Friday, February 19, 2010

Black Drink Crier (Cameron Wensel)

In a metal dominated town it’s great to see an emerging roots music scene. Cam Wensel and his recently formed band Black Drink Crier should be dominant in it. With the company of Judd Stachoski of the Bystander’s (another fantastic roots band in town) on the drums, Black Drink Crier are three talented young men that will in the words of the Supersuckers Rock Your Ass!

With only recently forming Cam has a full set of predominantly self written originals that are accompanied by a couple blistering covers; covers such as Steve Earle’s “Johnny Come Lately” and Warren Zevon’s “Carmelita”. Cam’s originals seem to be fired right out of his soul and with honest songs he really seems to have a handle on lyrics and melody. Such is shown in my personal favourite song he played last night “Porch Fire” and others like “December Georgia”. Cam’s music doesn’t have shiny clothes or trendy hair cuts. It is nothing more than superbly well written roots music.

With an album on the way we can expect a fairly versatile record. One with relaxed thoughtful laments and also some foot stomping guitar wanks. A song that really ripped it up for me I believe is called “Hell’s CafĂ©” which highlights Cam’s ability to be a guitar picking man that with all his other talents help keep him heads and shoulders above most of the other songwriters in town. This man is the complete package.

Not only is Cam a talented songwriter and musician he doesn’t lack as a performer either. As if songwriting and music aren’t enough to draw you in, Cam keeps the mood light with his dry one line humour and funny quips thrown in between songs. When he was about to perform a song from his old band the West Port Murders “Upperhand”, Cam quipped “This is a song I used to do with my old band the West Port Murders I was in up until a week ago.” As the crowd chuckles in between sets always entertained either by song or a story, Cam is choosing his acoustic or electric guitar and selecting the song that best fits the show.

A song I really enjoyed was a song called “The Jet’s” which is fun hockey song about how he misses the Jets of Winnipeg and how they really can’t play hockey down in Phoenix. While I am still partial to “Porch Fire” as my favourite, a new song I didn’t get the name of in which Black Drink Crier closed their set was superb. I could have a new favourite on the horizon.

Next time you see Cam’s name in an invitation or on a poster come see this stripped-down neo-traditionalist and let him blow your mind with raw talent and story songs.

Come see for yourself…

Cheers Rockers!

Listen at ReverbNation:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Florence + the Machine - Lungs

Florence + the Machine is the brainchild of British singer/songwriter Florence Welch. Florence has made quite the splash in the U.K. and has garnered rave reviews over here in North America but I haven't had a chance to give her music a good listen until the last couple of days. And now I'm hooked. Lungs, which was released last summer, definitely deserves your attention.

Florence possesses a strong, soaring voice which she surrounds with an assortment of musical styles. This album is extremely eclectic, combining garage rock with soul, electronic pop, new age and indie rock, among other things. Despite all these disparate influences, the album holds together as a cohesive unit surprisingly well. At times, I can hear elements of The White Stripes, PJ Harvey, Bat For Lashes and Loreena McKennitt in the mix. In particular, "Kiss With A Fist" sounds like it could be a Jack White production with it's raw, blistering guitars.

Below is a video of her performing "Kiss With A Fist" on The Late Show with David Letterman... which Dave says is very "spirited." Indeed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Owen Pallett - Heartland

For his third album, Owen Pallett has released an album under his own name for the first time, ditching the Final Fantasy moniker due to legal issues. Heartland is his first album since his Polaris-winning He Poos Clouds. In large part due to his previous album, as well his high profile collaborations with the likes of The Arcade Fire and Mark Ronson, this album has been generating an insane amount of buzz and rave reviews. Of all the reviews I've read, they have all ranged from 4 to 5 stars. So in other words, not too shabby.

I had a chance to see Own Pallett/Final Fantasy at the Regina Folk Festival a couple years ago and was completely mesmerized by his performance. A guy with a violin and a voice definitely doesn't sound that promising on paper but he definitely delivered the goods by creating lush soundscapes with a loop petal. He effectively became a one-man-band in the process and captivated the crowd.

So with all of these things in mind, I was pretty excited when Heartland finally came out a couple weeks ago. After listening to it for the first time, my initial reaction was "This is it???" Aside from "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt," no songs leap out at you. So I was pretty disappointed at the start. This is definitely an album you have to take the time to sit down and sink your teeth into. Pallett obviously spent a LOT of time constructing this album, which is primarily built around a series of intertwining, layered orchestral arrangements.

