In just 5 days, 700 Canadaian musicians rocked out all over Toronto’s venues, sharing their music with the nations most important ‘music people’ (this festival was a few months ago… better late than never though, right?!). I was lucky to attend one night of this festival, very excited to see The Balconies and The Wooden Sky. Now, while I, the sheep, am used to wooly curl-rings laying around all over the farm from my family, I must say…. I have never seen so much facial hair and ink all on one place. Despite this culture shock (if you will), I discovered a new band worthy of much attention that night.
Ladies and gentlesheep, I bring you YUKON BLONDE!
Sitting through the openers at a concert can be extremely tedious – all you want is to see the band you came for. They can never be as good as the band you came to see because you just don’t have the same excitement for them. This was not the case for the nights openers YB.
Yukon Blonde, as pictured above, literally started the night off with boom. I came wanting to see the other bands, but these guys just blew me away. They ended their set with an epic 3 minute or so jam session and they managed to set the bar high for the rest of the acts. They used all five band members to create powerful vocals and background vocals. These guys just came off to me as a group of friends who just want to live life and make music together, and it works for them. They put on a fantastic, energetic, and overall FUN show, which is probably why I went on their myspace as soon as I got home that night. It is bands like these that are memorable to us – their energy lets you know that they are there to share their music with you, and that is it. Their energy lets the audience know that the band respects us, and that we deserve to hear them at their best. So, on that note, check these guys out!:
Last night the Olympic closing ceremonies took place in Vancouver (okay, we may have been absolutely addicted to the olympics this year, as if you couldn’t tell..), featuring acts from Avril Lavigne, Hedley, Simple Plan, Neil Young (He’s the MAN, according to me dad) and Nickleback. Let me set a scene for you. I was at a bar (a sheep bar, of course) having some wings and beer with friends, trying to enjoy the last national moments of gold medal victory. And all I could feel was shame. Absolute shame. Let me just say that, no matter how proud I am of my country’s athletes, it will not make up for how MORTIFIED the popular music scene here makes me feel. Sure, I guess we have a few great bands out there, but let me tell you, Canada’s music scene is not at all justified with the before-mentioned acts. The indie music scene here is PHENOMENAL. We LOVE Canadian music, both wolf and sheep. It’s great. It’s really really great – just not when it sounds like the devil is raging inside of Chad Kroeger. Perhaps its just not our cup of tea? But that’s the beauty of having your own blog: It your opinion!
So, what about that amazing Canadian indie music scene? We’ve already featured a few artists (Destoyer, Metric – okay, not indie, whatever -, The Balconies…) that make this county proud. But there is a LOT more where that came from (trust us, we have a lot in store for you guys in our tiny animal brains). One of these artists, that is quite new to our ears, is Jonathan Becker who hails from Ottawa.
Jonathan Becker was kind enough to send us his self titled EP (which has some wonderful artwork, as shown) for us to chew, digest and regurgitate (as always). Here’s the the verdict!
This EP is, as the artwork suggests, perfect for the cold weather. Two things come to mind when asked to describe Jonathan Becker’s music (beautiful is a given on this blog); perfectly simple and perfectly cold. The only thing you will hear in the short but sweet 15-minute EP is a man, his guitar, and his heart. What more do you need to make chillingly beautiful and haunting music? Jonathan’s voice has a way of captivating the listener while he sings passionate lyrics ever so gently.
And what do I mean by cold? All music makes us feel a certain way, and this EP has such a coldness to it, that it actually makes the listener feel warm. Just as there is something comforting about songs about struggle because they make us feel less alone, there is something about this cold and lonesome music that makes me feel like I am snuggling with someone under the warmth of big, puffy bed sheets.
won’t you warm me up
won’t you warm my skin
this town is frosted over, come october
the next six months seem to last forever
i need a way out, i need something
at least ’til winters gone
at least ’til spring
Warm Me Up – Jonathan Becker
Kind of perfect, right? Now you see what we mean by cold? We are sad to bring you such perfect winter-time music so late into the season. Too bad that this artist came to our attention quite recently. By recently, I mean before we made our 2009/10 winter playlist – otherwise, he DEFINITELY would have made the cut onto our seasonal playlist.
One thing is for certain: it is HARD to be a solo artist out there in the big bad world that is the music industry. However, this man does it well though, and we sincerely wish him the best because he deserves to be heard.
