Thursday, February 11, 2010

Log Driver's Waltz

Casey Dorrell



New Canadian music blog by myself, Kate McKenna, and Mark Teo coming soon:
Log Driver's Waltz
47 comments

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bluesfest: Day 7

Calum Marsh

Jon was working during the 7th day of Bluesfest (Thursday) and I couldn't be bothered to swing by - sorry for the gap in our coverage.

YouTube footage:



Download:
Etta James - I Just Wanna Make Love To You
Elliott Brood - Second Son #2

Buy:
Bluesfest Tickets
38 comments

Bluesfest: Day 6

Calum Marsh

Bluesfest's sixth day was a weird one. I wasn't expecting to go at all because, once again, I was schedueled to work straight through the night. Strangely - though, I suppose, fortunately - circumstances instigated an argument with my boss which resulted in, well, me walking out.

It's not every day I get to sponteniously quit my job. This was cause for celebration. I strolled over to Bluesfest (a mere block away from where I work - er, worked) and found Jon selling Mobile t-shirts at the Main Stage merch tent. Apparently I missed their absolutely incredible set (is it indeed difficult to pick up written sarcasm?), but I was lucky enough to make it in time for some unknown named Nelly Furtado. Hot.

Nelly Furtado

I once again took advantage of my little press pass, wandering beyond the lowly peons to that cozy nook between the crowd and the stage. My smug sense of superiority was quickly shot down, though: turns out Nelly specifically requested that no press be allowed in their usual special spot - the spot I was making myself comfortable in that very moment - and so I was cast back into the real world, forced to quite literally stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the "normals". Sigh.

I was kind of impressed with that set. I'm not really a fan of Nelly's music, mind you, but she's a solid performer. I couldn't really tell if the crowd was overly into it, but it's tough to tell with these things: for the majority of the people there, this was probably the only concert they would see all year - which is fine and all, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. I'm used to indie rock shows, where every kid present has a very specific sense of how he or she is supposed to act while there - it's kind of refreshing, then, to be at a concert free of empty bullshit facades. We music snobs could learn a thing or two about show etiquette from the soccer moms balancing atop their too-old lawn chairs.

Jon finished work when Nelly finished her set. We grabbed a bite and then promptly headed for what has quickly become our favourite area, the Black Sheep Stage. It was there that we were fortunate enough to see:

The Grande Mothers

Now this was unexpected. It hadn't occurred to me, when I first read the fesitval guide, that this wasn't just some band playing Frank Zappa songs: this was fucking Frank Zappa's band. Thank God I quit my job.

Though it wasn't the best show I've seen this week, it was easily the most pleasently surprising. There can be no replacement for a Frank Zappa show, but this came pretty damn close. The boys (who have all played with Zappa at various stages in his career) emboddied the very essence of the word "charasimatic" - and the crowd was eating it up. Five or six people would yell out various song titles between songs, hoping to hear their favourites - the band's response? "Requests cost ten Finnish marks - not dollars, not euros, not yen - just Finnish marks". Fair enough.

Download:
Frank Zappa - Orange Colored Sky
Nelly Furtado - Promiscous

Buy:
Bluesfest Tickets
39 comments

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mocking Music and Revolution Rock Present: Sunset Rubdown

Calum Marsh

Tickets are still up for grabs for this exciting concert event! All you've got to do is send me an email (calummarsh@gmail.com) with "Sunset Rubdown Tickets" in the subject line - or, hell, leave a comment here with your name and email address - and you could be seeing this great live show for free!
37 comments

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bluesfest: Day 5

Jonathan Migneault

Bluesfest's fifth day has come and gone. Once again, I brought my camera and snapped a few pictures -- a few of which turned out alright.

By now, it has almost become routine for me to head straight to the Blacksheep stage. That was exactly what I did last night and, as usual, I (mostly) did not regret the choice.

First up was:

Mark Kozelek

Kozelek may be familiar to many of you as the frontman of Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters. Last night it was just him and one other guitarist on the stage. His most famous solo effort was arguably his album of AC/DC covers, What's Next to the Moon, in which he radically altered the originals. His original work has rested on highly personal themes of loss, despair, memory and geography.

