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Monday, January 4, 2010

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: postdata


As far as acts that escape the confines of Canada's Ocean Playground, one common trait holds true for any of the bands that get National attention; hard work. Whether it's Plaskett touring his ass off, Holy Fuck getting Polaris nominated or Jenn Grant flying to LA for a ya-Canada pre-grammys show, it takes more than talent to make it in the music business. You have to be willing to put in the hours.

Another act that would be on that list is Wintersleep. The band has grinded out a successful career and realized their talent with the release of the stellar (Juno award winning) LP, Welcome to the Night Sky. While most of Canada (and the UK) waits for their follow up record, guitarist Paul Murphy and his brother Michael set to work on recording an emotional collection of songs for their mom.

The songs - recorded under the moniker Postdata - were not written as work. No, the nine songs are an expression of love; an expression of reality. I hesitate to put too much of my own words into such a personal record - the family dynamics revealed on these heartfelt, honest compositions will probably be misinterpreted by everyone as we try to relate to the Murphy's story - but that desire to relate to his words is why the stripped down songs work so well. Like good music should, each of these songs forces a connection on the listener, causing you to scramble through your own memories of awkward love, family bonds, and pain as you try to answer questions that have no real answers. The words send chills down your spine, but are delivered in such a beautiful melody, you want to let the record play over and over again. Postdata documents the past in an effort to look forward... pretty fitting as we all try to start fresh in 2010.








MP3:: Postdata - Tobias Grey
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/postdiddy
BUY:: http://postdatamusic.com/site/

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Herohill / Music Nova Scotia Artist of the Month:: Ghettosocks

Count Sockula Esq.


December's Herohill/Music Nova Scotia artist of the month is a little late, but, in my humble, it is certainly worth that wait. Ghettosocks is certainly one of the brightest suns that the planets of the Halifax hip hop scene orbit around. While that analogy makes little to no sense in astrological terms, it is an accurate description of the role 'Socks has played in the scene here since he relocated from his hometown of Ottawa. So when you add that to the fact that we've long been proponents of this transplanted Haligonian MC champ, and considering his latest release, Treat of the Day, was such a big hit here at the hill, it seemed only natural that we bestow the lofty hill/MNS designation on the Grand Wizard Ghettosocks.

But it's not only his latest work that we've been behind, you can check our reviews for his last three projects:

Get Some Friends

I Can Make Your Dog Famous

Treat of the Day

And now some selected quotes from those reviews:

Get Some Friends (an excellent album title I should add) is a very good hip hop album. And I say that without an ounce of Halifax bias in the mix. If you told me Socks was from Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, I'd still be a big fan of this album.

I think he's one of the best MC's our fine country has to offer right now - I'd easily put him in my current top five favorite Canadian MC's

In fact, Socks makes the kind of hip hop I would hope to make if I weren't just some chaunce with a blog

In fact, we should make the Grand Wizard Ghettosocks required listening for any fan of Golden Age hip hip - perhaps we can talk to KRS about getting such an amendment made to the hip hop constitution he's no doubt been writing for some time.

Ghettosocks is an MC, a producer, and even a DJ (he was recently crowned DJ of the year at the 2009 Music Nova Scotia Awards), who makes the kind of hip hop that warms my curmudgeonly, golden age-loving heart. For that reason alone I'm happy we're anointing him with this Artist of the Month title, and I hope it will encourage those of you who haven't checked him out before will do so.







MP3:: Ghettosocks - Step To A T-Rex






MP3:: Ghettosocks - Ballz in yo Stomach f. Timbuktu & Pip Skid






MP3:: Ghettosocks - Don't Turn Around f. Edgar Allen Floe
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/ghettosocks


VIDEO:: Ghettosocks - Step To A T-Rex


VIDEO:: Ghettosocks Ballz in yo Stomach f. Pip Skid & Timbuktu


VIDEO:: Ghettosocks - Don't Turn Around (feat. Edgar Allen Floe)

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Monday, November 2, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: acres & acres


The release of the fantastic new record from Acres and Acres - All Nations (review) - has gone and come, sadly with little fanfare. Even with a coast to coast train tour, Kris Pope and David Scholten still fly under the radar in the city they call home. It's a shame, because the simple premise and recording style of All Nations resulted in a record that knocks you on your ass, but never hits you with a weight that is too much to handle.

