Category Archives: East Coast Music

Album Review – Scientists of Sound’s “Electric Scissors”

What do you do when someone asks you if you want to take a listen to the new Scientists of Sound album before its official release?

You say “Yes! I sure do!”

And then, if you’re me, you get busy and lose track of the days and realize that by the time you actually sit down and listen and write about the album, it has already been released.

#fail

Some might say that was a fail.

Anyway, my own lack of focus aside, I DID listen to the album, and I DO have  track-by-track commentary, and they ARE putting on a show tomorrow night (Friday the 21st) at the Seahorse and you SHOULD go. But first, some background info.

Scientists of Sound (SOS) are producers Colin Crowell (keyboards, bass, trumpet) and Craig Mercer (guitar, keys, drums, vocals).  Described as ‘live looping dance madness,’ they’ve been creating beats since 2010, much to the delight of Canadian club-goers everywhere. This is them:

Scientists of Sound

Scientists of Sound

So without further ado, here’s the rundown of thoughts, feelings and emotions that I had while listening to Electric Scissors (conveniently available for purchase at your friendly neighborhood iTunes store).

1. Statik Klingon – Strong start to the album for sure. My exact thoughts were “I can get into this.” I could really imagine myself dancing to this at Tribecca. (RIP Tribecca – I wish you were still open.)

2. PONTIAC – The first few seconds of the song took me back to when I was a kid and was obsessed with playing Super Mario brothers. You know the sound that happened when Mario turned into the Raccoon and was jumping and flying and getting coins… that’s what I’m hearing up to about 00:12. Thumbs up for nostalgia.

3. Run With It – I do have a soft spot for a strings section (or what sounds like strings). Again, really like the opening. In another life, this might be the theme song of a cool 80’s action cartoon. Agree? Disagree? Bueller?

4. Stare the Wolf in the Eyes (and become him but stronger) – Cool title. SOS demonstrates with this one that a song doesn’t necessarily need words to send a message.

5. Furiosity Killed the Cat – Do you ever feel like you get ripped off a bit when albums have songs that are super short and the whole thing is like half an hour long? Well good news, because this album has quite a few songs over the 5 minute bar. This particular gem clocks in at almost 7 minutes. Another wordless wonder, it kind of sounds like a rock opera.

6. All Around the Drowned – SOS shows off their ability to craft some serious lyrics here. This track definitely has more of a somber tone than its predecessors, featuring lines like “all around the drowned, far away from the underground, trying to get ahead, but I feel like I’m halfway dead…” Kind of a mid-album break so you can catch your breath a bit, then keep dancing.

7. The Brightest Light in the Sky (is not a star at all) – Again, nice work on the title. I was actually really hoping for some lyrics to illuminate the concept (no pun intended). Starts off pretty mellow, takes a sharp turn into dance town at the 2:00 mark, and then returns to its roots around the 5:00 mark. I’m reminded a bit of Digitalism’s Zdarlight on this one. (Which isn’t a bad thing.)

8. Electric Scissors – I listened to these in order, so you can imagine my anticipation when it came to the titular track.  Some clever lyrics in here and I personally find it satisfying to hear the part of the song where they actually say the song/album name. Electric Scissors, you did not disappoint.

9. Train REC – Big guitar on this one. I found myself thinking that I’d love to sit down with the scientists themselves and talk about how they decide on track names, especially for the ones that have no lyrics.

10. HUSWORTH – What does HUSWORTH mean? I don’t know, but this track has a certain triumphant/anthemic quality that I enjoyed.

11. Mothership –  They do a sneak attack with unexpected vocals that kick in about 1/2 way through (I appreciate that, because I like to be able to sing along). I love the very end of the song that finishes on some fanfare which sounds like it belongs in an old school movie. Nice touch.

Overall impressions: You will dance.  You may also be inspired to start working out again because this would be such a great album to listen to while running (or doing any sort of cardio… your choice). If you listen to this and can’t even manage a head bob, fist pump, or shoulder shimmy… you need to take a minute and lighten up. I now have an understanding of why the dance floor gets absolutely torn up at every single show these guys put on. It will definitely be on the rotation this summer.

dance

This is how I dance.

