Tag Archive: Diamond Rings


Somebody made me feel a little guilty about not keeping up with my writing for Victoria Record Club, so this is my attempt to get back on track. I have quite a few months to catch up on, and I’ve tried to list all of my picks here to the best of my knowledge. Through the magic of Facebook I know I’ve got all the dates correct, but the specific tracks off a couple of albums might be missing.

Meeting #4: Tuesday March 22nd 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

Album: The Meligrove Band, Planets Conspire

Tracks Played: “Everyone’s A Winner” and “Feversleep”

This is one of my all time favourite front to back records. I’d give anything to see the Meligrove Band live. I’d especially give anything to see them perform this album in its entirety. The story of how I came into possession of this album is kind of interesting.

The Meligrove Band have have some kind of curse on their heads. Currently three albums into their career, the band has had one hell of a bumpy ride to get to where they are now. Just before the release of their second album Planets Conspire they were signed to V2 Records (the label Richard Branson founded after he sold Virgin Records to EMI). The band was set to receive some well deserved world-wide attention when the label suddenly “restructured” and dropped all the artists on their roster. While a setback like this would ruin your average group, the Meligrove Band persevered and released their third album, Shimmering Lights, in 2010.

It was while on tour to support this release that major disaster struck the band for a second time. Only a few dates into their December 2010 tour of the US, the band’s bus broke down and they were left stranded in Orlando, Florida. The band was forced to cancel the remainder of their US tour due to being thrown so far off the tour schedule, and then they were forced to cancel all their Canadian dates opening for Tokyo Police Club and the Arkells, as well as their European tour due to the financial burden of the mechanical costs.

I had a ticket to the Tokyo Police Club and Arkells show here in Victoria. I was pretty upset that I wouldn’t get the chance to finally see the Meligrove Band when I heard news of them being stranded. I was especially sad because at the time I was searching for a vinyl copy of Planets Conspire and I was planning on picking one up when they came to town. Since the record was released on a now defunct label, few copies of the vinyl were pressed and from what I’ve heard there’s no talk of a reissue. This wasn’t just an album I could order off the internet. Here’s where the magic of Facebook comes into play. One day the band posted on their Facebook page that they had unearthed some lost copies of Planets Conspire and that they would have them available at their bus repair fundraising show… in Toronto. I jumped on this news and sent a message to the band saying I was desperate for a copy and asked if they would be willing to ship a record out here. The bass player Michael Small emailed me back later that day, was super nice, and we worked out a deal via PayPal. Really, this was one of the most positive interactions I’ve ever had with a band.

Despite all the setbacks, the Meligrove Band is still working hard at making a go of it. Just a couple of days ago they posted on their Twitter feed “All done playing shows for 2011. Thanks everyone. Now we work on new songs. Tonight, though, we’ll go to the big @sheezer show in Toronto… “. They’re not quite out of the woods yet though. The band has the following message on their webpage:

“By now you probably know about the piles of money we lost fixing our bus and missing half a tour, stuck in Orlando for a week. This forced us to cancel Europe and US tours, including SXSW, and still threatens to for-real bankrupt us. So if you were thinking of grabbing some music and/or a t-shirt, today is the day. Or tomorrow, whenever. Thanks!!”

Want to help the band out? You can buy their merch here.

Also, here’s a great interview with the band about their bus misfortune.

 

Meeting #5: Tuesday May 3rd 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

This is the one meeting of Victoria Record Club that I’ve missed. I had a good excuse though: I was in Vancouver seeing the Pixies perform Doolittle in its entirety. When I asked Jeremy later what fun had transpired in my absence, he informed me that I didn’t miss much. The meeting was scheduled on the same night as a Canucks playoff game, and people had opted for sports instead of music. I guess the lesson learned from that night is that around these parts you have to schedule your record club meetings around hockey.

(I was lucky enough to see the Pixies perform again in Victoria two days later. You can find my photos from that night here.)