Hopefully, the little bump a band gets from being dubbed the herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month will help them sell a few records and get some more bodies in the bars when they play (like they do this weekend in Yarmouth as part of Music Nova Scotia week). All Nations is one of the most honest, engaging roots records to come out of our province this year and one that should be getting much more love.

As a special treat, the band recorded some songs on their journey. The echoes of a Winnipeg train station really work for the band as they play a brand new song - You Never Know - and shows how when you take everything else away, their harmonies and melodies are what grab hold of you like a vice.



Acres & Acres - Money (live courtesy of SouthernSouls.ca)

ACRES AND ACRES - Money from Mitch Fillion on Vimeo.









MP3:: Acres and Acres - Polar Bear Song
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/acresandacres

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: Christina Martin

With fall taken a stranglehold on the province, it's pretty fitting that the last two artists have been talented rootsy females that are tailor made for the season change. While Ruth Minnikin has made a name for herself locally and across the pond, Christina Martin still toils in relative obscurity.

As someone hoping to promote the talent trapped here on the East Coast, that frustrates me to no end. Ms. Martin is one of my favorite singers, but much like the honey voiced Rose Cousins, she doesn't seem to get nearly enough attention in these parts. Case in point, after playing in LA for film execs, she came home to unleash new tunes and a new band lineup, and Tribeca was fairly dead.

Missing that show my friends was a real shame, as Martin and her band showed a more muscular, spacey sound and played a few new tunes. Considering how strong Two Hearts is (review), the fact I left the bar excited about her as of yet unscheduled new record spoke volumes.

Luckily, she was nice enough to share some demos - recorded by Dale Murray in his basement - and some info about what to expect:
"There was no question in my mind, I needed to record this next project with Dale Murray (Producer/Engineer). We are looking to make an album with more of a folk-rock/edge, a bit of angst, a lot of tension/release... but its hard to say exactly how sonically things will turn out. We are just excited to get started in and the focus will be creating something we are proud of that people can connect to."
So do yourself a favor and grab these tracks, her old record and go see this talent when she plays next. You won't be disappointed, of that I guarantee.







MP3:: Christina Martin - I Can Too (acoustic)







MP3:: Christina Martin - They Say







MP3:: Christina Martin - Daisy (demo)
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/cpmartin
WEB:: http://www.christinamartin.net/

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Posted at 7:26 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: Ruth Minnikin


After a month off (sorry y'all, having a child go through heart surgery was only slightly more important than blogging), we are back with the herohill/music nova scotia band of the month. The leaves are turning and the little chill rests in the night air, so it seems like the perfect time to settle into the autumn sounds of Ruth Minnikin and Her Bandwagon.

The Haligonian song writer has been a part of some of the best (and most criminally ignored) bands to come out of the city, The Heavy Blinkers and The Guthries. If the internet and blogs existed like they do now, The Blinkers would be a household name and honestly, with today's obsession with alt-country, The Guthries are another classic case of a band being ahead of its time.

Well, the world's loss is our gain because in the years that followed both bands, Ruth has had time to pen records like Folk Art and make cameos on albums by Joel Plaskett, Gabe Minnikin, Old Man Luedecke, Kate Maki, and The Russian Futurists and now she's about to release another solo record (with the willing support of the Bandwagon) called Depend on This.

Apparently, the record is a return to orchestration fans of The Blinkers will appreciate, but she's grown so much in confidence and song writing that there is no way this record won't be a must have. The first single is called Four Churches moves with a confidence and swagger, but Ruth's precious vocals draw in you in close. Deep below the infectious sounds is a compelling story, which according to Ruth is:
About Allan gardens in Toronto, between the blocks Jarvis, Sherbourne, Dundas and Gerrard Sts. in this city block, on 3 of the 4 corners there are churches, the fourth corner is an empty lot. My good friend/artist/actor chris cunningham used to live on Gerrard and made up a story about a demon that lived beneath the gardens. the force of the 4 churches had kept the demon under the earth and at bay... But eventually it broke through the forth church, destroying it and leaving the empty lot...


Four Churches - Ruth Minnikin

Needless to say, we at herohill are waiting on baited breath for Depend on This and think it will be the perfect Autumn record.







