Monday, December 21, 2009

Favorites-'09:: Canadian LPs (20-11)

Buckle up. I know the last thing you need is yet another list from herohill, but this is the list full of big hitters. Twenty records that blew me away in '09 and a few special treats for all you loyal hill-ians.

Band:: The Great Bloomers
Album:: Speak of Trouble

1) What was your best musical moment of '09?
My best musical moment of '09 was our CD release party at the Horseshoe...Although, Virgin Fest in Calgary was pretty great as well.
2) You guys exploded out of the blocks with your debut EP and were embraced by the blog scene. The follow up - your debut LP - was probably stronger but maybe less well received in terms of the blog love. Did you feel pressure to follow up with a stronger product, and looking back on the LP are you guys happy with the songs you put forward?
Absolutely. It was clearly a departure for us.. i feel like the general expectation was for us to go into the studio and make an album that sounded like i recorded it in my basement (like i did with the EP). I loved recording that way, but it was also exciting to have outside input and have more people involved in the process. I'm sure the next album will be totally different from this one as well.
3) I recently saw you guys open for The RAA in Montreal, and was really impressed by the energy the band brings on stage. Like most good bands, you recreate the songs once the adrenaline starts pumping. Which is a better experience for you, studio work and writing songs, or playing them live?
All of those experiences offer a completely different sort of satisfaction.. Writing is the root of it all and often the most rewarding part for me. Sometimes when i begin writing a song it can be so raw that i am not even certain what it's about, but as it takes shape i will realize it's meaning... and sometimes the meanings will change as i continue to write. This isn't always the case, but can be an interesting way to find out a lot about yourself. Recording is one of the toughest things to do... creating ONE definite version of a song. However, it's a great way to explore and develop a song and will often benefit the live show in the long run. Our live show is what we pride ourselves on, we all love to play music for people... i don't know how someone could tour Canada unless they truly loved performing.
4) If you had to pick one band to take your spot on the best-of list, who gets the nod?
Olenka and the Autumn Lovers are a wonderful band, also the Magic are certainly a band to watch out for.
5) It's easy to hear some of your influences when you really listen to the record, so I wonder, if you could ask one artist to cover your work, who would you pick and what song would you want to hear?
I would ask Arthur Russell to cover "Last of my faith".
6) As a young band trying to make a name for yourself in TO, what is the best thing about playing music in Toronto and what's the biggest misconception about the TO scene?
I hear lots of people talkin' about how cynical Toronto crowds are, but there is nothing quite like playing Toronto for us. I have truly loved every city i have toured through in Canada thus far, but i am always excited to come home. The best thing about being part of the Toronto scene is the support and respect you get from fellow musicians, bands, and peers. It has been nothing but heart-warming for us.
7) For anyone reading that hasn't visited TO and only has 24 hours to spend in the city, what should they do?
If you really want to have an authentic Toronto experience, you're going to want to steer clear of all the trite or "pedestrian" activities that most tourists would flock to. With that being said, I'd suggest going to the CN tower... have you seen how tall that thing is!?

