“The Celebration of Light. But don’t forget about the darkness. The darkness is where art is created.” This is a paraphrase of Mother Mother’s lead singer, Ryan Guldemond, at the Vancouver band’s free concert preceding the final night of fireworks at Vancouver’s annual Celebration of Light. It’s a three-country competition held in early August each year on a Sat-Wed-Sat schedule. This year, England, Canada, and Thailand each had a night to fire 25 minutes of -works set to music off a barge in English Bay.
I usually watch the show from farther away, but this time I was lured into the hoard of beach blankets and stumbling drunks to watch Mother Mother’s free show. I admit that it took me a while to get into this band. Not because of their sometimes dissonant lyrical delivery (that I have also learned to love), but because their name reminded me of I Mother Earth: a band that I will forever loathe because their song, “Summertime in the Void,” ruined one of the Big Shiny Tunes compilations of my youth. I forgave lead-singer Edwin because of his solo effort “Alive,” but bands with the word “mother” in them were still blacklisted.
Mother Mother’s “Wrecking Ball” changed that. I “gotta wanna be a battering ram” rang through my head at the most unrelated moments for the last few years.
And then came their latest album The Sticks.
If you read my review / literary analysis of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, then you’re probably aware of my love of an album that has a driving theme throughout that makes it a complete work of art rather than a random collection of songs. The Sticks is such a concept album. Continue reading
Yes, hipsteens. They’re certainly not old enough to grasp the true self-irony of hipsterism, but they’re dressed for the part: Star Wars comic book t-shirts, converses, plaid, thick rimmed glasses, and non-stop chatter about indie bands (worn on their sleeves – in the form of concert buttons). Add a 45 minute line-up for t-shirts (because they’re too young to buy alcohol), and you have Said the Whale’s concert at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre on May 3rd. Continue reading
It’s one of my Dad’s favourite stories to tell. CBC Radio 1 was on in his kitchen (and living room and bedroom) on Mother’s Day back when Sam Robert’s “Brother Down” had made him as a household name in Canada, and our beloved national station was hosting a show for moms to call-in and request the songs of their children. And Sam Roberts’ mom called. My dad was overcome with patriotic pride at this event.
“Can you imagine this happening in the States?” he asked me rhetorically. Continue reading
The Grammy Awards are over, but here are my final notes on albums and songs from 2010 that I failed to write about during the year itself. Take heed of my warnings. Heed I say!
One Sentence Reviews of Other Albums from 2010
Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor (March)
It’s an ambitious concept album (inspired by the American Civil War), but the lead singer’s complete inability to carry a tune has dropped them from my playlists. “Theme from ‘Cheers’”
Janelle Monáe’s The ArchAndroid (May)
You should own this stellar album, and go see her equally magical live show if you have the chance Continue reading
Wake Up and Say Goodbye (2008) had not been out for very long when David Usher announced on Facebook, the most trusted of media outlets, that he was going to start working on an acoustic album. “I like acoustic albums!” thousands of his Facebook friends agreed. He even created a space on his website for fans to vote on songs they’d like to hear reworked acoustically. My vote is not on the album—but, in all fairness to David, I suggested a song from his Moist days…and in greater fairness: who the hell am I to decide?
The Mile End Sessions, named after his neighbourhood in Montreal, still does well even without my input. Continue reading