MP3:: Ruth Minnikin & Her Bandwagon - Sun Coming up (Eric's Trip cover)
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/ruthminnikin
WEB:: http://www.ruthminnikin.ca/

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Monday, July 6, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: Prospector's Union

When it comes to promoting East Coast acts, there aren’t many people working harder than Matt Charlton (well, except us of course). I remember when herohill first started getting emails from his PR firm – efficient, easy to download snippets without any of the glowing hyberbole that plagues not only music PR people, but bloggers as well – and I assumed Matt was just a guy that loved music and wanted to find a way to make a living from it.

Now, a year or so later his roster has grown and he's helping acts get outside the Maritimes and get heard by a bigger audience, but it's his song writing that really grabs my attention. I had no idea he even played until last year's Halifax Pop Explosion when he opened for The Retribution Gospel Choir. That night, he stood on stage – well, on the slightly raised floor of St. Matthew’s Church - with some of Nova Scotia’s most talented artists (Daniel Ledwell, Christina Martin, John Mullane, Andrew Sisk to name a few) and let his voice and melodies boom out the open front door and onto the street. Since that night, I’ve been harassing him about getting off his ass and releasing the debut Prospectors Union record.

Well, that day is getting very, very close.

Matt finally finished recording Syracuse and is ready to release it to the world. Although Charlton may listen to a collection of stripped down, no nonsense artists (Townes, Mark Kozalek) this “home” recording is remarkably lush and defined. With support from the likes of Martin, Ledwell, Mullane, Sisk, Jason MacIsaac, Kinley Dowling, and David Casey, Syracuse plays more like a studio odyssey than a local, independent release.

more importantly, even with all the expert production and contributors, Charlton puts himself front and centre. With only a few picked notes, echoing subtle drums and Christina Martin's harmonies, Flaming Death is dark, but engaging. Over time, Ledwell’s steel work and MacIssac’s atmospheric keys are added and echo in the emptiness of the song, taking some of the weight off the harrowing tale, but it's Charlton's voice that grabs your ear. Even with the talent that surrounds him and the layers that move in and out of the song, he never fades to the background.

The same can be said about the confident strums of Storm Seas. Charlton shows he’s a natural story teller. The song could have easily stood on his strong foundation, but slowly the band adds group harmonies that hover in the distance. It might not seem like much, but the vocal support makes this more than a coffee/shop open mic song and even though it's only a hiccup longer than 1:30, Storm Seas says as much about the recording as any of the tracks. It's well thought out, shows how comfortable the musicians are around each other, and that Charlton isn’t a fan of wasted notes.

Dowling’s ear grabbing strings, Martin’s backing vocals are thickened up by nice drums and keys, but again, it’s Charlton taking the lead on the EP’s catchiest track, Montreal. Matt may prefers the tale of the brokenhearted wanderer, but unlike so many young songwriters, he doesn’t let his melancholy dictate the tempo of an affair. Montreal shifts and moves, and the spike in pace lets you relax as the band downshifts into slower tracks.

One thing I really like about this EP was how much restraint the all-star backing band displays. On the closer, The Valley Neighbours, the song is beefed up with slide, harmonies, keys, keep time drums and a choral outro all make an appearance, but none of the layers ever crowd the mix or distract from the melody. The song would work just as well – and does in a live setting – with an acoustic and a second mic. It’s obvious that Charlton can’t pack most of these people in a van every time he wants to play a show, so it's crucial that the structure of the songs lets him grab a guitar and play alone OR treat the audience to a hybrid of the supergroup he assembled for the EP.

The EP release show is July 18th/09 @ The Seahorse. I’d wager it will be packed with friends of Matt’s coming out to say congrats and there will be more than a few guest appearances. I’d highly suggest you make it out too.








MP3:: Prospector's Union - Salt City Blues







MP3:: Prospector's Union - Flaming Death

MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/theprospectorsunion



But as a special treat for herohill, Charlton grabbed a few friends and recorded a live EP and is letting us give it away to you readers. The four songs show a rougher side of the band’s persona; one more concerned with smiles, wine and a night of music than intricate production. They still toss around strings, horns and terrific harmonies, but they feel more spontaneous and alive.

