In The Future; Owen Pallett @ Garrick; Holy Frakk @ Pyramid; Justin Nozuka @ Garrick

>> Tuesday 27 July 2010

First up, Owen Pallett graduates! To a larger Winnipeg venue, that is.

This time through town, the wiry-framed Polaris winner brings his violin, loop pedal, and sharp, biting wit to the 750-seat Garrick for a performance on October 28th (up from the 400-seat WECC). And with great popularity comes great higher ticket prices: $29 including fees. Presale gets going Thursday.

Juno nominated singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka’s stock is also on the rise; he’ll be playing at the Garrick (his biggest Wpg sound room yet) on September 21st.

And last, incandescent electronic act Holy Fuck (aka Holy F**k, Holy F, Holy Fornication Under Consent of the King) are touring heavily in support of their recently minted third LP, Latin, a trek which sees the Toronto-stationed crew appear at the Pyramid on October 5th.


In The Future...The Gaslight Anthem @ The Burt; Rich Aucoin @ The Pyramid; And Others...

>> Friday 23 July 2010

First up, Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem are touring the hell out of their newest offering, American Slang, a massive global-spanning trek which, natch, includes a Winnipeg date at the Burton Cummings Theatre on September 6th. The Mezingers and Fake Problems open.

Punk vets Pennywise return to Peg City on September 12th for a gig at the Garrick. Riverboat Gamblers are the evening’s sonic appetizers.

Arbutus Records (Montreal) label mates Grimes and Pop Winds drop by Freud’s Bathouse and Diner on August 23rd.

Anthemic pop wunderkind Rich Aucoin has been added to the Hot Hot Heat/Hey Rosetta! bill going down at the Pyramid on October 2nd.

And finally, Jordan Catalano is bringing his so-called band Frozen Embryos to the Burton Cummings Theatre on September 18th. And I have word that Tino *will* be drumming.


In The Know...11 Questions w/ The Wilderness of Manitoba

>> Thursday 22 July 2010

There are many reasons why you should love burgeoning alt-folk act The Wilderness of Manitoba. 

Here are five:

  1. They bravely use the name of our mighty fine province in their moniker (last time THAT happened, a lawsuit was launched)
  2. They compose seemingly effortless alt-folk soundscapes that are familiar, vulnerable, and soul-stirringly beautiful.
  3. Said music is fueled by gorgeous melodies and lush vocal harmonies
  4. They answered my 11 questions in video-form, conveniently uploaded the vid to YouTube, and sent me the link. Points for creativity and originality. Bonus points for making my posting life simple (no wrestling with temperamental html/ formatting required).
  5. See numbers 1 through 4

If you’re interested in hearing this highly inventive folk troupe perform the many wonderful songs off their debut, When You Left the Fire, at the West End Cultural Centre on July 31 (in ACU Hall), I’ve got a pair of tickets to offer up courtesy of the generous folks at the WECC. Entering is, as always, simple. Fire off an email (on the side) by Thursday, July 29th @ noon with the subject line “The Wilderness of Manitoba Ticket Giveaway” and your name in the email’s body. I’ll draw the winner randomly and contact the lucky person shortly thereafter.



In Photos...Forest City Lovers w/ Leif Vollebekk @ The Lo Pub

>> Wednesday 21 July 2010

Forest City Lovers w/ Leif Vollebekk
The Lo Pub
Winnipeg, MB
July 20, 2010


In The Future...Jason Collett @ The Park Theatre; Cuff The Duke @ The Lo Pub; And More!

>> Monday 19 July 2010

Bunch of shows to pass along, so let’s just dive right in…

First up, Jason Collett rocks the party at the Park Theatre on November 17th.

Wave Hands Like Clouds play Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner on July 22nd and 23rd.

Winnipeg’s own RAIZEN d'être make their live debut on August 24th at the Park Theatre w/ Johnny Broadway, and Zoppa (Micah Erenberg).