Regrettably, none of those themes really shone through when he played last night. He was just going through the motions. There was no sense of urgency or even agency in his set. In what I hope was an off night his disinterest was reflected onto the audience. Most people chatted away and did not pay close attention to his music.

The experience was summed up when Kozelek left the stage early. A full hour, in fact, before the next band was supposed to take the stage. A veteran musician, Kozelek knew he was not playing to his usual standards (I hope) and ended it. This turned out to be a positive because the headliners were able to play a longer set.

That next band was:

Son Volt
Son Volt was that other band that resulted from Uncle Tupelo's split in the mid-90s. When the seminal alt-country band broke up its two founders, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, started their own seperate groups that have continued to redifine alternative country. Those two bands were, of course, Son Volt and Wilco.

After the former's Bluesfest performance, I was amazed that they had never achieved Wilco's level of popularity. The crowd's reaction to Son Volt was in stark contrast to the passivity that Kozelek had received. Everyone was involved in their amazing performance.

Son Volt combined the best elements of country, hard rock and folk music with scientific precision. Great ballads and guitar onslaughts abounded their set; and neither seemed out of place or awkward.

In the encore, Farrar played a solo singer/songwriter song that put Kozelek and Ani DiFranco to shame. Everyone was captivated by his words. His bandmates joined him for the next two songs and they finished with a bang.

My friend Candice later commented that: "They owned that stage." I couldn't have agreed more.

Download:
Son Volt - Too Early
Wilco - Hummingbird
Mark Kozelek - Bad Boy Boogie
Sun Kil Moon - Carry Me Ohio

Buy:
Son Volt - Trace
Mark Kozelek - What's Next to the Moon
51 comments

Mocking Giveaway: Win Free Sunset Rubdown Tickets!

Calum Marsh

Exciting news abound! The fine folks down at Punk Ottawa and Revolution Rock are combining forces with Mocking Music to bring you, our faithful readers, what you're shutting up and dreaming about: a Sunset Rubdown.

Yes, if you're an Ottawa resident (or, failing that, if you can make it up here for a day or two), send me an email at calummarsh@gmail.com with your full name and address for your chance to win two free tickets to see Sunset Rubdown live in concert!

The deets, yo:

Who: Sunset Rubdown (Absolutely Kosher Records; members of Wolf Parade)
What: FREE CONCERT TICKETS
When: Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
Where: Zaphod Beeblebrox - Ottawa, ON
Why: Because we're cool like that
How: Email me (calummarsh@gmail.com) with your name and address. Make sure "Free Sunset Rubdown Tickets" is the subject line.

Download:
Sunset Rubdown - The Men Are Called Horsemen There
Sunset Rubdown - They Took A Vote And Said No
Sunset Rubdown - I'll Believe In Anything If You'll Believe In Anything

Buy:
Sunset Rubdown - Shut Up I Am Dreaming
23 comments

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bluesfest: Day 4

Calum Marsh

See what happens when Jon can't make it to a show? I apologize for the absolutely awful photographs. For the record: my camera was like thirty dollars. Ah, what the hell - it's my fault.

I know I recommended a night off in the Bluesfest guide, but I felt bad not taking advantage of my pass. I hadn't really tested out the power of my fancy 'Media Pass' yet, so I thought it might fun to see what it would get me. I strolled over to the grounds at around ten to nine, with little concern about having just missed The Stills. I made my way to the 'Black Sheep Stage' - they seem to be consistently hosting the most interesting shows at the festival - and watched a few minutes of Los De Abajo's set.

The crowd was small and nobody seemed into it, so I decided to check out the obnoxiously large Main Stage: Sam Roberts was cruising through a tepid 'Brother Down' when I found my way there. The Press Pass got me to the "Backstage" area, where I was allowed to sit in the small space between the fenced-off audience and the stupidly large stage. Here I snapped a couple of God-awful photos:



It occurred to me at this point that I was the only person in the vicinity without a 2000 dollar camera: it was painfully obvious that these were professionals covering the event for major news outlets - I think I may have been slightly out of place. I took the heavy rain that spontaneously broke out as my cue to leave. What a strange night...

Some unrelated items:

- You should all head to i (heart) music for your chance to win the debut album from Shapes And Sizes, the first Canadian group on Asthmatic Kitty's thoroughly awesome roster.

