Wednesday, August 19, 2009

News:: Friends in Bellwoods 2

Go to any city, and you will stumble on little pockets of musical camaraderie. Whether it’s a group of art school friends that start playing music or an old house with gear piled in the basement, the creative energy is tangible. Here in Halifax, I guess you’d go with 6015 Willow St, but in Toronto, I’d say that honor goes to Casey Mecija’s house on Bellwoods Avenue.

With fellow Ohbijou member James Bunton, they collected songs from their friends and put out a charity record that featured some of the best indie rockers/folkers in the Canadian scene. Not only was Friends in Bellwoods an embarrassment of riches (Forest City Lovers, Bry Webb, Ohbijou, The Acorn, The Meligrove Band, Sebastien Grainger, The D’Urbervilles, Snailhouse), it also raised over 10 grand for charity. All in all, a pretty amazing success.

Remarkably… Bellwoods 2 puts the original to shame. Forty rare and unreleased tracks from the best talent TO has to offer, including Sandro Perri, Timber Timbre, Great Lake Swimmers, Ohbijou, Final Fantasy, The Acorn, The RAA, The D’Urbervilles, Basia Balat, Evening Hymns, Gentleman Reg, and tons more but more importantly, you can tell the people involved really believed in the project. The songs are spirited, and for so many of these talented artists to donate their time and music is special.

I don’t want to start analyzing the tracks - half of the fun of this record is just hearing what some of your favorite bands offer up - but hearing The D’Urbes totally transform the ghostly Timber Timbre jam, Magic Arrow into an energetic romp, the ear pleasing jangle of The Great Bloomers or the beautiful picking dance around Rolf’s voice on Slippery When Wet are three of the big standouts for me.

Truthfully though, on a compilation where fantastic bands like Forest City Lovers, Tusks and Snailhouse barely catch your eye on first glance of the track list, and new material from Ohbijou (with an absolutely perfect string arrangement), Polaris short-listers Great Lake Swimmers, Bruce Peninsula, The Wooden Sky (!!!!) and The Rural Alberta Advantage seem standard, you start to see the power of this project.

Throw in the fact the proceeds go to The Daily Bread Food Bank and it’s pretty well a given that you should be rushing to pick up this 2-disc set on August 25th courtesy of Out of This Spark. The label is offering up a few songs - and as good as these songs are, the gems you will find when you actually purchase the record are staggering - so take a listen, but please donate to this great cause.

MP3:: The D'Urbervilles - Magic Arrow

MP3:: Tusks - New to Old Money


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Posted at 8:01 AM by ack :: 4 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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