In Reflection...My Top Songs Of 2K10

>> Saturday, 25 December 2010

My top songs of 2K10 are pasted below, in playlist order.

Los Campesinos! – In Medias Res
Small Sins – Why Don’t You Believe Me?
Arcade Fire – Empty Room
PS I Love You – Meet Me At The Muster Station
Basia Bulat – The Shore
Broken Bells – Your Head Is On Fire
ceo – Illuminata
Beach House – Norway
The Besnard Lakes – Albatross
The National – Runaway
Kanye West – Monster
Gorillaz – On Melancholy Hill
LCD Soundsystem – All I Want
Spoon – Who Makes Your Money
The New Pornographers – What Turns Up In The Dark
Vampire Weekend – Cousins
Broken Social Scene – Meet Me In The Basement

Your turn: what are some of your favourite songs from the past 365?


In Reflection...My Top Ten Shows Of 2010

>> Wednesday, 22 December 2010

1. The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
The Burton Cummings Theatre
Winnipeg, MB
September 21, 2010

2. NXNE - Saturday Night Edition
Caught Live: Iggy Pop, Les Savy Fav (above photo)
Various Venues
Toronto, ON
June 18, 2010

3. Toronto Island Festival
Caught Live: Beach House (above), Band of Horses, Broken Social Scene (above), Pavement
Toronto Island
Toronto, ON 
June 18, 2010

4. The National
First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
August 6, 2010

5. Arcade Fire w/ Calexico
The MTS Centre
Winnipeg, MB
September 23, 2010

6. Vampire Weekend w/ The Blow
Edmonton Events Centre
Edmonton, AB
March 14, 2010

7. The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ The Wooden Sky, Great Bloomers
The West End Cultural Centre
Winnipeg, MB 
February 10, 2010

8. Bahamas
The Park Theatre
Winnipeg, MB 
November 30, 2010

9. Greg MacPherson w/ The Playing Cards
The West End Cultural Centre
Winnipeg, MB
Saturday, April 11th

10. NXNE – Friday Night Edition
Caught Live: Avi Buffalo, Timber Timbre, Wavves (above), Japandroids, Turbogeist
Various Venues
Toronto, ON
June 17, 2010


Now that I've shared, it's your turn. What were some of your favourite shows of 2010?


In Reflection...The Top Ten Records Of 2010, In My Opinion

>> Tuesday, 21 December 2010

1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is ineffably great: rhythmically and melodically compelling, endlessly replayable, and features many, many jaw-dropping guest performances (see: Jay-Z on "So Appalled" and Nicki Minaj on "Monster"). 

Here, enormous talent matches a massive ego. And I kinda hate Kanye for that until I remember that, for Mr. West, ego and talent are not and can never be mutually exclusive. 

2. Beach House – Teen Dream

Hypnotic and alluring dream-pop at its best; worst album cover of the year (highlight to see it). 

3. Broken Bells – Broken Bells

With the exception of a few obvious tracks, I’ve never really felt that sonically gratifying connection with James Mercer’s work alongside the Shins. But sometimes, all it takes is the right musical partner. Here Mercer hooks up with white-hot producer Danger Mouse and firmly makes me a fan. After 50 or so listens, I’m still narcotically addicted to “Your Head is on Fire.”

4. Spoon – Transference

Possibly the most aurally challenging Spoon release today. Challenging, you know, in a good way. 

5. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

Purportedly the last LCD Soundsystem record. Which is criminal.

6. The National – High Violet

A moodier, darker, more brooding offering from these Brooklyn-via-Ohio quintet that doesn’t quite match the songwriting brilliance housed throughout Boxer. But it sure comes close.  

7. Besnard Lakes – Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

I still contend this should’ve won the Polaris. 

8. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

I still contend this should’ve been runner-up for the Polaris. 

9. PS I Love You – Meet Me At Muster Station

Proof positive that an economical drums ‘n’ guitar setup can still pack a visceral wallop. Plus, there are lots of dazzling guitar fireworks (aka solos). And you don’t really hear those in indie-rock. 

10. Small Sins – Pot Calls Kettle Black

A top regret of 2010: missing these guys at the Albert last month. Thomas D’Arcy is one of Canada's most gifted songwriters.


In Reflection...The Top Ten Records Of 2010, As Voted Upon By Painting Over Silence Readers

>> Monday, 20 December 2010

First of all, much thanks to everyone who cobbled together lists and sent them in. As was the case with previous years', your picks were a veritable pleasure to read and sort through, and I discovered many new and exciting sounds that I somehow missed or overlooked (like The Black Keys).

Second, the ten records listed below were chosen by readers only and does not include my person picks. These should come tomorrow, baring an untimely bout of procrastination.

Third, the winning, and therefore most favoured, album received two first place votes, three second place, and a heckuva lot of 3-10 votes. As much as the second place finisher tried to keep pace, it could not overcome the torrents of love PoS readers showered on the first place finisher.

Four, for the first time since I began conducting this poll, there were no ties. It certainly helps that I received a record number of lists this year, so thanks again.

