Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Arkells – The Next Great Canadian Export?!?

Posted by xneverwherex on April 18, 2017

Blossoms
Arkells
Wilderado
Bottom of the Hill
April 13, 2017

On a cold night in San Francisco, the inside of Bottom of the Hill looked anything but. People were clearly already preparing for Coachella with short shorts and high boots. The lines were long to get in and it was a packed club. Little did I know, the crowd was not there for headliner Blossoms but showed up in droves for Canadians Arkells, who clearly stole the show.

Blossoms, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, brought back the baggy Madchester scene. Unabashed ’60s pop songs mixed in with psychedelic undertones and in some cases a bit of Abba-esque ’70s sounds. The band played most of the songs off their debut self-titled album. While the band has a lot of hype and is being touted as the next Arctic Monkeys, unfortunately, lead singer Tom Ogden appeared wanting to be anywhere but there. Songs sounded lackluster and there was no energy. But, he did at times sound reminiscent of Alex Turner and even had his same hip gyrations down.

Blossoms

Blossoms

Myles Kellock brought some recognizable dance riffs on his keyboards to the catchy “Honey Sweet“. It sounded like they came out of a New Order song. Towards the end of the set, Tom performed an acoustic number that just didn’t work. As the band stood onstage not doing a thing, it just felt awkward. Thankfully, it was only one song and then they would play the guitar driven “Cut Me And I’ll Bleed“. A simple hook that is destined to get stuck in your head. It stood out.

Blossoms ended the set with the utmost of pop songs, single, “Charlemagne“. The song which is pure catchy, sunshine pop, woke up the crowd which gladly danced along. And with that, the band was gone as quickly as they seemed to come to the stage.

The openers stole the show from the onset. It was going to be a daunting task for anyone to come after Arkells. The boys from Hamilton, ONT. clearly should have been the headliners. The band, who has been playing for 10 years, had just played here a few months before and they did not disappoint.

From the moment Max Kerman, lead singer and guitarist, hit the stage you knew what you were in for. He had a frenetic energy that was contagious. As he said the moment he walked onto the stage, he wanted everyone singing and dancing. He jumped into the crowd during the first song, “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete)“, and immediately got the crowd jumping and dancing and as promised he even called out the lyrics for the crowd to sing along.

Arkells - Max Kerman

Arkells – Max Kerman

The band played a really great set with plenty of songs off their new album, Morning Report. Each song told a story and the band just pulled you in. While it would be near impossible to put a label on them, aside from calling them alternative rock, their sound was never static. On “Savannah” the band had some really tight melodies and even had Anthony Carone, keyboards, break out a trumpet. “And Then Some” proved to be a perfect love song with gorgeous guitar riffs coming from the multiple guitars. It was really impressive to hear how all these guitars could melt into the background. Their newest song which was just released a couple of weeks ago, “Knocking At The Door“, was powerful. With a gritty bluesy sound, and Max singing out to “rise up”, it felt like something changed in the crowd. There was a pulse and an energy to the crowd.

While everyone always mentions the UK when it comes to the next newest, hottest band, we really can’t forget about our friends up North. Arkells clearly stole the show tonight. Perhaps touring with Canada’s greatest band The Tragically Hip taught them a thing or two.

LA band by way of Texas and Oklahoma, Wilderado, was the first opener. You could hear their music while waiting outside and they brought some energetic rock-n-roll to the club. The band had a catchy Americana/twangy sound filled with lots of guitars. They were able to uniquely blend how the South meets California sunshine/psychedelia. The band is definitely one to watch.

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Caribou Closes Out Noise Pop Fest

Posted by xneverwherex on March 4, 2015

Caribou
Koreless
The Fillmore
March 2, 2015

Canada’s Dan Snaith, also known as Caribou, came to SF for a couple of days to close out the Noise Pop Festival at The Fillmore. The show had long been sold-out and unlike most shows, tickets were hard to come by. After finally making the decision that I had to see him, I just threw down the money and hoped for the best.

