In Giveaways...Enter To Win A Pair Of Tickets To Library Voices @ The WECC

>> Sunday, 26 June 2011

Courtesy of our ol' pals at the West End Cultural Centre, I've got a pair of tickets to giveaway for chief Regina indie-music exports Library Voices' show at the WECC on July 14th.

If you're interested in checking out the ebullient septet, fire me off an email (on the right hand side) by Thursday, July 7th @ noon CST with the subject line "Library Voices Ticket Giveaway" and your name in the email's body. Winning name will be drawn randomly sometime that afternoon and contacted shortly thereafter. As always, one entry per person please!


In Winnipeg Music News....Greg MacPherson Weekend @ The WECC

Lots of exciting news to report from the Greg MacPherson camp these days.

The resident singer-songwriter recently founded his own label (with Cam Loeppky) called Disintegration Records; will be dropping a new recording, Disintegration Blues, sometime in late August; and has booked a pair of shows at the West End Cultural Center on September 9th (Loud) and 10th (Quiet).

Ticket packages are being offered for the event. The "Two-Show Option" includes admission to both shows for $33.50 (inc. fees) while the unquestionably unique "Two-Show + Contest" package includes a ticket to both concerts, a copy of the new record, an autographed screen printer poster, and, most intriguingly, entry into a contest that sees Greg MacPherson flex his culinary skills and cook brunch for one lucky winner. The latter option runs for $54.50 (inc. fees).


In Winnipeg Music News...Ra Ra Riot and Imaginary Cities @ The Pyramid; and more!

>> Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ra Ra Riot by Doron Gild

Another contender for best double-bill of the fall concert season has emerged: Syracuse-based indie-rockers Ra Ra Riot and Winnipeg darlings Imaginary Cities play the Pyramid Cabaret on October 1st. According to the Pyramid’s site, you can grab tix for $15 through; however, they’re not for sale just yet.

Fact: you can grab ducats for Japandroids (Sept 27, Albert) and Handsome Furs (July 15, WECC) on the same site as well.

Couple of aging-but-still-virile acts are coming to town:
  • Jeff Beck plays the Pantages on October 22nd.
  • Lyle Lovett performs at the Burton Cumming Theatre on August 9th.
And finally, local songstress / recent 11 Qs participant Jenny Berkel has a new video for “Stop and Go.” Check it out below.


In Winnipeg Music News...Besnard Lakes/Malajube @ The WECC Is A Go

>> Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Malajube Photo: Joseph Yarmush

It's now official: Montreal-rooted acts Malajube and the Besnard Lakes are combining artistic forces for a must-see tour that sees both indie bands pop by the West End Cultural Centre on September 30th. Tickets are available today at the WECC, Ticketmaster, and Music Trader and will run ya $18 in advance or $22 at the door.


In Winnipeg Music News...The Fall Season at the WECC Rocks The Party

>> Thursday, 16 June 2011

Karkwa Photo:  Marie-Claude Hamel

This fall the West End Cultural Centre is THE venue for titillating indie-music.

First, 2010 Polaris WINNERS Karkwa finally head West and pass through the gateway on September 29th.

Plus, there's the previously announced Danny Michel, Socalled, and Frank Turner shows going down there in the fall as well.

Oh! And speaking of the Polaris Prize, the 40-band longlist was announced earlier and all five of this juror's picks (PS I Love You, Diamond Rings, Young Galaxy, Braids, and Imaginary Cities) made the cut. Extra props to Imaginary Cities for being the only Winnipeg act left standing.


In Winnipeg Music News...Louise Burns, Sun Wizard @ Rock Bar; Braids, Pepper Rabbit @ The Albert; and more!

>> Tuesday, 14 June 2011

First up, burgeoning indie artist Louise Burns has teamed up with labelmate Sun Wizard for a cross-Canada touring adventure, including a pit stop in Winnipeg on July 8th at, umm, Rock Bar (of all places).

Montreal-based pair Handsome Furs are at the WECC on July 15th.

Braids are playing a string of dates in September/October alongside Pepper Rabbit with both bands due at the Albert on September 16th.

Edmonton’s Doug Hoyer and the Joe have booked a pair of dates in Peg City: July 21st at the Lo Pub and Mondragon on August 22nd.

Without Mercy rock the Park Theatre on July 13th.

Sweden’s Opeth play the Burt on October 8th alongside countrymen Katatonia.

Australian 8-piece urban roots band Blue King Brown is at the Pyramid on June 22nd.