Firebonfire release their latest EP on July 29th at the Academy w/ special guests Alanadale.

Smalltown DJs v. The Rub goes down at the Pyramid on August 26th.

Cuff The Duke visit the Lo Pub for a show on September 29th

July 26th at the Academy brings fledgling local act The Off Colour w/ Waterfront.

Steven Severin of Siouxsie & the Banshees performs the live film score of Jean Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet at the West End Cultural Centre on July 29th.

For a good time, try Vitaminsforyou at the Lo Pub on July 30th.

Fred Eaglesmith pops by the Park Theatre on August 11th w/ The Ginn Sisters.

And lastly, Hayes Carll charms the Park Theatre on September 17th


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Forest City Lovers

>> Saturday 17 July 2010

(Photo credit: Ryan Marr)

Easily the most exciting show happening this week in Winnipeg takes place this Tuesday at the Lo Pub, a true double-bill featuring about-to-breakout Toronto folk-pop outfit Forest City Lovers (and, as previously featured, blossoming singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk).

Forest City Lovers are no stranger to the stage, having toured strongly behind all records (three to date) and building a solid live band reputation. Their latest ultra-melodic offering, Carriage, bubbles over with effervescent pop gems further buoyed by singer/band founder Kat Burns’ vibrant vocals and the group’s tight, dance-inducing rhythm section.

I had the chance to ask frontwoman Burns 11 interest-and-character revealing questions. Here’s what Kat had to say.

1. Where are you right now?
Currently in our friend Becky and Steven's living room in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Let’s talk music…

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

I think when I first discovered Kid A, that sort of brought music to a new light for me. It was the first album that was groundbreaking to me. I still love that album. Also On the Beach by Neil Young was also a major album for me in high school. These of course came about before I even played music, so I feel they were an important part in inspiring me to make music later on.

3. Of the records you own, which has the best cover art?
Oh gosh, I would have to go home and look through all my records. I have a lot of favourites, so I am not sure...

4. Where do you shop for music?
Soundscapes in Toronto, and usually the small independents in other cities that we visit. Got to support the small guys.

5. Who is the most underrated Canadian band at the moment?
Guelph Ontario's Richard Laviolette - he is a fantastic songwriter and every band he fronts is an extension of that.

6. What is your favourite music video?

Fleet Foxes - "White Winter Hymnal"
As an art student, it got me. I think that is hands down on of the most interesting video that has come out lately.

And some hodgepodge…

7. What is your current ringtone?
I'm not really into ringtones so mine is either just silent with vibrate or a regular ring.  I don't like hearing people's phone ring, ha.

8. PC or Mac?
Mac attack!

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

Chasing Amy and Ninja Turtles

10. What TV shows do you follow?
Nothing at the moment but I'm a huge fan of Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks on DVD

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?
FLY! I would want people to see me flying.


In Review...Kathryn Calder, "Are You My Mother?"

>> Thursday 15 July 2010

Kathryn Calder
Are You My Mother?

There’s no doubt about it: Ex-Immaculate-Machinre-turned-New-Pornographer Kathryn Calder possesses a lovely, expressive voice. But, you know, so do a lot of aspiring singer-songwriters out there (see: reality television).

What separates Calder from the pack is a thoroughly ingrained proficiency with the songwriting process.  Are You My Mother?, a incredibly personal album penned over the two-year span Calder tended to her terminally sick mom, is a promising, highly varied affair that hints at a viable solo career. It houses clamorous pop jingles “Castor and Pollocks”, simple (but certainly not simplistic) heartstring-tuggers “So Easily”, and contagious, near-triumphant sing-a-longs “If You Only Knew” and “Follow".

So, really, there’s a big choice looming in front of Calder: go at it alone, keep the enviable day job with the New Pornographers, or, like Neko, miraculously make time for both. Must be nice to have such options.