Without question, Old Wonders is a different beast; from the poppy feel of Edmunston, to the roots rocking, earthy vibe of More Tales Involving a Man of Questionable Morals or the back porch feel of Raven’s Claw, the songs stand up without any of the glossy efforts of a classic studio recording. Ledwell lets less be more and Charlton shows he’s got a lot of bullets left in his gun – plus, Jason’s keys and Dan’s trumpet just make you melt – and Prospectors Union is a name we will all hear a lot more off in the near future.

Recording info:
John Mullane: Guitar, backing vox
Christina Martin: Guitar, backing vox
Daniel Ledwell: Lap slide, trumpet...and he produced the whole thing
Jason Michael MacIsaac: Piano
Kinley Dowling: Violin
Matt Charlton: Guitar, vocals

Download Old Wonders
1.) Prospector's Union - Edmunston
2.) Prospector's Union Raven's Claw
3.) Prospector's Union - More Tales Involving a Man of Questionable Morals
4.) Prospector' Union - Old Wonders

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: Kestrels

Well, June has started and that means we need a new Music Nova Scotia Band of the Month. This month, for me, the pick was easy. From the first time I heard Seaside blast out of my shitty computer speakers, I knew the Halifax/Truro trio Kestrels was going to be a band I was all about. In fact after one or two listens to the 7", not only did I try to get them signed on for our HPX showcase, I also said:
Seaside starts with a simple electric that resonates in the vast emptiness, but quickly vocals and rapid fire drums fill your ears. The bass line dances around your headphones and for a few precious moments you get fooled into thinking the band is hiding under the disguise of a catchy indie rock outfit. They take their foot off the pedal briefly on the slowed down chorus, but for me the band’s potential is revealed at the 2:16 mark.

Finding a riff and running into the ground is easy, but Kestrels throw you a curve ball when they explode into a Mascis-esque guitar solo out of nowhere. They don’t belabor the point with useless notes - it’s only 15 seconds - but it changes the complexion of the entire song and the abrupt shift lets the band transition into a subdued, melodic outro. All too often, a young band tries too much, too soon, but the complexity of Seaside mixed with the infectious, carefree sounds how they are going to be getting some serious attention when a full length surfaces.

The trio – Chad (guitar), Adam (bass) and Marcus (drums) – obviously have a great record collection and a big appreciation for the bands that shaped the indie scene, but it’s more than that. They are passionate about music. Live, they tear it up and you can see they love playing together. When they record, they take their time and each song is better than the one before it. They care about the things that music fans care about (vinyl, packaging, cover tracks from obscure bands). They make you want to care about music again.

So why are they the band of the month? Well, because their new LP – Primary Colours - is finally finished and it’s going to be one of the best records coming out of Nova Scotia this year. We’ve previewed the single already, but I’m pretty sure we could talk about any song and it would come back to the three simple things I love about this band: guitars, bass and drums. They aren’t layer after layer of obscure thrift store junkstruments. They aren’t banging out dance floor sythn-onies. It’s good old fashioned shimmering guitar, banging drums and old school indie sing-alongs.

Normally I don't pressure people into buying a record - we all know it's tough times out there and if you aren't winning music you probably just end up downloading it from some rarblog site - but Kestrels put a lot into this and also want to give you something back. The first 25 people who pre-order the album will receive a bonus limited edition CD EP as well as a pin and poster. These tracks will not be available anywhere else so make haste/hurry up/don’t waste time/etc. The vinyl is limited to 200 copies of black vinyl and that’s it. It also comes with an individual 5×5 print from a Lomo Diana which will include a download code for the album. Head over to kestrels.ca to find out how to order.

As a special treat for you, the band is going to be offering 4 exclusive songs for herohill. The first - the early release of Sailed On - was a nice primer, but as a special treat, Chad recorded a stripped down acoustic take on the Dinosaur Jr. classic, Thumb. Why? well, because it's a great song and he's a great guy. Enjoy it and go pick up the new record. You'll thank me later.







MP3:: Kestrels - Thumb (Dinoasaur Jr. Cover)







MP3:: Kestrels - Sailed On
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/kestrelskestrels
WEB:: http://kestrels.ca/

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

herohill / music nova scotia artist of the month:: Share

Some big changes here on the hill. For those of you that hit us up on feedburner, you can't see the lovely new design we are sporting (logo courtesy of Jenn Hughes) but trust us, it's there. We busted out a new colour scheme to fit her logo and made listening to the MP3s a bit easier for y'all, but more importantly we have some great new focal pieces for our East Coast readers.