For a way more professional-sounding review from an actual professional arts reporter, please click here.

Or listen for yourself here.

Or see them live!

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Old Favorites and New Finds

For the last couple months I’ve been living under a corporate rock of sorts and have spent most of my time working/sleeping and almost none of my time doing something I really love… going to see live music. Well, that ends now, with a little help from the ECMAs.

I kicked off my reintroduction to music last night at the Palace. This is normally the part where I would defend the fact that I was at the Palace by reinforcing that I was there to listen to some cool bands, but I’m not going to do that this time. I’ve seen some great shows at the Palace this year,  so if you must judge me for going there… carry on.

It's true. They're gonna.

So anyway, last night was the TicketPro Pop/Rock Stage featuring a line up of some of the finest toe-tapping talent that the East Coast has to offer. Like many people, I’m more apt to attend a show if I’m familiar with the artists/know some of the songs, and this show fit that bill with famous names like Jenn Grant on the agenda. The format was what I would call “short and snappy” with each performer only getting 20 minutes (if even) of air time. I understand the theory behind this format is to keep the show moving and give everyone a chance to showcase their talents. Unfortunately this led to Jenn Grant’s set being cut pretty short (but there was still enough time to enjoy her gorgeous voice).

jenn grant

Next up was a 4-song set from Soho Ghetto who pleased the crowd with some big vocals from Marc-Antoine Robertson and even gave us a brand new song. They have been working with Daniel Ledwell on their new album and if this new tune is any indication, I think we definitely have something to look forward to. One minor detractor from that set: the Security Guard kept standing RIGHT in front of us. I mean, directly in front.This brought out some rage in me, but I decided against aggression (I did not want to be thrown out of the bar so early in the evening.)

get out the way

I can’t seeeeeeeeeee

Eventually he did move (slightly) and I could take a few blurry shots of the band.

sohoghetto

After Soho Ghetto’s performance Ria Mae was up and her set got off to a great start with “Under Your Skin”. Ria had Margot Durling on stage with her for their usual delightful harmonies and then brought up Ambition to partake in her new song “Take Your Clothes Off” (let’s not waste time with subtleties, amirite?) and again for an added verse to her pop-recording of the year nominated song “Leaving Today”. Bang-up job, as expected.

Blurry enough for you? It really is Ria, I swear.

Blurry enough for you? It really is Ria, I swear.

So after Ria’s set ended, four young gentleman took the stage and were introduced as Paper Lions. Now I’ve heard of Paper Lions before but somehow have never seen them live. About 5 notes into the set this was my general sentiment:

ohmygodHow have I NEVER seen these guys play before?! They are amazing. I love them. If you’re unaware of these beauties, check out this YouTube video. (PS – It has 3,000,000+ views. Not too shabby.)

After viewing that video, I’m also thinking that these guys must have a hook-up to some fine anti-aging potions, because this was apparently filmed in 2007 and they all look the exact same, more or less. Magic.

Delightful

I’m loving Paper Lions

So after that we got to see Jenn Grant take home her first ECMA ever for Pop Recording of the Year. Aside: Can you believe that? She’s been nominated 14 times and this is the first time she has won an ECMA.  I’m not sure how that’s possible. Long, long, long overdue. Congratulations Jenn.

At this point in the night my aging self decided it was time to go home (Friday is still a work day, sadly) so unfortunately I missed the final acts of the evening, but I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth. Great night. Great acts. Great music. Zero complaints. (Aside from the security guard.) Thanks ECMW.