Meeting #6: Tuesday May 17th 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

Albums: PS I Love You, Starfield 7″ and PS I Love You and Diamond Rings, Leftovers 7″

Tracks played: “Butterflies and Boners” and “Leftovers”

The month of May gave the Victoria Record Club our quickest turnaround between meetings. There was a good reason: my friend, musician, author, and CBC radio host, Grant Lawrence was in town to promote his book Adventures In Solitude. (It’s a great book, I ended up reading it in a weekend because I couldn’t put it down. If interested, you can buy it here.) We invited Grant to join us while he was in town, and fortunately his schedule cooperated with the Canucks playoff schedule so we had a free day to meet with no hockey game to fret over.

I ended up bringing two 7″ records to the Record Club meeting this month. A couple of months earlier in March I saw Diamond Rings and PS I Love You perform at Sugar. I had seen Diamond Rings live before and knew how great his live show was, but I didn’t really know what to expect out of PS I Love You. The duo from Kingston Ontario released one of the best debuts I’ve heard in a while with their album Meet Me At The Muster Station. Listening to the album though, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the whole thing was created with just two musicians: Paul Saulnier on various guitars and Benjamin Nelson on drums. It instantly hit how great the duo was though when they opened their show at Sugar with “Butterflies and Boners” which has a pretty kickass finger tapped guitar solo. The band put out a 7″ with Diamond Rings in late 2010. This release included the song “Leftovers” which was a collaboration between the two groups. The show at Sugar ended with PS I Love You joining Diamond Rings on stage to perform this song. This was one of those great shows where I walked out being a much bigger fan of both bands.

Meeting #7

Ahh, the mysterious meeting #7. I searched all through my past Facebook events to see when this occurred. My conclusion: it never happened and we suck at keeping the numbers on our events straight. There you go kids, if you want to sound like you have street cred tell everyone that you were at the fabled Meeting #7 of Victoria Record Club.

Meeting #8: Wednesday July 6th 2011 at Smith’s Pub

Albums: Said The Whale, The Magician 7″ and Bruce Springsteen, Born In The USA and The Beatles, 1962-1966 and David Bowie, Changes One

Tracks played: “Camilo (The Magician)”, “Glory Days” and “Dancing In The Dark”, ???, ???

The Record Club decided to switch things up a bit this month and rather than meet at the record store, we ended up crashing Jeremy’s DJ night at Smith’s Pub. The pub was surprisingly empty when I showed up, even for it being a Wednesday night. Record Club basically ended up taking over the place which proved to be lots of fun. Jeremy brought a ton of his vinyl out that night and I remember there being some pretty great things that I wouldn’t mind having in my collection. (I clearly remembered there being a Smashing Pumpkins album I coveted.) I brought a bag of my selections from my collection out that night too and told DJ Jeremy to pick whatever he wanted to play out of there. By the end of the night I had a few spins from my collection on the stereo, including my Said The Whale 7″ that I picked up at their Rifflandia 2009 show and my Bruce Springsteen Born In The USA album that I’m pretty sure I picked up at a thrift store for only 50 cents.

One of my good friends, and a fellow music lover, David moved out to Ottawa recently to do his PhD. With the move came the need for him to downsize his record collection. Thanks to him I added quite a few classic albums to my collection. Actually, most of the good old albums I have are thanks to him. Two of discs added to my collection thanks to David were the greatest hits collections of The Beatles, 1962-1966, and David Bowie, Changes One. I remember these two records being on the stereo at one point near the end of our Smith’s night, but since it was the end of the evening I have no recollection of what songs were played. It was that good of a night.

Meeting #9: Sunday August 7th 2011 at Andrea’s backyard

Album: Crosby Stills Nash Young, Deja Vu

Tracks played: “Helpless” and “Woodstock”

Record Club switched things up again in August when member Andrea offered up her backyard for a Sunday afternoon BBQ. Dogs, children, beers, various meats for grilling, speakers, turntables, and records were brought and a good time was had by all. We ended up chatting until well past sunset.

I was a bit lazy with my selection this time around. I again decided to bring a bag with a few selections in it. Just around sunset when it came time for my turn to put something on the stereo though I told the other members to choose what they wanted to hear. They chose well and put on “Helpless” from my Crosby Stills Nash Young album Deja Vu. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the summer than to have drinks, friends, and Neil Young.

