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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May the fourth be with Rich Aucoin

On Friday, I had the privilege of attending the Rich Aucoin show at Michael’s Bar and Grill. This was not my first concert of Rich’s, but it was certainly my first time at the rodeo that is Michael’s. I’ve written before about Rich’s amazing showmanship and ability to put on an A+ live-show,  so I’m not going to do that again. Instead, I will present to you, in no particular order, the highlights of my experience:

1) Costume Changes – There were definitely 3 distinct looks on stage on Friday night. The sartorial diversity may have come as a result of Richard progressively removing layers, but there were 3 looks nonetheless. And who doesn’t love a costume change?

Look #1 – ideal for Canadian weather

2) Personalized shout-outs – I could just kick myself for not getting any pics of this. The opening of the show was a new Star Wars-themed slideshow. (See awesome show poster here) The montage included shout outs to various friends/fans/supporters. It was a really nice touch and a great way for Rich to show how much he appreciates his fans.

Look #2 – the crowd is loving it

3) A new venue (for me at least) – Before this show, I had never heard of Michael’s Bar and Grill. To me Michaels = crafts. But I was the best kind of surprised to find out that once you get past the restaurant section, Michael’s actually has a huge space for live music. It’s kind of industrial/warehouse/country – a perfect place for a show. I can dig it.

Look #3 – It’s tanktop time!

4) Feeling like a kid again (as much as possible in a bar & grill setting) – Playing with parachutes, getting sprayed by confetti cannons, learning songs in a repeat-after-me fashion – Rich’s show is nothing if not pure, unadulterated fun, and May the 4th was no exception.

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A few ECMA Predicitions

It’s a big weekend for East Coast Music, as the ECMAs get going in Moncton, bringing together the very best musical talent that the region has to offer. With a slew of east coast artists also on the receiving end of Juno nominations this year, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top at the ECMAs.

As with most awards shows, there a lot of categories. I would be an out-and-out liar if I said I had much of an opinion on the nominees for Children’s Recording of the Year (especially since Mamma Yamma featuring Joel Plaskett isn’t on the list), so I won’t bother you with my thoughts on every single category.

I'm guessing the reason Mamma Yamma wasn't nominated is because she's really a Toronto-based artist.

But for a lot of the big categories I’m prepared to throw out some predictions. In order to make these predictions I created some extremely complex algorithms based on album sales, location, age, total time performing, and facial symmetry. Or maybe I just went with my gut feeling.

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Nominees for Fan's Choice Entertainer of the Year

This one is a bit of a tough call. There are a lot of serious contenders in the mix. However, based largely on the strength of their Juno performance, I’m going to go with Hey Rosetta!

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Nominees for Album of the Year

Again, it’s not like we really have any weak links here. I can’t count out Catherine MacLellan or Hey Rosetta! but I’m going to bet on Jenn Grant for this one. Honeymoon Punch really is a wonderful album.

 _____________________

Nominees for Group Recording of the Year

I hate for it to be one-sided, but I feel like there’s a good chance Hey Rosetta! might walk away with most of the awards for which they are nominated. Although there was definitely a period of time when “Hope & Ruin” was played on the radio every second song, so the Trews could take this one as well. I’m sticking with Hey Rosetta! though.

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Nominees for Pop Recording of the Year

Ria Mae. Ria Mae. Ria Mae. (That was supposed to be read like a chant.) I do love some good pop music, and these are all good songs. You’ve gotta tip your hat to Carleton Stone who has been doing big things this year (like having his latest album produced by Hawksley Workman). Also, that is a rock-star name if ever I’ve heard one. But of these songs, I love Under Your Skin the most.   

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Nominees for Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year

Classified is probably the top dog in this one, but Three Sheet has been working their butts of this year. Their sound is unique, and not one that we’ve heard much on the east coast. I think/hope their chances are good.

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Nominees for Rising Star of the Year

And the ECMA goes to... Ryan Cook's hair stylist. Respect.

I’m unsure about the criteria that have to be met in order to be deemed a “rising star”. Given that there is no “breakout artist” or “best new artist” category at the ECMAs, I’m guessing that this is kind of like that award. Or maybe not. So as I’m not certain what this award is based on, it could be anyone’s game.

On the one hand I kind of love that Ryan Cook has a song called “Facebook Waltz” (in which he sports a teeny tiny rat tail), but I’m going to have to give this to Molly Thomason. She’s gotta be the youngest of this group, and the one that I think has really “burst” onto the scene this year. Although I do like Babette Hayward too… ugh… decisions are so hard! Ok. I made up my mind. I’m sticking with Molly on this one.