MP3:: The Great Bloomers - Find My Way

Band:: Andrew Vincent
Album:: Rotten Pear
Review:: Vincent - Rotten Pear

1) What was your best musical moment of '09?
The album release show for Rotten Pear in Ottawa. My folks were there from Calgary and the crowd danced! It was really fun. And it had been so long since my last record that it was just a relief for it to finally be done. Especially since I was really happy with the result. Also, running across the Pretoria Bridge during the Ottawa half marathon with Straight Outta Compton in my headphones was pretty great too.
2) When we passed like ships in the night at Polaris, you casually used plebs in a tweet. Duly impressed, I have to ask, what's your favorite word?
I like short forms that don't really exist. For example, 'genty' (which I use to mean a street/store/hood that has gone through gentrification). Like, "It's suddenly looking pretty genty around here." Alternatively, hippogriff is a pretty cool word.
3) The one thing that always blows me away is how tight the Kelp family is. I mean, people always say "their label mates are like family" but you guys never say it and the support you give each other seems way more genuine. You all seem to enjoy the success of your peers as much as your own. So, how did you hook up with Jon and now, 5 albums deep, how important is Kelp to you as a musician?
Jon and I met in 1997 in Waterloo. We had a mutual friend who had started this weird jam band (hand drums, flute, gamelon, etc.). Jon and I had both been asked to make noise. I played tape loops on a reel to reel and Jon played shakers and did the worm. At one show I opened with a solo set of my acoustic songs and Jon said we should record an album. That was 'To Thine' which came out on cassette in 1998. Since then we've been very good friends. I feel like I've grown as a musician as Kelp has grown, and in that way it's been a good fit. I wasn't really comfortable at the start playing big shows or touring. I could hardly tune a guitar. So, the low key approach of the label let me put out music without feeling over my head. That has a lot to do with the other bands on the label as well who always seem keen to help out and make you feel like you're doing something worthwhile. The annual Kelp Anniversary shows sum up the whole attitude. Three or four shows over a weekend, in venues run by friends or places we like to go, with food cooked by friends, with friends' bands (whether or not they're on the label). You should come next year.
4) You are currently in the running for most Canadian song on CBC3. How important is that title, and how would you prove your patriotism to our loyal and dedicated Canadian readership?
I was super excited to be nominated for a Bucky. CBC3 are really the greatest supporters. I do, however, find it hard to say why one song would be more Canadian than another. Then again, my song has 'Canadian' in the title, so it should probably win on that alone. It's like the Molson Canadian of songs (although what does that say?). To prove my patriotism, I will say that I would rather win a Grammy. Now that's the Canadian Dream.
5) You can write the theme song to any TV show or Movie. What's your choice and what's the song called?
The show: Dragon's Den. The song: Arlene's the boss (She really used to be my boss).
6) Rotten Pear is kind of a return to sound for you, leaving the Pirates on shore. What do you like about the solo routine and is the more stripped down sound here to stay for AV?
I do like the stripped down sound, but I also love playing with a band like the Pirates. Playing solo, I can indulge in my wandering ways, forgetting lyrics, forgetting songs, playing with sounds or leaving space--generally not having a plan, but still thinking I know what I want. But I'm definitely looking forward to more rock in the future. I just finished a 'band' e.p. that we recorded with Andy Magoffin at the House of Miracles. It should be out early next year and hopefully a tour will follow with Jenny Omnichord on bass and Shayne Cox on drums.
7) If you had to pick one band to take your spot on the Best-of '09 list, who do you choose?
Ottawa's The White Wires. Holy crap, they write a good rock song.

So how about this extra special treat. Andrew recorded his play on the Jay Reatard track, There is No Sun, recorded on his phone on a friend's piano. Delightful.

MP3:: Andrew Vincent - I Heard There Is No Sun (Jay Reatard)

Band:: Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle
Album:: Lets Just Stay Here

1) What was your best musical moment of '09?
Sharing the bill with Loudon Wainwright III at the Ukrainian Hall in Montreal. I was with my "real band"- Tolan Mcneil and Diona Davies. And they let me play the grand piano.
2) Who came up with the idea for you and NQ Arbuckle to record together and did the collaboration impact your writing process?
I did. And yes the collaboration did impact my writing process.
3) For any youngster moving into an apartment, what 5 essentials do they need in the fridge/bar/cabinents to make sure they are always ready for guests?
Cork screw, garlic bread, fuzzy water, 3 bottles of red wine and a box of mandarin oranges,
4) If you had to pick one band to take your spot on our Best-of list, who would get the nod?
Joel Plaskett. He knows what to do.
5) You are at the crossroads and you have to choose to a) never play music again or b) never play the hostess again... what do you choose?
6) You did such a great job covering songs on this last release, I wonder if you could pick one musician to cover you, who would it be and what song would you hope to hear?
Lucinda Williams doing Itchy Feet.

Carolyn didn't want our holiday parties to be wack, so she included a nice Holiday pick me up beverage to help toast the season:
Holiday Froster
In a tall glass, pour 1 shot whiskey over ice. Then, fill with equal parts: chilled peppermint tea, limeade and soda. A delicious pre-dinner pick-me-up.

Band:: Royal City
Album:: self-titled

This record might have been a collection of b-side and rarities, but honestly they stand up today as well as they would have back then, and the influence this band had on the Canadian scene is unreal ---> see below for a perfect example.

Band:: Cousins
Album:: Out on Town

This was one of my favorite local releases, and Aaron really made the city take notice of his chops. Hopefully this nice preview of his new stuff will get everyone else excited.