Fifth, while I won't be publishing individual lists, please feel free to share your picks in the comments.

Without further delay, I present the top ten album of voted by Painting Over Silence Readers (in descending order):

10. Tokyo Police Club – Champ

9. Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans – The Falcon Lake Incident

8. Caribou – Swim

7. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record

6. Vampire Weekend – Contra
5. The Black Keys – Brothers

4. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

3. Spoon – Transference

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

1. The National – High Violet 


In The Future...The Sadies @ The WECC; Dodos @ The WECC; Hey Rosetta! @ The Pyramid

>> Saturday, 18 December 2010

Three mightily tantalizing show announcements to pass along:

Polaris-short-list makers The Sadies (above) return to town for a gig at the West End Cultural Centre on February 11th. Ticket sale commence this Monday.

Charming indie-folk trio Dodos play the WECC on March 25th.

And, last, St.John’s finest exclamation-worthy act Hey Rosetta! have booked a February 27th date at the Pyramid.


In The Future...The Weakerthans To Perform All Albums This Saturday

>> Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Editor's note: I'm now told this is old news. Whoops. 

If you’re sitting on the fence about attending Saturday night’s Weakerthans show at the Burton Cummings Theatre, this should shove you onto to the “going” side: the resident troubadours are now playing all four albums in reverse order starting with Reunion Tour.

No word yet on what they’re doing for an encore...


In The Future...Connie Kaldor @ The WECC; Electric Six @ The Pyramid; And More!

>> Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Show announcements have certainly dried up this month, but a few have begun trickling in:

Juno-award winning singer Connie Kaldor returns to Winnipeg on January 26th for a live show at the West End Cultural Centre.

Vancouver’s Geoff Berner will be out and about this spring, touring in support of his fifth release, Victory Party (street date: March 8th, 2011). Catch the songsmith live at the WECC on April 30th w/ Jason Webley.

Guitar virtuoso Henry Kaiser drops by there on January 29th. Kaiser, if you’re unfamiliar, has worked with Herbie Hancock, Michael Stipe, Richard Thompson, Nels Cline, and many other luminaries.

French composer/musician Yann Tiersen (Amelie, Goodbye Lenin) has booked a cross Canada tour in support of this North American debut album, Dust Lane. This includes a performance at the WECC on February 27th.

Cyclist is part of the January 29th bill at the Pyramid also featuring Magnum K.I. and DJ Co-op.

Electric Six rock the joint on March 16th w/ Birthday Boys.

And finally, a reminder: only four days until your top ten records of 2K10 lists are due! I've just whittled my personal list down from 40 to 20. Home stretch!

Thanks to those who’ve already emailed their lists.


In Reflection...The Painting Over Silence Blog Readers' Poll - 2K10 Edition

>> Tuesday, 7 December 2010

It’s that time again, Dear Readers.

Time for yours truly to start compiling and listening to the intimidating number of 2010 releases I've amassed over the past 365 or so (over 100+ new albums), then whittling down the albums into a tidy, easy-on-the-eyes, and (hopefully) conversation-starting "Top Ten Records of 2K10 List". And then pen a few comments about why I simply lived for each pick.

Like last year, I invite you to take part in all the zany fun that comes with list-making. Here’s how it’ll work:

Email me, by December 18th @ noon CST, a list of your favourite records released between January 1, 2010 and now. I will compile all the results and, on December 21st, publish the "Top 10 Albums of the Year…as Voted by Painting Over Silence Blog Readers" end-all results.

And if the sheer bliss that comes with list-making isn’t enough incentive, I’ve got further encouragement: those who submit a top-ten list to me will be entered to win $20 worth of gift certificates to our much-loved indie-music shop Music Trader.

A few things:

1. I realize not everyone will have ten favourite records released in 2010. That’s okay. The minimum number is one and the maximum is, of course, ten. So, if Spoon’s Transference is the only album you really liked this year, you may still email it in to me.

2. Order matters…to an extent. The top album on your list gets three points; the second best two; 3-10 are awarded one point. If you only liked one album this year, it gets three points.

3. Feel free to write something about that album, but please aim for brevity - a sentence or two. For example, say you worshipped Beach House’s Teen Dream. Your comment could be a pithy “Hypnotic…like watching a lava lamp or Homer Simpson on a treadmill” or longer “I played this album in my car, at the gym, at home…pretty much everywhere. It’s THAT good”. Write-ups are optional. If you just want to submit a list, that’s coolio with me.

4. If you do write a comment about an album AND it makes the final top 10 cut, I’ll be posting all comments about that record. However, out of respect to privacy, I’ll just write your first name. If you don’t want that, then PLMK and I’ll write Anonymous (or Anon for short).

5. Please do not send attachments. Simply paste your list and the optional comments in the body of an email.

6. EPs may be included.

7. No re-released/re-mastered/re-packaged/re-imagined albums.

8. My email is on the right side, under “About Me”.

Happy list constructin’!