-Mykael Sopher

Rating: 3.5/4.0
Choice Cuts: “Castor and Pollux”, “So Easily”
R.I.Y.D. The New Pornographers, Sarah Harmer, Beth Orton
Label: File Under Music


In The Know...Chattin' It Up With Alex Rose of Minus The Bear

>> Wednesday 14 July 2010

Seattle indie-rock quintet Minus the Bear recently toured through Winnipeg in support of their latest offering, OMNI, playing tunes from their four-LP-deep discography in front of a well-attended and responsive crowd at the Albert on June 30th.

I got the chance to conduct an email interview with keyboardist Alex Rose and seized the opportunity; and while it took some time to connect, his responses easily made the wait worthwhile.

Some topics discussed: Minus the Bear’s Jimmy Kimmel Live experience, the seemingly infinite costume changes in their video “My Time”, and the evolution of the band’s writing and recording process.

Painting over Silence: OMNI is Minus the Bear’s fourth full-length release since the band’s inception. How has MTB’s approach to writing and recording evolved over the course of its career?

Alex Rose: The writing process usually involves a riff Dave brings in and as the band is now everyone's full time job, everyone usually comes to the practice space to jam on ideas and work on arrangements together.

With OMNI, we set out to make a record that captured more of the band's live energy. We have always been inspired by records of the 60's and 70's, many of which were recorded with the band playing together, live in the studio. Instead of recording each element on top of the drums, we got to go into the studio for the initial tracking sessions knowing that whatever we did could (and did) end up on the record.

PoS: MTB have been dubbed indie-rock, prog, ambient, experimental, etc., but there’s always mention of the band’s pop leanings. I’m curious. How does Minus the Bear categorize their sound?

AR: We never worry too much about that. We make music that is exciting to us and with five members contributing with very eclectic tastes, it ends up being hard to categorize. With all the experimentation, we do tend to stay within the pop structure.

PoS: The official video for "My Time" is very fun, well-choreographed affair, awash with many bright, solid colours. Who originally conceived the idea for the video, and how many costumes changes took place during shooting?

AR: Mike Mohan who does a lot of video work for Dangerbird records came up with the concept last minute when we ditched our original treatment.  He had filmed interviews and rehearsal footage of us in Seattle and we were really comfortable working with him so it seemed like a natural fit. We had been throwing around the idea of working with dancers and this seemed like a good song for that. After a few days of planning it was all shot in one day and luckily we got a lot of amazing dancers to show up, some from a crew called The Beat Freaks. I definitely lost count of the costume changes!

PoS: Prior to kicking off your Canadian tour you dropped by Jimmy Kimmel Live for a performance of “My Time.” What was it like to play in front of Jimmy, a live studio audience, and countless viewers all at once?

AR: It is a surreal experience, because directly in front of you is a very small studio audience, but then there's Jimmy off to the side and cameras swooping in and out and you know it's going to be on TV. It's fun, nerve-wracking, and over before you know it!

PoS: The emergence of the blogosphere has afforded anyone with an internet connection and a keyboard to have a say about music. Do you still read press about Minus the Bear, or do you find the sheer volume of it to be paralyzing and sorta unhealthy?

AR: I read some of it, but at some point you just have to make music and not worry about what people are saying about it. The most important thing is that we make ourselves happy. Hopefully that translates into a few other people being into it also.

PoS: And finally, after the North American summer tour, what’s next for Minus the Bear?

AR: We plan to tour on the record for quite a while. We play Lollapalooza and then head to the UK and Europe for some festivals (including Reading and Leeds), some club dates on our own and a few shows with We Are Scientists. There is a festival in Mexico City coming up and we plan to visit Australia and Japan early next year. Tour! Tour! Tour!