- Mocking Music worked with Punk Ottawa and Revolution Rock in order to bring Sunset Rubdown to Ottawa. They'll be playing at Zaphod's on July 26th - this is not to be missed under any circumstances. Tickets are on sale now at End Hits. In the near future RevRock will be bringing Ottawa Beirut, Bell Orchestre, Akron/Family, Junior Boys, and Islands. More info on those to come.

- I still expect to see you all at my show on the 19th. Tickets are still available at End Hits.

Download:
Sunset Rubdown - Stadiums And Shrines II
Beirut - Postcards From Italy

Buy:
Bluesfest Tickets

21 comments

Monday, July 10, 2006

To The Hipsters Of The Ottawa Region, I Have An Idea Concerning Your Predicament

Calum Marsh

This is something I've wanted to tackle for a long time, but I knew it would be a time-consuming behemoth of an article that I've sort of avoided just sitting down and getting it done - fortunately my boss left her laptop here and I've got nothing else to do for five hours. And hey, I'm kinda getting paid to write about music.

So here's the deal: this is the comprehensive guide to all things music related in the city of Ottawa, Ontario. If you live in Ottawa or ever plan on visiting and you want to know anything at all about this city's indie music scene - yes, believe it or not, we have one - this is the guide to read. Now, I don't know everything: I've probably missed a million and one cool bars/venues/bands/people/stores in this city that you love, but hopefully this covers the lion's share (isn't "lion's share" a stupid expression, by the way?). If there's anything I've excluded, tell me - and everyone else - all about it in the comments box. I'll try add to this periodically to keep in relevant and reliable.

Part I: Record Stores

Independent record stores - that is, locally owned and operated stores which sell cds (and preferably but not necessarily vinyl) - used to play a vital role in sustaining a city's local music scene. A long, long time ago, music lovers hungry for the latest buzz band couldn't rely on reading daily music blogs or - gasp! - the internet to tell them who they should be listening to. Though magazines like NME were in circulation to do just that, it was often the exclusive role of the record store to find the best music and get it to the kids.

The record store also acted as a kind of homebase for the scenesters. There were no "Top 8" lists or "Add To Friends" buttons - meeting other music-savvy pals meant, you know, walking up to them and saying hi. It's a scary thought, I know, but that's all that could be done. Local music scenes thrived because an equilibrium had been established: the indie kids needed music and the indie stores needed money. If you didn't buy an album, you didn't hear it (unless you practiced home taping, of course, but the extent to which that was damaging the industry was peanuts compared to what we're used to now), so the hipsters had no qualms about giving up their hard earned cash for music they loved.

And then the internet came along. Don't give me that bullshit about indie artists wanting you to download their music for free - yes, I know how it works: you download the album, realize you like them, go to their shows, but their merch; but that's not the problem. A lot of people download and then buy the cd, but it's just not the same: in the days of old, a lot more kids were buying a lot more records, plain and simple. Worse is the lack of vinyl: a lot of record stores made most of their money selling 12" dance records to local DJs - people thought that the death of vinyl couldn't kill the format entirely because DJs would always spin records: but it wasn't the fall of the format that changed things, it was the proliferation of downloading. It makes sense, mind you: why would a struggling local DJ pay ten to twenty dollars for one song on vinyl when he could buy it online for less than a buck - or, hell, for free? So now we have a worldwide music community based almost entirely around the internet, making it nearly impossible for a local record store to sustain a local music scene or, in the worst cases, to stay in business at all.

It's easy to see this taking effect in Ottawa: in the past year alone, two of the four major local record stores were forced to close (one went out of business, another was torn down to make way for expensive downtown condominiums). Another record store has opened in the wake of these closings, but the number of these stores in town is considerably less than only a few years ago and it seems to be rapidly declining still.

Fortunately we're blessed in this city to have a number (albeit a small number) or excellent independent record stores (rated here on a four-star scale):
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CD Exchange (142 Rideau St. - 613 241-9864)
Though it lacks a number of important things - a vinyl section, most importantly - it does have an impressive collection of used cds. If you're looking for cheap indie albums and you don't mind buying second hand - I've never had a problem with one of their cds - this is probably your best bet. They also score points for having a solid selection of used DVDs: I always seem to across rare and exciting movies here, and the prices are fairly reasonable. I'd also recommend it if you're looking to trade CDs or DVDs for cash since they pay considerably more than most other trade-in places. Anyone still in mourning over the lose of Record Runner will appreciate their new "Record Runner Section", which is basically a cash-grab marketing scheme designed to take advantage of their biggest competition's demise - um, but I guess it might be worth checking out.