Oh, and for last year's results click here.


In The Flesh...Bahamas @ The Park Theatre

>> Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Park Theatre
Winnipeg, MB
November 30, 2010


Outside: snowy, windy, and cold.

Inside: inviting, intimate, and warm.

But just a little too warm for Afie Jurvanen. And he calls himself Bahamas.

“So, uhh, I’m wearing long johns right now,” confessed the songsmith, halfway through the main set. “I’m not sure it’s a good idea.”

The discomforting heat source? A combination of an SRO crowd at the Park Theatre and the many new jaunty and upbeat songs he debuted throughout Tuesday night’s terrific double-encore-inducing performance.

From first note to the final acoustic strum, Jurvanen and his one-person touring band (Jason Tait, the man behind the Weakerthans’ kit) entertained a rapt, enthusiastic crowd with his unaffected songs, rumbling baritone, and off-beat charm.

What’s truly appealing about Jurvanen is his quirky stage presence and idiosyncratic personality. Many times he half-danced while playing guitar, and these playful moves brought fun and spontaneity to the intimate show. Many times he sparked big laughs during his candid song preambles (one story he told bordered on uncomfortable; ever the perfectionist, Jurvanen instantly admitted plans to edit the tale in the future).

And it’s this level of open honesty – whether preamble or instant self-evaluation – that lent a magical charm to the whole evening. A thunderous set of handclaps encouraged him out for an encore (after he shed the long johns somewhere backstage).

Then ecstatic clapping brought him out again.

And we all know it’s the double encore that’s truly special.


In The Future...Loudon Wainwright III @ The WECC, Les Jupes @ Plug In Gallery...

>> Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Photo: Paula Court

So…Martha was here in the summer. And…her brother, Rufus, is, well, currently here.

Finally...their Dad, Loudon, becomes the third Wainwright to play Winnipeg in less than 365 – he’ll materialize at the West End Cultural Centre on January 28th.

Two members from horror-metal act Gwar will appear at CD Plus (1630 Ness) this Saturday from 3 to 4. Over/under on cascading cd racks is at a generous five.

Erstwhile PoS interviewee / rising local hip hop star Magnum K.I. performs at the Pyramid on January 23rd.

Speaking of rising Peg City bands, Les Jupes are releasing their new record, Modern Myths, on January 11th and are celebrating the album release at the tres chic Plug In Gallery on January 15th.

Moses Mayes get their funk on at the Pyramid on January 22nd.

Electro Quarterstaff, Rebel Yell, and L’Viv comprise a triple-bill at the Albert on December 23rd.


In Giveaways...Two Copies of Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans' CD The Falcon Lake Incident

>> Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas has come a little early for Painting over Silence readers.

Courtesy of our supportive, Santa-like pals at MapleMusic Recordings, I have two cd copies of Jim Bryson's collaboration with The Weakerthans (you've heard of them, right?) for giveaway.

Entering is as per usual: fire me off an email (on the right) by Tuesday, December 7th @ 14:00 with the subject line "The Falcon Lake Incident CD Giveaway", your name in the body, and, just for fun and to kick start you thinking about your personal year-end top ten list (full-details about this coming in a few days), tell me a few of your favourite albums of 2010. I'll draw the winners out of a toque and contact the lucky pair shortly after.


In The Know...Interview with Bahamas

>> Sunday, 28 November 2010

In not even two years, Bahamas (aka Afie Jurvanen) has gone from guitarist-for-hire to opener to headliner.

Along the way he’s cobbled together an enviable cv – touring guitarist/pianist for Feist; opener for Amy Milan and Wilco; and, most importantly, Juno nominee and Polaris long lister for his stellar debut release, Pink Strat.

He’s currently in the middle of on his first-ever headlining tour of Canada (with drummer Jason Tait of Weakerthans fame), a coast-to-coast sojourn which includes a stop at the Park Theatre on Tuesday night.

Suggestion: attend. Next time he rolls through, it’ll be at a much larger venue.

I caught up with Jurvanen on Friday and asked him about the current headlining tour experience; how Weakerthans’ drummer Jason Tait came to be a part of Bahamas; and when fans can expect the sophomore record to enter the world.

Painting over Silence: You’re currently on your first ever headlining tour of Canada. What’s the experience been like so far?

Afie Jurvanen: It’s been really fantastic so far. We’ve done about a week-and-a-half worth of shows – we started in St. John’s and have been working our way across - and there have been lots of people. The shows have been full and people have been singing along, and they know the record. They’re participating in the show, and it’s really been a nice surprise.

For the past year-and-a-half we’ve been opening for other bands, so it’s kind of new territory for us to play a longer set and explore a wider breath of material, which I’ve really been enjoying.

Painting over Silence: After the success of Pink Strat – including a Juno nomination for Roots Album of the Year and a spot on the Polaris long list – is Bahamas now a full-time gig or will you continue to work/tour/collaborate with Feist, Jason Collett, et al.?