Caribou

Caribou

The band came out clad in white to a stage of red and blue lights that would eventually be a lot of strobe lights (I somehow did not see the warnings!). The band started out slow with the lo-fi house drum beats on “Our Love” and immediately the crowd was shuffling around. With a slow progression, the music gets faster with lovely synthy dance beats and the crowd followed along as Dan & Company would take us on a full-on dance party always in command. Just as you feel it getting close to the climax and youre ready for more, the band turns it down a notch. And it worked.

Caribou, which is labeled under ‘idm’ (intelligent dance music), isnt your typical indie dance electronica band. Dan manages to encapsulate so many styles in their songs – from experimental to jungle to house and of course electronic – and as a whole the songs work. There are so many layers on his songs, with some of them having a shoegaze influence but also still has the continuous throbbing beats. The new album, Our Love seems to have branched out even more and just might be even more accessible.

On tour, Dan brings along a guitarist, bassist and another drummer and the 4-some are tight on stage. Packed neatly into a small space in the center of the stage, each band member contributes as an individual and a whole to the band. It makes for an intimate closeness as they all play and work off of each other. Its hard to imagine that this is all done as just one when its so perfect live with all the different instruments. If you love drums, they have plenty, with 2 drums going on for most of the night – a throbbing beat just keeping the show moving along.

It definitely helps that Caribou has a fan-base that is pretty solid. Before the show started, I heard someone talking about all the different shows he had seen mentioning of course Caribou. How I was so tempted to say that I saw him perform under Manitoba years prior. People that love his music, really love his music. Throw down some awesome synths to solid drum beats that have a tribal sound along with one hell of a light show, and you get one hell of an awesome show. Plus, the pulse of the crowd which was in constant movement (and they say people don’t dance) and bam! I mean, how can one not move to his music.

It was one hell of an impressive set. The band played for nearly 70 minutes without stopping between songs. Throw in ‘Sun‘ as an encore and for nearly 10 minutes you just get lost in the music. Dan was having such an awesome time, playing in purple socks, and every once in awhile staring out at the crowd with a huge smile. It was just pure happiness. The other drummer, played the set with just one shoe on. The whole band just seemed so comfortable and it was clear that it wasnt just the crowd who was so into it. Everyone was so lost in the music and with hits like ‘Odessa‘ (one of his most catchiest songs) and my own favorite ‘Leave House‘ (I never want to stop dancing when this is played – it just goes on and on and on). Plus, The Fillmore (not usually known for having electronic bands), was the place to see this. Sure, normally it’d be at Mezzanine or a more club environment, but the acoustics here were spot on. It could not have been a better space for the band.

Koreless

Koreless

Scottish electronic producer Lewis Roberts, a.k.a. Koreless, started the evening armed with just a laptop. It might have been the exact opposite in electronic music when compared to Caribou but to say it was not brilliant would be a lie. Koreless manages to add a lot of layers and textures to the music that it seems you can actually feel it. Between the ethereal shoegaze sounds to the space-y ambient noise, you feel like youre in your own world. In my own version of Interstellar, this is the music that would be with me. It transports you to another space, its moody and delicious. With a continuous haze of pot smoke above, it added to the ambience.

I walked out of the show and my back was drenched in sweat. The dress I was wearing was now clinging to me and soaked. Sure, it was disgusting after the fact, but during the show just the feel of the crowd dancing and super into it and connected was an awesome feeling. Surely worth every cent I paid for the show and probably even more.

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They All Want To Love The Cause

Posted by xneverwherex on September 12, 2011

Broken Social Scene
9/8/11
Williamsburg Waterfront

The Waterfront turned out to be a hot, humid night for us. While the view is nothing short of spectactular, the air quality not so much. Besides, a young kid fainted not just once, but twice during the early part of the BSS set. Thats how you know youll be in for a great night.

BSS came out to a smaller crowd, but a group of fans that just loved them. They opened the set with Cause = Time and what a way to start. The crowd was pretty into them and even the fans who were there for TV on the Radio seemed to get into it. People were bopping their heads and singing their songs.

