REVIEW: Yukon Blonde

Innovation and artistry are often touted as the ultimate pillars of indie achievement—which is probably why it’s difficult (at first) to get excited about a standard, well-executed pop record like Yukon Blonde’s eponymous debut. Like a vintage flannel shirt, the sound and aesthetic are consciously derivative. But the Vancouver-based indie poppers have conjured enough reflection and polish to make their ’60s rock-inspired album a worthwhile listen.

REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens and Osso – Run Rabbit Run

This is not really a Sufjan Stevens album. And it’s not really new, either. Run Rabbit Run is a sometimes-epic classical reworking of Stevens’ 2001 release Year of the Rabbit, composed and performed by Osso: a New York-based string quartet. Like the original, Osso’s interpretation offers an entirely instrumental take on each year of the Chinese zodiac calendar . . .

Sham­bhala: the electro festival that never sleeps

Shambhala is arguably Canada’s best-kept party secret.

Nestled in the heart of the Kootenay mountains, the electronica festival brings together some of the world’s most innovative bands and DJs for five days of legendary audio/visual entertainment. Heart-stopping, brain-fracturing beats were broken down in dizzying excess as 10,000 wandering souls engaged in enough sleepless, drug-induced mayhem to make Keith Richards blush.

Quiet Riots

When it comes to punk and metal shows, there are few Vancouver venues as loud and proud as the Cobalt. Attached to a notorious Single Room Occupancy hotel, the hardcore bar is praised by fans as the last haven for underground and extreme music in Vancouver.

But after nine years of punk rock patronage, the Cobalt may have to shut its doors for being a little too noisy.

Whale Calling

The Olympics are coming and not even a $478 million in debt is going to stop it. So, to celebrate the impending 2010 Games, the folks at VANOC have arranged a 50-day cultural festival. Yes, the 2009 Cultural Olympiad is upon us.

With over 400 events scheduled from February 1 to March 21 (85 per cent of which are Canadian) this enormous arts expo promises to showcase a whole bunch of super-talented Canucks. Among the ranks of this year’s Cultural Olympians is a young Vancouver band by the name of Said the Whale. On March 6, the upbeat indie five-piece will play the Biltmore Cabaret along with Montreal-based Karkwa and Lucie Idlout from Nunavut . . .

Sound Advice

Despite a cold and steady drizzle, a crowd some 4,000-strong gathered at the corner of Hastings and Main streets on December 6th for an outdoor concert in support of Insite, Canada’s sole safe-injection site.

Held on the date of Insite’s fifth anniversary, the music and barbecue’s mission was to demand that Stephen Harper’s recently prorogued government keep the site operating. Vancouver rock quintet Black Mountain and Bedouin Soundclash lead singer Jay Malinowski were there to perform right on Insite’s doorstep.