MP3:: Cousins - Nans

Band:: Evening Hymns
Album:: Spirit Guides

1) What was the best musical moment for you in '09?
Just the release of Spirit Guides was a big deal for me. I hadn’t released anything in a long time so to finish a project like that was really important to me. We started recording it on December 28th 2008 and tracked until New Year’s Eve. We had the beds all done by then and a bit more. The rest of the record was recorded over the next couple months in Toronto, all the overdubs, strings, horns, etc. so it’s a very 2009 project to me. We just had the release party for the record in Toronto last week and that was a pretty amazing moment too. We had 11 people on stage for Mtn. Song during the encore and it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.
2) Spirit Hymns really showcases a bigger, denser sound for you. How different was the process of recording with friends and adding layers to your songs instead of the more lo-fi styles of your previous efforts?
In the past I’ve always recorded by myself, playing everything and placing mics, and I’m starting to realize that it’s an unhealthy way for me to work. It’s great for simple demo recordings, etc. but to finally get to just play and not have to mix and record was really good for me. I was able to sit back and not be so involved in that process so I was free to think more about the music and the arrangements. I will always record on my own though. I do enjoy it when it’s relaxed and more for just me.
3) Your label - OOTS - really shows how a group of like minded artists can blossom together. How did you first get hooked up with Stuart and now that you've experimented with larger recordings, do you think you will ever return to the more intimate, loop/pedal solo style?
I think just because some people had heard some of the early mixes of Spirit Guides they were talking about them and Stuart asked me what my plans were with it. I sent him some mixes early on and he liked them. I knew Stuart already because of OOTS and because he also booked shows in Toronto and I had played one or two of them. I had talked to Taylor from Timber Timbre, who was on OOTS at the time, and he thought it would be a good fit for me too. I’m good friends with The D’Urbervilles and Forest City Lovers too and the Friends In Bellwoods compilations are really great things so it was a pretty easy decision for me to sign with them. The large recording thing is funny because I think when James and I set out to make this record it was never intended to get so huge but as we started tracking and overdubbing we kept adding more and more and in the end it got pretty colossal, at least for Evening Hymns. It has been a struggle for me because I was always a solo artist and then when the record came out I felt the need to have a larger live band in order to recreate some of that sound that exists on Spirit Guides. For the release show we had up to 11 people on stage for some songs and that was a real blast but it’s not sustainable for Evening Hymns so right now we’re trying to do something different. I’m not so interested in having a large band and I really want to figure out a way to have a smaller group yet still create similar dynamics.
4) If you had to pick one band to take your spot on our Best-of List, who gets the nod? Timber Timbre-S/T
Haunted songs from an old soul. I think the best part about this record for me is knowing that he is gonna trump it with the next one and I have no idea what it’s going to sound like. I’m really excited to see what he does next.
5) What made you pick up and move from Peterborough to Toronto (note, if this is not true, and you are still splitting time and based in Peterborough, just ignore it), and what's been the most pleasant surprise about playing music in Canada's biggest city?
Peterborough is an amazing city but it just seemed like I had to move to Toronto. I was here so much already finishing the record, and my partner is here, and all of my friends live within a 10 minute walk now. I felt like Toronto has always been my music community anyways so it was a pretty easy transition. I think the nicest thing about being here though is how much more you get to participate in being in the city. I think you just become more visible. You’re running into more people more often and it just makes the whole music scene much smaller. Being surrounded by all these people doing great things just inspires and pushes me to work harder at what I do.
6) The dichotomy of city vs town is such a contrast and I would imagine it to be a fantastic creative trigger... do you prefer to write outside in the openness and freedom or amongst the chaos and traffic of the city?
That’s a good question. Obviously my work is heavily inspired by the natural world. I do get a lot of inspiration from walking around and I think you can live a decent life in the city while your head is in the country, so to speak. I guess it’s too soon to tell if my urban life now is going to work it’s way into my music. I’m sure it will. My heart is still very much attached to the woods though, the pace and quiet are good for me. For now though Toronto is a great place for me. I like how fast the city moves. It’s constantly engaging. But the first chance I get to buy property and build in the woods I’m out of here. No offense to Toronto.
7) The release of Spirit Guides has been incredibly well received, both in print and online. Considering the limited exposure some of your previous releases received, are you at all surprised by the reaction and does it put any pressure on you for your next record?
It has been more surprising to me then anyone I’m sure. I feel really grateful and amazed! I hope more people get to hear the record because of all the press and what not. I’m really proud of it. I’m already working on a new record, at least in my head I am. I don’t really feel any pressure working on it because I know it’s going to be whatever it ends up being. In my head it’ll be better then Spirit Guides. I wouldn’t release anything that I thought was worse, or less interesting, then my last record. Whether or not people like it as much as Spirit Guides, well I guess that’s up to them. I am making music for myself, I’m just happy that people seem to like it too.

And Jonas made us happy... by sending over a terrific cover of the heartbreaking Tree Rings track, Please Don't Wreck Me Like You Do, and a super early, very different demo of Tumultuous Sea.

