Archives: Canadian indie bands

jay mccarrol & brave shores

A few years ago I stumbled across a Southern Souls video of Jay McCarrol’s that I kinda fell in love with.

The melody of the piano, the voice and lyrics of Jay and the simplicity of the backing band (featuring members from ZeusGolden Dogs and his sister Stefanie) all made for a recipe of unabashed repeat song listening, which in all honesty does not happen much these days. The video itself is so warm and beautiful it left me feeling all sorts of glowy on the inside.

JAY McCARROL – Jimmy Song / Mistaken from Southern Souls on Vimeo.

I searched for some info about Jay to see if he was working on an album and if/when/where I could get it. But besides spotting him and Taylor Knox (who currently has his debut solo album out) backing Hayden, when he came to town at The Casbah two years ago, my search pretty much came up empty handed.

Taylor Knox & Jay McCarrol backing Hayden

Taylor Knox and Jay McCarrol backing Hayden, Casbah Nov. 2013.

Until… I recently discovered Brave Shores which is duo made up of Jay McCarrol and his sister Stefanie.

Their debut album is called Never Come Down AND they’re playing tomorrow night at Mills Hardware. Although (from the few of the songs that I’ve heard from the album) this new indie rock electro-pop outfit is nothing like my first intro into Jay’s music and piano playing but all the same it’s still really awesome.

The show at Mills is on May 6th 7-11pm $12 in advance/$15 at the door.

* Mills Hardware, 95 King Street East, @MillsHardware

live on locke

I took a friend up on an invite a while back to see the Cowboy Junkies in concert at a church on Locke Street. Truthfully I hadn’t really listened to the Junkies since the early to mid 90′s but I thought a Friday night concert walkable from my home, why not.

The concert was held at Melrose United Church at Locke and Homewood. It was a full house with every church pew stacked with Junkie’s fans.  The voice of singer Margo Timmins melow and low carried beautifully into the massive space and air of the church.

Live on Locke is a concert series that helps to raise funds for The Instrument For Every Child Program. Last month Jim Cuddy and Chantel Kreviazuk performed and for the last concert of the series on November 29th Colin James will perform.

seven sundays at gage park

Hello Hamilton, I’m back! I feel like I’ve been neglecting you all summer long.

August was filled with out of town and out of country visitors plus several weekends of double booked backyard BBQ’s, a lengthy summer cold, a broken toe, and a baby with a ruthless new penchant for walking. Despite the many great things that were happening all over the city this summer I feel like I kinda wasn’t around much.

One evening I did manage to sneak off to one of the Seven Sundays in Gage Park. If this is the first you’ve heard of Seven Sundays; it’s an eight week free concert series at the Gage Park bandshell featuring local musicians (and food trucks) followed by a movie screening. I really hope to make it to more of these next summer -such a lovely way to spend a Sunday night.

There’s something super fabulous about hearing live open air music on a summer evening. There was a great crowd out to see Jesse Lanza perform against the backdrop of the seafoam Geaorge R. Robinson bandshell and the greenery of the escarpment. Sigh -oh summer time.

songs from the bishop

Some of my favourite evenings of this summer were spent at Bishop Park in the Stinson neighbourhood. Every Thursday evening from July 7th until August 25th the neighbourhood surrounding Bishop Park gathered to hear some fabulous live music.  Songs from the Bishop showcased local Hamilton musical talent from the likes of Terra Lightfoot of the Dinner Belles to Adam Bentley from The Rest plus many other fabulously talented musical acts. The times I’ve gone the crowd has varied from about a hundred people to an intimate gathering of neighbourhood folk. People seemed to know each other. They’d gather on the park benches, on the grass or on lawn chairs to sit back and take in the musical act of that particular Thursday evening. In the canopied shade of Bishop Park we would sing along whenever we could.  Kids often busted out into awesome dance moves and routines, and overall there was just a real sense of community and neighbourliness.

I loved how the late summer sun was sinking behind the trees, and you could just tell the summer season was coming to a close.