AJ: It’s definitely a full-time thing. When I was playing with those artists you mentioned that was very much a full-time thing as well. I’m not a very good multi-tasker – I basically would rather dedicate myself to one thing and try and really do it the best I can and be present in those moments. It’s not just music, too. Its life in general. It’s so easy to coast through things and not really be aware of who you’re with, whether it’s a musical thing or being with a partner. It’s become increasingly more important for me to be there in the moment, and, for me, that means dedicating myself to one thing.

I really have fond memories of those times, playing music with those guys. But now it’s taken over. If I really want to get the most out of it, I have to be dedicated to it, and I really have the energy for it. I may as well take it while the energy is there.

PoS: So, the band is yourself and Jason Tait.

AF: That’s the band.

PoS: How did you originally hook up with Jason?

AF: We’ve actually been playing together for quite awhile now. We sat down next to each other at a show in Toronto, at Massey Hall. I don’t know if you know that venue.

PoS: Actually, yeah, I saw the Flight of the Conchords there.

AF: *laughs* Cool. I sat down – got a ticket from somewhere – and he sat down next to me. And we started chatting. We had run into each other before because the music community in Toronto is pretty small. He already had my record – I sorta silkscreened a limited run before my actual cd came out and given it out to friends. Somehow he got a hold of one and knew all the songs, and before I had a chance to bring it up, he sort of volunteered himself and his drum set and I thought, man, this could be really cool. And so we played a gig together the next week and we’ve been playing together ever since. The Weakerthans schedule has kinda worked out perfectly, but I should knock on wood at some point.

It’s worked out perfectly up to this point, but we’ll see what happens next year. I’d love to keep playing with him.

PoS: I read that you’ve been writing and recording a new record. How is the new material coming along?

AF: We’re constantly doing that – it’s not like we have a huge recording budget to go in for weeks on end and make an album all in one chunk. We’ve been really, really busy touring and playing and when we have some time we chip away at it. I’d say it’s about 80% there. I’d really love to put another record out sometime spring next year. 

I’m pretty excited about it. It’s really formed by the live show - that’s not to say it’s a live record - it’s definitely a studio record. There’s an energy there that we were able to bring with us through all this touring we’ve been doing, and it’s informed the recording in a really nice way..

PoS: Any working album titles? Perhaps after another guitar?

AF: *laughs* Well, maybe. I think I’ll keep those ideas to myself for now. If I tell you something now, I’ll have to stick to it.

PoS: Has your approach to writing and recording changed this second time around?

AF: Not really. I sort of go through bursts. I go through moments when I feel really inspired. But then I get caught up doing domestic things – laundry, bills, and such – and you almost forget about that side of your brain and the desire that is with you.

The first record I wrote pretty much while I was on tour – in dressing rooms and playing in other people’s bands. This one’s really no different in that regard except that now I’m on tour playing my own music. It’s going to be more of an insular process, I think, obviously just a little more compressed time-wise because I’ve been away touring for some time.

PoS: You’re playing Winnipeg on Tuesday night. Are there going to be some new songs in the set list?

AF: Absolutely. We get to play a longer set now and obviously the first record is only a half-an-hour long. The nature of time just means we get to play new songs, which is really exciting for the band. The response has been really nice, and a lot of people seem to already know them.

PoS: Last question. 2011 is just on the horizon. What are your plans for the New Year?

AF: I’m just really enjoying playing right now and feel lucky to tour as much as we have in Canada, just on this record. It would really be a thrill for me to play down in the states a little more, and I’m hoping to do that. We have some plans to go down there in the spring time.

And, hopefully, get this record out and come back to Winnipeg again and again and again.


In The Future...Martin Sexton @ The Burt; Bruce Cockburn @ The Burt; Jicah @ The Pyramid

>> Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A few more shows of note to pass along:

Resident pop outfit Jicah are at the Pyramid on December 19th; local singer-songwriter Tom Keenan is also on the bill.

Folk demi-god Martin Sexton is at the Burton Cummings Theatre on the 1st of February.

And lastly, tireless singer-songwriter / activist Bruce Cockburn returns to town on April 5th for a date at the Burton Cummings Theatre.


In The Future...The Jon Cohen Experimental @ The Cavern; Twilight Hotel @ The WECC; and more...

>> Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Austin-via-Winnipeg roots pair Twilight Hotel (Brandy Zdan & Dave Quanbury) have a new record out in the New Year, When The Wolves Go Blind (street date: January 18th); catch them perform tracks off it, February 4th at the West End Cultural Centre.

The Perms are at the Cavern in a few days (November 26th) w/ Alarm at the Biltmore and the Hoots.

The Jon Cohen Experimental (led by the titular frontman himself, formerly of the Dears, The Social Register) is there on January 14th.

Christian Hansen & The Autistics are at the Park Theatre on November 26th then drop by the Cavern the night after.

Melissa McClelland opens for Sarah MacLachlan on March 8th at the MTS Centre.


