Friday, March 19, 2010

Thrush Hermit Reunion - Tonight

Well kids, the time has come, Joel, Rob, Ian & Cliff got their Voltron on and re-formed last night, as the opening show of their mini-reunion tour went down in Moncton (and from the brief accounts I've read so far today, it sounds like copious amounts of fun were had by both the band and the crowd). But let's be honest, the tour kicks off for realz tonight, with the boys rocking a very familiar hometown stage they would have graced last when it was the Marquee.

So then, it's going to be quite the evening wouldn't you say? We've been counting down to these shows over the last few weeks, so be sure to check out those posts for some Herohill vs. Thrush Hermit fun facts. Because we're all out of facts, the only one that counts now is that we'll be at the show tonight, revelling in the nostalgic riff-age created by a sure-to-be-energized Hermit.

I'm not even going to give the tour dates this week, as I'm going to assume most of the shows are sold out (a quick consultation with Dr. Google could help you find out for sure), but I will mention once again that Joel's New Scotland Records is putting out an epic 7(!) disc box set of Thrush Hermit's complete recordings. I'm sure they will be selling these things like hotcakes at the shows, but I'm pretty sure if you offered Joel a kidney or your first born, he'd save one for you.

So then, so music to celebrate: a couple Thrush Hermit classics, and a great TH cover from Jon McKiel. Enjoy, and see you tonight.

MP3:: Thrush Hermit - Hated It

MP3:: Thrush Hermit - North Dakota

MP3:: Jon McKiel - Violent Dreams

Labels: Cover, Ian Mcgettigan, , , , Rob Benvie, ,

Posted at 2:44 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Morning Madness:: unreleased Thrush Hermit & Steve Poltz videos

The countdown is officially on folk. Next week The Hermit reunion shows will hit Halifax and the mix of nostalgia, rock, and lines shaved into people's head will reach critical mass.

To help get everyone excited, Joel sent over a great video of one of the unreleased gems on the Box Set - out March 17th on New Scotland Records. The video is collection of tour & backstage footage that shows the band back in the day and as they grow older, including MacGetts wearing an outfit that looks like he should be working at a frozen yogurt shop AND A SHIRTLESS SHAWN LAPAIX doing some crazy kung-fu. Exactly.

The song is called In the Morning and shows why people loved and still love The Hermit.

Joel was nice enough to include the new video he and Steve Poltz made for License Plate Eyes. It's song studio footage from Scotland Yard and has some tank tops, moustaches, mesh hats and some Evil Dead style shaky cam work. Again. Gold. Steve's new record - Dreamhouse (review)- is out now on New Scotland Records. I highly suggest you pick it up.


Labels: , New Scotland Records, Steve Poltz, ,

Posted at 8:00 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Video Hits:: Zeus, Owen Pallett, Joel Plaskett, THT, Caribou

It's Thursday, which means videos here on the hill, and I'm not exaggerating even slightly when I say that this is easily the greatest blog post containing five Canadian music videos ever! Wait, scratch that, I just noticed it's all dudes, so I am likely exagerating a little bit, but it's damn good! (I think I'll have an all-female version of video hits next week, so hit me off with suggestions).

But come now, anyone could see the quality on display down below, both in the audio and the visuals. I think my favorites are the partially animated clips from hill-faves Zeus and Hours Traffic, but the rest are just as good. There's something un-hinged about the art house movie-esque video for Owen Pallet's Lewis Takes Off His Shirt, but it seems to fit the song perfectly. Things are slightly more hinged in the video for the like-able-as-ever Joel Plaskett's You Let Me Down, but I think most of us Haligonians mainly enjoy it because it features two of the city's most antiquated sports facilities (The Forum and Huskies Stadium). To wrap things up we have the haunting video for Caribou's Odessa, a song that I used to think of as a feel good, body movin' little number. Not anymore.

Enjoy the vids!

Zeus - Marching Through Your Head

MP3:: Zeus - Marching Through Your Head

Owen Pallett - Lewis Takes Off His Shirt

MP3:: Owen Pallett - Lewis Takes Off His Shirt

Joel Plaskett - You Let Me Down

MP3:: Joel Plaskett - You Let Me Down

Two Hours Traffic - Noisemaker

MP3:: Two Hours Traffic - Territory

Caribou - Odessa

MP3:: Caribou - Odessa

Labels: Caribou, , , , , ,

Posted at 1:13 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Countdown:: Thrush Hermit Reunion

We're three weeks away kids. In three weeks, your favorite band of Halifax West alumnus's get the ole band back together and head out on a bit of reunion tour. I started counting down the weeks until tour launch last week, and I see no reason to stop until they kick things off in their hometown of Moncton! Wait, what? I thought they were opening the tour here? Man, we get it Moncton, you are also a very viable Maritime tour stop, but must you try so hard to steal our thunder?

Anyway, as I mentioned last week, we go back a ways with the boys in TH, so why not share some Herohill vs. Thrush Hermit fun facts? Here are a few more:

1. Rob Benvie proposed to my wife in grade 2 primary. I believe she accepted, although I don't believe such a union would be binding. I'm not worried about it.

2. The Hermit once did the theme song for popular CBC Television kids consumer show Street Cents (Yes, there was a popular kids consumer show in the 90's, could such a thing exist now? I doubt it. Maybe if it was a video game, dam kids of today!). I heard a wild rumour that this song might make it into the 7 Disc Box set they are releasing? That is impressive.

3. The Ack played soccer with Ian McGettigan. This may surprise you, but Ian is not Pele. But he might be the Halifax indie rock Vinnie Jones.

Great stuff, right? Ok, in any event, let's roll those tour dates

March 18, Moncton, NB @ The Manhattan
March 19, Halifax, NS @ Paragon Theatre
March 20, Halifax, NS @ Paragon Theatre
March 23, Waterloo, ON @ Starlight Social Club
March 24, Peterborough, ON @ Historic Red Dog
March 25, Ottawa, ON @ New Capital Music Hall
March 26, Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
March 27, Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
March 28, Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace (all ages)

Music time, and I'm not beating around the bush today, heading right to the classics section of the Thrush Hermit canon. French Inhale was, to my knowledge, the band's first video, and it got some play on MuchMusic (The Wedge for sure, which was a pretty big deal). Patriot, on the other hand, is perhaps my favorite video from the band, and I'm not even sure why. Perhaps it's Ian's white-panted rock-kick at the start. Either way, enjoy.