It was a bit sad when a song or two later Kevin Drew said how much he had loved playing for the past 10 years, and 5 shows in NYC in the past year was even more than his hometown. Needless to say, it was kind of obvious that they were ready for a bit of a break. At this point it sounds like an indefinite hiatus with the words ‘Dont Forget Us.’ So that was a bit sad. I cant really imagine someone filling that void or anyone ever being quite like them.

They did play close to an hour set which was decent, but obviously people wanted more. It was great to have some brass on quite a few songs and the band members dancing around and having a great time. The sax section was amazing.

They included a cover from Modest Mouse which was quite good. Lisa Lobsinger still sounded great, but its hard to not miss the likes of Emily Haines or Amy Millan on ‘7/4 (Shoreline)’. They also included a song that Andrew Whiteman had written the prior day called ‘Fire Eye’d Boy’ which of course was a crowd pleaser. Too bad it really wasnt a song that had just been written in the spur of the moment.

In typical fashion, Kevin didnt quite know how to end things. Some fans were calling out songs (which I couldnt hear what they were saying), but he chided them with it being the obvious ending song. While at one point he thought he had finished the set, he was told they would have time for one ‘final’ song. They finally closed out the night with ‘Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)’. It was a song they hadnt played in awhile and still sounded as great as ever.

While the performance as a whole was far from the greatest and the band might not have seemed super into it, it was still a great show. I would hate to think that BSS might not come back here and it was their final show ever in NYC, but if it was all I can say is thanks for all the great times. There were so many good shows  great shows that I got to see with them and they will surely be missed.

Setlist:

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Godspeed plays The Church

Posted by xneverwherex on March 19, 2011

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Kurt Wagner
Church of St. Paul The Apostle
3/17/11

Words are indescribable for this concert. It might have been one of the best shows Ive ever seen. In a darkened church with several candlelights overhead and just a stream of projections that had minimal images – it was just us and a band. A band that you could barely make out – but the sound was overpowering. It echoed off the walls  – the acoustics are amazing in there!

And with that – here is what I wrote during the show. I have no clue what song was what – and if these were distinct different songs – but here were my thoughts (solely based on imagery and the music).

1 – Hope Hopelessness Despair war desert dry sad

2 – happiness flowers hope hopefulness uplifting sky crescendo

3 – cat animal nature dark moonlight peace ocean road tree wind gray cold water nowhere heavy thunder rain bird warning leave get out impending doom

4 – the anatomy of melancholy solemn tired weary forward new life future awakening rebirth alive crawling screams falling disaster

5 – strength up pushing escape running faster locomotive tracks end racing too fast taut black death fear agony ‘why dont you just fucking kill me’

6 – exodus leaving odyssey ‘weve arrived’ new trip oceanliner titanic massive lonely seas ‘not going to make it’ calm solemn ‘at peace’ hope a rescue ‘save us’ ‘so close’

7 – beauty desert longing burning eternal engulfing sucking air ‘no breath’ finality overpowering

8 – bombers overhead chills destruction emptiness gone

9 – ‘a slow wakeup’ red haunting homeless decay apocalypse ‘there but not here’ media 2.4 hrs ‘Wall Street’ ‘fall of economy’ clashes anarchy ‘fall of society’

Setlist:
hope drone
gathering storm
monheim
albanian
moya
09-15-00 outro
chart #3
world police and friendly fire
the cowboy
the sad mafioso

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CMJ 2007 Recap (in a nutshell)

Posted by xneverwherex on October 23, 2007

10/16 – 10/20 – CMJ 2007

CMJ as always seems to be a clusterphuck and it always seems that you are missing someone. It never fails; but then you catch that one band that sticks out that wasn’t even on your list, and you realize that this is why it is so worth it. CMJ is 5 days of shows throughout NYC showcasing some of the newest, hottest bands out there that you have never heard of. It also manages to get some top names that you can also catch in tiny venues.

This year CMJ was a bit of everything for me. I caught some hyped up names and some bigger names and then the names that are unheard of. I rely heavily on word of mouth (thanks Hannah) at shows to know who are so worth seeing. We all have our favorites, but my friends picks are usually so right on – that once I hear I *have* to see a show, inevitablly I see the band.

