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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/09/quick-hitters-little-girls-concepts.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/09/reviews-julie-fader-outside-in.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/04/reviews-japandroids-post-nothing.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/09/reviews-wheat-pool-hauntario.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/01/review-deep-dark-woods-winter-hours.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/03/contests-win-joel-plasketts-three-part.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/07/reviews-dan-mangan-nice-nice-very-nice.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/06/reviews-ohbijou-beacons.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/11/reviews-daniel-fred-julie.htm

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
Review:: http://www.herohill.com/2009/01/reviews-timber-timbre.htm

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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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Video Hits:: Brian Borcherdt, Steven Bowers, The Wheat Pool, Ox, Louwop

Circadian Anthem
It's Thursday, it's raining cats & dogs here in Halifax (and perhaps wherever you are) and so you're trapped inside. That means one thing here at the hill: videos. We've been having some jumbo editions of Video Hits over the last few weeks, and that continues un-abated today, with some fine Canadian musical fair committed to metaphorical video tape.

We have a bit of a loose theme with these videos, as we're gonna start things out rather slow & moody, and steadily work our way up into a happier frame of mind. As many of you might know, Yarmouth ex-pat Brian Borcherdt released a new, free album recently, but he also released a new video from his previous release, Coyotes, as well. This clip for While I was Asleep finds Borcherdt at his morose best - the word haunting comes to mind. Somewhat less morose is the clip for Steven Bowers' Comfortably Sweet, which is a duet off his recent EP Circadian Anthem, that features the always-excellent Christina Martin. The video is morose, in that it's about a lost loved one, but the Bowers turns into a zombie, and zombies always bring the fun. The video for The Wheat Pool's This Is It also brings the fun, well, if you're idea of fun is calmly destroying everything in your boyfriend's house, then it's a blast. Just as an aside, The Wheat Pool's Hauntario is really great, I know the Ack told us all this a couple months ago, but I'm late to the party and I just thought I'd mention it in case some of you are also in that boat. Another album the Ack enjoyed: Burnout from Sudbury roots rockers Ox. I myself love their video for Prom Queen, which is a white trash-tastic slice of fun.

Ok, that's a lot of heavy packed into four videos right there. So I need to go Son Of Bazerk on you kids and change the style. I could find nothing better for that then the new video from hill favorite Louwop. One Two Check/Get Up is a live mashup of two songs from Lou's last release, The Great Escape (which is available as a free download this month I should mention), and features Shad and Zaki Ibrahim. Good stuff.

Brian Borcherdt - While I was Asleep

MP3:: Brian Borcherdt - Torches
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/brianborcherdt

Steven Bowers - Comfortably Sweet f. Christina Martin

MP3:: Steven Bowers - Comfortably Sweet f. Christina Martin
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/stevenbowers

The Wheat Pool - This Is It

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

Ox - Prom Queen

MP3:: Ox - Burnout
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/oxmusic

Louwop - One Two Check/Get Up LIVE f. Shad & Zaki Ibrahim

MP3:: Louwop - One 2 Check f. Shad
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/louwop

Labels: Brian Borcherdt, , Louwop, Ox, , ,

Posted at 1:15 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reviews:: The Wheat Pool Hauntario

I’ve struggled a lot lately with the reason I bother blogging anymore. Is it to be a critical voice? Probably not, especially considering the number of blogs out there outweighs the overwhelming than the amount of shitty bands hoping for some press. Chances are you can find a hundred reviews proving your opinion about the biggest bands in the world or the shittiest local band that hasn’t even booked a show, so getting lost in the ether is almost a guarantee. Throw in the fact that classic media still views bloggers as nothing but pawns (rightly so), essential to strategy, but simply the front line in the ascent of a band. No one seems to acknowledge the grass roots level effort of the people that stumble on bands long before they are signed and headline shows. Blog opinion is still discussed in hushed tones, usually out of the side of a “real” critic’s mouth.

It certainly isn’t for money, at least not for us. Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to get some anonymous donations (hint, hint) to help justify the hours we spend on this endeavor, but we are realistic. People want free music and expecting a simple comment to say thanks seems like a inconceivable notion, let alone expecting someone to pay us for our time. Honestly, most blog readers only speak up when they disagree, want to point out how poorly constructed our opinion is or how shitty a band we like actually is.

But you know what? When I hear a band like The Wheat Pool deliver the type of record that somehow hits you in the stomach, the mouth and the heart all at the same time, I remember the reason I cobble together your thoughts each and every fucking day is because I love music. That being passionate about music helps me have passion for other things and as much as I like that people read these words, they are more for me than anyone else. The songs are mine to digest however I want.

That idea might seem cliché, especially after that dorky kid from Almost Famous already showed what being a fan meant to people and most bloggers would just as happily rip apart an unsigned band for no reason other than their own enjoyment, but I don’t care. As soon as the regret seeps into This Is It, I feel the loneliness and tears of a lover leaving or mistakes I've made, but it’s the fuzzy bass, horns, electric work and harmonies that absolutely destroy me. Pain is universal, bigger than me and it’s bigger than the band, so when they start distorting the notes, the chaos just triggers the memories I've held onto all these years.

There is so much to like about this record; the harmonies bleed like an open cut. Rudd’s vocals are accessible and open ended, kind of like a Can-con Cub Country (tell me you can’t picture Jeremy Chatelain penning Evangeline or the beautiful Italy) or the subtleties like the piano that dances in the distance, but it’s more how these melodies are a shoulder to cry on or a hug when you need it most. I could go on and on about these 11-songs and try to convince you why you should pay attention, but Hauntario one I’ll hold close to my chest. The thoughts that Edmonton band triggers amongst the wash of steel and acoustic are mine and mine alone.

They let me get out and run (I’m Not Here or the fist pumping Too Far Apart) when I need to, give me hope (Nervous Bird) and help me get through some of the emotions that have been consuming me over the last few months. When (out of context to the song) Rudd says, “they don’t know what we’re going through, but we’ve got a lot of crying to do” on One Of These Nights, it’s like he understands the insane ups and downs my wife and I have been traversing these last few months and for some reason it's reassuring. I know they don’t know me our or situation but it's like they are singing to me for those 3-minutes and those few chords and perfectly turned phrases are the answers I’ve been searching for but couldn’t seem to find anywhere else. Foolish? Of course, but that's what loving music is all about and if you can think of a better reason to get up and keep writing I’d love to hear it.

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

Labels: , , , ,

Posted at 8:15 AM by ack :: 2 comments

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