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Favorite Video Friday

For the past week I’ve been spending all day every day every damn day (pretty much) at my regular 9-5 and then following that up with volunteering at the Atlantic Film Festival. I had no idea what to expect when I signed up to volunteer, nor did I realize that I’d be volunteering so much that I wouldn’t actually get a chance to see any of the movies (a major oversight on my part).

can’t win ’em all

But that’s ok. The film festival HAS provided me with a wonderful opportunity to meet some cool people and attend some industry events and panel discussions about the music and film industry in Canada. Here’s a bit of trivia for you: did you know that a top level music video budget in Canada is in the $60k neighborhood? Percolate on that while you consider that videos such as the Backstreet Boy’s “Larger than Life” cost upwards of $2 million. Anyway, sitting among directors and artists, and listening to people who have directed videos for Moby was pretty awesome. Though I did feel like a bit of an impostor at times (more than one person asked me “So do you have a film in the festival?”) it was an overall good experience.

Do I have a film in the festival? Dude… I’m just a volunteer

But I digress. The point of all this is that I’ve been been around a lot of film industry people over the past few weeks, and this has coincided with the release of some new videos from some local artists. Needless to say, this is the type of thing that makes me excited.

I know, right!

Anyway… without further ado, it’s favorite lyric video(s) Friday, so check out these great new videos from Rich Aucoin and Jenn Grant. And have a wonderful weekend.

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Favorite Lyric Friday – Carmen Townsend’s “Start All Over”

If you’ve checked out any local news over the past few days, you may have noticed that this week has been CRAY for Carmen Townsend. In a bad way. She had all 4 of her guitars, including her beloved Guild Starfire, stolen out of her car. WT actual F.

I have the same incredulous sentiments as Ron Weasley.

The latest development in the case is that one of the guitars has been returned, but 3 remain in the wind.  (Or in a pawn shop, or on kijiji or CraigsList.) If you see anything/hear anything/know anything about the location of Carmen’s guitars, please get in touch with her or the police. You can find all you need to know about contacting her here.

Carmen & her Guild Starfire

In the meantime, I’m choosing Carmen’s “Start All Over” as my pick for Favorite Lyric Friday, specifically these words:

I’m not asking for your sympathy
I’d never want you to worry for me
Isn’t there some place to put away all the pain?
I would really love to start all over again

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QD6DUqQFST4&w=425&h=349]

I REALLY hope that these guitars make it back to Carmen, and that she can start all over again with creating and performing her excellent brand of music.

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, Carmen’s guitars were returned safe and sound. 3 cheers for the power of social media and people doing the right thing (which, to be clear, is returning the guitars – not stealing them.)

A post from Carmen’s facebook

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July Music in Review

So July has been a busy month for me. There was a wedding (not mine), there have been out-of-town friends visiting, there have been 2834987 birthdays to celebrate, AND there has been a lot of East Coast musical activity. Let’s review the music part:

1) The Polaris Short-list was announced. These are the nominees:

Cold Specks
Drake
Grimes
Handsome Furs
Japandroids
YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN
Cadence Weapon
Kathleen Edwards
Feist
Fucked Up

Any bets? Unfortunately, there aren’t any east-coasters on there. As I’ve mentioned before, and judge me if you must, I do like Jimmy from Degrassi Drake. However, I also think he’s way too commercial to win (and I’d wager that there would be an Indie-revolt against the entire Polaris operation if he did). I’d love to see Kathleen Edwards take it. I think she’s great. (Can you spot the east-coast-connection in this video of her Letterman performance? A gold star to you if you can.)

2) Summersonic tickets went on sale. If you haven’t seen the line-up for Summersonic and purchased your tickets, I’m not really sure what you’re waiting for. Ben Harper, The Stars, K’Naan, and many, many, more will be serenading us on Citadel Hill on September 7, 8, and 9. Check the Summersonic website to see the full list of performers and get your tickets – only $85 for all 3 days!

This is happening, Halifax

3) Ria Mae released her new video. And I love it. Great song, gorgeous Nova Scotia scenery, time lapse photography, a chase scene… this video has it all. And it was directed by Halifax’s own Julian Crick.

In other Ria-related topics, I saw her show with Chris Velan at the Company House this month. Both of them were fantastic. I wasn’t familiar with Chris’s music before, but I’m really glad that I know it now. Do yourself a favour and take a listen. (Especially “Oceans Ago”, “You Don’t Know What You’re Asking of Me”, and “Hurting You Kind”.)