Meeting #10: Tuesday October 18th 2011 at Studio 16 1/2

Album: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Hometowns

Tracks Played: “The Deathbridge In Lethbridge” and “Don’t Haunt This Place”

I was getting a little worried about Record Club by the end of this summer. We had become nomads, having meetings wherever we could, be it bars or backyards. We also had just marked the one year anniversary of the first Record Club meeting. This was too young of an idea to let it die off. Luckily Chris, owner of Studio 16 1/2 in Fan Tan Alley, stepped up and offered his place for our get together this month. The space seemed to fit our style, I’m hoping we can make Record Club a somewhat regular thing again. This gathering of Record Club was notable for another reason: Jeremy and I finally managed to drag our friend Tyson out to join us. (I’m not really exaggerating with that, I had to drive him there and everything.)

The album I brought this month was Hometowns by The Rural Alberta Advantage. I picked this one up just a week or so before the Record Club meeting when Tyson and I made a trip out to Ditch Records. I was rummaging through the selection of used vinyl new to the store when I came across it. Hometowns got a lot of play on my stereo this summer and so my reaction to this find was “who in their right mind would get rid of an album like this??”. I knew I had to give it a good home.

The last time that The Rural Alberta Advantage passed through town I made the mistake of agreeing to cover for a sick friend who was supposed to teach a stats class the next morning at 8:30am. I made the difficult decision to be a responsible instructor and actually prepare for the lecture and get a good night’s sleep instead of seeing the show. I instantly regretted my choice when I walked in the next morning to see a student sitting front row and center, wearing a Rural Alberta Advantage t-shirt that he bought at the show. After the class was over I asked the student how the concert was. His reply: “It was great! I met the band and they signed my shirt and everything!”. He then turned around to show me the autographs on the back of his shirt. That’s what I get for acting like a responsible adult.

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It’s been a few days since the Polaris Long List was announced, and I’ve had a chance to let it all sink in. I’ve been asked by a few friends to give an opinion on the Long List, so I thought I’d weigh in here too.

First, let’s take a look at geography. Here’s how the Long List breaks down:

  • Vancouver – 4
  • Rest of the West (Calgary and Winnipeg) – 3
  • Toronto – 14
  • Rest of Ontario – 3
  • Montreal – 11
  • Eastern Provinces – 4
  • International – 1

Nothing should surprise you about this, it’s pretty typical of past Polaris Long Lists. Maybe the International inclusion comes as a surprise, but that’s Neil Young. Exceptions can be made for Neil Young. Perhaps it’s because I’m so close to the Victoria and Vancouver music scenes that I’m personally disappointed in the low turnout from BC. I’m also disappointed that coming off the heels of Karkwa’s win in 2010, only one album on the entire Long List this year is in French.

Geography and language aside, what about the music? I hate to admit it, but aside from maybe The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, there’s no one album on the Long List that really grabbed me. When I look back on this past year, my musical obsessions (the Hold Steady – not Canadian, Japandroids – didn’t release an album in the eligibility period, Explosions In The Sky – not Canadian, Versa – who’s that?) all were not going to make it anywhere near being nominated. Oh there are lots of albums on the Long List that I love and they all deserve to be there, but I didn’t listen to any of them over and over ad nauseum like I did with some of the nominees in 2010. This makes picking my front runners for the Short List really, really difficult.

CBC Radio 3 is once again holding its Polaris Prize Pool, where listeners are asked to name the 10 albums they think will make the Polaris Short List. The entry with the most correct picks from the actual Polaris Short List wins a CBC Radio 3 prize pack. The winner will be announced on July 6th (the day of the Short List announcement), but unfortunately for you it’s now too late to enter. I managed to get in an entry just under the wire; here’s the list I submitted. It’s based largely on what I personally like on the Long List, mixed with picks that have been popular with friends, and albums that have received buzz.