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Nominees for Song of the Year

Song of the Year… for me it’s a toss-up between Simple Pleasures and Getcha Good. Someone should create a megamix of those two songs and release that. THAT would be the song of the year. But I flipped a coin for it, and it came up in favour of David Myles.

The actual awards will be doled out on Sunday evening, so check out the ECMA website for a live stream and/or CBC Radio Broadcast of the ceremony.

Good luck to all the nominees! See you next year in Halifax!

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The Junos – high notes and low notes

I enjoy a good awards show, especially ones that are music-intensive. In light of that fact, I was quite looking forward to the Junos and pumped that there were a few east coasters nominated for awards including Jenn Grant and Hey Rosetta.

Add into the mix Canadian beauties like Dan Mangan, The Sheepdogs, Arkells, and Feist, and the Junos seemed like a sure-fire bet for a sampling of some fine music. So, after two hours of watching, my ultimate verdict was: definitely more good than bad, but there were some ‘yikes’ moments.

First, the high points:

  • Can you believe that William Shatner is 81? I can’t. The guy looks fabulous. The mock-guitar playing at the beginning but was a bit painful, but overall I thought he was a great host. When I’m 81, please let me be doing things like hosting the Junos.
  • Hey Rosetta. The played their song and played it well. What’s not to like about that? They are also excellent evidence in support of the argument that more bands should have violins. String sections sound awesome.

The more instruments, the better

  • Dan Mangan winning things. I like his music. He’s genuinely talented and he seems cool and humble so I’m happy he got recognition. I also like that in his acceptance speach for Best New Artist he said “it takes time to do anything worthwhile.” Ain’t that the truth.

Don't hate me, but I think Dan Mangan looks like a cuter Seth Rogen. Yes? No? Maybe?

  • Dragonette. I’ve been a Martina Sorbara fan for a long time, ever since Bonnie & Clyde. I thought she looked and sounded great, and I must admit that song is catchy as hell.

Cool style and cheekbones to die for.

  • Feist. Girl has been winning things for years. I thought it was funny that she went all Taylor Swift and was shocked that she won, but I do appreciate her talent. And also that her name is Leslie… that’s a cool name for cool people.
  • Jim Cuddy and his orange shirt and his cute family.

Orange rodeo.

And now the low:

  • The gimmicks. OH GOD THE GIMMICKS. Stages on fire? A Nicki Minaj/Ke$ha inspired ensemble? Hula dancers? Guys on spring-loaded legs? For shame Canada. For shame!

Anyone want to take a stab at explaining this to me?

I wore a similar get-up to my gymnastics classes in the early 90's

  • I hate to single out one person, but I DO NOT UNDERSTAND the Alyssa Reid thing. How are you eligible to be best new artist for repurposing a Heart song?  She’s a fine singer, but are we nominating people for awards based on cover songs now? Junos, if you’re short on ideas for people to nominate, I’ll be happy to provide you with some names.
  • Where the eff was Drake? Jimmy from Degrassi is one of my guiltiest pleasures.

Drake, I missed you. And your plaid hoodie.

  • Simple Plan/Hedley/Nickleback – I’m clearly not their demographic. It’s just so… it’s just… it’s not my thing.
  • I can’t fully decide if this is a high/hilarious point or a low point – but was Lights wearing any pants?!

This reminds me of the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene, but with the roles reversed and the pants removed.

  • Unless I missed something, I don’t think the east coast brought home any hardware. However, when you’re up against the likes of Feist and The Sheepdogs, that’s nothing to be too upset about. We’ll get ’em next year!

Here's some east coast music royalty to hold you over until the next awards show.

* Please note – I was not actually at the Junos, so I did not take nor do I own most of these photos. The originals can be found here and here.

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Favorite Lyric Friday – Catherine MacLellan’s Stealin’

It appears that this blog is just turning into a string of Favorite Lyric Fridays. It really makes me have intense respect/admiration for the people who hold down full-time jobs AND blog 5 days+ per week. HOW DO THEY DO IT?! I’ll never know.

Anyway, it’s Friday, and I do still have lots of favorite lyrics from lots of east coast artists.

My fave this week comes from PEI-raised Catherine MacLellan. MacLellan’s album “Silhouette” is nominated for ECMAs for album of the year, folk recording of the year, and solo album of the year. Not too shabby.

” I was broke and you were busted, lights come on in the dark.

Caught in the glare here is something we can’t start.

We both know what we’re feeling, but we can’t talk about that, can’t talk about that.

We both know we’ve been stealing, but we can’t talk about that, can’t talk about that.

We both know what we’re feeling, but neither of us will be stealing this love tonight.”

I’m also really loving this video and its cityscapes and country scenery. It’s very east coast.

Happy weekend everyone!

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