>> Tuesday, February 22, 2011
For Yukon Blonde, it’s hard to top 2010. But the band – comprised of core members Jeff Innes, Brandon Scott and Graham Jones – are sure going to try.
In February last year, the Vancouver-via-Kelowna indie-rockers released their self-titled debut, a palatable batch of songs heavily influenced by lo-fi 60s rock, music that just teems with familiar harmonies and irresistible, can’t-miss hooks. The 11 song LP received praise from critics nationwide, even earning the band a place on the highly coveted Polaris Prize longlist.
But it’s their incendiary live reputation that’s brought Yukon Blonde into the consciousnesses of many a music fan.
“Ending in early December, we played 158 shows last year, so it was a super busy year,” admits drummer Graham Jones over the phone from Vancouver. “We’ve been taking a breather.”
By “breather” Jones means travelling to and fro Vancouver and Kelowna and sitting down with his bandmates to pen some new material, a collection of untested songs that may raise a few eyebrows amongst fans.
“The songs are coming along really well,” he explains. “But, it’s all a little different than the older stuff and people might be surprised. I think it’s all a little faster, a little grittier.”
Their upcoming coast-to-coast tour of Canada (literally) sees Yukon Blonde play a string of dates from Vancouver to Winnipeg with Montreal rockers Plants & Animals; then, the bands will part ways post-Winnipeg and Yukon Blonde will seize a headlining position for their Eastern Canadian leg.
But whether opening or headlining, one thing is guaranteed: new music will be played and heard for the first time.
“We’re going to basically be testing out a bunch of new stuff,” Jones says, “and it’s going to be really fun to play some material.”
And after that tour wraps up in late March, it’ll be back home for a week or so to write before the guys return to the studio and begin recording their still-to-be-named second album. Then, armed with even more material, the plan is to, you guessed it, hit the road for the summer.
“We’re not really the sort to sit around,” Jones confesses with a laugh.
Catch Yukon Blonde at the Pyramid Cabaret this Saturday night with Plants & Animals.
Riding the waves of some seriously-surprising-but-well-deserved Grammy wins (Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocal), The Black Keys have recently announced a slew of North American summer tour arena dates, including a stop at the MTS Centre on July 2nd. Cage The Elephant kick start the event. Presale commences Thursday with tickets ranging from $47.50 - $59.50.
Seems like a pretty large venue for the Black Keys. Curious how many seats they'll fill.
Also, Gramercy Riffs open for Hey Rosetta! this Sunday night at the Pyramid.
>> Friday, February 18, 2011
Just a few quick notes tonight…
Add Cannon Bros to the PS I Love You/Diamond Rings bill going down at the Lo Pub on March 25th. With the Dodos also at the WECC, this unquestionably makes March 25th the best single night of music in Winnipeg since Plants & Animals (WECC) and The Besnard Lakes (Albert) last April 29th.
Quadruple bill booked for April 5th at the Garrick: August Burns Red, Set Your Goals, Born of Osiris, and Texas In July.
Local hip-hop quartet The Lytics have recently released a beautifully shot new video into the world for their song, “Last Bit (Lovely Words).” Catch them at the Pyramid on March 3rd.
And, if you haven’t heard, Painting over Silence is somehow, miraculously, holy-shit-was-I-surprised ONTO ROUND 3 in CBC Radio 3’s Searchlight contest for the “Best Canadian Music Website”. I know what you’re thinking and, yes, I am buying a lottery ticket for tomorrow night. It's been a banner month…
Thank you so much for voting!
>> Wednesday, February 16, 2011
First up, surging indie-rockers Mother Mother are returning to Winnipeg for a date at the Garrick on April 6th. The Vancouver-based quintet are touring in support of their third full-length recording, Eureka, scheduled for release on the Ides of March.
Risky move by Rihanna. The pop diva has signed up Cee-Lo Green as her opening act during her expansive North American tour this spring/summer. Will Green's show-starting set outshine her headlining performance? Find out June 20th at the MTS Centre.
After selling out and bringing down
And finally, please don’t forget to vote Painting over Silence!