MP3:: Thrush Hermit - French Inhale

MP3:: Thrush Hermit - Patriot

VIDEO:: Thrush Hermit - French Inhale

VIDEO:: Thrush Hermit - Patriot

Labels: Ian Mcgettigan, , Rob Benvie, ,

Posted at 1:41 PM by naedoo :: 1 comments

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Countdown:: Thrush Hermit Reunion

Not sure if you've heard, but the almighty Hermit is making it's return. That's right, it's 2010, and Thrush Hermit is back. Ian, Joel, Rob & Cliff - together again FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY! Nine nights actually, but that sounded more awesome. And while we're on the topic of awesome, I have to think these shows are going to be exactly that. If you've been into Canadian indie rock at any point over the last 20 odd years, there's a good chance you agree.

So then, with the first of these shows set for roughly a month from today, some Thrush Hermit content here at the hill seems only appropriate. Because, as you know (or should know, with the amount of times we've mentioned it, we're shameless!), the Ack and I went to High School with Ian, Joel & Rob here in Halifax. How about some Herohill & The Hermit Fun Facts!

1. We know John Boomer. Yes, the John Boomer, inspiration for the band's 1993 self-released cassette EP. In fact the worst Super Bowl watching experience of my life occured at John Boomer's house, when his Mother threw a dish towel at his step-father in jest, and it landed on the face of said step-fathers' friend with a thwacking sound. Awkward times ensued after that incident. Boomer, as he was not-quite-affectionately known, has also been referenced on the hill before in relation to the "Boomer Two-Flow". And now you know.

2. Let's get even more obscure. We also went to High School with Tim Robbins, the namesake of occasional TH pseudonym, The Tim Robbins Experience. My Junior High basketball team once played against Tim's - the score at half was 31-1 in favour of my squad. This is no real reflection of what Tim Robbins is like as a person really, he and his friends just sucked at basketball.

Wasn't that fun? I thought so. If you live in any of the following four cities, I think it's time to start getting excited:

March 18, Moncton, NB @ The Manhattan
March 19, Halifax, NS @ Paragon Theatre
March 20, Halifax, NS @ Paragon Theatre
March 23, Waterloo, ON @ Starlight Social Club
March 24, Peterborough, ON @ Historic Red Dog
March 25, Ottawa, ON @ New Capital Music Hall
March 26, Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
March 27, Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace
March 28, Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace (all ages)

And even if you can't make it to any of those shows, Joel's New Scotland Records is putting out an epic 7(!) disc box set of Thrush Hermit's complete recordings. That sounds pretty amazing, so keep your eyes peeled to New Scotland to find out how to get your hands on one. Now, for some songs. Quartermark, from the afore-mentioned John Boomer, and, because it's fantastic and I listened to this album a couple times this AM, From the Back of The Film, from Clayton Park. Enjoy.

MP3:: Thrush Hermit - Quartermark

MP3:: Thrush Hermit - From the Back of the Film

VIDEO:: Thrush Hermit- From the Back of the Film

Labels: , , , , ,

Posted at 1:00 PM by naedoo :: 2 comments

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Favorites-'09:: Canadian LPs (10-1)

And now, the Top Ten. A few of these were probably pretty obvious to anyone that reads herohill or likes Canadian music, but hopefully some of the lesser known acts (The Wheat Pool or Julie Fader for example) are new treats for you to digest with your cranberry sauce and dindon.

Posting might be a bit sporadic over the next few days, but after some of these gems we gave you, hopefully you'll remember your pals at herohill in the new year.

Band:: Little Girls
Album:: Concepts

Q1) What was your best musical moment of '09?
I dont even know if there was one single that was the best for me. basically 2009 as a whole was incredible for me. im so thankful for everything that happened this year. but i guess the biggest highlight was playing in new york. i think we played in ny 9 times.
Q2) You kind of exploded onto the internet with favorable press from huge outlets like Pitchfork and tons of blogs. How surprised were you by the reaction, and was it hard to make the transition from recording in your room to playing for show filled with fans so quickly?
It was definitely strange at first to have all these people interested in my music. it pretty much blew my mind that all these music publications (both online and physical) that i had been reading for years were talking about me. the transition from bedroom project to full band was weird, and it definitely took time to figure out how things would work live.
Q3) When you played in Halifax for HPX, we were super impressed by how into the set you were. You easily had the most energetic performance of the festival for us. So I guess I have to ask, which is your favorite part of the process - creating the songs alone or playing them for a crowd?
That's really hard to say. they are both completely different. i do really enjoy sitting alone and recording. i can do that for hours and never get bored. however i do really love to play live. there's something very liberating about playing in front of people. so to answer your question i enjoy both.
Q4) You seem to have found a perfect home on paperbag records, a label that always encourages artistic creativity and freedom. How did you get signed and what's next for you on PB?
The whole paperbag thing happened in a really bizarre way. after posting up the songs on myspace. i was getting offers from captured tracks and mexican summer who id never heard of at the time. then i got a email from paper bag, and it blew my mind. i wasnt sure if it was fake. i remember the message was very small and just said something like "i like the 2 songs on the myspace. send me more." it was funny i didnt even have enough material to do three releases. i would pretty much record a song and send it to paper bag.
Q5) If you had to pick one band to take your spot on our Best-of List, who gets the nod?