In The Future...Hot Hot Heat and Hey Rosetta! @ the Pyramid; The Wooden Sky @ The WECC; Et Alai

>> Tuesday 13 July 2010

(Backstage @ Fallon - Photo by Hot Hot Heat)

First up, Victoria’s favourite indie-rockers Hot Hot Heat have teamed up with their Canadian geographic indie-rocking polar opposites Hey Rosetta! (St. John’s) for a show at the Pyramid on October 2nd.

Winnipeg troubadour Matt Epp performs at the Pyramid the evening before.

Rising Torontonian indie act The Wooden Sky are at the WECC on October 6th with Vancouver’s Yukon Blonde warming up the crowd.

And finally, fulfilling this post’s need for an Edmonton artist, singer-songwriter Daniel Moir charms the Park Theatre on August 1st.


In Photos...The Winnipeg Folk Festival (Sunday Evening Main Stage Edition)

>> Monday 12 July 2010

The Winnipeg Folk Festival Main Stage
Birds Hill Park
July 11, 2010

Gord Downie & The Country of Miracles

Sarah Harmer

Andrew Bird


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Leif Vollebekk

>> Thursday 8 July 2010

Canada is irrefutably wealthy in natural resources.

Sure we’ve got scads of fresh water, oil, timber, wheat, and precious, precious metals. But, most importantly, we’re loaded with gifted folk singers.

Eat your heart out Iceland.

Montreal’s Leif Vollebekk is one such talent. Since entering the world back in January, the singer-songwriter’s debut record Inland has pleased ears from coast-to-coast, piling up gushing critical acclaim to boot. And he was even featured in La Blogotheque’s gorgeously shot, highly intimate Take Away Shows series in HD (see above).

Vollebekk’s rise is understandable. Inland is, simply put, a beautiful, introspective alt-folk record, a release that’s all him (Vollebekk arranged and orchestrated the whole offering). Musically, Inland is an uncluttered affair that unabashedly emphasizes Vollebekk’s poignant voice, thoughtful lyrics, and quaint, but affecting, acoustic strums.

If you’re interested in hearing what Vollebekk is all about, I highly recommend swinging by the Lo Pub on July 20th (Forest City Lovers are also on the bill). If you can’t make it, I have the next best thing: a copy of Inland for giveaway (courtesy of Nevado Records). Entering is same ol’, same ol’: open a new tab and fire me off an email (on the right) by July 15th @ noon with the subject line “Leif Vollebekk - Inland Giveaway”, and I’ll draw the winner randomly.

I tracked Vollebekk down the other day and fired off 11 questions to the upstart troubadour. Here’s what he had to say.

1. Where are you right now?
 I just got back from a beautiful lake, but now in Montreal.

Let’s talk music…

2. What are some albums that completely changed your life?
Love Country Style - Ray Charles
Blood On the Tracks - Bob Dylan
On the Beach - Neil Young..

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

Sigur Ros' Takk... - It just melts into that opening track so well.

4. What was the most memorable show you’ve played so far?
Probably De Barra's in Clonakilty, Ireland. I was opening for Sam Amidon but he missed his connecting flight. The crowd was so warm and kind that I ended up just playing two sets and having a lovely, Guinness-infused evening.

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

Daniel Lanois. I think Time Out of Mind is the best-sounding record of the nineties.

6. What is your favourite music video?
I don't really watch videos, but I think my favourite is Radiohead's 'No Surprises'. It keeps your mind on the song. Doesn't take too much away, you know?

And some hodgepodge…

7. What is your current ringtone?
My 2004 Nokia is set on "Frog". It croaked for the last time in May and now it only vibrates.

8. What’s one film you can watch over and over again?
Toby Dammit, Fellini's adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's Never Bet The Devil Your Head.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Some biography on Cortés, some Kerouac and a little Joyce?

10. Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert?
Colbert, though Jon was the gatekeeper.

11. And finally, would you rather have the ability to fly or turn invisible?
This is the kind of thing you'd regret, I think, if it ever did happen. I think. Maybe not.


In The Future...Weakerthans' Quadrilogy of Shows; Josh Ritter @ The WECC; And More!