>> Friday, February 11, 2011
There’s no question, really. With their second outing, Let’s All March Back into the Sea, Winnipeg’s The Liptonians make a strong case for a Western Canadian Music Award nod. Their second in a row.
In 2008 the still nascent group took home the statue for Best Pop Recording from the WCMAs, earning copious attention from both fans and industry alike. This time around the fivesome – co-founders Matt Schellenberg and Bucky Driedger as well as recent acquisitions Levi Penner, Michael Jordan, and Mitch Braun – build off this initial release, offering a stylish pop record super-saturated with stimulating ideas, dynamic tempo shifts, and playful arrangements. With each additional listen revealing new and surprising sounds, Let’s All… is an undeniable, must-hear local release.
I caught up with band co-founder Matt Schellenberg this week and asked him how winning a WCMA impacted their writing/recording process; where they came across the gorgeous pictures adorning the cover and liner notes; and what/who we can expect at the big cd release bash going down this Sunday night at the WECC.
Painting over Silence: First of all, I just have to ask you: as a founding member of the Liptonians, a contributing musician with Royal Canoe, and one-half of organic synth duo Courier News, how the heck do you find the time to play in all these bands?
Matt: Schellenberg: *laughs* I don’t really. You kind of try to prioritize things as they come up, like right now I’ve been doing a lot more Liptonians than Royal Canoe. And Courier News pretty much happens whenever Alexis is in town because she’s gone a lot with Chic Gamine. It’s definitely a challenge sometimes. And I still work at Olive Garden to make some money – it’s a lot of late nights!
PoS: Shifting gears to the new album, Let’s All March Back to Sea. Where and when was the majority of the album written and recorded?
MS: Almost all the songs are a year-to-two years old. It was written at a cabin that my uncle-in-law lent to Bucky and me for awhile. It was also written at the Lipton basement – when we used to live on Lipton Street – and at our rehearsal space on Portage. So, yeah, lots of different places.
PoS: Were there any tracks that didn’t make it on the album?
MS: Oh, a bunch. We probably cut about 30 ideas or so, maybe 15 or so fully formed songs. We eventually got it down to the 10 that are on the album, plus that prelude thing.
PoS: The initial track?
MS: Yeah, exactly.
PoS: The last record won countless acclaim (including a WCMA award for best pop recording), and the band toured pretty heavily behind the release. How did these experiences impact the writing and recording process the second time around?
MS: They informed it in that we were able to get more serious about the band because of the award. It kind of made people take us more seriously when we tried to book a show and go on tour. This allowed us to change our priorities as people and devote a lot more time to try and become better songwriters to the point where, in the last two years, we’ve given up pretty much everything to try and write songs everyday or do music everyday.
It was just a hobby in 2006 to 2008 when the first record was recorded. We recorded it into the wrong end of mikes and stuff – we didn’t know what we were doing at all, and some of it you can hear on the record. It opened up an opportunity to get taken more seriously and take ourselves more seriously.
PoS: The cast of characters appearing on Let’s All… differs than the current touring lineup. Who is presently in the band?
MS: Currently we have Mitch Braun, Levi Penner, and Michael Jordan – our three new members. On the actual record is the old band: Terrell Froese, Darren Grunau, and Michael Petkau Falk.
Our band was comprised of people who viewed this as a second project. They were all songwriters themselves and wanted to take their creative projects as far as they can go, so we totally understood that since that’s what we were trying to do. As the Liptonians became more and more serious, there was less and less time for those other things. Terrell moved on to write music with his other band. Darren has taken on a more creative role with Flying Foxes and the Hunter Gatherers, and Mike is touring with Les Jupes. So everybody is in their right place.
We’re really pumped about the new band, which is, I guess, comprised a littler more of players and maybe less of songwriters. But were really excited to begin writing songs with them too because the new stuff we’ve been jamming out has been really exciting.
PoS: I wanted to ask about the second-last track “Roller Coaster.” It was originally written for the Winnipeg Free Press’s “My City, My Song” contest and was a finalist. What made “Roller Coaster” the right fit for this album?