Gt. Dane releases his debut EP, Mourning Yer Host, Gt. Dane,  at the Lo Pub on Thursday, June 23rd with Sit Down Tracy.

Multi-talented performer Socalled is at the WECC on October 12th.

And finally, the award for best local concert poster, possibly of all time, goes to…The Eardrums! Catch the guys at Aqua Books on June 29th w/ Texting Mackenzie and Johnny Sizzle.


In The Know...Interview w/ The Details

>> Wednesday, 8 June 2011

It's hard to believe four years have already passed since The Details first made their mark on the local and national music scene with their debut album, Draw a Distance, Draw a Border.

Upon its release, their first record instantly elevated the nascent band (they had been together for roughly a year) to must-hear, must-see prominent status, resulting in the foursome to launch tour after tour in support and seeing the band score a coveted opening spot for Stars at the Pantages.

Now the local indie-rockers are back with their sophomore effort, Lost Art, an honest, sophisticated and well-crafted follow-up to Draw a Distance, Draw a Border. Throughout the release, the quartet evolves and further develops their sound, offering up a fresh and highly palatable batch of indie-rock numbers that occasionally delve into some bucolic alt-country.

I connected with the Details guitarist Sean Vidal early last week while he was on a ferry to Duncan, BC. While competing with gleeful children shrieking in the background and overcoming some intermittent connection problems, we managed to have a lengthy chat about the band’s much ballyhooed encounter with iconic producer Kim Fowley (Kiss, Alice Cooper), how they used The Original Mark EP as a sort of musical equivalent to a movie trailer, and how the Details managed to stay in fans’ consciousness despite the four year gap between records.

Editor’s note: Interview took place the day before the NHL announcement.

PoS: A lot has been made about the band’s encounter in SXSW with producer Kim Fowley (Kiss, Alice Cooper). What’s the story behind this fateful meeting and why did you ultimately decided to release this record independently?

Sean Vidal: It was such a bizarre situation. We just got on an elevator and this guy came on, and we gave him some stuff and didn’t think anything of it. We didn’t actually know who he was. The singer, John, and I both have our names on the press kit, so he called each of us individually. I was at home in the middle of a nap when I got a phone call from a guy who says, “This is Kim Fowley.” We talked for probably an hour and a half, and as soon as I got off the phone I googled his name and learned everything about him.

So we conversed back and forth and he made a couple of different offers, but, in the end, we thought we’re the kind of band that likes to make our own decisions and didn’t necessarily feel comfortable having somebody else come on board.

PoS: Lost Art was produced by Brandon Reid (The National) and Stephen Carroll (The Weakerthans). How did you originally hook up with these producers? What did they bring to the recording sessions?

SV: Steve has been a friend of the band, particularly Keli, the bass player, for a few years. When we were looking for producers, he offered to come to rehearsal one day and hash over some of our new songs. We didn’t really think anything of it at the time, and we still kept looking for a producer after that practice. We realized that all the things we were looking for he brought to the table at the one rehearsal, so we approached him and he was interested, but felt like he might need a little bit of help as well.

He knew Brandon since they had done a tour together, and we didn’t actually meet Brandon until the first day we got into the studio. We hit it off right away. We had been so close to our songs for so long that we needed an outside ear to kind of hone the songs a little bit. You get so close that you don’t always know what the best choice is and that’s where they were very, very helpful.

PoS: Did the band approach songwriting and recording any differently compared to Draw a Distance. Draw a Border?

SV: Yeah. On that album we basically just started being a band, wrote a bunch of songs, recorded an EP and then recorded the album right after. We hadn’t actually had a chance to be a band at that point, so we wanted to take a step back and write a whole bunch of songs. And we threw away twice as many songs that actually made the album. We wanted a chance to write as much as we could, find our voice, and figure out what we wanted to sound like as a band. The idea was to spend a long time writing, and then record it as fast as we could – to capture the moment. Whereas, the last album was written quickly and then recorded over a long space of time, sort of the reverse effect. Both have their merits, but this was definitely an interesting experience in that we got out of it what we were hoping to get.

PoS: Two songs from The Original Mark EP (released November 16, 2010) are on this record. Why did you decided to include tracks “The Original Mark” and “Surface Breaks” on the full-length as well?

SV: The idea for the EP the whole time was to kind of have a trailer for the full length.

PoS: I like that – a trailer.

SV: *laughs* Yeah. We were just looking for a couple of songs that would basically represent the album. There’s a bit of a departure of sound in the new album and this was a nice way to tie the album in with the old one because it was such a long time between albums.