>> Sunday 4 July 2010

Embracing a growing and highly exciting trend in the music biz, Winnipeg folk-rock demi-gods The Weakerthans are scheduled to play four albums over four nights in December. But there’s a very cool twist: they’re changing up the venue each evening.

First up, John K. & the boys run through Fallow at the Albert on December 15th.

Next, the hometown heroes lay down Left & Leaving at the West End Cultural Centre on December 16th.

December 17th sees them perform Reconstruction Site at the Pyramid

Finally, they complete the trilogy by showcasing Reunion Tour at the Burton Cummings Theatre on December 18th.

No word yet if there’s a package deal offered.

Also, the impossibly charismatic Josh Ritter returns to Winnipeg on October 28th for a gig at the West End Cultural Centre. His sixth record, So Runs the World Away, dropped back in May.

Ghost Cousin, The Eardrums, and Enjoy Your Pumas play Le Garage Café (166 Provencher) on July 14th.

Finally, if you’re around Old Market Square Tuesday @ noon, this year’s Folk Festival launch party takes place featuring a free show courtesy of acclaimed roots act The Duhks.


In Reflection...The Best Albums of 2010 (So Far Edition)

>> Friday 2 July 2010

Whether well thought out or impromptu, I love making lists. Take yesterday afternoon, for example. Special Lady Friend and I took in the sights and sounds and oppressive heat of Osborne Village while constructing extemporaneous top 5 lists about whatever topics sprang to mind – “Top 5 shows of all time” (Seinfeld, BSG, Twin Peaks, Curb, VMars) and “Top 5 alcohol beverages” (Kitsilano maple cream beer, 12 year-old MacAllan Scotch, Grey Goose vodka, Heineken, Jameson Irish whiskey) were particularly fun challenges (no take backs allowed).  

Which brings me to this post. Once I started thinking about the best albums of 2010 so far, there was no turning back. I just had to cobble a list together. Unlike the indelible, painfully considered year-end list, the records inhabiting this half-year list are not in any particular order and made the cut because they have one glaring characteristic in common: at some point this year, they dominated my/our playlists, ipods, car stereos, etc. for a lengthy period of time.

Giving the list one last look over, it’s evident that 2010 has served up some brilliant music. And it’s only half over. 

Props to Chief PoS correspondent Nigel for his assistance. 

Greg MacPherson
Mr. Invitation

Anyone even casually keeping score of who’s who in the Winnipeg indie scene is familiar with Greg MacPherson. His reputation for killer live shows, muscular songwriting, and political-leaning narratives have pushed him to the forefront of this city’s talent, and ever since the excellent Mr. Invitation entered the world a few months back, the rest of Canada is finally catching up.

Exclaim extolled the sonic virtues of Mr. Invitation, awarding it the highly coveted exclamation point (!). And the Polaris judges caught wind of MacPherson’s raw, ferocious, and heady songs, longlisting this release for this year’s prestigious prize (Winnipeg’s lone hope). Give it a listen. You’ll hear why.

-Mykael Sopher

Broken Bells
Broken Bells

With the exception of a few songs, I’ve always found The Shins – dare I say it – boring. Sure their melodies are pretty and Mercer’s singing is strong and expressive, but, overall, their discography fail to stir things up viscerally.

Which is why experimental pop act Broken Bells shocked the hell out of me.

Broken Bells is the first of what I hope to be many collaborations between can’t-miss producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz’ Demon Days, Beck’s Modern Guilt) and the aforementioned Shins captain James Mercer. Both indie elites boost their song craftsmanship up to the next strata on this eponymous debut, paying close attention to strong, ebullient melodies and evocative, spacey tones. “Your Head is on Fire” tips its hat to the Beach Boys warm, summery melodies while “The Ghost Inside” ranks amongst the shiniest pop gems of the year (plus, you know, uber-babe Christina Hendricks appears in the vid).