MS: We weren’t going to actually, and then we gave all the tracks to the producer of the album, Matt Peters. He’s also our good friend and bandmate in Royal Canoe, but at that point we were just getting to know him. He picked his favourite three or four songs – most of them we weren’t planning on including – and that was one of them. He thought it was a really vibrant song and one that we should include. This made us think about it again and try to breathe new life into it, and it sounds very different than the one that was submitted to the Free Press.
PoS: And it’s one of the few tracks on the album that’s kind of driven by synths.
MS: Yeah. It’s got a synth drum beat. It’s one of the few tracks that has a little more electronic influence. When I wrote that song I had been writing so many songs with riffs and really complicated chord structures, and I realized that so many of my favourite songs were just a couple chords and lyrics you can hold on to and a couple hooks or places of interest.
For me, it was an exercise in discipline, trying to write a simpler song that was more about the lyrics. And as you can see from how cluttered the album can be, our natural inclination is more of everything.
PoS: The album cover features a hazy photo of a shirtless man staring into the sea while the liner notes boasts varying shots of a clothed, flaxen-haired female’s backside, also gazing out toward a seemingly vast body of water. Who took these striking photos, and what made you choose them for the album design/artwork?
MS: A guy name Paul Phung, and he’s from the UK. We were just looking around on Flickr for things we thought might suit us, not too heavy handed. We didn’t want a bunch of people actually marching into the sea. We were just trying to find something that had the right flavour to it – that still referenced the sea and still had a bit of longing for something. Something a little more subtle. And these pictures ended up perfectly fitting the vibe for what we thought the album should be.
So we emailed this guy in the UK and said, “Hey, we’re a really poor band and we’d like to use your photos.” And he said, “sure just give me $50 and an album when it’s done.” So that’s what we did, and we got to use all his beautiful photos.
PoS: And finally, this Sunday night marks the official cd launch party of Lets All… at the West End Cultural Centre. Is it safe to say we can expect a lot of special guests to join us on stage?
MS: Yes, you can. We got almost all horns – we weren’t able to get the bari sax player which is really too bad since he’s awesome – but we have the trombone and trumpet. And there’ll be appearances by the old band too, doing gang vocals and stuff like that.
See and hear the Liptonians (old and new cast) this Sunday night at the West End Cultural Centre.
>> Thursday, February 10, 2011
Firstly, Edmonton’s finest indie-pop-rockers Hot Panda are keeping up their relentless touring schedule in support of their sophomore offering, How Come I’m Dead. Their current trek includes a stop at the Lo Pub on March 6th.
Twenty year-old Australian singer-songwriter Kim Churchill drops by the Pyramid on March 4th; he’s also playing an in-store set at the Folk Festival store earlier in the day, at 2:30.
March 22nd at the Park Theatre features a live performance by Juno-nominated jazz vocalist Emilie-Claire Barlow.
Upstart local songstress Emma Cloney is dropping her debut LP, Something to Say, on March 8th.
Pretty sure I mentioned this, but it’s not on the right, so perhaps it’s an unforgiveable oversight: Winnipeg soul/rock duo Imaginary Cities – who blew this blogger away when I saw them open for the RAA last year – are releasing their debut, Temporary Resident, tomorrow at the Lo Pub. The album officially hits store on February 22nd.
And lastly, Painting over Silence…ADVANCED TO ROUND 2 in CBC Radio 3’s Searchlight competition for “Canada’s Best Music Website”?!?! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for this site!
If you’re still up for some voting action, please help Painting over Silence advance to the round of 30 by casting your ballot here.
>> Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Toronto songsmith Rob Moir makes stirring, honest, and uber-melodic folk music, a remarkable stylistic shift for a musician who, for over five years, fronted erstwhile indie-punk band Dead Letter Dept.
Armed with just a guitar, his trademark wit, and the songs off his debut EP, This Is The Life, the burgeoning folk rocker is currently touring the United States and Canada in support of this release. And what's a 40-date solo jaunt without a stop in Winnipeg for a gig this Saturday at the Lo Pub.
I caught up with Moir recently and threw 11 Questions his way. Some topics discussed: why In Bruges is one film that he can watch over and over again; how he selects the books he reads; and the oddest thing a fan has ever yelled during a show.