Band:: Julie Fader
Album:: Outside In

Q1) What was your favorite musical moment of '09?
* Well considering i spent most of the year playing music, it's kind of hard to choose...let me think. might be a toss up between releasing my own record, and a Switzerland show i played in the Chad VanGaalen band with Women. We were all so hyper to see each other in the middle of a giant touring schedule. Pretty rock like set, no sleep, many hugs and laughter. THAT night while i was in Switzerland with those guys so happy, tired and feeling like it all made sense this non stop travel and shows, my best friends had a secret party for me in Toronto that i didn't know about. My lap top had been stolen on tour, so my friends wanting to help me out had a secret show/party at the Dakota that sent love all the way across the ocean. It burned my ears and warmed my heart without me even knowing why.
Q2) You've sort of become known as the Polaris secret weapon, contributing to so many Short Listers songs (and I heard even Fucked Up wanted you to come on stage this year and sing) so I wonder if the appreciation/respect from your peers made it easier for you to release your own material to the masses?
* Ha, i don't know if that Fucked Up story is true, if it is this is the first time i am hearing it... Appreciation/respect from my friends and peers is definitely both appreciated and respected by me. Of course it is easier in a sense if you feel the support of people you work with and admire. It means so much, and helps make you feel stronger and more confident about what you do. It's a bonus.
Q3) When it comes to Outside In, the most powerful emotion I take from it is honesty. Every song seems like an admission. How personal are these songs and how much is fiction?
* A little bit of both i suppose. So many of the songs lyrics were written as i travelled around touring. Lots of contemplation time.
Q4) Considering that most people I know think this record is such a glimpse into who you really are, it's remarkable how much sonic density the songs have. They are fleshed out and whole, but you manage to hold onto the identity of each thought. How much control did you have when it comes to the parts played by your friends? Was it, "here's what I want", or "this is the sketch, lets build this together?"
* Well Graham and i invited our friends in at all different stages of recording. I try to take a step back and let people create, but also help guide with the feeling and tone of parts or harmonies that are laid down. These special guests are all people who i play with regularly, so everyone was sensitive to the song that they were taking part of, they understood my approach.
Q5) Not many musicians have the chance to have the person that may know them best produce their songs. How important was Graham to a) the final vision and b) making sure your artistic intentions held true?
* Graham is a huge part of the record. The sound, the tone. He's a huge part of my life of course, and he inspires me in every way. He understood my goals with the songs, but he also had the freedom to experiment with sounds and instruments. We found a nice balance with contributing input.
Q5) What's next for Julie Fader? Will 2010 see a new collection of recorded songs?
*I am taking a little bit of time off now, it's been a busy year. I want to get a new batch of paintings finished and have an art show. I hope to record new songs over the later winter/early spring. I have a couple of creative projects up my sleeve for the new year. I also want to continue supporting my friends songs as much as i can. I love singing and
playing in my friends bands. That's not going to stop any time soon.
Q6) If you had to pick one band to take your place on our Best-of '09 list, who would it be?
* I would love it if my cat Peeper formed a band with her mom Pip (Sarah Harmer's cat), and her 2 brothers Stevie (Matt McQuaid of Holy Fucks cat) and Lefty (Justin Rutledge's cat). I think they would dominate the charts, they hear songs being written all the time!
Q7) Without a doubt, the fact you used "shitballs" in a tweet easily qualifies you for herohill's favorite tweet of '09. What is your favorite slang term other than that gem?
* Numb nuts?

Band:: Japandroids
Album:: Post Nothing

These Vancouver boys have been banging out the jams for a few years now, but it seems the general masses finally got on as well. It seems like forever ago I heard Darkness on the Edge of Gastown - which wasn't even their first release - and they've gotten better with each and every song. I had this on my Polaris Ballot, and was bummed it fell short.

MP3:: Japandroids - Racer X (on Daytrotter)

Band:: The Wheat Pool
Album:: Hauntario

1) What was the best musical moment for you in '09?
Definitely the western Canadian tour during the first 3 weeks of September. We went from Victoria, B.C to Winnipeg, Manitoba. We had just gotten 'Hauntario' back from being pressed and we were touring it and playing the new material live each night, just working it out. We were starting to get reviews back on the album and it was just a really exciting time. As with any tour, not all the shows were great, but the weather was great during the entire tour, we visited a lot of friends and family across the western Canada and we made sure we fit in lots of non-music related activities, like golfing and fishing, etc which is totally necessary when you're in a van for hours every day. (Robb)
2) Lefty - which might just be my favorite song of the year and the lyric "I'm not an asshole, I'm just no good at funerals" hits me in the heart every time I hear the song - is just a terrific tale. The story is so vivid that you can't help but fall into the song. So I wonder, how important is story telling to you and what writers/musicians really influence your style of writing?
Lefty was a tough song to write. It's basically about losing a lot of family members in a fairly short period of time. I'd had the song on the shelf for about a year and decided to dust it off just to see what would happen. I'm not sure that the song stands up on it's own - the band is what really brings that song to life. Everyone's parts are really great and tasteful and appropriate. As far as storytelling is concerned, I've learned that that is the toughest songwriting skill to develop. It isn't acquired it's developed, and as a result I approach that style of songwriting with a very healthy amount of reverence for the process. Lefty was probably the first storytelling type of song that I've actually finished. I've spent years of absorbing the songwriting styles of Springsteen, Steve Earle, and Neil Young and although I could list 10 others who have influenced me heavily, those are the Big 3 as far as influences are concerned. (Robb)
3) What, if anything changed for you guys writing Hauntario? Did you have specific goals or things you wanted to accomplish writing and recording a sophomore disc?
We didn't want to make "a really interesting second record" :) Our first record was like lots of bands - a hidden 'best of' as some of those songs were around for 6 years. So we wanted the songs to reflect where we were at right at the moment, the growth of the band as a unit over the 2 years between 'Township' and 'Hauntario'. We are very aware of pressures for a second record to really help you 'break out' on the expectations built by the first, but we consciously put those aside to make the record that expressed us right now, in this moment. Band life and your songs are part of the journey, not the destination. We wanted people to feel what we were doing, to hone our story-telling and how to emote with our collective instruments, not write hits. We have goals, practical objective ones, but in the big picture we wanted a cohesive snapshot of us that people could relate to. (Glen)
4) If you had to pick one band to take your place on the Best-of list, who would you pick?
I think I'd choose a really great California band called Dawes. Their debut album is called 'North Hills' and the opening track is called That Western Skyline and it's my favorite song of the year. They combine CSNY-esque harmonies with grooves that remind me of The Band. Check them out. (Robb)
Not sure if you are going for Canadian or not. One hand I'd say Dan Mangan, cuz he's just such a nice guy and incredible performer, but he seems to be doing fine w/o our help ;) Or I'd say Caledonia, with a great record and nice guys. But I'll pick a friend, Andy Shauf, who is an incredible talent for 21 yrs old, and has re-released his Darker Days record with P is for Panda records this year, and a 4 song video ep. (Glen)
5) What's next for TWP? How is 2010 shaping up for you?
We're hoping to release an EP at some point in early 2010 - most of which is already recorded, and outside of that our aim is to get back out on the road once the country thaws out in the spring. Another western Canadian swing is being talked about as is another Ontario tour like last summer and the big target right now is getting the UK tour put together, fingers crossed. (Robb)
6) I couldn't help but notice the books that get tossed around the apartment in the video for This Is It are all OReily code books. Is someone in the band a closet coder, or was this just by chance?
The video was shot in the old apartment of our director/producer, Greg. It was now occupied by a friend of his, who is apparently a coder. Funny, we've been asked that a lot. We thought there would be other peculiarities people would pick out, but that seems to be the favourite. No closet coders here. (Glen)
7) As a band that exists outside of the major city centers that dominate Canadian music, I was intrigued by the love/hate you showed for Ontario, almost as if you need success in TO to be successful as a band. Do you think today's internet dominated music scene make it possible for a band to be blossom without the support of the major cities?
I have found that a characteristic of most Edmonton bands is they don't give a shit about Toronto, and its charming on one hand, and a fatal flaw on another. We do have a love/hate. We LOVE the city, love going there, love our friends and fans there. We hate how hard it is to make the jump as a band in this country without being from Toronto; it's not TO's fault though. The industry lives there. But you can play 14 shows in 14 nights in Ontario and be back in your own bed for half of them if you wanted. It's actually not about the industry, its more about touring and fan base. The love/hate for the industry exists in this business, no matter where it is. I think the domination of the internet in the music industry is a slightly false assumption. But it is true, I don't think we need the major cities in Canada to be successful at building a fan base, thanks to the internet. We sold out Camrose Alberta without ever playing there before. I guess we thought we would embrace the tensions of being a proudly Western Canadian band because the irony in there is how much we love and embrace the east as well. (Glen)

