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Friday, April 2, 2010

Concert:: Catriona Sturton & Ruth Minnikin @ The Company House

In an odd way, it's fitting that Catriona Sturton and Ruth Minnikin are playing a show here in Halifax @ The Company House on April 8th. You see, that's my birthday and as we all get older, it becomes more and more tempting to turn back time, rehash the past and get nostalgic over bands that helped shape our young musical personalities, especially since both Ruth and Catriona were fixtures in the Halifax scene in the late 90's.

Thankfully, both Catriona and Ruth's songs have grown with them over the last 10+ years and instead of leaving me pining for a Plumtree - even after seeing Scott Pilgram is being made into a film - or a Booming Airplanes/Blinkers/Guthries reunion (ed. note: I would happily show up for each and every one of those bands if they did happen to reunite), I'm happy knowing that both woman have moved forward as solo artists and are still delivering quality music.

I've already gushed about Ruth's latest effort (honestly, Depend on This was as creative as it was enjoyable, so hopefully Halifax stops sleeping on Ruth soon) but I wasn't sure what to expect from Catriona when she sent over a sneak preview of her new sound. Stripped down and honest, Wheel of Fortune is one of those songs that is more than the sum of its parts. Not even three-minutes, the song uses subtle harmonies to warm your ear but little else outside of her finger work and vocals. Hearing her fingers squeak along the fret board is comforting and oddly inviting.

I'm probably one of the few, but I'm quite happy to leave sweaty, all-ages shows and high school in the past, kept alive by fond memories that no one should ever want to revisit or relive. With new music from artists like Catriona and Ruth, it's easy to keep looking forward and growing older without letting go of a passion that is unique to music fans. So go spend your Thursday surrounded by good people and good music; it's one of the few things you will never grow tired of.

MP3:: Catriona Sturton - Wheel of Fortune
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/catrionasturton

Labels: Catriona Sturton, , , Plumtree, , The Company House

Posted at 9:23 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Video Hits:: The Wheat Pool, Dog Day, Vangel, Ruth Minnikin & Amelia Curran

Thursday is here, so it's time once again to fire up our favorite semi-regular fourth-day feature: Video Hits. Last time out I talked about doing an all-female version of our clip show, but unfortunately I don't have enough content to make that happen. But I didn't want to wait, so I've hooked up an eclectic selection that closes with two strong women from out this way.

Like any and all rap groups from their hometown of Edmonton, The Wheat Pool gets a hearty thumbs-up from the hill. Hauntario is full of good songs, but I think Lefty takes the cake in my humble, so I was happy to put up the video. Local stalwarts Dog Day are quietly one of the best bands Halifax has produced in quite some time, so any new content from them is always welcome - and this self-made clip for Stray from Concentration is no exception. Vangel is a Toronto producer with an interesting take on electronic music that mixes big drum tracks with live instruments of various types. I posted on his last release Biblio a year ago, and receiving his video for MoneyMoney made me dig it out again for another listen.

To finish strong, we've got videos from two of Halifax's finest musicians. Ruth Minnikin is a hill fave, as Ack's review for her latest effort Depend On This clearly shows, and so, even though the living straw men in her new video for that album's self-titled track kind of freak me out, we're still happy to put up the vid. Last but not least, we have a live vid of Amelia Curran performing The Mistress from her last album Hunter Hunter. Seriously, if you want to know who in Halifax can really write a song, you might want to start with Amelia. Enjoy!

The Wheat Pool - Lefty

MP3:: The Wheat Pool - This Is It
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/thewheatpool

Dog Day - Stray

MP3:: Dog Day - Rome
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/dogdaytheband

Vangel - MoneyMoney

MP3:: Vangel - Cold Rain
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/vangelmusic

Ruth Minnikin and her bandwagon - Depend On This

MP3:: Ruth Minnikin - Four Churches II
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/ruthminnikin

Amelia Curran - The Mistress (Live)

MP3:: Amelia Curran - The Mistress
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/ameliacurran

Labels: Amelia Curran, Dog Day, , , Vangel, ,

Posted at 2:13 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

IDOW 2010:: Wednesday Preview

In The Dead of Winter
Tonight sees the kick-off of the 2010 edition of the In The Dead of Winter Festival here in Halifax with a sold out Ani DiFranco show at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium. IDOW has been warming the cockles of musical hearts here for the last five winters, giving fans and performers alike a reason to look forward to the slushy dead zone that is normally Halifax at the end of January/start of February.