We will slowly be adding a shows calendar, (rant) because heaven forbid any of the venues here could keep an accurate listing. I'm no marketing expert, but I'd think if I opened up a club and needed people to show up and buy drinks and pay cover, I'd at least want to have a web site that told people who was playing?(end rant) We've also thrown together a collection of links for anyone looking for even more info the bands we cover and the venues we see them play.

But most importantly, we are teaming up with Music Nova Scotia to promote local acts. Every month we are going to work with the good people at MNS to select a band, and feature them on herohill for a month in an attempt to showcase the band to a larger audience.

So, without further ado... the first herohill/Music Nova Scotia band of the month is:
SHARE



Band: Share
Members:: Andrew Sisk (vocals, guitar), Nick Cobham (guitar, vocals), Kyle Cunjak (bass, vocals), Dennis Goodwin (synth, guitar) and Zach Atkinson (drums)
Discography:: Ukulele Tragic (2005), Pedestrian 2007(), Slumping in your Murals (2009)







MP3:: Share - Date & Time
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/andrewsisk
WEB:: http://www.sharetheband.ca/

Share – driven by front man Andrew Sisk – has been putting out quality music for years, but with the upcoming release of Slumping in Your Murals (Aug 14/2009) the quintet might finally get the credit their songs deserve. Slumping in Your Murals explores a bigger sound, but still offers up the folky intimacy the band is known for around the East Coast. That’s probably because for the first time, Share is a band not just a recording session to document Sisk’s songs. The band took the time to write together, holing up with Dan Ledwell in a farmhouse and the recording really captures the spontaneous feel of fleshing out ideas whenever they surfaced.

Since the new record isn't coming out until August so we are going to hold off on the full review (spoiler - the duet with Jenn Grant will knock your socks off), but the guys have graciously offered us a sneak preview of the opening track - Date & Time for you to check out. Long story short, the band has progressed so much since we saw them at HPX'07 and they way they experiment with more challenging arrangements is fantastic.

Much like the subject matter they prefer, Share is fixing to leave the comforts of our friendly region with a quick jaunt overseas, followed by a cross Canada tour with Grand Theft Bus and The Olympic Symphonium via train - VIA Rail represent. Be sure to check them out when they stop in your town.

18 May 2009 The windmill (w/ Pit Er Pat) London (Brixton), London and South East
20 May 2009 The Slaughtered Lamb (with the Olympic Symphonium) London, London and South East
21 May 2009 Liverpool Sound City Liverpool, East
23 May 2009 The Cluny (The evolution Festival) Newcastle, Northeast
25 May 2009 The Duchess (w/ Teitur) York, Midlands
11 Jun 2009 Via Rail on board performance (trio) Moncton to Montreal train Moncton to Montreal, New Brunswick
12 Jun 2009 Green Room (with Snailhouse and Silver Starling) Montreal, Quebec
13 Jun 2009 Wally’s Guelph, Ontario
15 Jun 2009 The Cameron House (with Julie Fader) Toronto, Ontario
16 Jun 2009 Kingston, Ontario
17 Jun 2009 Mavericks (w/ GTB and The Olympic Symphonium) Ottawa, Ontario
18 Jun 2009 Clinton’s (NXNE) Toronto, Ontario
19 Jun 2009 Dickens (with GTB) Calgary, Alberta
20 Jun 2009 Canmore Hotel (with GTB) Canmore, Alberta
22 Jun 2009 The Rose and Crown (with GTB) Banff, Alberta
23 Jun 2009 Woody’s (with GTB) Kananaskis
24 Jun 2009 Edmonton, Alberta
25 Jun 2009 The Atha-B (with GTB) Jasper, British Columbia
26 Jun 2009 The Media Club (Vancouver Jazzfest) with GTB Vancouver
29 Jun 2009 Via Rail on board performance (trio) Vancouver to Toronto route Somewhere between Vancouver and Toronto
30 Jun 2009 Via Rail on board performance (trio) Vancouver to Toronto route Somewhere between Calgary and Winnepeg
1 Jul 2009 Via Rail on board performance (trio) Vancouver to Toronto route Somewhere between Winnepeg and Toronto
3 Jul 2009 Via Rail on board performance (trio) Montreal to Moncton route Somewhere between Montreal and Moncton

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Posted at 5:09 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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