Despite my initial disappointment, I have come to really admire this album. It truly is an album that grows on you. I've listened to it about ten times so far and it keeps getting better and better. Because it is so layered, I hear new things with each new listen. I would recommend listening to this album with headphones because there are some dense sounds that kind of get lost in conventional speakers. So I'm glad I waited on reviewing this album because this album is definitely a case of not trusting first impressions.

Below is a great live clip of "Lewis Takes Off His Shirt."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

RIP Geoff Lloyd (Matthew Good Band)

It's a sad day for Canadian music as the co founder and original bassist for the Matthew Good Band has passed away. No word on how this happened yet but people say Geoff Lloyd was battling personal demons.

Lloyd was the bassist for the Matthew Good Band's 1995 "Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts" debut album and their 1997 breakout smash "Underdogs".

For me Lloyd was in a group of musicians that made music great for Canada in the late '90's. I remember vividly watching bands like Econoline Crush, Matthew Good Band and Bif Naked rock the shit out of Edgefest.

Geoff is off to the the big stage in the sky. Rest In Peace.

Matthew Good Band - Everything is Automatic

Monday, February 1, 2010

Billy the Kid - The Lost Cause

Recently my friends Crystal and Nathan told me in passing that I should check out their friend Billy the Kid as she was coming to town soon. I actually forgot that she was coming to play here as I had other things on my mind and the CRUE was the night prior. However my night fell ass backwards into place I ended up at O’hanlons where I had been lucky enough to check out original talent that far exceeded my expectations on more than one occasion.

This night was no different. I walked in just having missed the Lazy MK’s which is another band on my “to see” list just in time for Billy’s set. I wasn’t prepared to see Billy as like I said I totally had forgotten and was out with the guys. That is until I saw Crystal and Nathan; at that moment I knew that while I stumbled in there by accident I was in for a treat remembering that this was who Crystal told me to come see. You see, I can generally trust Crystal and Nathan as we have watched many a band together and more times than not we agree.

It was really busy in O’hanlons so went to upstairs where I could look down on the stage to get a better view. I was floored. She was playing a stripped down brand of singer/songwriter set that she alternated between keys and guitar. I have to say I was impressed before I heard a note though. Here I was watching a cute songstress who is littered in great tattoos, sharp glasses finished a clash shirt. This all topped off with a piercing smile that you can't help but just stop and stare.

If that’s not enough, this talented musician has the songs to back it up. I have bought her EP entitled “The Lost Cause” and I can tell you she sounds just as amazing live as she does on cd. I find in today’s music world where anyone can put out a record it’s harder and harder to find a new record that you can listen to all the way through let alone be enthralled with as I was with on this EP. I think the secret is female songstresses and OLP producers. See Frankie Whyte and Duncan Coutts and here with Billy Pettinger and Raine Maida. Billy has a booming voice that will pull you in. Enjoy a reflective number about love like “These City Nights”, a beautiful song like “Drown” which is an amazing piece or catchy ditty like “The Drugs”.

Please do yourself a favour and buy this record. You can find it on itunes. Thank you Crystal and Nathan for introducing me and lastly thank you Billy for doing your thing.
On iTunes:

Cheers Rockers.

Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own

This past summer I had the pleasure of seeing Basia Bulat at the Regina Folk Festival and thought she was easily one of the highlights of the weekend. At the time, Bulat was still supporting her fantastic debut album Oh, My Darling, which was nominated for the prestigious Polaris award.

With her second album, she has definitely laid to rest any worries she might hit the dreaded sophomore jinx. All the elements that made her debut so appealing are still in full force here: namely, her soulful, vibrant voice and breezy melodies. But while she still sticks to acoustic guitar and ukulele as her primary instruments of choice, Bulat kicks the tempos into high gear with more of an emphasis on percussion. The end result is a more rollicking set of tunes that will likely end up in my top ten albums of 2010.

Album opener "Go On" sets the tone with swarms of strings over top of marching band style drums. And if you don't get shivers down your spine when she croons "How I've done myself in" during "Sugar and Spice" then you must be made of stone. This album is an absolute delight and definitely worth your time and money.

You can check out a version of "Gold Rush" from her album below.