So lets waste no more time and begin. Tuesday night the festival began and knowing I had an insane week of shows I ended up foregoing who I had wanted to see. Surprisingly it was ok as most the bands I had just seen. The highlight of that night was to be Hot Iqs which I ended up catching on Wednesday. All hope was not lost.

Wednesday was Day 1 for me. I started out by catching a free show over at Club Midway Hot IQs. What a way to begin the festival. Catchy songs that are so danceable. A lead singer with a quite low voice in the realm of The National. A female drummer who is kick-ass who plays barefoot and looks like Lana of Smallville (Kristin Kreuk). I was so glad that I got to catch this band as they’re from Denver and only had a few shows. After the set the band invited me to Brooklyn with them and I had wished I could go. They were also handing out free CDs, so I plan to give them a listen or two. As you can’t go wrong with catchy pop melodies.

After that it was off to The Delancey. I was hoping to be catching Five O’Clock Heroes, but at some point it got switched up (is all I’m guessing). Instead I got to hear BM Linx not once, but somehow twice. They sound quite OK on myspace, but live I just wasnt so into them. They definitely had the New York vibe going on looks wise with a guitarist who looks like he just stepped out of a new wave video. Cant comment much more on them, as they were easily forgettable, which in my book is never a good thing. After that was The Wildbirds from Wisconsin. The lead singer has a sexy, sultry voice and the band has the classic rock/bluesy sound. I basically would describe them as sexed up rock, which was all I could think of during their set. 4 guys with longish hair that have the typical rocker look, with tight jeans that are oh so hipster. But their music is far from that which is indeed a nice change. Finally was the band that had a lot of hype that I had been waiting for. Cut Off Your Hands is from New Zealand, which apparently is the ‘it’ place to be from right now as far as bands go. They had about 8 showcases (if not more) that they were playing. Nick Johnson, lead singer of the band, has for one the best haircut in the bands playing these days. But regardless of his indie hipster look with tighter than tight jeans, has this amazing voice – reminiscent of Morrissey’s from The Smiths days. He’s beyond spastic when he sings and dances, and goes from standing to falling to the floor to hanging off beams in clubs and climbing on things. He’s got so much energy that their 25 minute set is the most intense set that could be seen at CMJ. Its fast, bouncy, post-punk rock at its finest. If you liked The Smiths, I dont think there is any way you can not like them. Likeable guys in the band who were so excited to be there, proved that this is what CMJ is about. And if thats not enough, any lead singer who can go through 3 bottles of water – pouring them down his back and over his head – should give you an indication of just how much heart he puts into each set. Besides, anyone who shoves a cameraperson away gets extra points with me.

After that it was off to The Canal Room. I caught Air Traffic from the UK which put on a good, tight set. Its a little too Coldplay-lite for me and too much like all those other bands from the UK. This is not a bad thing as I love Coldplay, Travis, etc. but I find that I wont remember them from anyone else, especially at a festival. I would add that if you can see them on their own, it’d be worth it. After Air Traffic was the band I was super excited to see. I caught Division Day from LA. The last time I had seen them was at CMJ a year ago with Birdmonster. I’m a huge fan of Division Day so this time I knew nearly all of the songs. Great catchy hooks, sing-along-choruses, and keyboards that will get you on the dance floor. Each song is seemingly different from the prior one, yet each has its own hook that will get you dancing. Rohner has an amazing voice and their new album, Bear Trap Island, is as catchy and as great as their prior one. So definitely go out and buy it.

And finally the continuation….

Thursday was a bit of craziness with friends coming to town, and trying to coordinate everything. I started the day off by catching Division Day at the former Mo Pitkins (sadly it closed that Saturday for good). Division Day now has a reputation for playing places that somehow end up closing soon after (it was sin-e for them last year). Again, another great show.