Since the Ani show is sold out, I figured we'd start our preview with a look at the festivities on Wednesday night, which is the first full night of the festival:

St. Patrick’s Church, $25:
8:00 - Ruth Minnikin
9:00 - Ron Hynes

The Company House, $20:
7:30 - Dance Movie
8:00 - Field Assembly
9:00 - Ryan MacGrath
10:00 - Luke Doucet

The Bus Stop Theatre, $15:
8:00 - The Wooden Sky
9:00 - Paper Beat Scissors
10:00 - CR Avery

FRED, $10:
8:00 - Che Aimee
9:00 - Pamela Underwater
10:00 - Coco Love Alcorn

Sounds like a pretty solid evening all around doesn't it? And that's only day one. If you're looking for us, The Bus Stop Theatre is a pretty safe bet I think. Get out and see something.

MP3:: Ruth Minnikin - Four Churches II

MP3:: Luke Doucet - FIrst Day (In The New Home Town)

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

Labels: , IDOW, In the Dead of Winter, , ,

Posted at 1:43 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Reviews:: Ruth Minnikin & Her Bandwagon Depend On This

Ruth Minnikin and the bands she played in were always ahead of the curve. I mean, Booming Airplanes got signed to EMI when she was barely out of high school and without a doubt, if The Guthries were making music today in the "everybody wants to be a rootsy, lap steel heavy, cowboy shirt wearing music player" they'd be huge. That same "what if" type pondering could easily be applied to the orchestral pop The Heavy Blinkers delivered so well.

So even though Ruth's solo work was strongly rooted in the realm of folk, it's not surprising she refuses to sit still. The first half of her new record - Depend on This - hits me the way the same way Jets To Brazil's Perfecting Loneliness did. Even with the strides and fleshed out sound the band made, it was the perfect summation to Blake's evolution from the early days of Jawbreaker to his more mellow, melodic stylings under the JTB moniker. For Ruth and her friends, the tracks still dabble in the country, down home sounds we've come to expect, but she fuses that traditional feel with the lush orchestration and quirkiness you could find on a Blinkers effort.

Orchestral horns blasts and group vocals stand on equal footing as steel guitar and. Tracks like Theme Song and Sleeping and Dreaming expose Ruth's more playful side, where as Four Churches moves into the chamber pop realm and Animals of Bremen is about as traditional as Ruth gets this time out, but the meticulously arrangements she constructs help weave the songs together in a warm, multicolored quilt. Perhaps the standout is the blissful title track that uses terrific horns and steel during the verses before exploding into a sing-along chorus.

Even if this effort was a simple, six-song EP you'd feel satisfied after each listen, but what really stands out is the progression in sound she made for this record. The b-side of Depend on This will shock even her oldest fans as it finds Ruth exploring an end of the evening vibe thanks to her ambient, atmospheric collaborations with Dreamspolitation's Chuck Blazevic. She revisits each of the themes and titles of the A-side of the record in a completely new fashion, transforming each in a way that inspires and challenges the listener, but never loses them.

The flute that makes an appearance on Theme Song II and the hand claps and heavy plucked bass line of Sleeping and Dreaming II peak your interest, but the echo-y horns and computer effects on the later are what really takes you into a more magical, dream like swirl. The first few tracks on the second side are shocking and enjoyable, but the effort peaks on Four Churches II. The smooth horns, hand clap beat and rapid fire synth all dance around terrific vocals, swooning strings and and terrific, long bended guitar notes and really demonstrates how effortless Ruth could find a home in this new style. She follows up with the click clack, flute filled Depend on This II, a track that never moves past a brisk shuffle but spikes the record with energy and emotion.

Amazingly, even with all Chuck's electro flourishes she still manages to hold true to the spirit and soul of the original versions. Animals of Bremen II still feels traditional - especially when the piano ends the track - even though it's filled with computer effects and a heavier bass line. I'll be honest. This isn't the record I expected from Ruth, but I'm not complaining. The funny thing is, just when you think you know where Ruth is going to reside, she shifts and her next record could be recorded in a farmhouse, a disco, on a bus or with Symphony Nova Scotia playing behind her. That's the great thing about a creative spirit. You never know where it's going or where it will end up, but you know the risks will end up in rewards for the us all... it just might take us a few months to catch up.

MP3:: Ruth Minnikin - Four Churches II
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/ruthminnikin
WEB:: http://www.ruthminnikin.ca/

Labels: , , , ,

Posted at 7:31 AM by ack :: 1 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/

Labels: , , ,

Posted at 7:37 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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