4) Hey Rosetta played a super special summer concert on George’s Island. And I couldn’t get a ticket. And I heard it was a pretty great show. Let’s not talk about it.

Nooooooooooo

5) HPX Wristbands and passes went on sale. And as always, it promises to be a jam-packed week of musical bliss. There will be more bands announced in the coming weeks.

6) A Halifax rockstar saved the day. Two of my wonderful friends recently got married and found out just days before the wedding that pre-recorded music was strictly verboten in the church. (I do not pretend to understand that rule.) This threw quite a wrench into the works as they had a very specific French song in mind for the bride’s perfect walk down the aisle. Enter Marc-Antoine Robertson – frontman of Soho Ghetto. Even though he’s accustomed to playing huge, rockin’ crowds with his band, he agreed to sing and play during the ceremony and it was beautiful and perfect and amazing. 10 gold stars and a hat-tip to you, Mr. Robertson.

Other Notable East-coast happenings:

– The Harmony Bazaar Festival is happening in Lockeport, NS this weekend. The all-female lineup is featuring some big names like Serena Ryder and Sarah Harmer.

– The most colorful event of the year – The Annual Pride Parade – is this Saturday at 1:30. There’s also tons of great music happening at the Garrison Grounds.

– Finn from Glee and Seth from the OC and Damian from Gossip Girl are ALL. IN. HALIFAX.  They’re filming a movie called “All The Wrong Reasons”. My last random Halifax celebrity sighting was Uncle Jesse and McSteamy having lunch at Salty’s in 2006. I’m overdue for an interaction with a famous person.

– Someone took a post on my favorite hilarious Halifax fashion blog way too seriously and got political about it. Can’t we let funny blogs be funny blogs?

– Lainey of Lainey Gossip will be in Halifax on Monday and thanks to the wonderful Jill from Couch Time With Jill, I get to go! A perfect way to end the month.

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Favorite Lyric Friday – My name is Kay!

I’m of the opinion that not ALL good music has to be really deep and thoughtful. Sometimes you just need a good pop anthem in your life, and I’m not ashamed to say that I sometimes stumble upon musicians I REALLY like via Perez Hilton. (Ok, maybe marginally ashamed.) This particular East Coaster is one such Perez-promoted success story. Her name is Kay (ey ey ey ey ey).

When I first heard this song I liked it a lot. So much so that I wished my name started with the letter K so the song would apply more to my life. (Put a choir and some clapping in a song and I’m pretty much in.) Then when I got to the part of the song where she references her Nova Scotia roots (Kay is originally from Cape Breton), I was all…

Yes. She did.

Anyway… this is the video.

I think the song is intended to be kind of silly, so some of the word choices I can take or leave. But I really enjoy the lyric(s):

“You just keep on talking,

don’t know what my name is,

ever since you walked in

acting like your famous.”

Kay also has a fun blog, and does a great cover/remix of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang. I like her.

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East coast representation on the Polaris Long List

On Thursday, the long list was announced for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize. The list of 40 will be whittled down to a short list of 10 on July 17th, with the best Canadian album of 2012 being declared on September 24th after a “secret jury Hunger Games-style argument to the death.” (That’s a direct quote from the Polaris website. I love it.)

There’s a mixed bag of artists on the list, including heavy-hitters Leonard Cohen, Drake, Feist,  and the Juno Award Winner for Alternative Album of the Year – Dan Mangan,  but the east coast has also snagged a few nominations:

Rich Aucoin – “We’re All Dying to Live”

Rose Cousins – “We Have Made a Spark”

Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Scrappy Happiness”

East coast nominees for Polaris Prize long-list

Our east coast nominees

So who do I think will make the short list? It’s tough to say. The Polaris Committee doesn’t really fuck around when it comes to picking the cream of the crop. Ideally, I’d love to see all three in the top 10, but if I had to pick one I think I’d go with Rich. “We’re All Dying to Live” features over 500 musicians, including fellow nominees Joel Plaskett and Dan Mangan, so a win for Rich would really be a win for a lot of artists. We’ll see what happens in July when we get down to 10 albums.

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