REVIEW: Else­things Festival with Raleigh, PrOphecy Sun and We Are Phantoms Again

While East Vancouver celebrated the demise of a beloved venue with abandon, a smaller gathering in the West End launched an unexpected new haven for fun-having. Though it certainly wasn’t the first show hosted by Googly Eyes Collective, Elsethings Arts Festival—a collage of performance, film, art, and cozy hangouts—was charged with expectation, light, and new beginnings.

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REVIEW: Oneohtrix Point Never live at W2

Trippiness is a strange musical currency; value is so often predicated on the mind-altering substances consumed by its listeners. Having arrived stone sober at W2 to see Oneohtrix Point Never (Brooklyn-based Daniel Lopatin), this reviewer admits she was only adequately captivated by the synaptic soundscapes on offer Wednesday night. But as someone’s grandma might say: better to be challenged than bored.

Grimes: “It’s kinda psychedelic…”

It wasn’t so long ago that Claire Boucher—a.k.a. Grimes—released a miniscule run of 30 cassettes for her breezy electro-goth debut Geidi Primes. Just over a year ago, the Vancouver-born, but then Montreal-based artist played to a modest crowd at the Astoria with the help of local jack-of-most-trades, Cameron Reed.

“Cam set up my first show in Vancouver, which was really nice of him,” Boucher recalls of the de facto show promoter, who also crafts glitchy atmospherics under the banner Babe Rainbow. On the line from her parents’ place in town, Boucher reflects on how far she’s come.

Best records of 2011

Nguzunguzu – The Perfect Lullaby. A labyrinth of stripped-down loops and beats referencing ’90s R&B chart-toppers and Angolan kizomba & zouk in equal measures. Truly the only possible way to enjoy eight hours trapped in a Mozambican airport.

MYTHS – MYTHS. Supercharged electro-noise with a semi-psychotic swagger. First caught them opening for HEALTH and they’ve been terrifying me ever since. “Deadlights” is basically Alice Glass squared.

PODCAST: Vacant State

It’s an unlikely home for a hardcore band. La Casa del Artista first opened in 2006 for the purpose of showcasing live mariachi music. A towering mustard-coloured building on the corner of Main and 3rd Ave, it’s on the back steps that I first meet three members of Vacant State: Terry Wilk (vocals), Adam Mitchell (guitar) and Chris “Gustav” Gustafson (bass). Relocating to their ground-floor jam space, we sat down (on the floor) to discuss Vancouver’s punk scene, all-ages venues and their debut long player Fill the Void.

REVIEW: Lightning Dust / Hard Drugs split 7″

Crafted by a pair of local boy/girl two-pieces, this split seven-inch pressed on white vinyl has a dark side and a goofy side—both of which may cause you to unwittingly sing in public.

First up is Lightning Dust, one of the many successful side projects spawned by hometown stoner-rockers Black Mountain. Amber Webber and Joshua Wells explore their ‘80s goth-pop side in the moody, half-whispered affirmation “Never Again.” With quiet beginnings, the track swells into several timpani and thunderclap-accompanied moments fit for a particularly tragic scene of a John Hughes flick.

Flash Palace

If a never-ending laser beam were unleashed inside the Taj Mahal, would it make a sound?

Though they have no scientific evidence to back it up, all four members of Flash Palace are willing to bet it would sound like an intricately woven post-rock jam with carefully hidden Josh Groban samples. At least that’s the soundscape bassist Ellis Sam described while discussing his band’s debut EP Some Misinterpreted Sunsets.

REVIEW: Tyrana horse — ghostwolf mother hawk: prarie unicorn lion lioness

As both the band name and album title might suggest, Tyranahorse’s debut record is the deformed lovechild of many musical creatures. Though elements of rock and indie folk are perhaps most prominent, it’s the seemingly unscripted ventures into vintage psychedelia and noise that make ghostwolfmotherhawk: prarieunicornlionlioness such a majestic and untamed beast.

REVIEW: The Magician and the Gates of Love – The Singles

The Magician is a far cry from the balding “illusionist” that probably showed up at your eighth birthday party. Though he has been known to bust out a card trick or two at his live shows, Nathan Moes (and his new backing band the Gates of Love) are the real deal.

Drawing noticeable influence from Belle & Sebastian, the Unicorns, Ben Folds and the Flaming Lips, the Langley quintet’s follow-up to Moes’ debut EP Who Will Cut the Grass When I’m Gone? is a work of honest showmanship, sans smoke and mirrors . . .

REVIEW: Jaill – That’s How We Burn

Creative spellers and Milwaukee four-piece Jaill sound like the type of band that “practices” rather than “jams.” Every song on their big label debut That’s How We Burn fits into a cohesive garage-pop aesthetic; the riffs are watertight, the drum licks indestructible. Never mind improvising — everything from lead singer Vincent Kircher’s conversational melodies to the subdued hints of Wisconsin twang — feel polished and calculated . . .

Sleepless in Salmo

Contrary to what you may or may not have been told, Shambhala Music Festival is not held in outer space. But considering its remoteness, heart-stopping volume and 10,000 sparkle-encrusted attendees, it may as well be.

It’s a place where crystal healings and beatboxing tournaments happen in confusingly close proximity; where entire rivers are inexplicably dyed fluorescent green; and where motorized couches pass as entirely reasonable means of transport. Hosted on a 500-acre cattle ranch near Salmo, B.C. — about an eight-hour drive from Vancouver — Shambhala is a dance party destination for those craving spooky encounters of an electronic kind . . .

Shad

It was daylight outside, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the subterranean lighting inside the Biltmore Cabaret. Hip-hop wordsmith Shad and I shared a red velvet booth, while his bassist Ian Koiter absent-mindedly grooved in the background.

A few minutes before soundcheck, we were contemplating the finer points of the 1984 video game Tetris.

“I play a lot of Tetris on my computer. It calms me down in a weird way,” he said. “There’s definitely a rhythm to it. I find it relaxing.” . . .

REVIEW: Arctic Monkeys – My Propeller

The third single to follow up last year’s full-length album Humbug, My Propeller solidifies the band’s departure from its faster, more furious roots. Gone are the days of upbeat, angular party songs about scummy men. Instead, the Arctic Monkeys have crafted a croony collection of melancholic commentary on shitty bars, wasted evenings and arguably frontman Alex Turner’s penis . . .

REVIEW: Delhi 2 Dublin – Planet Electric

Depending on your perspective, Vancouver-based Delhi 2 Dublin is either a brilliant free-thinking experiment in ethnomusicology, or a confused jumble of all things “other.” Mashing up languages, instruments and styles from several far-flung corners of the globe into one electrified melting pot, D2D’s sophomore release Planet Electric ranges from slowed-down dubby atmospherics to hyperactive bhangra marathons . . .

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 . . .