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.
At a sold-out Wednesday night show, whilst a snowstorm swirled outside, it was obvious just how much frontman Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother enjoys the drama associated with a perceived apocalypse. Forces both natural and amplified came together in theatrical tension on the Orpheum stage, beginning with a foreboding opener (and new album title) “The Sticks.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If a university class in concert reviewing existed, I likely would have failed it on Tuesday, Oct. 5. I arrived at the Biltmore at 10:30 p.m.—okay, maybe closer to 11 p.m.—just in time to see more than a handful of blissed-out Drums fans skipping stairs on their way out of the venue. Not a good sign . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
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 . . .
At the risk of sounding like a Kool-Aid sipping bandwagoner, it must be said that rumours of this album’s party potential have not been greatly exaggerated. The critically untouchable new release from James Murphy’s electro-punk brainchild is only partially overblown, but probably for good reason . . .
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.” . . .
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 . . .
You would think winning the prestigious Canadian Polaris Prize in 2008 might have caused a certain performance anxiety in bedroom composer Dan Snaith—known to his fans as Caribou. Following up a glistening and critically-acclaimed album like 2007’s Andorra stands as no easy feat . . .
Much like its title suggests, Remorsecapade is a portmanteau: a frantic blend of equal parts euphoria and despair, excitement and heartbreak. Hailing from Toronto, the drum and synth duo have injected an unexpected amount of emotional honesty (and intensity) into their sophomore release . . .
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 . . .
Red lipstick. Ace of Base. Foam parties in Cancun. These are the things that XXXX is made of. With their latest album, Abbotsford quintet You Say Party! We Say Die! make it abundantly clear they know how to have a good time. Like we didn’t know already.