  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
  • Braids – Native Speaker
  • Buck 65 – 20 Odd Years
  • The Dears – Degeneration Street
  • Destroyer – Kaputt
  • Diamond Rings – Special Affections
  • Hey Rosetta! – Seeds
  • Hooded Fang – Album
  • Malajube – La Caverne
  • PS I Love You – Meet Me At The Muster Station

This took me forever to put together. I changed it at least 40 times over the couple hours it took me to finalize. I think I’m content with the list though: I managed to include picks from the West, the East, Toronto, and Montreal; I included big names like Arcade Fire and Hey Rosetta! and lesser known names like Braids and Hooded Fang; there’s even a decent representation of genres there with straight up rock, pop rock, 80s inspired dance, and hip hop. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual Short List doesn’t resemble this at all. (With the exception of Arcade Fire that is – I will be absolutely shocked if they are left off the Short List.)

Hopefully my thoughts on the Long List didn’t sound too negative, that was not my intention. To counteract that, let me list some other Long List artists whose releases I really enjoyed:  Women, Shotgun Jimmie, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Black Mountain, Timber Timbre, Stars, Land Of Talk, Luke Doucet and the White Falcon, Imaginary Cities, Sloan, and Young Galaxy. I highly recommend checking out all these albums. (Full disclosure: the albums I didn’t list here are the ones I haven’t listened to yet. I doubt there’s anything on the Long List I’d totally detest.)

There were so many other amazing albums that didn’t make the cut for the 2011 Polaris Long List. Here’s some great albums that didn’t make it:

  • Tokyo Police Club – Champ
  • Mohawk Lodge – Crimes
  • Wolf Parade – Expo 86
  • Treelines – Summer Song EP (This technically wouldn’t have qualified. Why didn’t you boys add two more songs to that release?!)
  • Royal Canoe – Co-Op Mode
  • The Mountains and the Trees – I Made This For You (Long List miss #4 – I was rooting for you Jon!)
  • Kathryn Calder – Are You My Mother?
  • Gonzales – Ivory Tower
  • Chromeo – Business Casual
  • The Meligrove Band – Shimmering Lights
  • Suuns – Zeroes QC
  • Jason Collett – Pony Tricks
  • Hot Panda – How Come I’m Dead?
  • The Gertrudes – Dawn Time Riot
  • Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans – The Falcon Lake Incident (Long List miss #1. This by far is the biggest omission from the Long List. You were robbed Jim!)
  • Jeremy Fisher – Flood (Long List miss #7.)
  • David Vertesi – Cardiography (Long List miss #2.)
  • Henry and the Nightcrawlers – 100 Blows (Long List miss #5.)
  • The Liptonians – Let’s All March Back to the Sea (Long List miss #3.)
  • Memphis – Here Comes A City
  • Mother Mother – Eureka (Long List miss #6. I’m surprised more people aren’t up in arms about this one not making the cut.)
  • Slow Down, Molasses – Walk Into The Sea
  • We Are The City – High School (Another EP that’s technically not qualified, but it’s still great!)
  • Chad VanGaalen – Diaper Island

So what are your picks for the Short List? Any albums from the past year I didn’t mention and should check out? Feel free to post your comments below!

And for more Polaris speculation fun, be sure to check out NxEW’s Shadow Polaris.

Alright. Here it is. I’ve finally written up my last post on the Rifflandia festival. And it only took me a good four months to get it done. Sigh…

Here’s the sight I came upon when I got to Market Square for the last big night of Rifflandia:

Rich Aucoin in Market Square

This pretty much lived up to everything I had heard about Rich Aucoin’s live show: video projections, audience participation, beach balls, parachutes (think along the lines of those parachutes from elementary school gym class), and music that can really only be described as “fun”. Oh, and there was a keytar! Go read any other review out there on Rich’s live shows. I guarantee you, they are in no way hyperbolizing how great they are. You have no idea how much I kicked myself for showing up late and only catching the last two songs. My only complaint for this set was the ridiculously early time slot. I’m sure the place would have been packed to the rafters had it been later in the evening. The crowd that did show up didn’t care though. They called and called for an encore. Unfortunately there was not enough time to spare before the next set of the night, so there was no encore for us.

Rich Aucoin at Market Square

After Rich Aucoin’s set I headed over to Club 9ONE9 to catch an artist who had been getting a lot of hype: Diamond Rings. I’m often skeptical when an artist receives so much press without even releasing a full album. I can tell you though, the hype for Diamond Rings is well deserved. (Of course, now that a few months have passed and the album Special Affections has been released, I can very surely say that he deserves every bit of praise he gets.) OK, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised at how good Diamond Rings was. After all, John O’Regan is no stranger to the stage, what with being the lead singer of the D’Urbervilles and all.