PoS: That actually flows nicely into my next question. It’s been almost four years between records, and I’m impressed by how The Details have managed to stay in the local and national music fan’s consciousness. What do you think is the reason for this, maybe the band’s tireless work ethic combined with being very active in social media? 

SV: We’ve made some decisions to stay busy the whole time: we’ve always tried to play a certain number of shows per year, stay current with social media, and put out little videos here and there. Just doing things that we can to stay active. I think we managed to stay in peoples’ consciousness that way. Having a record come out four years since the last one was going to be a challenge, and these were some of the things we did to stay busy and stay in peoples’ minds.

PoS: Going further with the social media topic… I was reading your Twitter account and noticed that several local Twitter users commented on your opening set for Jimmy Eat World at the Garrick. They hadn’t actually seen you perform before and their response was really positive. Who updates the Twitter account? Is it safe to say the band views social media as an integral part in connecting with fans as well as spreading the sound?

SV: Typically it’s Shaun, the drummer, and I that do it. We realized it’s a tool that didn’t even exist when we did our last album, and it is such an ideal way to connect with people. We definitely value it and know that it’s such an instant thing. I mean today you knew we were on a ferry before you called me and four years ago that wouldn’t have been the case. It’s something we decided we were going to push very hard and we’ve seen the benefits of it, so we going to continue to work it as much as we can.

PoS: Finally, the big cd release show is schedule for Saturday, June 11th at the West End Cultural Centre What can Winnipegers expect for the hometown show, perhaps the entire band decked out in Jets jerseys?

SV: *laughs* We’ll have to see if there’s an announcement, but we certainly hope so! We’re playing with Royal Canoe, who are another fantastic Winnipeg band, so we’re super excited about having them on the bill. It’s something you have marked on a calendar because of your friends and family. In terms of anything super special, it’ll be a little longer of a set with some lights and guests, but I can’t give it all away. But we’re definitely looking forward it.

Catch The Details this Saturday night with special guests Royal Canoe. 


In Winnipeg Music News...Blink 182, Sam Roberts, Carmen Townsend

Just a few notes...

Blink 182, Rancid, and Against Me are at the MTS Centre on August 25th.

Sam Roberts returns to town on Tuesday, November 1st for a date at the Centennial Concert Hall.

And finally, Nova Scotian singer-songwriter export Carmen Townsend is at the Park Theatre on June 20th. 


In Winnipeg Music News...Japandroids @ Albert; Dark Dark Dark @ The WECC; And More!

>> Monday, 6 June 2011

First up, triple bill at the WECC on July 20th: chamber-folk six-piece Dark Dark Dark headline while Narwhal Strike and Demetra support.

Returning for the third time in 18 month, Vancouver's intrepid guitar 'n' drums duo Japandroids play the Albert on September 27th. Fun fact: third venue in as many visits.

Troubadour Danny Michel pays a visit to the West End Cultural Centre on October 1st.

Big congrats to local anthemic rockers Les Jupes for signing with German label The Instrumental Village.

Rise Against play the MTS Centre on October 6th, w/ Flogging Molly, which could easily change once the Falcons/Jets home schedule is released.

Frank Turner is at the West End Cultural Centre on October 22nd.

And finally, my 2010 Polaris Prize picks, which I locked in late last night:

1. Diamond Rings - Special Affections
2. Young Galaxy - Shapeshifting
3. Braids - Native Speaker
4. PS I Love You - Meet Me at the Muster Station
5. Imaginary Cities -  Temporary Resident

Agree/disagree? Who would've been on your ballot?


In The Know...Oh Susanna Takes Soon The Birds On The Road

>> Friday, 3 June 2011

Photo by Heather Pollock

Sometimes, when planning a tour, it’s handy to just reach out to a label mate and see if they’re interested in coming along.

That’s the simple and pretty straightforward approach Toronto-based singer-songwriter Oh Susanna (Suzie Ungerleider) took when piecing together her current cross-Canada tour. For the duration of this "He Said, She Said" tour  Oh Susanna will share headlining duties with Matthew Barber, another Toronto-stationed musician also flying under the Outside Music banner.

For Oh Susanna, it’ll be a chance to perform and show off the many stunningly beautiful songs housed within her brand new record, Soon The Birds, her first in four years. As with previous outings, her vocals are strong and irresistible and her narratives are thoughtful and engaging; but, this time around the folk-country arrangements are more expansive, more venturesome, courtesy of the many guest musicians on Soon The Birds (Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo, Ruth Moody, Burke Carroll,  to name a few).

