Listen to this track by Seattle-born, New York-based singer, violinist, loop technician, Of Montreal string-arranger and touring member, and songwriter K Ishibashi, aka Kishi Bashi. It’s the sumptous-yet-spacious “Manchester”, an impressionistic and post-modern narrative about a narrative as taken from the EP Room For Dream.
The song is the opening track on the EP, an ever-expanding soundscape that is, at once, airy, organic, and with a touch of hopefulness balanced against melancholy. Musically, the song is an amalgam of pan-cultural textures, from sparse Far-East flavouring, to western classical aesthetics, and delivered in the similar kind of cinematic orchestral pop packaging as a Mercury Rev, or Flaming Lips.
After seeing Kishi Bashi perform as an opening act for Sondre Lerche (and then join Lerche’s ensemble as a backing musician on violin, guitar, and keyboards) at the Biltmore Theatre here in Vancouver, I had a chat with him via email about the business of cultural crossover, about the importance of location in the songwriting process, and about what Beethoven would have made of loop technology.
Listen to this track, a double-A side single from Southern Ontarian rock ‘n’ roll upstarts The Dirty Nil. It’s the rip-up-the-seats anthems “Fuckin’ Up Young/Verona Lung”.
If your workplace includes members of the clergy, you might want to put on your headphones, good people.
A drums (Kyle Fisher) bass (Dave Nardi) guitar (Luke Bentham, who also sings) trio, the guys have recorded EPs, cut vinyl singles (like this one), played shows, and have been named Best New Band at the Hamilton Music Awards starting in 2008. A part of the vibrant indie scene in Hamilton, Ontario, the band revel in their own brand of gritty, garagey rock music, while acknowledging the eclectic musical landscape in Hamilton of which they are a part.
Among other things, I talked to the Luke and Dave about cutting the single, about being indie and going pro, and about the the important fuel that guns the engines of many a rock ‘n’ roll band – beer.
Here’s a clip of singer-songwriter, Northern Pikes co-founder, and TV/film composer Jay Semko hard at work with fellow musician Randy Woods on the soundtrack to History Television’s Dust Up. The show follows the stories of a group of daredevil crop dusters on the Canadian Prairies.
Appropriately, Jay Semko himself hails from the Canadian Prairies, specifically Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the place where he got his start playing bass, singing, and writing songs for ’80s hitmakers The Northern Pikes. Later, he would make a name for himself as the composer of soundtrack music for the popular TV show Due South, among other projects for film and TV.
But, this is his newest soundtracking project. Thanks to the people at Paperny Films who sponsored this special edition post here on the Delete Bin, I talked to Jay about what interested him in the show, how he views the role of music in the storytelling process, and how his work as a film and TV composer dovetails with his work as a rock and roots songwriter and performer.
Listen to this track by Winnipeg-based art rock duo Querkus. It’s “Half-Acid Lee”, a cinematic John Barry-meets-prog-meets-pop song as taken from the band’s 2011 debut album Spaces Between the Leaves Make Room For the Stars. The song is a part of a richly-textured record that pulls in all kinds of influences which range from that 60s film music sound that also fueled acts like Portishead and early Goldfrapp, to the progressive rock complexity of King Crimson, with splashes of PJ Harvey and Kate Bush in there for good measure.
The band is comprised of two creative minds in vocalist/keyboardist Karen Asmundson and guitarist/vocalist Edgar Ozolins. Both are interested in amalgamating disparate styles and sounds together into an ambitious whole. This song is a shining example of the results of their efforts; a large-scale, and decidedly menacing track that is marked by the contrast of Asmundson’s voice against the abrasiveness of Ozolins’ guitar.
After featuring this track on my recent Winter Indie Round-Up post, I got in contact with the song’s writer Karen Asmundson. She and I talked a bit about the making of this song, about how the Querkus sound is interpreted in a live setting, about the pressures of making a debut record, and about visions of some very angry trees …
Oh, and I thought it might be fun to give away some copies of the record to you guys here. Details at the end of the interview!
Rock ‘n’ roll stories, are just like other tales of questing heroes. They follow a pattern. It’s just like Joseph Campbell said.
This starts from young enthusiasm, to paying one’s dues in squalor, to rising fame, to the pinnacle of that fame, and moves ever onward around the cycle. And by onward around the cycle, we mean going down through the underworld of rock excess – the women, the drugs, the concept albums – and upward again, after the blaze of glory has long been extinguished for many a grizzled rock ‘n’ roll hero.
Then, comes the classic comeback. Some cynics out there might say the classic re-sell. Writer, music fan, and rock ‘n’ roll sceptic Geoff Moore is such a cynic … Read more
Over the last few weeks here at the Delete Bin, some of you have read a couple of pieces about Ron Sexsmith, and about the movie Love Shines, which is in part about his latest record Long Player Late Bloomer.