The most recent concert I saw in Bishop Park was the last one of the summer.  Adam Bentley, who was integral in putting on Songs of the Bishop, played for us. His voice is so beautiful and it carried wonderfully in the open air -almost hauntingly.  It was a different sound and a real treat to hear Adam sing in bare bones form -without the ambiant wall of sound (from his band The Rest) that usually accompanies him. I only ever made it out to two evenings of the Songs from the Bishop and wish I’d come out for more. I really do hope that next year the concert series continues. I love all the secret little things that are happening in Hamilton all the time.  It makes me adore where we live and gets me excited for what new creative initiatives we will discover in the months and years to come! I leave you with a little music from Hamilton’s The Rest.  They do have a new album out so go out and get yours!

bahamas

I’m a big fan of Afie Jurvanen’s (aka Bahamas‘) music.  I loved his first solo album Pink Strat, and I’m definitely loving his latest album Barchords.  If you want to dig back further  into the musical vaults, I would have to say my fandom started when Afie was the frontman of the band Paso Mino, which also consisted of multiple members from the band Zeus (whom I also love).  Afie’s got a great deep smooth voice, his guitar riffs are catchy, and the songs are simple, sweet and speak for themselves.

We checked out the Bahamas show at the Casbah a few weeks back.  It was a busy week; two shows back to back, Bahamas one night and the next night Sloan.  The venue was packed with a fairly young university crowd and much busier than previous Bahamas shows we’ve seen in Hamilton (the good word must be catching on).  My mind was blown with the first song Lost in the Light, with the gospel-like harmonies of  backup singers: Carleigh Aikins and Felicity Williams and Afie.  Seeing and hearing the song played live was so breathtaking.  It was really soul shattering, the whole place was vibrating, and everyone was swaying.  I think I had goose bumps the entire show.  My highlight was when they played Never Again.  When the song ended someone in the crowd shouted “Play it again!” and the audience cheered it on.  Afie hit it up one more time, the whole room went ape shit belting it out and joining in with the powerful harmonies of the backup singers.  They could have played it on repeat and I would’ve been peach as pie.

bahamas at casbah, hamilton

bahamas, afie jurvanen

 

If you like the sound, and want to pick up the album you can get them local in the Hammer on vinyl at Cheapies and Dr. Disc.

For more Bahamas’ videos check out Southern Souls’ page here.

zeus

I’m always happy to see Zeus play in Hamilton.  Not only do I love their music and think that they are fantastically talented musicians, but they are also some old friends so it is always nice to see them stopping through town on their tours.

zeus, arts and crafts, neil quinn, mike o'brien, carlin nicholson, rob drake

Their debut album Say Us was released in February 2010 by Arts and Crafts and is A-mazing.  At their show last week at the Casbah we got to hear some newer songs that I hadn’t heard yet, and they did not disappoint.  Their next album is set to be released in early 2012 but they have been releasing multiple 7″s throughout the year.  If for some reason you have yet to listen to Zeus you are missing out on something really special. You just need to listen.

zeus, arts and crafts, neil quinn, mike o'brien, carlin nicholson, rob drake

One of my favourite songs off of Say Us is Heavy on Me.  There are instrumental harmonies that climax into an orgy of solid rock godness. If I were in the band I’d feel like a total rockstar playing this song.

zeus, arts and crafts, neil quinn, mike o'brien, carlin nicholson, rob drake

zeus, arts and crafts, rob drake

*The Casbah, 306 King St. West, Hamilton, 905.521.4441

hamilton sketchbook

A few years back when we were still living in Toronto I went to Pages book store, when it still existed at Queen & John, and asked if they had any books about Hamilton. We’d already been crushing on Hamilton big time, and I wanted to indulge in our fantasy of moving to Hamilton by giving Steve a book about the city for his 31st birthday.  The store clerk looked up at me in a bit of shock, and then clarified again whether I really meant a book about the city of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, really?

