Archive for September, 2010


Rifflandia Recap: Day 1

Sunday Buckets at Market Square

Hometown boys Sunday Buckets kicked off year three of the Rifflandia festival Thursday night at Market Square. The stage started off with a few technical problems, but they were quickly fixed and the show was underway. Despite the rain and the early time slot the band had no problem drawing an audience and they seemed really happy with the turnout. Near the end of their set the band threw some merch into the crowd, including copies of their new album. So far, it was a pretty good start to the festival.

Brasstronaut at Market Square

Up next on the Market Square stage was Brasstronaut. If you know me, it’s no secret that I love this band. I can’t wait for the day that people here know them well enough so that I’m not the only weirdo in the crowd singing along to all their songs.

Edo Reminding Us to Vote for the Echo Prize

This was my third time seeing Brasstronaut in Victoria and it seems that their audience here grows each time. I was glad to see that the technical problems from earlier in the evening just meant that the set times were shifted by 15 minutes, rather than having someone’s set cut short. One moment I found kind of funny was when the trumpet player Bryan Davies hit that high note at the end of Six Toes and raised his arms in triumph to celebrate. (You can see that moment at the end of this video.) The band tried out a new song that for now is untitled.

Sam Davidson of Brasstronaut

Before leading into Hearts Trompet the keyboardist and lead singer Edo van Breemen gave us all a gentle reminder that the song is nominated for the fan decided Echo Songwriting Prize and that we should all go put a vote in. If they win, the band plans to put the $5000 towards their upcoming European tour. Brasstronaut closed their set with Slow Knots. I swear, if the album version hasn’t won you over, you need to see them play it live.

I decided to stick around Market Square for a few songs of the next act Grand Analog. Brennan Saul of Brasstronaut joined in on drums for this set. The crowd was instantly into what Grand Analog had to offer and without much prodding everyone was dancing and waving their hands in the air. Throughout the first few songs Grand Analog hinted that he brought his kazoo with him, so I knew that I had to hang around for a bit. The now capacity crowd at Market Square did a fine job of the call and response in Electric City. (“Music makes the world go round, world go round, world go round. Music makes the world go round, we ain’t going nowhere.”) During a break in the song I Play My Kazoo, Grand Analog and his DJ took turns showing off their dance moves. (Air kicks! Handstands!)

Grand Analog at Market Square

About halfway through Grand Analog’s set I decided to try make it to Club 9ONE9 for the last part of We Are The City’s time slot. Unfortunately because the Market Square stage was running 15 minutes behind schedule, I underestimated how late it was and I made it just in time to hear the last chord from We Are The City. Darn. The band currently has no upcoming shows scheduled, so I really hope I didn’t blow my last chance to see them for the next few months.

When I started the evening I wasn’t too sure what to see in the 10:30 time slot. With many venues filling up for the evening I decided to head over to the Metro Theatre and check out local band Forestry. The only thing I knew about Forestry was that they were featured in CFUV’s magazine Renegade Radio this past year and I picked this show based purely on that fact. This is why I love festivals like Rifflandia. Not only do I get to see numerous bands that I’m already a fan of, I also get bands that I might not otherwise be prompted to see live. As it turns out, I really liked Forestry. If Band of Horses ever come back to town these guys would make for a great opening act. The two bands seem to write songs from the same manual where they start off quiet and by the end everyone is rocking out. I was not the only person to rush to the merch table right after Forestry’s set to pick up their album.

Lee Ranaldo at the Metro Theatre

Since I was already at the Metro Theatre I stuck around to see a few minutes of Lee Ranaldo. I mean really, how could I pass up the chance to see one of the founding members of Sonic Youth? Even as the stage was being set up you could tell that we were all about to witness something unique; in darkness a guitar hung from a wire in the middle of the stage giving the appearance of floating midair. Even though Ranaldo is heralded as being one of the greatest guitar players of all time, not once did he play the instrument in any sort of traditional way. Lots of effects were used, and everything from a bow, to fingers, to a drumstick, to a handheld media device was used to get sound out of the instrument. The theatrics of the performance provided just another level to the set. Ranaldo not only played the guitar, he danced with it, sometimes swinging his partner wildly across the stage as video images flooded the backdrop behind him. This was truly an unforgettable performance.

Lee Ranaldo at the Metro Theatre

I finished off the night back at Club 9ONE9 for You Say Party. I arrived partway through their set, but was just in time to catch the band launch into Laura Palmer’s Prom. The night played out much like their set at the Live At Squamish Festival a few weeks prior, and I mean that in the best possible way. The dance floor was in full swing the entire time, and there was a good mix of new songs and songs from their most recent release XXXX, with some old gems sprinkled in for good measure. The band finished off their set with Like I Give A Care, and left the stage with the crowd calling out for an encore. With the applause not letting up after a good couple minutes, lead singer Becky came back on stage and said “aw, thanks, that was our encore”, smiled, waved and left. We were out of luck that night, but what a great way to end Day 1 of Rifflandia.

You Say Party

Up next in Day 2: Treelines, the Wicks, Maurice, Yukon Blonde, Aidan Knight, Great Lake Swimmers, and Shout Out Out Out Out.

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Karkwa for their album Les Chemins De Verre!!! Félicitations!