After some wandering around the Lower East Side I ended up catching some stuff at Pianos. There was a DJ set with San Serac that was quite entertaining. After that set, I think I caught some of someone else but cant remember. I met up with Hannah and it was off to the Fader party and get some food! The Fader party was good but but it was only open for those who rsvped. They had DJs between sets and free drinks. Always a good thing. I caught Cut Off Your Hands again and it was as good and as out of control. So loved this band! After they finished up – I rushed over to Club Midway to catch The Warlocks. Really no need for rushing as they were behind schedules. The lights went down (near pitch black), with the only glow from the neon lit floor. The guitars kicked in, the noise filled the room, swirling, lush sounds. It was hard to stay awake (surprising with how loud it was), but I was dead tired, and in the near pitch black with just guitars it was pretty peaceful. I should say that The Warlocks were on my bands to see list. Being a fan of the Dandy Warhols, nearly everyone who likes them, are huge fans of The Warlocks as well. And they did not disappoint!

After all this I headed uptown to Town Hall to see Stars. This was not a part of CMJ. Stars, from Montreal, put on an incredible set. Amy Millan’s vocals were right on and she sounded amazing. Torq sounded great also and had such a bubbly personality. They played a set consisting of songs from all the different albums. People were in front of their seats dancing and it made for a great time to get away from CMJ for just a bit. Their set was nearly 2 hours or so and it made for a great time. One of the highlights was when Amy messed up the lyrics to the song, and they went into a big production over having to restart the song. It was even better the second time.

After their set, I rushed back to the LES, and caught the end of Wintersleep‘s set. It was so loud is all I can really remember, and the vocals were near impossible to hear. Fat Baby was having a Canadian night with all bands from Canada. I was there to check out the Toronto band Uncut who I keep on managing to miss. It was a good thing I got there, because Im not sure Derek would have been happy with me anymore 🙂 Uncut put on a really great set. Their new-ish stuff is sounding really great. Ian’s vocals were right on. Their new guitarist Chris fits right into the band. If you like your music with heavy guitars, very loud, great songs this is the band to check out. “Kiss Me” sounds like something that Jesus & Mary Chain would have put out sometime ago.  And that rounds out my Thursday night.  

Its hard to imagine that those were only 2 days. Next day it was onto work (barely functionable), and then after work it was time to rush back down to the LES and catch more bands. I made it down to the Fader Party to catch yet another band from New Zealand. The Checks who were so full of energy and had some very catchy blues rock. They were definitely a band not to miss. And it was quite dancy as well, which made for an even better time. After that, it was over to Fat Baby for probably the biggest let-down of the festival. I honestly think though something happened when I listened to the bands, because I really thought they were supposed to be good. First was The Alarmists from Minneapolis. Now they were fine – but a little boring. Didnt do much on stage, but the music held its own. Catchy indie pop, but nothing out of the ordinary. The next set went even more down hill which was Spouse from Northampton, MA. Way boring indie pop that the band barely seemed all that into. It seemed they were bored on stage, which definitely didnt help. Next was Minneapolis’ The Melismatics. Now I really like the way they sound online, but live I was mostly appalled with the scene. I felt like they were trying so hard to be just another indie hipster band. Which is unfortunate, because they did seem to have some talent. Their music wasnt bad, but just seemed like any other band you could see in Williamsburg (and no – this isnt a slam on Williamsburg – but when youre seeing a ton of bands, youre hoping for something at least memorable). On their own outside of a festival, I think theyd be damn good.

About this time I got really worried about who I was seeing. My only consolation was – I had RSVP’ed to Crash Mansion and was on the guest list and could get in for free. Now their show would not disappoint. First – Crash Mansion is an amazing venue. It is huge and it is _very_ swanky. Its basically a place to go to be seen. Hardwood floors, stone walls, minimal lighting, tables scattered throughout the place and a DJ spinning in the corner of the main room. Plenty of bars with great drink specials, and acoustics that are amazing.