MP3:: The Wheat Pool - Helpless (Neil Young)

Band:: The Deep Dark Woods
Album:: Winter Hours

Without a doubt, All The Money I Had Is Gone is a song that needs to be embraced like a friend you haven't seen in years. It still manages to touch my heart after a year of listening. The one question I have, is with the talent they have, how was DDW the band left for an iTunes exclusive on the criminally overlooked Mississippi Sheiks tribute record?

MP3:: The Deep Dark Woods - Sweet Maggie (Mississippi Sheiks Tribure record)

Band:: Joel Plaskett
Album:: Three

Man, by now you must be sick of us talking about Joel. He was on our Polaris Ballot, local release of the year, featured more times on the site than any other artist. Herohill without the Joel is like mustard without the Heinz - or maybe Lawrence without the woolen sweater.

Band:: Dan Mangan
Album:: Nice, Nice, Very Nice

1) What was the best musical moment for you in '09?
Definitely the CD release parties at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. It felt like years of building and building had come to fruition - two sold out nights in my favourite venue on the planet to celebrate a CD that seemingly took a very long time to get to.. Each night I'd invite all the local musicians who were there up to close out the last song.. I had a ten piece band with string/horn sections and it was pretty blissful for me.
2) Your record features so many friends and you can really feel that love in the songs. I have to wonder though, did you have expectations from each musician, or was it more of a lets see what happens if we just play the song until we find the right sound?
It was a little different with each person.. With Veda - I just sent her the lyrics and chords beforehand and let her do her thing. She was in and out in an hour - two amazing vocal takes, two amazing piano takes, two amazing synth takes. She brought her month and a half old baby and I brought my girlfriend to babysit. With the rest of the players I had more definite things in mind when I had asked them. Berube really got put through the ringer - I flew him in from Montreal in the morning and he flew back that same night.. He played accordion, piano and vocals on three songs. At one point, John Critchley (producer) said to me, "Wow, Mark sings differently than you do", to which I responded, "Some would say he sings better than I do." Justin Rutledge had just finished 5 days of straight gigs and partying, and he wasn't sure he could sing very well, but of course he sang like an angel and nailed the harmony in a heartbeat. Mark Sasso (Elliott Brood) was hilarious - he wrote down (in his own strange notation language) what he wanted to sing by drawing little line-diagrams of where the pitch goes. He, like me, doesn't really read music - it's so amazing how minds work. But he killed it, and his voice is so distinctive you can hear it really clearly on a few different songs.
3) Considering where you were a year ago, have you even had time to process the amazing success you've had so quickly after the LP was released - Verge, playing on a floating stage in Dubai, cover stories on almost every mag in Canada - and with the bar set so high, how are you going to top this?
It's crazy.. I mean, when you make a record you have all these high hopes about what's going to happen, but I've learned to keep very real expectations amid those hopes. This year with all the madness I haven't had any management or anything, and it was all a serious situation of "learn as you go". I do have an amazing team of people who have helped along the way and many friends to be thankful for. I'm constantly planning 3-6 months in advance, so I forget sometimes to sit back now and then and try to enjoy the present. There was a moment on the last Canadian tour when my brother (who was tour managing) asked if I'd read the most recent cover story article, and I hadn't gotten around to it. A year ago, I would have been nose deep in that article before you could say "journalistic integrity". There were times when I was probably difficult to be around because amid all of the rapid exposure and success I was really anxious about making the shows as great as possible, and trying to keep up with email, and amid all of it I got swine flu and it knocked me on my ass for about a week. I've been insanely fortunate with opportunities in 2009, and if it all ended tomorrow I'd have to be happy with that. Topping it? I'm not sure, but I know that the next record I make will be different than NNVN. NNVN was a big step forward from the previous album, and I want to keep changing and growing, and would like to make each record a bit of a sonic adventure in a new direction.
4) You took a lot of time to fine tune your new songs and toured relentlessly before getting back in the studio after Postcards. Will you continue with that, or try to get back in to record faster this time around?
I think rather than recording an album over the course of a month or so, I'd like to make it over the course six months or longer. I want to invest in lots of equipment and start recording from home. The thing that frustrates me about the studio is the ever-daunting deadline.. That you'll run out of money and studio time and if you don't get everything done it's going to fall apart. Also, sometimes if I get carried away on a tangent in the studio, I'm using up other peoples' time - whereas my own time is infinitely waste-able to me.. I'd like to start in the fall of 2010 and release it some time in 2011. I'm thinking a lot about this next album and have been doing lots of writing on this last European trip. I'm excited to move forward!
5) If you had to pick one band to take your spot on our list, who would get the nod?
Hmmm there are so many killer Canadian bands right now.. I really like Jenn Grant's "Echoes" and Patrick Watson's "Wooden Arms".. I continually give nods to my pals in Said The Whale. There's a band called The Daredevil Christopher Wright from Eau Claire, Wisconsin that I met at NXNE - and their new album is pretty amazing. I know there are a ton of other albums that came out this year that are great - and lots I've been meaning to pick up and just haven't yet.
6) Your touring Europe alone right now, so I wonder, what do you think is the biggest difference playing overseas as compared to Canada?
I'd been to the UK a number of times, and there's a great scene there, but this is the first time I've played gigs on the European Continent, and I have to say, it's another world. They have so much support and respect for performers here - the gigs pay better and accommodations are a standard. Also I love how here everybody eats together - EVERYBODY. The stage techs, the promoters, the managers, bands, etc. There's something really charming about it - a big giant meal that everyone shares before the gig. It's not a weird ass-kissy kind of thing either, it's just a general level of hospitality - like while you're in their city, you are a personal guest of the promoter. In terms of audiences, I've been really lucky and played the right rooms on the right nights, which helps - so I've had a wonderful impression of the EU. But I think that both lovely and tough audiences exist everywhere, in every town of every country - and it's about finding yourself the right kinds of people to play to.
7) Legitimately, I'm not sure I've ever seen an artist get as nice a reception as you got here for HPX. People were screaming along to songs that had only been out for a couple of months. That being said, can we expect you back any time soon?
That was a pretty memorable night. I'd never been to Halifax before and even though I've met and toured with lots of musicians from the east coast, I was not expecting such a welcoming. I can't wait to get back there! Hopefully before the summer?
8) The way you present emotion and tell stories is done with humor and without judgment. That's very rare in song writers, so I wonder who really influence your writing and song writing?
Aw shucks, you're a gem.. Well I think the most obvious answer is Kurt Vonnegut (which, of course, was the reference to "Nice, Nice, Very Nice") - I just think he was all kinds of awesome. My favourite writer, for sure - and that's exactly what he did, he presented social criticism and told absurd stories about humanity with humour and from a non-pedestal perspective. Songwriters? Hmm. Jeff Tweedy, M. Ward, Jason Collett, Hayden, Andrew Bird, Justin Vernon, Rolf Klausener, Leonard Cohen, many many others!

