration for a while now (ahem, last post) and the triplet (but not really) from Montreal did not disappoint. Their performance didn't really sound like Parc Avenue, but that didn't matter. Each member brought amazing old-school energy, but the first thing i noticed was their drummer, Matthew Woodley, and the way he moved while playing. i have never seen anything like it! Who knew someone sitting behind a drum set could move like that. And what's better, with a pineapple shaker while he only drummed with one hand. It's like he's destined to salsa dance. ANYWAYS, they played all of the songs that i mentioned in the last post to my delight. the best part of the evening was at the end during "Faerie Dance" when Warren Spicer and Nicolas Basque were trying to coordinate the synthesizer's light dings with Warren's vocals and it just didn't work. So funny and innocently charming. It may not have been the beautiful wisps of the album, but it was raw, honest, and fun.

Go here to watch a video done by Jen White for ChartAttack during March's CMW with the band, and you'll get a glimpse of Matthew's drum dance, Nicolas's cute French-Canadian accent and hilarious quip about tasting a raccoon, and Warren's uncomfortable-looking position in the van.

Here's a video of "Mercy" and a little bit of a jam session in the middle.

Coming up: Live reviews of The Swell Season & Sigur Ros.

Monday, September 15, 2008

BestFirsts #1

So today is special. It marks the day that i finally begin my editorials, BestFirsts. Here's what it is: an album review, basically. But it's all about an artist's first album that trumps all the rest of the albums.

But with each editorial, i won't do just that. i'll also include an album review that's either not the first but an artist's best, or the first while the artist still doesn't have any left (but if they didn't make any more, i would be satisfied, although sad).

i know many bands produce their bests first, and this is often debated via the "sophomore slump", but i decided to take my own spin on it. Why are they better than their later albums? Are you often dissapointed with their second albums, thinking "whyyyy?" Well, i do.

Today's edition: This Day & Age and Plants & Animals. Two bands that win in the conjunction category.

BestFirsts #1:

The Best First: This Day & Age -- Always Leave The Ground

A band from Buffalo, New York who sadly don't exist anymore. This album was released in 2004 on One Eleven Records. i enjoyed this record for much longer than it seems until their second release, The Bell and The Hammer, in 2006, right before their unfortunate demise. i lost track of how many times i went to see this band play tracks off of ALTG, and every time i sang almost every word. (i'm not perfect). Anyways, this album contains tracks such as the fast and slow beats and ticks of "Hourglass," ('we used to be afraid / but we found our way'). There's the ballad of basementy-yet sophisticated keyboard laiden "Second Place Victory," (i heard you say it's enlightening to think of the breeze / to believe in things that we cannot see / so here we go / let's show them how to live, accept the pain, always forgive / watch the sun go down, learn the sound of following all that's complete). The happy but tinge of regretful "Slideshow," (in the movies / on the big screen / i'd make you mine / if this were high school or just homecoming / we'd dance all night). One of my favourites was "Seven-Eighty," because it got me going with it's quiet hand claps, cute lyrics, and great combination of the band's use of beats and heart-felt twinges. (if i was talking to you and not writing this / maybe i could show you something you haven't seen / my lips would fight my mind / i'd say things at the right time).

This album showcases Buffalo's short era of pop-almost-punk but love for happy beats while still calling themselves "maybe emo". It not only highlights the better of my high school days (while the lyrics are closer to my not so nice days) which made me love it that much more, it was something i could relate to for two very interesting parts of my life that were happening at almost the same time and it was music coming straight from my hometown. The reason why i like this album better than their second and last (by the way, the members minus singer Jeff Martin can be found in the band Reign of Kindo) The Bell and the Hammer is because every song on ALTG is memorable to the people who grew up with the band and myself, while TBATH has a few amazing tracks ("Always Straight Ahead," which i listened to every day for a long time and have recently just gotten back into, and "Second Star To The Right..." because of it's catchy piano paired with Martin's voice) but it falls short, and i'm even having a hard time recalling it right now.

This Day & Age is a band i miss with a huge pang in my being. But i am so grateful that i at least knew about them, saw them a crazy amount, and can hold onto albums like Always Leave The Ground.

The One and Only: Plants & Animals -- Parc Avenue

Whereas for my Best First i chose a band that wasn't very well kn0wn outside of their hometown community, for this edition's One and Only i've chosen a band that are succeeding in the pace of word-of-mouth in canadian press and others (blogs, ahem) and are hopefully destined for a long and pleasant journey. (Disclaimer: P&A have had EPs, but i'm counting this because it's their first full-length).

This album will most definitely be on my best of 2008 list, no lie. The goodness that drips from "Good Friend" for the pure sadness of (i wanna dance / i wanna dance / i wanna dance), to "Faerie Dance" because of its hypnotizing guitar sways and dream-like area that seems to encompass me wherever i go whilst listening to this track, to "New Kind of Love" and the beautiful lyrics (there's a river so we go where it goes / and get covered in dirt and rainbows / we're giving it up again / we're giving it up again/ we're givingggggg it up again), the bells, the breaths, and the euphoric yet slightly messy ending that seems to summarize its title, to the racing beats behind the sleepy vocals (and literal calls) of "Mercy".

i don't want to reveal too much about this album now though as i was able to get a ticket to their show at the Horseshoe Tavern on Thursday and you will for sure be hearing all about what i thought of it.

This blog is open up to discussion about both of these albums and i will gladly listen to every point of view! i also encourage comments to let me know what you think, to see how my first edition of BestFirsts went.


hooray for changed layout (or at least tweaked). check it out!

as for editorials, tomorrow I will be starting the first of the BestFirsts line. Make sure to come and visit again Monday night!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

sincere apologies

i've decided that since i'm lame at blogging, i'm not going to even bother updating on much that's happened since my last post. i'll just hand you some links.

Final Fantasy show review here.

Boats! interview here.

An article about some guys in TIFF here.

And here's a video from a while ago (June) during North by Northeast (i actually wrote about it here) that i can be seen in a few times.

Oh, wait, here's a Q and A i did with Cute is What We Aim For a couple months ago that was just put up on (the new) ChartAttack.

Life's been good. Tiring of course, this is me, but very good. It's the first time in my life that i actually have 99% of what i want all at the same time.

i am so grateful to have amazing friends who are there for me whenever i need and don't hesitate to put a smile on my face; a boyfriend who can't be any more perfect and has brought me so many things i've never had before and more; a great job at the campus newspaper as an Arts and Life editor that feels rewarding at the end of the day whether it's an article of mine or just creating a section my entire school can read and hopefully enjoy; and classes that might actually make me learn some things with teachers i actually appreciate. Not to mention just enjoying my time here for my first semester of my third year of university.

All of these things are what keeps me from updating this more often than i promise. But that's alright, I'm out enjoying life and even though sometimes it wears me to my bones, i don't regret anything.

However, when it comes down to the blog i must say this: i doubt anyone's really reading, but i still want to continue with it. Please let me know what you think. i still will create a new layout, do editorials (in the works!), and review concerts, etc etc. That's all still coming up, and more.

Such as this weekend i'm going to see Plants and Animals (hopefully!), The Swell Season, and Sigur Ros! Lots to tell you about!

P.S. i realize my grammar sucks in this entry, but fuck i'm tired.

P.P.S. Ryan took me to a TIFF movie this week, and it was awesome. If you ever get a chance to see "Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary", please do. You'll love me for suggesting this. It's the cutest movie ever.