MP3:: Evening Hymns - Tumultuous Sea (demo)

MP3:: Evening Hymns - Please Don't Wreck Me Like You Do (Tree Rings cover)

Band:: The Wooden Sky
Album:: If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone

1) What was your best musical moment of '09?
I think my favourite musical moment was recording our new record in Montreal. We had been in the studio for about a week when a carload of close friends drove up from Toronto to hang out with us at the studio. It was a really special week-end and I think it really shaped the sound and feel of the rest of the recording session.
2) Without dwelling on the name change and the history of the band, you've been making steady climbs with each record and I really feel this effort blew any expectations I had out of the water. How long were you working on these songs and without feeling like you have to blow your own your, how proud are you of the final songs on If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone?
I'm constantly working and reworking my songs, so some of the songs on the record had been around for 2 years (since the last record) while others had been written only weeks before hand. I think I'm drawn to those newer songs on the record because they still feel fresh to me, and I always like to record songs when they are still really new and exciting to play. Sometimes however that can backfire because as you start to play the songs live they can take on a new energy or feeling. I think we did a good job of walking the line between creating something that has a live element to it while also taking careful steps to orchestrate the songs without melodies or parts stepping on one another.
3) People outside of Toronto often think of the city as a cold, hard city but you and the rest of the Bellwoods crew have really formed a warm collective that could exist in any city. How did you first get hooked up with the rest of those terrific bands, and what is your favorite part about playing music in TO?
The idea of a "Bellwoods crew" was never a real conscious idea, and despite all the mentions of it in articles it still is a very natural and organic thing. We are friends with similar interests who love and support what one another do. I love the idea that if I'm asked to name some of my favourite records from 2009 more then half of them are my friends, it's exciting and motivating. The friends I've made through music and playing in Toronto is definitely my favourite part of playing here. It's been a really great year for a lot of my friends and I'm so proud of them for the great work that they do.
4) If you had to pick another band to take your spot on our Best-of list, who would get the nod?
Evening Hymns
5) You guys are coming to Halifax in the new year... what can us good Haligonians expect and will you or will you not eat a donair?
Well seeing as it's going to be January, probably a lot of winter coats and long johns...maybe even some sorels. One thing I love about our band is that it's a very flexible machine so I can't really say exactly what you might be able to expect come January. We've been talking about bringing some friends out on the road with us, so that would change things a bit too. As for the donair, I'll have to make a game time decision on that one.
6) TWS seems to have embraced the power of the internet and even offered up a fantastic multi-segmented documentary for any interested fan to watch. How important do you think the internet is to building a cross-country fan base and how has it helped you with this record release?
The internet has been pretty important in promoting our new record, it's an easy way to reach people. The documentary was our attempt at not just waving a flag saying "look at our band, look at our band" but to actually work hard and create something new that could be a companion piece to the record.
Q7) Every band has a few covers in their bag, but it's not often you get to hear a band cover your work. If you could pick any artist to cover any of your songs, who would you want and what track?
I'd love to here Tom Petty cover "Leave a Light On", it's a song that we recorded during the sessions for If don't come home you'll know I'm gone and I think it would be amazing to hear him sing it. Either that or maybe to get Bruce Springsteen to cover Oslo.

MP3:: The Wooden Sky - I Am a Raw Youth (Royal City cover)

Band:: Reverie Sound Revue
Album:: self-titled

I was completely blown away by this pop gem. I didn't expect to fall quite so hard for Lisa Lobsingers sexy coo, but goodness this LP hit on all cylinders. Quite honestly, whenever I need a pick me up I throw on Arrows and just start feeling better.

Band:: Bahamas
Album:: Pink Strat

Afie stepped out from the shadows with this tribute to the one thing he's loved that always loves him back. The record is a terrific collection of I'm so broke I ain't worth loving kind of heartache, but Afie handles the genre with an amazing understanding of subtlety, charisma and humor. He's also playing Halifax for IDOW, opening for someone named John K. something or other?

Band:: The Lodge
Album:: Take That Devil

I know we gushed about them in our local release section, but honestly, this effort is staggering from top to bottom. It's heavy, energetic, shows terrific musicianship and O'Neil is still such a unique vocal presence that you can't ignore the tracks. Plus, he wears a sleep mask like Michael Scott.

MP3:: The Lodge - Outdoor Miner (Wire cover)

Tomorrow - The TOP 10! With some extra special gems, including one of Canada's most popular artists offering up a Smiths cover.

Labels: Andrew Vincent, , , , , , , Royal City, , ,

Posted at 8:30 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 5:20 PM, Blogger Craig did sayeth:

The link to "Please Don't Wreck Me Like You Do" is broken; missing 3 at the end of the file extension. I got around it okay, though.


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