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CD Warehouse (locations in Kanata (499 Terry Fox), Nepean (1383 Clyde), and Ottawa Central (1717 St.Laurent) - 599-4700, 225-9027, 523-0110, respectively)
I've only ever visited the Nepean location, but I was impressed. It is quite literally a CD Warehouse, which translates to a gigantic collection of cds and music-related merchandise and memorabilia. They're the only store in town I know of with such a huge classic section (comparable to, say, that of the Sam The Record Man on Younge St in Toronto), and if you can think of a cd, they've probably got it. The store's size kind of ruins the usual "indie store" ambiance, but the staff know what they're talking about (most of them, anyway...). No vinyl, but they've got so much of everything else you hardly even notice.

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Compact Music (190 Bank St, 785 Bank St. - 233-7626, 233-8922)
Easily the least "indie" of the indie records stores, Compact is a strange store to visit. My most memorable visit was hilarious, though: an old woman asked the clerk if they had a 'Keane' record, and, puzzled, he searched in his computer. "Nope", he said, "I've never heard of them...". "Try 'K-E-A-N-E'", I interjected from afar. He types it in, "Oh...I guess we do". Not that I think these guys should be into Keane or anything - in fact that would have shot their credibility too - but if you work at a record store you should probably know what the hell you're talking about. They recently got a vinyl section: it's comprised of three Tom Waits LPs (bonus points for that call) and about a million 'Dr.Hook' records or some such shit. There's really no reason why you should go out of your way to visit Compact, but I suppose if every other record store in town got destroyed by an earthquake Compact would be worth visiting - then again, you could always buy on Amazon...


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End Hits (407 Dalhousie - 241-4487)
Ottawa's newest record store is also its best. Though it may not ever live up the legendary status of now-defunct Record Runner or Organized Sound, End Hits has a hell of a lot going for it and is slowly turning into Ottawa's main source for indie music. Their vinyl section is still in its infancy, but the lack of selection is made up for by the strength of the records that are available: you don't get that classic "panning for gold" feeling sifting through dozens of worn out records with the hopes of finding something rare, but you'll almost certainly find something worth buying. I always have a hard time leaving that store without buying something, which is usually good sign. The CD collection is reasonable considering the store's size and age (it opened a few short months ago), and it's the best place to go if you're looking for local records. They do consignment deals with local bands, so if you're in a group and want your album sold in stores, this is the place to talk to. They've definitely got the widest selection of concert tickets in town - their ties with Punk Ottawa and RevRock guarantee that - so if you're looking to grab tickets to a particular show or just want to see who's coming to town in the near future, End Hits is your best bet.

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Organized Sound (CLOSED)
It was a sad day when I learned that Organized Sound was closing. It is - er, was - without a doubt the best record store I have ever stepped foot in. Their cd collection and ticket selection were top-notch, but it was Organized Sound's practically perfect vinyl section that made them the only record store in town that I ever wanted to visit. They specialized in electronica, dance, and experimental music - genres you can't find anywhere else in this city - but they had an equally impressive and extensive selection of indie rock LPs. Prices were a bit high - not high enough to keep in business though, I guess - but I have no qualms about giving my money to such a terrific business. And here's an interesting idea: Organized Sound had "no-crap" policy - known as "Ottawa's discerning record store", their guarantee was that you would like absolutely every one of the records they carried. They encouraged customers to pick something they've never heard before, something totally random and adventurous, and just buy it without knowing what it will be like - you had their word that it was always be good, and you know what? It always was. It's a terrible shame that they had to close; where the hell am I supposed to buy DFA 12 inches now?

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Record Runner (CLOSED)
Sigh. Another legendary record store closed for financial reasons. Some stupid big business decides that they want to erect "luxury condominiums" and we have to pay for it. Possibly the most popular and revered record store in Ottawa's history, Record Runner had a kind of charm that made everyone love it: they may not have always had the cd you wanted and they staff could be a bunch of smarmy brats, but we always forgave them for their shortcomings; they were the record store, and it seemed like they would always be. Highlights unluckily their fantastic DVD collection (especially the foreign and cult sections), their extensive ticket selection, and their commitment to keeping stocking new indie albums on vinyl.