In The Know...Interview with Ra Ra Riot

>> Thursday, 18 November 2010

While calling it a grower would be a gross overstatement (and a bad pun), Ra Ra Riot’s new record, The Orchard, certainly requires more time and patience from listeners.

Compared to its album predecessor, that is.

Whereas debut release The Rhumb Line was rife with immediate and familiar hooks, The Orchard houses less direct hooks in favour of more complex arrangements and layered melodies. Overall, the record is more accomplished and more rewarding that anything they’ve done before - just try not to get sucked in by the mellifluous, spirit-elevating strings on “Boy” and the thumping motorik on “Massachuettes”.

Yesterday evening I spoke with violinist Rebecca Zeller on the phone and asked her about the band’s recent appearance on Last Call with Carson Daly, the decision to record the album on a peach orchard, and how their first trek through Western Canada is going.

Catch Zeller and the rest of Ra Ra Riot – vocalist Wes Miles, guitarist Milo Bonacci, drummer Gabriel Duquette, cellist Alexandra Lawn, and bassist Mathieu Santos – this Saturday at the Garrick with Wintersleep.

Painting over Silence: You’ve logged some serious kilometers all over North America the last while, including a stop in L.A. for Last Call with Carson Daly. What was that experience like?

Rebecca Zeller: Well, actually, it was sort of non-traditional because they came to our L.A. show, and they just filmed it, so it wasn’t like we went on set and into the studio. They just came without Carson.

PoS: Oh. So you didn’t actually get to meet him?

Rebecca Zeller: Nope! *laughs* I know.  It’s weird.

PoS:  I read that the new record, The Orchard, was written in a peach Orchard located in upstate New York. What made the band decide to seclude themselves and pen the bulk of the record in such a place?

RZ: It sort of was the best option. We needed a place to write the album. We all live in New York City right now, but rehearsal and practice spaces there are expensive, they’re small, and you don’t really get any windows or anything. We didn’t really think that was, you know, an inspiring place to write our next record, so we started looking in upstate in New York. Milo, our guitarist, had friends who owned the orchard and were actively trying to sell it. It was a big coincidence and we really lucked out and were able to stay there and housesit it from them while they tried to sell it.

We were just looking for more of an inspiring place than what we were able to afford in New York.

PoS: And this experience made you christen the new album after the orchard?

RZ: It surprisingly came much later in the game that we titled it The Orchard. We written it, recorded it, mixed it, and put it in order. Analyzing the themes throughout, it sort of came to light that everything was really influenced by our time on the orchard and our overall experience. It made sense to title it after that.

And then after that came the picture – the album artwork is a picture of the house where we wrote the album.

PoS: Was the recording and mixing also done there?

RZ: No, it was also done in upstate New York but a bit further east: sorta between Saratoga Springs and Albany. It was done in Black Dog studio. We would’ve love to record at the orchard, but they had sold it.

PoS: Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie mixed the majority of the record. How did this relationship come about?

RZ: About two years ago this spring we toured extensively with Death Cab for several months in the early spring and then a bit more in the summer. Through this experience we became friends with all of them and Chris had expressed interest in being involved in our new record. We had decided to produce it ourselves, but when it came time to choose a mixer, it sort of made sense to go with Chris. We have a lot of respect for what he’s done in the past, and we really connected with him as a person. It seemed like a great option.

PoS: And Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend mixed a track too?

RZ: He actually co-wrote that song with Wes, our singer. It was something Wes and Rostam had worked on for the Discovery record, but I don’t they ever really developed the idea. Wes thought it would be a good song for us, so we thought we should give it to Rostam to mix and see what he could do with it. And we wound up really loving it. We thought it would add a different colour to the album.

PoS: Shifting gears to the tour…you’re playing Winnipeg, my hometown, with Wintersleep this Saturday night. I’m curious: is this your first time through Winnipeg and Western Canada for that matter?

RZ: Yup. We had previously been to Vancouver and Victoria, but already on this tour we’ve been up in Whistler and then yesterday in Nelson. Today we did the drive from Nelson to Calgary, which was about 12 hours.

PoS: That's a long journey!

RZ: *laughs* Yeahh….It’s been really long hours driving, but it’s been really beautiful, which is nice. It’s also nice to see different parts of Canada. It’s a beautiful area.

PoS: Where I live, Winnipeg, because of our population size and geographic proximity to other cities can be, well, unfavourable to bands. What motivates Ra Ra Riot to tour all over and not just hit the major metropolises?

RZ: In general, or on this tour specifically?

PoS: In general.

RZ: Sometimes you get better shows there.

PoS: So then how was the show in Nelson? (Population: 10, 000 or so)

RZ: It was *really* good. Unfortunately, we had low expectations and even when we started playing, no one came to the front of the stage area. But, within five minutes, it was rocking and actually really, really awesome. A lot of smaller cities have music fans that aren’t really as spoiled as people who live in major cities and they don’t get to see a lot of bands.

So people who appreciate music and bands are really enthusiastic because they don’t get it as frequently.