I hooked up with Oh Susanna last week over the phone and talked to her about the gap between records; the dual role of mother/musician and the resulting changes to her creative process; and her contribution to Survivorman’s album (yes, THAT, Survivorman).

Painting over Silence: Soon the Birds is your sixth proper release. Where was the album recorded?

Oh Susanna: It was recorded in three studios: one in Acton which is near Toronto, but sort of in a rural area; in the Woodshed Studio, which is Blue Rodeo’s space; and a lot of it was done at David-Travers Smith studio, on the West Side of Toronto.

PoS: David Travers-Smith also produced Soon the Birds. What made him the right fit for this effort?

OS: He mixed my last record, and I love hanging out with him. He’s a very smart, very funny person who is meticulous in his work ethic and who has the ability to hear frequencies I cannot! *laughs*

I love the production he’s done with other people like the Wailing Jennys. I felt like he was someone who is flexible, would want to work with people that I have already worked with, and who would bring new people to the table. Which he did. He’s a wonderful human, very talented guy, and he’s also a musician, so that’s a bonus too!

PoS: If I’m subtracting correctly, it’s been four years between proper releases? Why the extended period between records?

OS: The main reason why is that when I recorded Short Stories I was pregnant, and then I had my baby, released the record, and toured some of that record. If anyone who’s out there has a kid and is reading then they will know that you get preoccupied with being a mom and childcare. So I had to figure out how to write songs when I had this person that needed attention.

And it took a really long time to actually record the record, partly for this reason. I had to do a lot of the recording and overdubbing in these little short spaces of time, unlike my previous records where I could work twelve hours a day on them. With this one I said “Well I can come in for two-and-a-half hours this afternoon since my son is in kindergarten.” *laughs*. Having a balance has been good for me – I love being able to work for long stretches of time, but, on the other hand, I could take breaths and reflect on what we’ve done and really figure out if that was the right course to take.

PoS: As with previous efforts, your lyrics tend to be fictional and narrative-based instead of strictly drawing from personal experience. What is it about telling these kinds of stories that works better for you as an artist?

OS: Because I’m a fraidy cat! *laughs* I don’t want anyone to know about what I’m doing.

But, seriously, in some ways I don’t feel that what I’m thinking about or what I’ve done is all that exciting to put into music. I think I’m a bit of a voyeur or I like to project myself into other peoples’ circumstances. I’m interested in songs that help me do that, so maybe that’s what I’m trying to do with my own music. There are certain songs that touch on things I’ve lived through or the emotions that I’ve had, but, you’re right, a lot of them are narratives and mainly about other people. I find it very fascinating to find out how someone else would do things and wearing a mask helps me figure that out.

PoS: So now you have the chance to take these stories on the road, including June 6th at the Park Theatre in Winnipeg. How did this “He Said, She Said” tour with Matthew Barber coming into being?

OS: Matthew and I are on the same label – Outside Music – and I think we have a lot of mutual respect for each other. I wanted to find someone to tour with who would make a nice pairing, and I find his voice and his songs are very warm and thoughtful. We kind of approached him and said “would you like to do this?” He agreed, so that was a very nice thing.

PoS: Will you be performing some songs with Barber?

OS: Yeah! I’ve been listening to his new record and learning some harmonies, and I’m hoping he’s figured out some stuff from my songs. He’s totally open to that. I’ll have my set, he’ll have his set, but I’m hoping that we’ll invite each other up when we’re playing our respective music.

PoS: There’s a lot of vocal harmonies and a ton of players on this record, so I’m curious: Who currently comprises your backing band?

OS: I’m very stripped back. *laughs* It’s going to be me and Burke Carroll who plays pedal steel on the record. Matthew’s just going to be on his own, so maybe, if I convince him, he’ll play. Winnipeg’s not going to see the full-fledged thing since it’s probably going to evolve as we keep touring – you guys are going to see the first show that we’re doing – but he’s going to have a piano and a guitar, so I’m hoping he’ll come and play piano with me. Most likely there’ll be singing going on.

PoS: Finally, what’s on the horizon after this tour?

OS: After the tour, I’m going to do some summer shows and festivals. I just came back from being a singer for Les Stroud, who is a tv star on Survivorman.  I don’t know if you know him from Discovery channel?

PoS: I know about the show, sure.