Diamond Rings at Club 9ONE9

The dance floor for this show was packed, with lots of people singing along to songs. As was all too often an occurrence at this year’s Rifflandia, the crowd called for an encore to no result. I chatted briefly with John O. after his set, and am happy to report that he is really friendly and approachable. Your next chance to catch Diamond Rings in Victoria is Saturday March 12th at Sugar along with PS I Love You.

rainbow unicorn keyboard - what does it mean??

Diamond Rings at Club 9ONE9

Now it was time for my failed attempt to see Times Neue Roman. I showed up at the Upstairs Cabaret just ten minutes into what should have been their set and I was greeted with an empty stage. Hoping that things were just a few minutes behind schedule, I stuck around. Unfortunately it seemed that things were way ahead of schedule and I had missed out on seeing the band. (Has this ever, in the history of all concerts, happened??)

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald was next to take the stage at Upstairs. Since I was already there, I stayed for a couple of songs. I loved the fact that he had a horn section. His style of music reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on. If you’re interested in hearing some of his songs, my recommended listening is Maxine, Movie Life, and Brand New Spaces. Your next chance to see him in Victoria is this Tuesday February 8th at Lucky Bar.

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald at Upstairs Cabaret

I had just enough time to rush back to Market Square to see a bit of Hey Rosetta’s set. Last year at Rifflandia I had to listen to them while stuck in the line outside Market Square on Johnson Street. This year I was able to walk right in to the venue, not a single person was waiting in line. Success! …Or so I thought. To fit with the running theme of this night of Rifflandia, I was greeted by a stage not running on time. I don’t know what happened during the last two sets at Market Square but the set times were a good 20 to 30 minutes late at this point. Now I had a real decision to make. Do I stick around for one or two songs, or do I head over to Sugar to meet up with friends and rock out with Hollerado? Having already seen Hollerado twice in the past few months, I decided to gamble and stick around for Hey Rosetta. I made the wrong choice. The soundcheck took another 10 or 15 minutes and by the time Hey Rosetta took the stage I had to run to catch the last band of the night I wanted to see. After two misses two years in a row, I am so looking forward to seeing a regular non-festival style set from Hey Rosetta. They will be in town on Monday March 7th at Sugar in support of their new album, Seeds, which is out on February 15th. If you haven’t already heard it, you should check out their first single Welcome.

Hey Rosetta (not Hot Hot Heat) at Market Square

Well, I finally made it to the end. The Dodos were the last band I saw at Rifflandia. Walking into Sugar for this show it would be hard to tell that the crowd had been partying for the last three days straight. They had the same level of energy as the crowds on day one of the festival. It was amazing. The downpour of rain outside didn’t even dampen their spirits. Going into the show I didn’t know much about the Dodos. I knew that they had recently opened up for the New Pornographers on their tour, and I knew that one of the guys in the band played the vibraphone with a bow. That was enough to get me to the show. In writing this post I looked back on my tweets from the festival to make sure I didn’t miss anything. What I wrote about this show was “The Dodos: three guys, lots of percussion”. For only having three members with an instrumentation consisting only of guitar, drums, and a vibraphone, it’s amazing the sound that these guys can get. This set went a long way to turning around the foul mood I was in after missing out on so many sets earlier this night.

The Dodos at Sugar

The highlight of the set for me was the encore of Fables. It’s an incredibly catchy song. If you haven’t heard it, check out the video on the link I posted.

The encore came after the crowd started up the enthusiastic chant of “Ten more songs! Ten more songs!”. No one was ready to call it a night and no one was ready to call it an end to the amazing weekend that was the Rifflandia festival.

The Dodos at Sugar

To wrap this all up (since I spread it out over so many months) here’s the rest of my coverage on Rifflandia 2010:

Rifflandia Recap: Day 1

Finally!… Rifflandia Recap: Day 2

Photos Day 1

Photos Day 2

Photos Day 3