Oh. And because Dan rocks and we try to bring the goods.. how about an exclusive. Dan rips a cover of There Is a Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths. Hot damn, I love his take on the classic jam.

MP3:: Dan Mangan - There is a Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths Cover)

Band:: Ohbijou
Album:: Beacons

In true Ohbijou form, each member of the band took a question to answer.. sharing rocks, as does this band.
Q1) What was your favorite musical moment of '09?
Andrew - Well, it's been a pretty busy and exciting year so there are definitely a lot of options. The one standout for me has to be playing the tent stage at the End of the Road Festival at 1am. The atmosphere in the room (really a series of interconnected teepee tents), it being 1am after a very long and busy day, and just the buzz of being on tour overseas and in that incredible setting, made for a totally surreal and completely enjoyable moment. We were way out of tune and probably all a bit worse for wear at that point ...but it really didn't seem to matter.
Q2) People often see Toronto as a vast, cold city, but you have proven that a tight knit community exists (not to mention a talented one). What's your favorite thing about the TO scene, and what's the biggest misconception?
Anissa - Toronto can definitely seem vast and cold to someone unfamiliar with the city, but we've all benefited from the tightly knit music community. It is amazing to watch all our talented friends making headlines and playing great shows, and gaining recognition in Toronto and beyond. The best part is that beneath all the music and bands, some really strong friendships have been fostered, and those will last longer than any buzz that the community has garnered. As far as misconceptions go, not sure how to answer that one because everything we've read about music in Toronto lately represents the scene as supportive and collaborative, and that is definitely an accurate representation.
Q3) I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the fantastic work you guys do for the Food Bank... FIB 2 could easily be the best collection of songs of the year without any other fanfare, but more importantly it's for a great cause. Maybe you could talk about how you got everyone together and how you improved on the already stellar FIB I?
James - With Friends In Bellwoods 2, we basically took what worked with Friends In Bellwoods 1 and tried to do the same things again, making them even better when possible. And it has seemed to have worked so far! The response to and awareness of the project this time around has happened much faster, more thoroughly and even more positively than the first time around, which is very encouraging and is looking like it's going to translate into even more money going to the Daily Bread Food Bank than the last time, which is fantastic! We've also found that the bands on the two compilations have gone through significant changes in the last couple of years, and it is interesting to see where groups like The Rural Alberta Advantage were in 2007 compared to where they are now. It's not only great to see the project itself getting better and seeing more success, but the individuals involved in the project seeing those successes as well. Overall, we're incredibly happy with how the project has gone, and we're looking forward to seeing what happens with it in the future!
Q4) '09 was another busy year for the band with jaunts to Europe and SXSW. What's the hardest part about being on the road so much, and what was your favorite show this year?
Jennifer - Being stuck in a van for really long hours, even days on end..... was often very deflating and frustrating. Canada is incredibly beautiful.... but it is also incredibly large. The days were ending earlier when we voyaged our country and you routinely found yourself sitting in the van in the dark, searching for ways to occupy your time. However, in Europe, everything was very new to us; the cities, the landscapes. The jaunts between each city were not as daunting. Our schedule was very tight and we often were without the luxury of having a full night's sleep. Feeling extremely exhausted and not having anytime, or anywhere to just fall asleep for a few hours was really frustrating. As well, each city was very new to us and our schedule only permitted us to play the show and leave early the next day; not allowing anytime to explore. These short glimpses were a tease, however, it made our desire to return much stronger. SXSW was an incredible experience; overwhelming, and daunting at best. With the streets teeming with vibrant and energetic people from all over the world, I couldn't help but feel really small. There were moments when walking about felt claustrophobic ....but at the same time contagious and spirited with this solidarity for exploring things that were new and exciting. The number of bands playing were so great and it was difficult to divide your time between supporting your friends who were also there to play...with checking out bands your had never seen before. However, it was an awesome experience to see our friends from Toronto playing stages in Austen, Texas. as well as reuniting with people and bands from all over we had made special relationships with. SXSW afforded me the chance to see beach house for the first time. Beach house has become one of my favorite bands the last two years and it definitely was one of my favorite shows of this year.
Q5) If you had to pick one band to take Ohbijou's spot on our Best-of List, what band would you chose?
Ryan - This album would be a late entry in the 2009 draw, having only been released in early December, but Lost August by Lisa Bozikovic definitely deserves a place on your best-of list for this year. Through the eleven song expanse of this beautiful album, Lisa's stellar vocal performances intertwine seamlessly with tasteful piano, guitar, accordion, organ, and electric piano arrangements. Joining an already rich sound are a myriad of guest instruments including french horn, tuba, banjo, pedal steel, cello, electric and double bass, and percussion. However, this grand collection of timbres never runs away with the songs, and it is blissful restraint, and a love of space that carry the day. The large ensemble is rarely seen, preferring to take the form of smart duos and trios, leaving each song to thrive in a different world of sounds. Lyrically, Lisa walks a similar line, seeming to look for those tidy strings of words that accomplish a lot without weighing heavily on the song. Her images are brave and succinct, and perfectly accompany a voice which is so often standing alone with all but a guitar or an organ for company. We listened to Lost August a great many times on our Canadian tour this November and it never made so much sense as when we were driving though the misty mountains near Jasper. On the road you're mind is always somewhere between the clutter of the city and vast and beautiful scenery and wild spaces just outside the window. Listening to Lisa sing "New City" we couldn't help wanting to stop the van, lye down in the fresh air and press our hearts to the sky.