OS: He’s actually a musician as well. So he recorded this record with a whole cast of characters this week at his solar-powered bar. They set up near Huntsville and we recorded nine songs in two days pretty much live off the floor. He also made a DVD of it.  So, who knows – I think Les wants to do some kind of tour – but I don’t know if that’s going to happen for awhile yet. I’m still buzzing from that experience. Then, in the fall, I’m doing some shows with this group called the Abrams brothers who are a roots group from Kingston. They’re young guys - 19 or 20 year-old guys who are incredible musicians.

Catch Oh Susanna on Monday, June 6th at the Park Theatre with Matthew Barber. 


In The Know...11 Questions w/ Man Your Horse

>> Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Lauded for their frenetic live shows, overall technical proficiency, and inventive, off-kilter rhythms, Vancouver-based indie-rock trio Man Your Horse are currently out touring in support of their latest recording, Shorts EP. This high-kilometer trek around North America sees the band drop by The Albert this Sunday, June 6th, before returning to Winnipeg on June 22nd for a gig at the Lo Pub.

I recently caught up with 2/3s of Man Your Horse and threw 11 questions their way. Discussed: attending a Bush concert back when they were Bush X; what make Jaws such a rewatchable film; and the 4th member of the band.

J = Julian (guitar + vocals) ; C = Calum (bass)

1. Where are you right now?

J: Sitting in the sun outside my place in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada (Nardwaur voice).
C: A poorly lit kitchen

Let’s talk music…

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

J: Hearts of Gold: The Rap Collection - this is a compilation and not an "album", but it exposed me to A Tribe Called Quest and Run DMC when I was 10 years old.
Pink Moon (Nick Drake) - Taught me the importance of a true performance in a recording.
Going Down Swingin' (Sweep the Leg Johnny) - Eye opening tech-rock.
You, You're a History in Rust (Do Make Say Think) - This is my favourite sounding recording of all time - so much space and feel.
American Don (Don Caballero) - Opened up a whole new world of music for me.
Lionel Hampton and His Giants (Lionel Hampton) - Showed me that jazz can rule.

C: One Man Band (Abner Jay) : honesty
Trees, Swallows, Houses (Maps & Atlases) : technicality without ego or aggression
You, You’re A History in Rust (Do Make Say Think) :  words can be overrated
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars (David Bowie) : still wish I was a spaceman

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

J: The most outrageous - Goodnight Vienna (Ringo Star).
Most eye catching/good design - You're a Women, I'm a Machine (DFA 1979)
Most suited to the music - King of the Delta Blues Singers (Robert Johnson)
Straight up funny/good - Rumours (Fleetwood Mac) ha! Kills me every time.

C: AWB (Average White Band) – many years ago my Dad lived with some of the members in a dilapidated house in Dundee, Scotland, while they attended architectural school - so it resonates. Not cheeky by today`s standards, but I laughed at it plenty when I was small.

4. What was the first concert you attended, and how old were you?

J: The first concert that I can remember is the Victoria Jazz Festival, I believe that I was 9 years old.

C: The first actual –go out and get a ticketmaster ticket - concert I went to was when I was just shy of 14 and living in London, Ontario. I went to see Bush in Toronto (at the time still being called Bush X – but only in Canada).

5. What’s one piece of equipment absolutely essential to your live show?
J:  Nick L'Rage, our trusty van that always stands ready. 4th member of the band, baby.

C: A belt.

6. What is your favourite music video?

J: "Do The Evolution"  by Pearl Jam

C: "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys I’d say. I like my moustaches to be obviously fake.

And some hodgepodge…

7. What tv shows are you currently following?

J: Parks and Recreation + I've been re-watching a bunch of old The Mighty Boosh episodes.

C: Bored to Death, Archer, Futurama

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

J: The Wayfinders (Wade Davis)

C: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami and Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett. Sort of on a noir kick right now – I like ‘em hard-boiled.

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

J:  CB4. I think I watched it a ga-billion times in highschool. It still rules. AND, ummm… The Princess Bride.  Gangster rap and love stories? AS YOU WISH!

C: JAWS. Crusty sea captain. Giant shark. Gripping soundtrack. Great dialogue.

10. What’s your current ring tone?

J:  I only rock the vibrate mode exclusively. I said it. Consequently, I miss a lot of calls...

C: Belleville Rendez-Vous – Benoit Charest. Ole-timey dancing, Django style.

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

J: No brainer - FLY! Birds and spaceships… they totally have it figured out.

C: Fly, no contest.


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