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Small Sins

>> Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Whether through word-of-mouth, show reviews, or enthusiastic comments on this blog, Small Sins' reputation for engaging and memorable live shows is spreading. And may go viral. 

I’ll admit, it's all deeply intriguing.

Tomorrow night, Winnipegers have the chance to see this buzzed-about band in the flesh. The Toronto-based pop collective -- comprised of Thomas D’Arcy (vocals, guitars, many other instruments), Brent Follett (drums), Kevin Hilliard (keyboards), Todor Kobakov (strings, piano), and Steve Krecklo (guitars) -- materialize at the Albert, touring in support of their fantastic, brainstickingly melodic record, Pot Calls Kettle Black.

I recently caught up with band founder / principal songwriter Thomas D’Arcy for 11 questions. Here’s what the man had to say. 

1. Where are you right now?

In my studio in Toronto, feeling quite hungover.

Let’s talk music…

2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco was a big one for me in my adult years. Zeppelin as a kid.

3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?

The Monks, Bad Habits

4. Who is one producer, alive or dead, you’d just love to work with?

Already worked with him.. John McEntire.

5. What’s the oddest thing a fan has yelled during one of your shows?


6. What is your favourite music video?

I guess OK GO! is starting to steal that title. Take your pick.

And some hodgepodge…

7. What tv shows are you currently following?

East Bound and Down, Boardwalk Empire.

8. What book(s) are you currently reading?

You are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett

9. Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?


10. What’s your current ring tone?


11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?

Invisible for sure.


In The Flesh...Brian Wilson @ Pantages; Sarah Harmer @ The Garrick; The Details @ The Lo Pub

>> Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Nary a week goes by when I don’t read “breezy Brian Wilson harmonies” or “channel a warm, feel good Brian Wilson vibe” in an album review. Heck, I may have even written something similar before. But, these comparisons are apropos to the man’s indelible impact on pop music, and his place in the rock ‘n’ roll canon is undeniable. See and hear the icon live and in the flesh at the Pantages Playhouse Theatre on June 22nd. Tickets range from $65.50 - $95.50, which is sorta reasonable, relative to recent exorbitantly priced top level tickets for U2, Young, and Dylan.

Also, the lovely and enviably talented Sarah Harmer returns to town on January 22nd for a date at the Garrick Theatre.  Presale tomorrow. Public sale Saturday. Tix $33.50.

And finally, local denizens The Details rock the Lo Pub on November 27th. Their new EP


In The Know...Interview With Jason Collett

>> Monday, 15 November 2010

Last time Jason Collett played Winnipeg, he took the stage with Zeus and Bahamas; together, the six musicians tackled songs from one another’s catalogue. Dubbed the "Bonfire Ball", the evening was a loose, playful, and spirited affair.

This time the Toronto-based songsmith leaves those five guys at home, travelling across Canada without a backing band. As part of this "Undressed Tour", Collett stops by the Park Theatre on Wednesday night, armed with just a guitar, some heartfelt, compelling stories and a brand new record, Pony Tricks, a collection of previously released favourites stripped down to their bare musical parts.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with Collett over the phone (from his home in Toronto), and asked him  how Pony Tricks came into being, how preparing for a solo tour differs from a full-band tour, and what his plans are for the rapidly approaching New Year.

Painting over Silence: First off, I want to ask you about your new record, Pony Tricks. It consists of nine previously released songs completely stripped-down plus two unreleased tracks. What made you revisit and strip this past material down to the skeletal parts and release the results as a proper full-length album?

Jason Collett: The idea came about because over the years people have asked at solo shows if I have any recordings reflective of a solo show. You know, stripped down. This being my most extensive solo tour to date, it made sense; it takes very little effort to make a record like this because of the nature of it, so I made it as a companion piece to the tour. I don’t see it as a proper release because it really isn’t – it’s more of a tour exclusive.

Having said that, I got into doing it – it proved to me just how random recording actually is: different time, different place, and different results. I think good songs should be fluid and open to interpretation, much like solo shows are. They allow people a different insight into the songs and change the context in which they are performed. It can give a whole other dimension to a song you’re familiar with.

PoS: So the entire tour is a one-man show?

JC: Yes.

PoS: Because last time I saw you perform, you were with Zeus and Bahamas.

JC: Right, the Bonfire Ball! So this is the polar opposite of that.

PoS: What was it about these nine previous recordings that made you want to rework them?

JC: These are the ones that lend themselves to being reinterpreted; I could’ve done a lot more, though, and may actually go on to do a Pony Tricks 2. There’s room to continue doing this, once in a while. Each song sort of has its own beck and call to be reworked, and it all kind of came out slower and dirge-y.

Accidents happen, as they often do in studio. I intended to go in and knock this out in a couple days on my own at the Zeus studio and those guys were finishing rehearsal every day when I arrived. They typically lingered. They typically had ideas. They typically joined in. So there’s a smattering of other instruments on there, as well, but it all sort of tumbled out in an organic way. It worked.