Today is the third installment in the Long Player Late Bloomer/Love Shines Ron Sexsmith trilogy here on the Delete Bin, and a great honour it is to present it to you here: the Ron Sexsmith interview.
I asked him about the movie, and what he thought of its central character. I asked him about mainstream success, and about some of his heroes who have also been at the center of recent films contemporary to this one. And of course, I asked him about fan support, and how he sees the future unfolding for himself as a songwriter and performer, post-biopic.
It’s a big thrill for me to have had the chance to do it, given that Ron is nothing short of one of my favourite songwriters of all time. And Ron himself was very generous with his time and his responses, given that (at the time of this writing) he’s on tour, and about to play the Rio Theatre here in Vancouver.
Here is that interview, conducted via email a few days before the show.
Listen to this track by Midwestern psyche-pop masters Hushdrops, made up of John San Juan, Joe Camarillo, and Jim Shapiro. It’s “Divine” a sumptuous Brian Wilsonesque tune featured on the group’s 2003 album, Volume 1. The song reveals the band’s love for the Beatles and the Beach Boys, along with heavy dollops of late ’60s chamber pop, so much so that the Webb Brothers (sons of Jimmy) covered one of the songs (“Summer People”).
When it comes to “Divine”, this is one of those songs that you don’t so much hear, as be enfolded by, taken up to some sonic high place via strings and ah-ah backing vocals, along with drummer and co-writer Joe Camarillo’s plaintive lead vocal.
Yet, this isn’t the whole picture with the band, who regularly played shows that demonstrated their live rock chops. As such, the group seems to live quite comfortably in the ‘slash’ in pop/rock.
Well, I talked to the song’s co-writers, multi-instrumentalist John San Juan and with drummer and singer Joe Camarillo, via email about this song, about the record, about that slash between pop and rock, and about ‘making the listener feel loved’…
Here’s a clip of indie singer-songwriter/hip-hop outfit Common Grackle, with the singer-songwriter aspect covered nicely by indie-pop proponent Gregory Pepper and the hip-hop textures as laid down by producer Factor. Yet, is the stylistic split as easy as that? Probably not. What the collaboration signifies most is the seamlessness between styles. As such, this is a true 21st Century concern where genres mean very little, and with this song being the title track to the full-length The Great Depression.
Another aspect of all of this is how the record was made, involving less garage space, and more Internet bandwidth. The two artists built the record together, with musical ideas added by way of file sharing. With the meeting of pop melody and crackling beats together with psychedelic sonic swirls that evoke pop tributaries spanning the decades, one can only conclude that it’s its own thing, offering some of the features of what’s been laid down before, but ultimately unbound by any one genre. And we haven’t even got around to talking about the lyrics, heavy with irony and dark comic timing.
After the record was popped in the post for me, and after a spin or two, I talked to the guys via email about musical divisions of labour, undercutting listener expectations (aka “fucking with people”), beer accessibility quotients from city to city, and about their live shows. Read more
Listen to this track from guitar/drums duo from Durham, England Sand River, made up up of guitarist/lyricist/singer Simon Robinson, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Guy Siviour. It’s the final track on their 6 track EP, the cleverly titled Sand River EPcurrently for sale on a pay-what-you-can basis.
Sure, these guys eschew a bass player, and have some blues influences on some tracks. But don’t stripe these guys white or make with the black keystrokes just yet.
Sand River liberally use folk picking, jazz-inflected drumming, and hypnotic time signature experiments that go far beyond what you might think of as viable for an indie two-piece. Guitar and drums are used less as blunt instruments and more like sonic paintbrushes, with Robinson’s vocals way up front. The lyrical content is also expansive, perfectly suited to music that takes its time, rather than taking no prisoners.
I spoke to the guys about the perils and pleasures of a minimalist instrumental set-up, how less really can be more, and more details about who this Emma might be.
Listen to this track by unabashed rock singer-songwriter from Sydney, Nova Scotia, Carmen Townsend. It’s a key track off of her upcoming record Waitin’ and Seein’ released January 25, “Without My Love”. It’s one of many tunes she offered to an adoring crowd on January 11 at Vancouver’s Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir Street) to ramp up the release.
I was invited along to the event to see the show and to get a chance to meet Carmen. After the show, I got to ask her about how the record came together, about how she felt free to share her songs to begin with, about how Loretta Lynn figures into her music, and about her next exciting step as a performer; going on tour with a couple of her heroes. Here are my impressions of the show, and that brief interview on video too.