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Turning Point (corner of Cooper and Bank)
Turning Point succeeds for one reason and one reason only: it's the only vinyl-selling store in town that sticks exclusively to old, used records. I've written about why I love this store before: it seems that on any given day, something worth buying turns up. Where other record shops in town are run by and cater to the young, hip indie crowd, turning point is just the opposite: it's a bunch of old guys selling records to other old guys. Fair enough.

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Vertigo Records (193 Rideau St. - 241-1011)
I've always admired Vertigo for being the only record store in the city to strike a balance between the new and the old. Offering a wide array of brand-new indie rock favourites as well as commendable collection of used classics (a lot which are surprisingly rare, too), the folks at Vertigo definitely know how to satisfy the largest number of people. Though they don't exceed in any one area, they're pretty solid as a whole: they've got a healthy new and used cd collection, they've got vinyl, an area reserved for hip hop stuff, a decent ticket selection, t-shirts, box-sets, and, most surprisingly and impressively, a room reserved for turntables and stereo systems (all of which is painfully expensive). If you're not looking for anything specific, Vertigo might be the best place to go for a nice long browse - it doesn't hurt that it's close to the mall and to End Hits, making it easy to swing by when you've got some spare time.

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Next: Clubs/Venues

Download:
The Acorn - Do You Not Yearn, At All?
LCD Soundsystem - Yr City's A Sucker (Instrumental)
49 comments

Bluesfest: Day 3

Jonathan Migneault

Today I had a shorter day at Bluesfest. I didn't volunteer and saw only two sets later in the evening. I was able to bring my camera, though, and took a lot of great pictures.

Both performances could not have been more different. First up was:

Ani DiFranco

DiFranco played at the gigantic main stage to a crowd of thousands. I managed to squeeze my way near the front to get a good photographic vantage point. Unfortunately, I was rather underwhelmed by the show.

She played a stripped down set with only her guitar and an upright bass. Her minimilist approach depended wholly on her ability to capture the audience through her lyrics. There are two possible outcomes that can rise from DiFranco's highly personal songwriting style. First, the crowd relates deeply to her words and they build a special bond together. Second, her experiences are so different from the concert goers' that a divide is created.

Many people in the crowd, of what seemed to be a large female contingent, fit into the first group. They knew all the words to all the songs and could relate on a deeply personal level. I, however, fit under the second category. DiFranco's music has a deep current of female empowerement, that I, as a man, could not relate to. When the girls in the crowd sang along it was as if they were saying, "I've been there... I know how it feels." I haven't been there. I don't know how it feels. Sure, there are universal themes of love, loss and inequality but they are structured in a way that is highly autobiographical.

This is not to say that men cannot enjoy DiFranco's music. Just that it is much harder for them to build that special bond that can connect them to the songwriter. Without that bond, I felt as though I was at a party in which I did not belong. With something as inclusive as live music, there are few things worse than feeling segregated from the experience.

After DiFranco's set I headed to the Blacksheep stage to see:

Amadou and Mariam
The African duet, backed by an amazing band, embodied everything that a summer festival should be. It was like a giant dance party and everyone was invited.

The couple's story is a remarkable one. From Mali, Amadou and Mariam are a married couple, deeply in love, who express that love through their beautiful music. What's even more incredible is that both are blind. When you see them in person you get the impression that they are soulmates and were always meant to create music together.

It is impossible not to love their live show. They combine African beats with rock, jazz and even electronica. There was not one person in the audience that just stood still. Everyone danced the night away with large grins on their faces. I couldn't help but think that the world would be a much better place if every day was as beautiful and inclusive as that show.

It was yet another one of those pleasant surprises that are often some of Bluesfest's most memorable moments.

Download:
Ani DiFranco - Anyday
Ani DiFranco - Blackbird (Live)
Amadou & Mariam - La Réalité
Amadou & Mariam - Beaux Dimanches

Buy:
Ani DiFranco - Knuckle Down
Amadou & Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako
24 comments

July 19th - Poster II

Calum Marsh

Poster by Samantha Jordan Mae (jordanmae@gmail.com).





19 comments