PoS: The album also houses two previously unreleased tracks, “My Daddy Was a Rock ‘n’ Roller” and “Pulling the Sun Down.” When were these two songs originally conceived, and what made them a good fit for Pony Tricks?

JC: I wrote “My Daddy Was a Rock ‘n’ Roller” about a year ago, and “Pulling The Sun Down” I wrote over the summer, after doing a fair bit of reading on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I don’t know why I originally wanted to write a song about that since it’s not an easy subject to delve into it, but for one reason or another, I was compelled. I’m happy with the results.

In fact, I actually woke up this morning and got an email from a woman who came out to a show. She has Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder from a violent assault and came up to me after a show and chatted a bit about it, and sent me a thank you letter. Even though this song is about a specific soldier, she really related to a lot of the commentary in regards to what it feels like to go through that. I have no idea what’s it like, and I can’t imagine what it feels like, but from the accounts that I read, it is quite a huge obstacle for anyone to have to deal with in their life. What she was saying added a whole other dimension for me that allowed me further insight into it - how one of the hardest things for her, she said, was to let go and let others have control of her life.

Beyond all that, it makes the album a little more relevant, having a couple of new tunes on there.

PoS: What’s the meaning behind the title, Pony Tricks?

JC: It’s really a gut level thing, much like the title of the latest EP (To Wit To Woo) that came out with Rat a Tat Tat. I just like it. *laughs* It just came to me while mixing the record.

PoS: You’re going to be in Winnipeg as a solo performer this time. How does preparing for a solo tour compare to preparing for one backed by a full band?

JC: It doesn’t differ so much for me, other than rehearsals with the band – that gets your act together. It’s really difficult for me to practice. I’m inherently lazy about it. Part of the problem for me is whenever I sit down and practice tunes - simply so I remember the lyrics and chord changes - I get distracted very quickly and tend to want to start writing.  Ultimately that’s what I love to do, and it feels like I’m always robbing time from potential new songs by practicing old ones. *laughs*

I don’t prepare too much is what I’m saying. Perhaps I should be a little more professional and be a little better prepared.  At the same time, I think it can get in the way of just being in the moment, being too prepared. Same goes for writing. Same goes for recording. There’s this intangible mystery to it all and sometimes it’s better not to resolve it.

PoS: I guess that, in turn, makes each live performance a one-off event.

JC: Yeah, more or less. I’ve been coming up with more stories and stuff to make the show more engaging, some different insights into the songs. It’s ultimately about trying to communicate when you’re performing; it serves that purpose, and it makes shows that much more intimate.

PoS: And finally, 2011 is just around the corner. What can fans except from Jason Collett in the New Year?

JC: Well, Zeus and I head off to Australia on Boxing Day. We’re doing festival season in Australia until mid-January. Then I’m home for a little bit, and toward the end of February I take off for some solo touring in Europe through to the spring. Beyond that, I don’t know – but I know that come next summer I’ll begin the process of making another record.


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Wool On Wolves

>> Thursday, 11 November 2010

Upstart folk-rock band Wool on Wolves is part of a terrific three-band bill this Saturday night at the Park Theatre (also featuring The Liptonians and Henry and the Nightcrawlers.)

Hailing from the Albertan capital, Wool on Wolves has been deservedly dubbed by the Edmonton Journal as “Edmonton’s newest folk-rock sensation” a reputation indebted to their spirited live performances and their thoughtful, nuanced, and flat-out inviting full-length debut record, Grey Matter (which came into being two days ago).

The fivesome recently took part in my 11 questions, and noted that their answers were, “Written over some beers before our show in Leduc last night. We had a joint discussion as a band. It was very democratic. Ha.”

Here’s what the collective had to say:

1. Where are you right now?

Burnsy O'Flannagan's Public House in Leduc, Alberta

Let’s talk music…

2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?

All of us are mo-town and soul fans and so it only seems proper that Call Me by Al Green be mentioned. That album is amazing and get played daily in our house. It actually led to the phrase "if you haven't listened to side 2 of Al Green, then you haven't been drunk with Gord". Too true. A second album we can all stand by is pretty much anything by Wilco, but in particular our favourite is Sky Blue Sky. That record gets consistently better on every spin. It helps that Nels Cline is an alright guitar player.

3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?

Without a doubt Fate by Dr. Dog. That cover caused about a 3 month hunt for an appropriate tapestry for our band room. We found a pretty good one, but nothing as good as that cover.  The record is also probably #3 in the list of 'life changers'.

4. Who is one producer, alive or dead, you’d just love to work with?

It's tough to not go with a clique answer here, but George Martin would be top choice.

5. What’s the oddest thing a fan has yelled during one of your shows?

"Can I get up and play harmonica with you guys? Wait... is this song in G?"

6. What is your favourite music video?

Nothing gets much better than the video for Just by Radiohead. Although one Chad VanGaalen's video for Molten Light gives nightmares and it an amazing video. Creepy kids fairytales gone wrong.

And some hodgepodge…

7. What’s one film you can watch over and over again?

Pretty much anything by Wes Anderson, although Fantastic Mr. Fox gets top cussing score for replayability. That's a word right?