The only book in the entire store about Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, was a graphic novel titled Hamilton Sketchbook by David Collier.

I could not have asked for a better gift for Steve and introduction to life in Hamilton.  I was so happy to have had the luck of stumbling upon such a gem of book.

Hamilton Sketchbook Cover, David Collier, graphic novel, Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton Sketchbook, David Collier, graphic novel, Hamilton, Ontario

After having moved to Hamilton, at an art crawl about 2 years back, I met David Collier at Mixed Media.  He was selling and signing Part 2 of the Hamilton Sketchbook.  I ended up buying this copy for another present for Steve.

Hamilton Sketchbook #2, David Collier, Hamilton, Ontario, graphic novel

Hamilton Sketchbook #2, David Collier, Hamilton, Ontario, graphic novel

There’s something really cool about reading about places you’ve been to and places you’ve lived in.  I love the down to earth feel, and day to day life depiction of David’s work.

Today as I rode by Mixed Media on my way to work I noticed a poster by David in the window.  Prints for $10 Hamilton Light Rail Transit.

Hamilton Light Rail Transit, David Collier, Hamilton, graphic artist, illustrator, Mixed Media

I heard that David recently designed the album artwork for relatively new Hamiltonian Luke Doucet and The White Falcons latest album Steel City Trawler, which is a tribute entirely to the city of Hamilton.

Luke Doucet and the White Falcon, graphic novelist, artist, David Collier, Hamilton, Ontario

For a great read about Luke Doucet’s recent move to Hamilton, and more details about his album (produced by Sloan’s Andrew Scott) and about David Collier read the National Post’s article here.
 

 

Luke Doucet and life partner, fellow musician and singer-songwriter Melissa McClelland will be playing a show with their new band White Horse at The Hamilton Place Studio on September 30th with Frazey Ford.

wolfe island music festival

On the weekend we went to Kingston to check out the 2 day Wolfe Island Music Festival.  Considering it’s their 13th annual, it’s still as sweet and charming as ever and has yet to explode like Hillside has.

Wilderling, Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, Kingston, Montreal indie band

We arrived by ferry (free!) to the island at about 1pm on the Saturday.  Plenty of room to set up a blanket, picnic, enjoy the sun, take naps, snack and listen to some amazing music.  My band highlights of the day were Wilderling and Forest City Lovers.

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, Kingston, vintage camera

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, camping, windmill

Wolfe Ilsand Music Festival program 2011, Kingston

Plants & Animals, Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011

Wolfe Island Music Festival 2011, baked goods

ps i love you

Last Wednesday night we headed to This Ain’t Hollywood to see PS I Love You.  A duo hailing from Kingston, Ontario, they’re signed to Paper Bag Records and have been getting major acclaim from all your indie type music sources such as; Pitchfork, as well as some noted recognition for their Polaris Music Prize nomination.  Their debut album Meet Me at the Muster Station was listed in  Exclaim! for Top Pop & Rock Albums of 2010.

I came across this video a little while back, and loved the gritty lo-fi sound, and catchy guitar hooks.  So when I got wind that they were coming to town I was happy to be able to see yet another fantastic live musical act making a stop in Hamilton.

bass organ foot pedals, PS I Love You, Paul Saulnier, This Ain't Hollywood

I can barely manage to keep a beat and breath at the same time.  Meanwhile Paul Saulnier can rip it up on the guitar like something furious, wail and play the foot-pedal bass organ like a pro all the while keeping pace with the quick and steady licks of drummer Benjamin Nelson.

Paul Saulnier, Benjamin Nelson, PS I Love You, This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton music shows

For more PS I Love You Videos you can check out Southern Souls acoustic sets of Starfield, Little Spoon, Butterflies and Boners, and Facelove here.  AND if you want to see PS I Love you they’ll be doing another show October 3rd at This Ain’t Hollywood.

An honourable mention goes out to Hamilton’s The Mystics for their mad tambourine playing, and for taking us back to the days of rough edgy rock with their opening set.

 

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