Sit back and literally relax as Mr. Beckers waves take you someplace far, far away,
– the wolf and the sheep
As many of you are probably aware, Peter Gabriel (Genesis) is putting out an album entitled Scratch My Back which consists of him covering various songs. The songs he has chosen to cover are by a handful of artists from our generation, including Radiohead, Regina Spektor, The Arcade Fire, The Magnetic Fields and….. BON IVER! Obviously, there is a reason behind why each song was picked, and according to this article, he chose songs that “are major reinterpretations of some famous stuff” today.
So, what do we think of this collaboration of classical rock/modern day rock? I think it is fantastic that artists such as Peter Gabriel, a legend, if you will, can appreciate the stuff new artists are putting out. Who said that its all been done and said? This simply confirms our belief that music we are getting today is, i repeat, IT IS, beautiful and worth our time and tears and dedication.
I have been able to form an opinion of Peter Gabriel; he is a true musician. He never stops listening, just as a true professor never stops learning, or a true mother never stops caring. Apparently, his daughter told him about Bon Iver; he is open to hear the progression of music from when he first started out to today. And this is the result;
One aspect about music that always seems to amaze me is cover songs. It’s usually always either hit or miss with me, as far as cover songs are concerned. They either turn out excellent and have potential to surpass the originals or just plain disastrous. In the case of Serena Ryder and The Beauties, their cover of The Funeral by Band of Horses, hit me right in the face (in a good way, of course). While the fetching vocals of Ben Bridwell (lead singer of the Band of Horses) are impossible to replace, Serena Ryder and The Beauties land pretty close to perfection on the giant scale of cover song critique. Listening to this version of the song, almost causes me to forget that it exists in another form, it’s just that good. The lyrics may not belong to Ms. Ryder, but she has taken a song that was beautiful to begin with, and made it her own. I’m not sure if in the long run, this version will top the original completely, but what I do know is that right now it’s the only version I’ve been listening to. Serena Ryder, of course, hails from the great plains of Canada. Where have all of these Canadian musicians been all of my life?
You can download Serena Ryder’s version of ‘The Funeral’ here.
Ryder and the Beauties are set to release a music video for their rendition of The Funeral in the near future. Preview it here! Ryder is currently on tour with Howie Day in support of her album ‘Is It Ok.’
I’m coming up only to show you down for
I’m coming up only to show you wrong
To the outside, the dead leaves, they all blow
Before they died, had trees to hang their hope
This week, we introduced the “Song of the Week” section, and the first band to be featured is The Balconies. They are a band that formed in Ottawa, and are currently rocking the Toronto scene.
The Balconies are currently unsigned (probably/hopefully not for long) and consist of Jacquie Neville (guitar, vocals), Liam Jaeger (drums, vocals), and Stephen Neville (bass, vocals).
Now, my friends usually think that I only listen to sad/slow/mellow/depressing music… BUT I am here today to prove them wrong!! My latest obsession is The Balconies; It took me literally WEEKS to find their full album, so I had been living off of the 6 songs found on their myspace for a while. According to their myspace page, this group of three formed when Jacquie and Liam met while studying classical music at the University of Ottawa (that’s right; Beethoven, Mozart, all that.. great stuff). Stephen, the brother of Jacquie, was then stolen from home to become a rockstar (Okay, not really but you get the point). But the music they make and the music they studied is far from similar. The catchy vocals are shared between all three members, backed up with a popping bass line and speedy drums which lure you into a world of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows (To all my dear friends: take that!!). With that being said, the female vocals for this band are one of the most powerful and controlling ones I’ve ever heard.
If you like what you hear, you’ve GOT the check out this live video of them: Live in Ottawa.
They’ve only got one full length out (self-titled, and recorded!) But look out Canada, look out world! With this much spunk, these guys are gonna be big someday! They have some shows coming up (which are likely to be intimate), so be sure to get out and show some love and support!