The first band we caught was Zambri. Mostly women in the band playing rocked out dance type music. Its quite likeable music until the woman singing goes off-key and is hitting notes she should have never tried to hit. Its ear pitching screams would make me never want to hear them again. Thats fine – I had no clue who they were and werent there to see them. Next up was House & Parish that I was looking forward to. And they were nice guys to look at, with a really good guitarist, and some good crowd interplay, but overall a wee bit boring. Just didnt seem so into the show. I was worried tonight was a big bust. UNTIL…  WILD LIGHT. 4 guys make up the band and the great thing about them is the 3 guys (minus the drummer) rotate instruments throughout the set. They all take turns singing lead vocals, but mostly there is a lot of harmonies that shows off their truly impressive vocals. Very catchy indie pop songs that even without knowing the words – will have you singing along in no time. They were easily one of the most likeable bands that were playing. It was great when at the end of the set – they said that they had some very good news. They were just asked by the Arcade Fire to come on tour with them in Europe. I recommend checking out Red House which shows off their amazing harmonies.

My night had been saved by these great guys from New Hampshire. And after that I had the great fortune of finally catching Foreign Islands. I have been a big fan of this Brooklyn band for quite awhile, it was just more amazing that I had never seen them live. Foreign Islands tore it up – had the crowd dancing within seconds and a band that was as wild on stage. They played a pretty revved up 25 minute set that ended with the singer throwing his mic straight at a lamp that went shattering everywhere. Needless to say, whether the show was meant to end at that moment or not, the show was over for them. Damn intense!

And finally, we reach Saturday. Im just tired remembering all this and typing it up – I dont know how I did it all. Saturday started out with some day shows. I caught a bit of The Pierces who were way behind schedule at Club Midway. I dont understand how you can be behind schedule after only one band. I guess nothing started on time. A pity as I was going to catch Foreign Born. Instead I ended up heading to Pianos to catch Turbo Fruits. I had heard that they were friends with The Checks and it makes sense (musically wise). They both play similar music with bluesy rock music. A great set with some catchy stuff, although I found The Checks just a tad more appealing. Im now getting strange looks from people that I work with over the music.  Next up was Foals – from the UK. They put on an amazing dancy set that just kept going and going. They really worked the crowd up – with the guys jumping into the crowd with their guitars. Lots of keyboards and lots of fun. I really cant wait to catch a full set from them, as 25 minutes was not nearly long enough. After that was The Maccabees who I had been longing to see after I saw them several months back. They seemed a bit tired, and it was only fitting with all the shows they had been playing. Their music was good, but not as good as they were previously. Catchy, British-post punk rock in the same genre as The Rakes. Still love the band – will just have to wait till they can play a full set.

After that it was back to The Fader party. Im not even sure who I was trying to see there, but I know I had missed them with the problems that Foals were having. I did end up seeing Yeasayer (and another band that I dont even know who it was). Yeasayer played a good set but I really wasnt so into the music and was getting tired.

From there I had to head back uptown to check out the new Terminal 5. The name doesnt lie – and it has the coldness of a terminal feel to it. The club isnt yet finished and the walls are just stark white and smell of paint. Sightlines are atrocious, so it helps to go up to one of the other floors to have a perfect view. Midnight Juggernauts opened the set and unfortunately with the sound problems they didnt sound that great. Some of the songs sounded really good, while others were horribly muddled. 70’s prog rock sounds, spaced out sounds, with amazing vocals (when properly heard) and you get a really great band. Electronic rock is here to stay. Cant wait to see them at a smaller venue (which Im hoping will one day soon happen). Unfortunately this great band is from Australia, so who knows when that will happen.

They opened for Justice – who claim that Midnight Juggernauts is one of the best albums. Justice put on a DJ set for over an hour that was pure dance party crazy. I was upstairs and watching the crowd flying back and forth – everyone moving with each other I was pretty surprised. I expected it to be wild, but I wasnt expecting what I saw. It was an amazing view, and it was a great set. A real pity that they didnt come out for a 2nd encore after the crowd was chanting “We are your friends, Youll never be alone again, Well c’mon”. Its hard to imagine with a whole club singing along, that there wasnt another encore. The band did come out upstairs to acknowledge the crowd. Overall it was a great set – but unlike their fellow countrymen Daft Punk – they just didnt blow me away in the same light.

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