Here's what he had to say:
1. Where are you right now?
I'm drinking some micro beer in San Francisco, California.
Definitely one of the most beautiful and coolest cities on earth.
Let’s talk music…
2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?
The Replacements 'Tim'
Jawbreaker 'Dear You'
Green Day '1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours/Dookie'
Billy Bragg 'Back to Basics'
The Beatles 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?
The Swarm 'Old Blue Eyes Is Dead'' 7"
4. Who is one producer, alive or dead, you’d just love to work with?
5. What’s the oddest thing a fan has yelled during one of your shows?
"Your dad was my music teacher."
6. What is your favourite music video?
The Ramones 'I Wanna Be Sedated'
7. Where do you shop for music?
Who's Emma and Fullblast (Toronto)
And some hodgepodge...
8. What’s one film you can watch over and over again?
'In Bruges.' That movie gets to me and makes me laugh harder then
anything I've seen in a long time. Europe has my heart and this film
reminds me how much I love that crazy land.
9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Selected letters of Allen Ginsberg. Looking forward to some Atwood
and Richler books my friends recommended for me during my tour across
Canada. I like to read stuff inspired or based off where I am
10. What tv show(s) do you follow?
I love Curb Your Enthusiasm, Peep Show & almost anything on the BBC.
11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?
I like the ability to turn flies invisible.
>> Saturday, February 5, 2011
First up, HUGE news out of local band Boats’s camp: the zany-pop makers have signed to the very happening Kill Rock Stars record label (home to such indie luminaries as Deerhoof, Marnie Stern, and Xiu Xiu). Look for Cannonballs, Cannonballs to be released via KRS on March 1st. Big congrats to them! Oh, and they'll be performing at the Lo Pub on March 11th.
Terrific triple bill at the Park Theatre on March 23rd: Aidan Knight, We Are The City, and The Liptonians.
The United Steel Workers of Montreal have booked a coast-to-coast tour in support of their latest offering, Three on a Tree; they’ll be at Times Change(d) on February 15th.
Hamilton’s Lee Harvey Osmond drop by the Park Theatre in a few days time, on February 10th.
Wu-Tang Clan founding member GZA (aka The Genius) is at the Pyramid on March 15th.
Resident musical-genre-defiers Flying Fox & The Hunter Gatherers are launching their newest disc, Hans My Blood, at the West End Cultural Centre on April 16th.
And finally, Painting over Silence has been longlisted for CBC Radio 3’s Searchlight competition for the “Canada's Best Music Website”!?! My blog is up against heavyweights like Exclaim, Coke Machine Glow, and, er, The New Pornographers website, so advancing may take some effort. If you’re up for helping Painting over Silence move onto round 2, please vote once per day here.
Much thanks and love to whoever nominated my site. Or is it whomever?
>> Wednesday, February 2, 2011
For Twilight Hotel, you can take the band out of Winnipeg, but you can’t quite take Winnipeg out of the band.
A few years back, Twilight Hotel, the folk-roots musical partnership of Brandy Zdan and Dave Quanbury, up and relocated almost a full 19 degrees south latitude from here to Austin, Texas, making them, quite possibly, the first Austin-via-Winnipeg band in existence.
“We had toured down to Austin a few times and the town just kind of caught our eye and sparked interest,” explains Brandy Zdan over the phone. “Maybe it’s the weather, the food, the culture, but there’s lots of creative stuff happening. They call it the music capital of the world – I don’t know if that’s a true thing – but it’s definitely a place that nurtures the creative soul.”
Now officially calling Austin home, Zdan and Quanbury ventured to Los Angeles in late 2009 to record a follow-up to their WCMA award-winning and Juno award-nominated debut, Highway Prayer. Joining them in studio was engineer John Whynot (Lucinda Williams, Blue Rodeo) and drummer Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits, Mavis Staples).
The studio in-time was remarkably quick, with the entire album recorded in about three days.
“We always take a lot of care in the arrangements, so that when we go into the studio we are ready. We pick our dream musicians, and we record a record,” Zdan says, before adding, “There’s definitely a magic that can happen when we’re recording live off the floor. Some of these tracks are literally the first take with the band, in that room. All you need to do is make sure you get an awesome, awesome engineer to capture that.”
