Everyone loves Sloan, don’t they? I’m quite sure they do. Everyone, including me.
With so many hits to chose from, their entire repertoire is rife with clever lyrics, but there is one song in particular that really speaks to my soul. Those who know me may have detected that I’m a bit Type-A. Those who really know me know that I like to be right. Always. Some may call it a quirk. Some may call it a major personality flaw. But hey, I am who I am. Ergo, this may be one of my favorite lines in a song ever.
“Hey you, you’ve been around for a while
If you’ll admit that you were wrong then we’ll admit that we’re right”
Thanks Sloan, for verbalizing a sentiment I’ve had since I was a young child.
On Friday evening, hundreds of Halifax music enthusiasts crammed themselves into the Seahorse Tavern to take in the stylings of Soho Ghetto. This 7-piece, Halifax-based collective of musicians put on quite the show as they released their new EP Humble Beginnings Make for A Good Night Life.
Now before I get into the meat – first things first – let’s take care of the introductions. Soho Ghetto is comprised of:
Marc Antoine Robertson -Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Brian MacKay – Synth & Vocals
Matthew Gibbon – Harmonica & Vocals
Rachel Sunter – Piano & Vocals
Peter Smith – Bass
Alex Meade – Electric Guitar
Shawn Burke – Drums
Secondly, I’d like to take a moment and point out how much I enjoy the album art. Who did this artwork? Was it someone in the band? Do the 7 animals represent the 7 members of the band? I don’t know… but I intend to find out.
Album art for "Humble Beginnings Make For Good Night Life" from Soho Ghetto
Ok, NOW let’s get into the music. Its exact genre almost defies definition. To pseudo-quote Donnie and Marie, it’s a little bit country/it’s a little bit rock, but could probably best be described as indie-folk. Most of the tunes inspire toe-tapping, head-bobbing and beer drinking (try out “Anchor Tattoo” or “Honorable Mention”) but there are also a few lyrical anthems in the mix (“Arrows & Vines” or “How Will I Find Your Body in the Dark”) that are sure to be pleasing to most musical palates, even if you haven’t heard the songs before. If you’re a fan of Mumford and Sons or the Avett Brothers, you’ll find something in here that you like. But why just read about it, when the fine folks at Epiphany Productions have actually posted the videos on their site?
The Soho Ghetto line-up
After the show at the Seahorse, Soho Ghetto didn’t waste any time and headed straight to Sydney for a show at Governor’s, with their next show scheduled for Feb 17th at Plan B in Moncton. Based on the quality of the music and the success of the EP Release show, I would say that these guys are going to be pretty busy from here on out.
You know those songs that you listen to over and over and over again for a month, and then they eventually slip out of the rotation, but then you rediscover them years later and they’re just as good as you remembered? Of course you do. Everyone has a song like that. (In truth, I feel like that about most British pop music from the 90’s.)
Anyway, many years ago I spent the summer living and working in Wolfville, and I probably listened to this song, from Fredericton-based band Grand Theft Bus, about 10 times a day. I just stumbled across it again on YouTube and it really brought me back. It’s a catchy tune, even if it isn’t exactly “happy” subject matter. But I like it, and it’s responsible for today’s favorite lyric…
“Man on the subway
talks to himself all damn day
Sleeps in the shadows
cast by the things that got away”
I also really enjoy the concept of being “so far backward that I’m forward again”.
On Saturday night I was one of the lucky few able to attend a taping of Ria Mae at CBC Studio 1, and wow was it ever good. I had seen Ria play before, and been impressed with her live show and how her performance was simultaneously raw and polished. This time the taping was for TV and the audience was not disappointed. Let’s run through the list of who was on stage, shall we:
Ria Mae – (obviously) singer, songwriter, reason for the season
Margot Durling – an established Halifax business-owner, Margot provided the beautiful harmonies and she didn’t miss a note
Shehab & Asif Illyas – 2/3rds of the band Mir, this team of brothers plays drums and bass for Ria, and Asif was the producer of the album
Kim Dunn – Mr. Dunn was an exciting addition to the collective, as he showed up on keyboards and blew me (and most of the crowd) away with consistently beautiful accompaniment one off-the-charts piano solo
The strings – I’m sorry for not remembering the names of these 3 ladies who were on stage for 2 songs, but they were wonderful. Ria expressed her own excitement about being able to play live with strings, and it truly did sound amazing.
They played through the whole “Under Your Skin” album, and transitioned from song to song with some pretty hilarious banter between Ria and Margot. The songs themselves are thoughtful and well-written, covering a variety of themes from love, to loss, to longing. The music is also definitely influenced by Ria’s east-coast heritage, as she stated that her inspiration for one song was living in a city where everyone knows everyone else’s business and “seeing two people hanging out… who shouldn’t be hanging out!” (a concept I’m sure many of us are familiar with). For me, the real show-stopper was the title track, as it brought the entire group of 8 musicians on stage for a stunning live performance. It was a wonderful night with wonderful music, and I’m sure we’re going to be seeing a lot more from her. So keep your eye out for Ria Mae on CBC, and get yourself to one of her shows. Or at the very least, watch the video. You’ll enjoy it.
2 Favorite Lyric Fridays in a row. Oh dear… I’ve been blog-slacking. I’ll work on that. Anyway, moving on…
It’s effin’ cold out, there’s a bus strike in Halifax, the next official statutory holiday isn’t until Easter… February is a glum month. So this Friday I’m turning to the musicals stylings of David Myles and his Paul Simon-esque song “Simple Pleasures”. It’s light, and catchy, and summery, and fun, and makes reference to beer. By watching the video and listening to the words of the song you might just forget that it’s winter out there.
“I don’t need a fancy car
I’ll take my bike around town, I’ll take a cab to the bar
I don’t need to live on the beach
I’ve got the sun right here, I’ve got a beer within reach
I don’t need that house on the hill
That’s never been my style and it probably never will
I don’t need to drink fine wine
I’d rather save up my money, spend it on free time”
Well said Mr. Myles. Thank you for reminding us that the best things in life are often free.