28 Jan- Clark Hall Pub (Kingston, Ontario)
30 Jan 2010 – L’Absynthe w/ The Darcys and Jane’s Party (Montreal, Quebec)
2 Feb 2010 -Babas Lounge (Charlottetown, Prince Edward)
3 Feb 2010 – Mount Allison Tantramarch Pub w/ By Divine Right (Sackville, New Brunswick)
5 Feb 2010 – The Capitol (Fredericton, New Brunswick)
6 Feb 2010 – The Pavilion – EARLY ALL AGES SHOW (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
6 Feb 2010 – The Seahorse Tavern w/ Soaking Up Jagged and Bad Vibrations and Cold Warp (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
10 Feb 2010 – The Drake Hotel w/ By Divine Right and Gentlemen Reg (Toronto, Ontario)
26 Feb 2010 – The Black Sheep Inn w/ The Golden Dogs (Wakefield, Quebec)
27 Feb 2010 – Legendary Red Dog – w/ The Golden Dogs (Peterborough, Ontario)
16 Mar 2010 – The Casbah (Hamilton, Ontario)
What do the singers of Bon Iver and The Antlers have in common?
That low, scratchy growl of a voice, of course!
One day, while the wolf and the sheep were hard at work discussing the best albums of 2009, the obvious choice for #1 was Brand New’s Daisy. Brand New is our ULTIMATE band. We could probably share some crazy stories about things we’ve done for this band, but maybe another day. It’s pretty much Brand New over everything else in life for us. At least, that is how it is on most days. Not on this day though, because the wolf said to the sheep, “I hate to break it to you, but my favourite album of the year was by The Antlers.” Jaws dropped and so did the (chat)room temperature. The sheep was enraged. The wolf was scared with its claws ready to defend as the sheep wanted to pounce.
Clearly, 2009 tested our musical tastes and dedication to our favourite band. Even thought my love for Brand New will float on and on, I find that I am less.. well, obsessive, about them due to the new sphere of music that I have opened myself up to. Upon hearing His Old Branches a 2009 EP released by what can be considered our breath of fresh air band – The Republic of Wolves (You’ve got to hear this band!), the sheep exclaim— I mean, bah-ed loudly, : “I AM SO OVER BRAND NEW RIGHT NOW”. The point is, there comes a time for every music lover when you begin to explore the world of music beyond your safety point (ie Brand New, which held me over for years). You begin to explore new music and sounds and the feelings these new artists invoke. 2009 marked this for me. I’m not sure if it is because I moved away to university and became more independent in life overall (a milestone, really) and therefore was more brave to try new things, or simply because the same old tunes weren’t cutting it for me. Either way, my life has been blessed with new sounds to enjoy, and I will be grateful for this beyond the day when my children pick up the same CDs I bought this year and fall in love with them the same way I did.
Among these CDs, there will be a copy of Hospice. This was an album that I had to get used to with every listen. Thankfully, each listen did not feel like a chore (such as trying to like the new Taking Back Sunday albums back in the day…..). I was trying something new, now forcing myself to like something I was already dedicated to. I was intrigued by the new art. The thing that interested me the most about Hospice is that it is a concept album and tells a story chronologically with each song. I was introduced to the song Two in a mixtape I received from a certain big-toothed individual who runs this blog. There were 17 songs on that mixtape and this was the only one I listened to for days (sorry wolf). I hate to say this, but it was beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful! So much beauty in 6 minutes that it could make you cry. I had a hard time getting into the rest of the album because the bar was set so high due to my repetitive listens of Two (iTunes play count: 62)
As for me, I am beyond excited to see The Antlers this February as they make a stop in Toronto with The Editors (The Editors on Myspace). As for the Wolf, she has been lucky enough to see them already, and could only describe it as the most beautiful show she’d ever been to. Now, please note that, even though we use the world “beautiful” a LOT on this blog, does not mean that we use it lightly. We use it because it is the perfect word, and we mean it every time.
I can wrap up all this personal junk with saying that The Antlers have been a big deal for me because they are a new sound for me. They have been a band that allowed me to expand and test my boundaries of what i allow my ears to hear. In my life, that is a pretty big deal.
” At the end of the day if you’ve only immersed yourself in those things you don’t really feel accomplished as opposed to just writing a song. That just came out of me, I just made that up out of nowhere and it’s always going to be something, it’s always going to be a song. Whether I’m the only person who knows it or a million people know it, I made something and put it out into the world. That kind of sounds like a precious sentiment, but it’s true.”
We care for one thing here - to share sounds and words and melodies and ideas that are so beautiful, they'll make you want to fall apart and sleep forever.
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