They say you can't judge a book by its cover, but gaze into the swirling, hypnotic vortex of colours and floating flowers that Caribou's Dan Snaith chose for the Swim album art and you'll soon have a pretty good impression of what you'll hear upon listening: beautiful, swirling, hypnotic dance music by one of Canada's most intriguing electronic artists. There's no way else to put it - Swim is loaded with lots of damn interesting sounds, like the Tibetan singing bowls sampled on the track, "Bowls". With a good pair of headphones you can quite easily lose yourself in this set of colourful, layered compositions. 

-Nigel Moore

Beach House
Teen Dream
(Highlight to see the ghastly cover art)

Boy, you can sure accomplish a lot with a huge, robust female voice levitating above droning keyboards and slow, rhythmic guitars. Just ask Baltimore-based duo Beach House, the indie-scene’s top purveyors of spectral dream-pop. On Teen Dream, Victoria Legrand’s massive, earthy, and very deep pipes siren listeners in, aided and abetted by Alex Scally’s magical atmospherics. I’ve mentioned this a few times on PoS, but it’s worth reiterating: Teen Dream is a beautiful, beautiful record.


The National
High Violet

If, like me, you jumped on board the National bandwagon after Boxer relentlessly pummeled your ears, then you’ll (probably) agree that High Violet doesn’t quite match its near-perfect predecessor.

But it comes damn close.

Extending their streak of core-shaking opening tracks, “Terrible Love” is more of that moody, brooding indie-rock we’ve come to love from these Brooklyn-based boys. The pounding drums and propulsive guitars on “Bloodbuzz Ohio” raise the track to anthemic heights; meanwhile, on “Lemonworld” singer Matt Beringer’s wounded baritone steals the show, unintentionally highlighting the glaring lack of deep voices in indie rock today.

Why IS that?


Broken Social Scene
Forgiveness Rock Record

After stumbling on their self-titled sophomore effort, Toronto’s largest indie band has proven You Forget It in People was no fluke. The level of songwriting on Forgiveness is awe-inspiring - the countless contributing members involved in this mammoth project never let individual egos get in the way of thoughtful craftsmanship and varied sounds. De Facto leader Kevin Drew is more confident than ever behind the mike, yet still gives Lisa Lobsinger, Emily Haines, and Feist more than enough space to stretch their golden larnyxes.

Forgiveness Rock Record, then, is the end product of a group of unspeakably talented musicians coming together, having some fun, exploring new grooves ("Art House Director" and "Texaco Bitches") and laying down 14 stellar tracks.

Also Polaris nominated.


She & Him

Volume Two

She & Him's Volume Two presents a convincing argument for shifting focus from Zooey Deschanel, charming actress, to Zooey Deschanel, gifted songwriter and singer. Effectively a companion album, Volume Two picks up right where She & Him's 2008 debut,Volume One, left off. Backed up by producer and overall cool dude, M. Ward, Deschanel proves herself once more as a vocalist, her dusky voice perfectly suited to their brand of catchy, at times bittersweet, retro pop. Tracks like "Me and You" sound fresh; yet oddly familiar, as though you're remembering the tune from years ago, playing on the AM radio in your family's old station wagon.


The Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

On The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, real-life husband-and-wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas stay the course, content to tweak and refine the dark, sprawling post-apocalyptic soundscapes they’ve essentially trademarked. This dense and unique sound – now three albums in the making – is fully realized on Roaring Night thanks in part to Lasek and Goreas’ eerie vocal harmonies and the band’s psychedelic guitar and keyboard interplay. Also longlisted for the Polaris.


Now it’s your turn: which albums have impressed you so far this year?


In Photos...Minus The Bear w/ Rah Rah @ The Albert

>> Thursday 1 July 2010

Minus The Bear w/ Rah Rah
The Albert
Winnipeg, MB
June 30, 2010

Rah Rah

Minus The Bear


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