Q6) What's next for the band in 2010?
Heather - Our topmost priority for 2010 is to find a practice space! We were a bit spoiled with having a place in the Bellwoods basement (Casey and Jenny's house) for so long, but it's now time to find something new... a nice, comfortable space with room for all our gear... any suggestions out there??! Something we're really excited to do in the new year is to start writing some more songs. With such a busy touring schedule over the last while, it's been tough to find time to focus on creating new material. We have a couple of new songs that we really love, and we're hoping that over the course of the year we can make a bunch more, and get ourselves ready to visit the recording studio again! In terms of playing live, we're excited to play some festivals in the summer, maybe make some trips down to the states, or back to Europe... anything could happen!
Q7) Every time I listen to Beacons - which is a lot - I can't help but feel like I'm moving unnoticed amongst the huge buildings and masses that make Toronto hum. Since I've moved away from the city, Beacons is almost like a window back to a place I once called home... How much influence and inspiration did the city provide when to came to writing these songs? And do you think Ohbijou would be different if you all lived in Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver or in the prairies?
Casey - This town has always been a source of inspiration. Its been a tumultuous relationship and I am affected deeply by everything this city has to offer. Within this overhwhelming population I have been able to situate myself at the core of its excitment, adventure and interminable possibility. I think living here has pushed me to discern and appreciate the details; like the value in knowing your neighborhood. Knowing its every contour; the short cuts through the alley ways, the names of the cats that hide camouflaged in your garden, the sound of the children who live across the street. I feel so lucky to access all the experiences and feelings that this city incites and can't help but write about them as well. If we lived anywhere else the climate of our writing would definitely change. The sources of inspiration would have different street names, a different community of friends, a landscape with its own unique challenges and mystery to investigate, fall in love with, become frustrated by etc. I often write about what is around me and for almost 10 years that has been Toronto and all of my experiences contained in those years and in this city.

Band:: Daniel, Fred & Julie
Album:: self titled

This record is one I know won't hit the masses, but three terrific artists getting together to record songs in a garage is exactly the pleasant type of surprise you get in today's music scene. I won't bore you with any more info - we already got Daniel to explain each and every song - but do yourself a favor and pick up the record. It's powerful and moving, but still fun and spontaneous.

Band:: Timber Timbre
Album:: self titled

On one of the first days of '09, I declared Timber Timbre as a dark horse for album of the year. Over the last twelve months Taylor grabbed my number 1 on both Polaris Ballots, wowed me twice in Halifax and made a collection of creepy songs a part of my daily routine. It's hard to imagine this decision being made on Jan 5th/09, but he earned every positive review and his status as number 1 on herohill.

Here's a creepy take of Demon Host from HPX. Him playing in a dark church before Jenn Grant was the perfect counterbalance and one of my fav shows of the year.

MP3:: Timber Timbre - Demon Host (Live @ HPX '09)

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Posted at 8:30 AM by ack :: 2 comments

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Favorite-of 09:: Local Releases (5-1)

So, obviously you were on the edge of your seat wondering what 5 releases could possibly top the quality we hit you with yesterday. Well, fear not my friends. Here's the cream of the Hali crop for you to enjoy.

As a special treat, while you digest these gems you can think about some of the fantastic stuff due out next year and start saving cash for new records from DUZHEKNEW, Jon Mckiel, Old Man Luedecke and many more.

Band:: The Sorrys
Album:: Neanderthal Cell Phone

Q1) What was the best musical moment for The Sorrys this year?
Jim - Passion Prince. It’s 2 minutes shorter than Kashmir.
Trevor - Jim’s solo on “Passion Prince.” It’s actually a minute and thirty-seven seconds.
Q2) As a music fan on the other side of 30, I find the music you guys make very refreshing. Not only does it make me want to get up and move, it takes the position that the best days aren't still behind us. You guys all have day jobs and have settled into "real" life but keep on rocking. What keeps you writing and playing shows?
Jim - It’s our church. I can’t help but psychologize, and say that like many other human endeavors (e.g., religion) it’s essentially about staving off the fear of death (but in a fun way!)
Trevor - We feel a deep sense of responsibility for not letting our immense gifts and unrivaled talent lie fallow.
Q3) If The Sorrys had to pick a drink that summed up their music, what would we all be drinking at the show?
Jim - Ten-Penny.
Trevor - Weer.
Q4) If you could offer your spot on the Best-of List to any band, who would get the nod?
Jim - Doug Mason
Trevor - Fuck that. What if you agreed with me? Then we’re fucked.
Q5) Most of Halifax agrees that a Sorrys show is one not to miss. That being said, covers are a huge part of the live experience. If you had the chance to hear any band cover a Sorrys song, what band and what song?
Jim - Ronnie James Dio doing Achievement Races
Trevor - That’s so true about Halifax. I do appreciate the kind words though. I’d have to say Celine Dion doing “Restaurant.” There’s something about her genuine lack of artifice and inherent earthiness. I think she’d bring the song to life without risk of it coming off overwrought.
Q6) For any of our readers that have never been to Halifax and might potentially end up here for a few days, what are the three "must-do" things you would recommend fill their itinerary?
Jim - Take the ferry. Go to Agricola Street.Have some good Middle Eastern food.
Trevor - Gap, McDonalds and Future Shop. Try to hit all three. But definitely Future Shop.