8. What book(s) are you currently reading?

The Great American Novel... aka the Batman Forever Movie Storybook. It's riveting.

9. Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?

Jon Stewart is le bomb. He's smart, funny, and samart!

10. PC or Mac?

People still use PCs?

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?

This one caused some heated debate. Invisibility would be really sweet... but ultimately you'd probably just end up sneaking into concerts, banks, and bedrooms. Things which are easily attained by the fame of being able to fly! And you wouldn't have to do all that sneaking around. It doesn't matter if your invisible man... people can still hear your farts.


In The Future...The JP Hoe Xmas Show @ The Park Theatre; Interpol NOT Opening For U2

>> Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Photo: JP Hoe et al. performing at the 2008 holiday show. 

First up, the annual JP Hoe Hoe Hoe Holiday Show goes down on December 17th and 18th (same show both nights, I believe, not accounting for spontaneity) at the Park Theatre. Xmas songs'll be sung; Fred Penner'll read; and zany holiday-themed costumes'll be worn.

I've attended the event twice. Best costume to date? A band member dressed as Kevin McCallister.

Second, bad news U2-attending Interpol fans: they're not opening. Good news U2-attending fans of the Fray: they are.

Third, resident indie-rockers The Details have a new EP called The Original Mark out on November 16th, a preview of sorts for their forthcoming LP, which'll hopefully see the light of day in 2K11. Hear and see the band live at the Lo Pub on November 27th.

And finally, Little Miss Higgins drops by the Park Theatre on December 10th w/ Righteous Ike.


In The Know...11 Questions w/ The Jezabels

>> Wednesday, 3 November 2010

It’s been a crazy-busy year for Sydney, Australian indie-rock band The Jezabels.

Over the past 52 weeks, the Aussie foursome (vocalist Hayley Mary; keyboardist Heather Shannon, guitarist Sam Lockwood, and drummer Nik Kaloper) have toured constantly, even sharing the stage with Polaris-short-list-makers Tegan & Sara; they’ve dropped the final two entries of a planned EP trilogy; and, most importantly, the Jezabels really evolved their sound, letting their ideas bounce around and grow during the recording sessions behind the Dark Storm EP (released last month).

At times sinister and moody, the Jezabels keep the brooding, dramatic sound on Dark Storm in check with surprisingly catchy pop hooks that are impossible to ignore. See and hear for yourself - the Aussie quartet perform live this Saturday at the Albert w/ Two Hours Traffic.

I recently caught up with guitarist Sam Lockwood for 11 questions, who revealed two albums that completely changed his life, shared the most inappropriate thing a fan has yelled during a show (said attendee happened to be dressed as Harry Potter too), and, like many musicians featured on 11 Qs before, professed his love for, you guessed it, The Wire.

1. Where are you right now?

2210 7th Avenue Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. It's the Thriftlodge!

Let’s talk music…

2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?

I'll say two... The first was Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I heard that at a friends house; his Dad had it on and I immediately felt shock and awe. I think it was the kind of music that I had been looking for a long time. The second would be Gillian Welch's Soul Journey. I feel that Gillian Welch is by far the greatest song writer going round at the moment.

3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?

Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake it's Morning - it's all embroidered and beautiful. It's such a cool way to represent the general sound of the album. Folky and well sewn?

4. Who is one producer, alive or dead, you’d just love to work with?

I think it would be Jim O'Rourke - though maybe not for our band? For the Jezabels, I'm really not too sure. Lachlan Mitchell is still our ideal man/producer!

5. What’s the oddest thing a fan has yelled during one of your shows?

Just last night, a man dressed as Harry Potter (it was Halloween) yelled out to Hayley our singer 'Your voice makes me Horny!!!'

6. What is your favourite music video?

Every time I see Johnny Cash's Hurt film clip I cry so much. But it is a nice sense of crying - that is such a beautiful cover of a once not-so-beautiful (but still awesome) song. The film clip and its images only compound the emotion of that song.

7. Where do you shop for music?

I don't know if I can name shops, but So Music on King Street is great. Also Title has some good stuff as well, though it is a bit snooty! (Both in Sydney.)

And some hodgepodge…

8. What’s one film you can watch over and over again?

THIS sounds snooty but Michael Haneke's Hidden is definitely the best movie ever made. It is hard to watch, but I find it so helpful to understand the disaster that is the current world we live in.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (above). It had heaps of hype, and I'd read his previous one. It's living up to the hype I think, but it's actually quite hard going. In a good way...

10. What tv show(s) do you follow?

I love the Wire, and that's about it really. That show is incredible, and it's hard to watch anything else after watching that.

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?

I think fly - I think invisibility would lead to some bad behaviour; I wouldn't trust myself with that. Flying would just be really fun.


In Photos...Owen Pallett @ The Gas Station Theatre

>> Monday, 1 November 2010

Owen Pallett
The Gas Station Theatre
October 29, 2010
Winnipeg, MB


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