The result: When The Wolves Go Blind, a record teeming with unadorned production, dusty rhythms, and those oh-so-enviable vocal harmonies, the latter made possible thanks to the one-two vocal complement of Zdan’s earthy pipes and Quanbury’s modest delivery.
Lyrically, When The Wolves Go Blind represents a decided shift in storytelling. Gone are the third-person narratives found throughout Highway Prayer; this time around, Twilight Hotel spin their introspective, thoughtful tales in first-person, an effective narrative shift that brings a further level of closeness to their already inviting stories.
“It (the narrative shift) wasn’t necessarily a conscious effort. It just kind of happened. When we moved to Austin and, even before that, we weren’t road dogging it as much and then when you take that time to reflect, that’s when you start thinking ‘what did we just do over the last few years? I think there’s some stuff inside that we can pull out and write about.’”
It’s these alluring stories that beat at the heart of the record, musings that wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for, well, the unique influence of Peg City (the feeling of returning to Winnipeg after some time on the road helped shape album standouts “Frozen Town” and “Mahogany Veneer.”).
Now that When The Wolves Go Blind has entered the world (#1 on the Earshot National Roots Chart for the second week running), Zdan and Quanbury are out and about promoting the record in full touring force, a three-month Canadian and European tour which sees the pair (joined by drummer Pat Phillips for the Canadian leg) roll through town in a few days from now.
Expect other special guests to materialize on stage, as well. Just don’t expect the band to stick around too long – they’re due in Saskatoon the next night.
“It’ll be interesting to just pass through the hometown and spend 24 hours there because we really haven’t done that before. We’ve always kind of lingered for a few days,” Zdan confesses.
“But it’s always nice to play for people who’ve seen you so many times and they can see how you’ve grown and how the songs have grown.”
Catch Twilight Hotel at the West End Cultural Centre this Friday.
>> Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Editor’s note: from this post forward, I’ll be combining new concert announcements and local band news into one all-mighty, essential, don't-miss post.
Update: presale password for Pixies' second show is keys.
First up, bad news, Pixies ticket scalpers. After their April 27th show sold out with Katy-Perry-ticket-like alacrity, the iconic band has added a second Winnipeg date: April 26th at the Centennial Concert Hall. Presalers are up for grabs starting Thursday @ 10 a.m. while general public sales kick off Friday @ 10 a.m.
Newmarket, Ontario’s greatest indie music exports, Tokyo Police Club continue their relentless touring schedule, returning to Winnipeg on April 13th for a gig at the Pyramid. Said The Whale and Dinosaur bones round out the bill.
Luke Boyd, aka Classified, is at the Garrick on April 8th. Show is 18+.
A blogger is trying to review EVERY band playing SXSW this year (2000+) in an effort to help lucky SXSW attendees plot their music itinerary. Some kind and deserving and interesting words for Winnipeg’s own Imaginary Cities (..."one of my favorite new finds so far"), The Lytics ("..a tag team effort of impressive rapping skills."), and The Liptonians (…"at times sounding like if Coldplay decided to become an underground prog rock band").
Juno noms ahoy! Winnipeg was well represented today during the 2010 Juno Award Nominations announcement. Some nominees: Del Barber, Chic Gamine, and, umm, Neil Young, if we can still count Young as one of us. See full list at CBC Manitoba.
Resident songstress Lindsey White has announced a smattering of new live dates including March 12th @ McNally Robinson.
Calgary-based recording artist Jay Crocker is out supporting his debut solo record, Co-Stars, and will be at the Lo Pub on March 24th.
Cape Breton singer-songwriter Carmen Townsend was handpicked by Heart to open for them during their Canadian tour, which includes a date at the MTS Centre on February 17th. Wait. Heart still exist?
Correction: Christine Fellows’s new album is called Femme De Chez Nous not Femme De Chez (Thanks to Michael for the heads up).
And last but not least, local indie-poppers Royal Canoe are offering up a free download of a new song “Today We’re Belivers” on their website. It’s a good one.