As a special treat, here are a couple of unmixed demos from the upcoming Sorrys release. They sound awesome and haven't even been mixed folk, so ah... yeah, 2010 = year of The Sorrys.

MP3:: The Sorrys - Sitting Duck (demo)

MP3:: The Sorrys - Passion Prince (demo)

Band:: York Redoubt
Album:: S/T

Sadly, York Redoubt continues the tradition of me getting behind a bad just to see it pack it in (ISR last year for example). The youngsters have decided to go their separate ways, but this record was a glimpse at the talent they possess.

Band:: Cousins
Album:: Out on Town

Q1) What was the most important music moment for you in '09?
The most important musical moment was many moments. We did a tour from halifax to windsor on and we got to play with some very fine acts, some of our favorites. Play Guitar, Special Noise, Shotgun Jimmie, Emma Mckenna. We had a really great showcase at Pop Montreal with Fall Horsie, Omon Ra and Play Guitar, it was a really great way to end the tour and also a positive experience to keep us going.
Q2) What prompted you to transition from A Helpful Diagram into a full fledged band?The transition from Helpful Diagram to Cousins came out of a frustration. Performing solo, i felt as though i was not able to actualize the songs the way i thought that they could be. I was trying to take the songs places on stage that i wasn't able to do on my own.
After recording the album by myself, I was able to place all the instruments in a way that i wanted them to be performed. Obviously I needed to form a band to perform what i had done on the recording. The change ended up being bigger than anticipated. As a band we agreed to change the name and start fresh. In a way, for better or for worse, we've kind of left the album behind. Some of the songs have changed so much with the new members that i wiash we could go back in time and change things around on the recording.
Q3) If you had to he chance to tell music lovers across Canada the best thing about the Halifax scene, what would you say?
the best thing about the halifax music scene? there is a lot of local talent, and we have to work really hard to get things done. I like to think that we're tough here, we don't get a lot of support from industries and government, the venues suck, the money is awful, but we keep trying, working hard and helping each other out.
Q4) What's next for Cousins?
Next up for cousins. We're trying to plan for more tours. One across canada, one in europe, some of those states too. We're writing new material and trying it out in shows, planning to go into the studio as a band for the first time this winter.
Q5) Did you grab your band name from the convenience store/restaurant in the North End?
Cousins the band name comes from: keeping it simple, succinct, wanting to careful in our use of poetry, and patronizing phrases. So yes, i guess you could say that we did get the name from the restaurant.
Q6) If you had the chance to pick one band to take your place on our Best-of List, who would you pick?
A band to replace us? i'm not sure who's on the list or who counts in the contest. I'd say RoomDoom, Play Guitar, York Redoubt, I hope they're on the list.

Now, how about a new track from Cousins. They recorded a nice basement session this weekend and hit us off properlike with a punchy, rough little gem titled Nans. Here are the details - written by aaron mangle & pat ryan. Aaron Mangle: guitar, vocals, drums, percussion. Pat Ryan: bass, percussion

MP3:: Cousins - Nans

Band:: The Lodge
Album:: Take That Devil

Q1) What was your best musical moment of '09?
We played a ckdu benefit and we did good, i have never felt that much freedom, elasticity, and fun in any band i have been involved in...i felt like we finally got to the place i have been trying to get to since i was 12 years old playing a 25 dollar guitar plugged into a radio, it took a long time.
Q2) What motivated you to get this "supergroup" together and start recording songs?
Cliff and andrew were in neuseiland. we a late 90's band that ripped off can, giant sand, and the lips... these guys are long term collaborators with super even temperaments and an ability to put up with my whimsy and general flakiness. cliff and i dont have to talk about anything ever...we just play and it works most of the time. weird. andrew can learn anything super fast and is a very creative guy. mike o is one of my favourite singers period and i really enjoy working with him. it just seemed to work out, it was weird. the fact that we have one singer, one guitar, bass and drums makes it relatively easy to get stuff together and chase what we are now calling the ultimate freedom rock buzz. when you are doing what you do naturally and lock into it. i know we have a ways to go but i really enjoy this band. we click, it's not an easy thing to find.
Q3) As a first hand witness that's seen how the Halifax scene has changed over the last 10-15 years must be pretty shocking. What's the biggest difference/benefit to the new internet saturated model and do you ever wonder how the increased exposure bands get so early on in their careers would have helped your old bands?
The internet has leveled the playing field in a way that you cant always tell the lifers from the dabblers. we are inundated with stuff,some is awesome, some is careerist and samey. by careerist i mean people too conscious of what is cool, pitchforky type shit. ian mcgettigan wore all those clothes and shaved stripes in his head for a reason.
A record purchase used to require research, money, and a leap of faith, partially based on the cover art, but the halifax explosion bands got insane exposure because of the whole sloan mini seattle thing...way more than anyone is getting now. i remember looking at the year end national chart in 97 and superfriendz were number 2 after pavement. insane. it was a different time. people were turning down record deals.
Q4) What's next for The Lodge? Was Take That Devil a one off, or are you going to keep playing and recording?
We have 5 bed trax done for the next cd, classes for cutups. a little heavier, a little more concise. trying to rip off keith levene from PIL as much as possible.
Q5) If you had to pick one band to take your place on our Best-of list, who would take your spot?
So many but this is off the top of the dome. york redoubt --- astonishing promisey sonic youths. melody and originality and they can rock. i hope they dont give up. dreamsploitation. chuck blazevic is a real musical genius, i dont know why more people dont know about this guy. check it out. But the people who are getting tons of attention deserve it...jenn grant, old man, rose, myles, etc. the plaskett record is a staggering achievement. making one solo album is hard enough. silver made three. trevor millett from the sorry's is one of the best lyricists around. Matt Charlton, has some songs. The unreleased matt mays record on my computer is no joke. play guitar ...xian simmons. Oh yeah, garrett mason is amazing.