Now, can this please have a wider release so we can all run out and buy it??

UPDATE (September 22, 2010):

Karkwa have provided the following reaction to being awarded the Polaris Prize:

“It’s an unbelievable thing to win this prize.  We have a lot of respect for this contest and we think they do it for the right reason (music).  On suit le gala depuis son début, et c’est le prix qui nous touche le plus.” – Karkwa

If you missed the live broadcast stream of the Polaris gala, you can catch the video feed here on MuchMusic. (Psst… if you do a search, you can also find the video from the 2009 Polaris Prize gala! Way to go Much!) CBC Radio 3 has also put together a comprehensive list of their coverage including audio of all 10 performances, exclusive photos and interviews, profiles of all 10 shortlisted albums, and a podcast of the entire broadcast from the night.

The 2010 Polaris Prize

Well, this is it. The 2010 Polaris Prize will be announced this Monday September 20th. Along with the title, one lucky artist or group will receive $20,000 (Canadian, of course).

For the past couple months the folks at CBC Radio 3 have been conducting a poll on listener reaction to who should win the 2010 Polaris Prize. As of writing, their poll shows Dan Mangan taking the popular vote by a whopping 33%, but this is no surprise as he has held a commanding lead pretty much since day 1 of voting. To make things more interesting Radio 3 has been posting predictions from notable Canadian figures such as Sebastien Grainger (prediction: Caribou), Jann Arden (prediction: Tegan and Sara), Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore (prediction: Tegan and Sara), Alan Cross (prediction: Broken Social Scene), Jeremy Morris of Midnight Poutine (prediction: Karkwa with Radio Radio coming second), Bob Krobauer of Vancouver Is Awesome (prediction: Vancouverite Dan Mangan), Jordan Delic of Aux TV (prediction: Shad), and Randy Bachman (!) (prediction: the Sadies).

If you’re looking to put money down and bet for this year’s Polaris winner, both CHARTattack and Alan Cross of Explore Music have you covered. On Wednesday CHARTattack released their yearly Polaris Music Prize Betting Line. Last year, with mere hours before the gala, they correctly predicted the victory of Toronto hardcore punk band Fucked Up. This year they have the Besnard Lakes down for the win. Alan Cross, the master himself of ongoing new music history, has chimed in with his odds too. Interestingly, he puts the Besnard Lakes in last place and gives the win to Tegan and Sara.

For more insight into this year’s prize, I recommend checking out

  • The Polaris Prize Shortlist in which the authors Gary, Ryan, and Dave have each provided a review for every album on this year’s shortlist. (Note: Despite the title of the blog, these guys aren’t officially associated with the Polaris Prize.)
  • The Broken Speaker which provides reviews for each of the shortlisted albums as well as a couple panel discussions on this year’s prize.
  • radio free canuckistan which provides even more reviews for the ten shortlist albums, as well the chances of winning for each album, and a list of albums that should have made the short list.

If all these predictions weren’t enough for you, I’ll share one more list to keep in mind. The R3-30, the weekly chart show on CBC Radio 3, has compiled the Polaris rankings as if the prize were to be decided by R3-30 chart performance: #10 – Tegan & Sara, #9 – RadioRadio, #8 – Karkwa, #7 – Caribou, #6 – The Sadies, #5 – Dan Mangan, #4 – The Besnard Lakes, #3-#1 – Owen Pallett, Shad & Broken Social Scene.

So who will take the prize this year?

I’ve been liking Karkwa a lot lately. My initial pick was the Besnard Lakes. Tegan and Sara, the Besnard Lakes, Shad, and the Sadies all seem to be the odds-on favourites of the critics. Some people have said they can’t see Dan Mangan taking it, but I think he has a fighting chance. As good as the respective albums are, I would be surprised if past winners Owen Pallett (2006) or Caribou (2008) take the title again. That being said, don’t listen to a word I’ve just written. I’ve guessed wrong for every year but one. In fact, last year I placed Fucked Up as least likely to win. To help you make up your own mind, I’ve put together a playlist of all the songs from shortlisted albums available on CBC Radio 3. Take a listen and judge for yourself!

To find out this year’s winner, tune into the Polaris Prize Gala show streaming live on CBC Radio 3 and Sirius Satellite Channel 86 (audio only) and on MuchMusic (video). The Polaris Prize Gala will be held at the Masonic Temple in Toronto on Monday September 20th at 8pm EST, 5pm PST.

After listening to all ten shortlisted albums, I’ve picked out two of my favourite songs from each. Enjoy!

The Polaris Short List 2010 Mixtape:

Besnard Lakes – Albatross

Besnard Lakes – Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 2: The Innocent

Broken Social Scene – Texaco Bitches

Broken Social Scene – Forced to Love

Caribou – Leave House

Caribou – Odessa

Karkwa – Le Bon Sens

Karkwa – Les Chemins De Verre

Dan Mangan – Road Regrets

Dan Mangan – Et Les Mots Croisés

Owen Pallett – Tryst With Mephistopheles

Owen Pallett – The Great Elsewhere

Radio Radio – Dekshoo

Radio Radio – Guess What

The Sadies – Another Year Again

The Sadies – Postcards

Shad – Yaa I Get It

Shad – Keep Shining

Tegan and Sara – Hell

Tegan and Sara – The Cure