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

Band:: Joel Plaskett
Album:: Three

Honestly, we've said so much about Joel this year, there's not much left to say. Another email interview would just confirm what you already know; Joel's a great guy that deserves the attention he gets. That includes a Polaris Short list nod, Verge artist of the year nomination, and more ECMA's than a plumber's got pliers... Throw in the fact he started a vinyl singles collection and 2010 = Thrush Hermit reunion and well you see he never sits still.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Polaris Round Up:: Joel Plaskett Three

Honestly, there isn't anything else we can say about Joel, Three or his inclusion in the Short List. We've talked about him for years and watched him grow as an artist. As native Nova Scotians, we are proud of his music, proud of him and certainly proud to know him.

But here's the thing... people that dismiss his talent as boring East Coast rock are completely wrong when it comes to Three. His improv fusion of country, rock, folk, fiddle and FUN is much more wide reaching. He doesn't speak for bluenosers, or even just Canadians. Joel's songs speak to everyone. With the horns and backing vocals that pepper his whimsical words on Disc I, Plaskett takes a step into Jim Ford territory, which is not a name I toss around lightly.

He also delivers three different styles of music that kill with with homesickness, longing, love, growing up. I know those topics might not be as note-worthy as religion, politics or the economy but if you ask most young music fans, those issues are a lot more real and a lot more powerful.

He pushed his sound and pushed his limits creating this 27-song opus and whether or not you think it's the record of the year, I guarantee some of the tracks that make an appearance on Disc III will be songs you still hear people playing 20 years from now. Three is a classic - in appearance, scope, vision and song. How do I think he'll do? Well, all things being equal I'd like to see him in the Final Three pushing to win. I don't know if the East Coast bias will hurt him though. With all the people nominated for creating the same type of record, his shift should be recognized and rewarded.

MP3:: Joel Plaskett - You Let Me Down

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Posted at 11:40 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Best-of 2009:: Part 1

I've actually been meaning to do this for a while, but have always had something else I wanted to write about instead. We aren't really a fan of the ole "clip-show" mentality, but a lull in the review pile and the fact I had my IPOD on random during a 8 mile run helped me realize I've stumbled on some terrific records already in 2009. I know most of you won't see eye-to-eye with me, but this is my list. Enjoy.

(Note, I could have put the EP from Zeus on this list, but am saving a slot for the upcoming full length on my End of Year edition).

1:: Timber Timbre - Timber Timbre
myspace || label

I reviewed this record on Jan. 5, and honestly I don't think any record that comes out this year will top it. I put Taylor in my Number 1 spot on both the Long-list and Short-list ballots for the Polaris, and was upset the duo didn't sneak into the Top 10.

Either way, the change in sound he displays on this record show huge strides and converted me from fan to superfan. It was also enough to see Taylor move from the terrific indie label, Out of this Spark to Arts & Crafts, essentially meaning that this is the last year his music will be under appreciated.

2:: Joel Plaskett - Three
web site

Honestly, I know you are probably sick of reading about Joel on herohill, but his 27-song triple record may end up being the defining moment of his long and consistently solid career. Huge in scope and ambition, and heavier in quality, some of the songs from Three are going to be songs we here on the radio 5, 10, and even 20 years from now. I'm not sure we can say that about any other record that's been put out in 2009.

3:: Ohbijou - Beacons

When I first reviewed Beacons I mentioned - "Ohbijou - Casey Mecija and six supremely talented musicians - have crafted a beautiful, melancholic effort but even with the intimacy and tenderness they deliver, the surges and layers help the songs seem bigger than life." - and really, not much has changed in my opinion.

The gentle, patient crescendos and terrific harmonies give these orchestral tracks little boosts of energy, but they are so well executed that you never lose the Casey’s heart. The songs are pure and enjoyable from the first note to the last.

4:: Bahamas - Pink Strat

Afie Jurvanen – aka Bahamas – has been supporting some of the biggest names in Canadian rock (Feist, Jason Collett, Howie Beck, Hayden and my new favorites, Zeus) for years, and probably only the biggest fans or people with musical talent know who he is.

That will all change with Pink Strat. The brokenhearted, I'm no good for no one singer has been beaten to death over the last 50 or 60 years, but Afie makes his songs stand out and offers a new take on a classic tale.

5:: Reverie Sound Revue - Reverie Sound Revue

But you just reviewed this record yesterday? How can it be on the list already? Bottom line, this is my favorite pop record of the year and with the heavy dose of singles mixed with a complete listen I don't see that changing.

After hearing this record, the meticulous, patient approach that Reverie Sound Revue uses certainly seems to make a lot more sense than rushing through an EP and cramming in a smelly fan playing shows for no one doesn't it?

6:: Chet - Chelsea Silver, Please Come Home

Ryan Beattie
, his brother and the new band that makes up Chet has created one of the most ambitious and captivating records of the year. I'm not sure if people will spend the time required to let the beauty and power of the record set in, but those that do will be rewarded with a record that is hard to turn off.

Confidence. Power. Patience. Creativity. These are all words that should come to mind when you start to digest Chelsea Silver, Please Come Home. Fantastic is the one that will come to mind when you are finished.

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

The Wooden Sky has spent most of the last five years floating around without a home. Pushing through a new band name and a new sound can often kill a band that has yet to find it's true audience, but this Toronto outfit delivered a powerful, enjoyable slice of country pop. They are just getting ready to tour the sh&t out of the record, so I'll be alone in singing the band's praises by the end of the year.

MP3:: Timber Timbre - Lay Down in the Tall Grass

MP3:: The Wooden Sky - Something Hiding For Us In The Night

MP3:: Ohbijou - Black Ice

MP3:: Joel Plaskett - Through & Through & Through

MP3:: Chet - The Night, The Night

MP3:: Bahamas - Lonely Loves

MP3:: Reverie Sound Review - Opposite of Thieves

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Posted at 6:51 AM by ack :: 2 comments

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