Great Lake Swimmers

Concert Review: The Acorn, June 11, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by sarahw in Concerts | 4 Comments

Another Canadian band, another nature-themed band name. The Acorn swung by Lee’s Palace Friday night to promote their new album. My favourite part about seeing bands I’m unfamiliar with live, is when I walk out of the show wanting to listen to all the songs again and again. This happened with The Acorn.


A side note, between The National show I saw on Wednesday and The Acorn I’ve seen more plaid than at a John Deere convention. Real original guys.


After the sea of plaid, the next thing that struck me about The Acorn is the dual percussionists, having two drummers always amazes me and they become very hypnotizing to watch. I was recently blown away by Caribou’s double drummer ensemble. I am not musically inclined whatsoever (like, at all) but I can imagine it difficult to coordinate two drummers. Without these two badass drummers The Acorn would be a little too sappy and folky for my liking, the percussion gives them some decent rock and roll cred.


Another cool part of this band is the presence of a banjo in most of the songs. My fellow concert goer (who also likened the frontman’s voice to Tom Petty, however, upon reflection I think they sound more likeBeirut minus all of the elaborate instruments) plays the banjo and has a serious penchant for this string instrument. The banjo really gives the slower songs a dreamy, romantic sound. For the encore The Acorn played Slippery When Wet from their new album, to me this was the highlight of the show and it reminded me a lot of Your Rocky Spine by Great Lake Swimmers (sigh, Tony Dekker). This song is just Rolf Klausener singing, backed only with the banjo and comes out sounding like a lullaby, indeed a great way to end the show. I now have this song on repeat, yeah, it’s sappy, folky and does not incorporate a badass drum beat…I still like it.


The Acorn certainly didn’t blow me away with stage presence but I really enjoyed their unique indie folk sound and would gladly see them again live. In fact they are playing at the Guelph Hillside Festival next month…

The Acorn – Crossed Wires (Born Ruffians Remix) by Bella Union

Concert Review: Caribou and Toro Y Moi, May 3rd, Phoenix

Posted on by sarahw in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – First of all let’s talk about how much I love band names that are so obviously Canadian: Great Lake Swimmers, Rural Alberta Advantage, The Besnard Lakes, Bruce Peninsula, Metric (okay not Canada specific, but clearly NOT American) and the focus of this review, Caribou.

I recently fell in love with Odessa the single from Caribou’s second album Swim, it is a melodious departure from the first album. This likable tune with the funky bassline has been on high rotation on my iPod for the past couple of months.

Caribou announced a North American tour to be kicked off in Toronto with Toro Y Moi opening (I missed Toro in March when his equipment was stolen in Brooklyn). The show was at Phoenix so I thought, why not.

Toro y Moi

Toro y Moi had previously toured solo with Ruby Suns, on the Caribou tour he acquired a bassist and drummer. Toro is the hottest kid in the chillwave movement and has taken the industry by storm with rave reviews for his Causers of This debut album. Live, he was okay. The band admitted that they were nervous, as it was their first time playing together in front of an audience. They definitely nailed all the songs and rocked their funky hit Low Shoulder, but I must say this performance didn’t particularly activate my dance shoes like I thought it would.


Caribou came out backed by a simple projected image of the Swim album cover, but their performance was anything but simple…

First sign of a good show, Dan Snaith (Caribou mastermind) began by singing and playing lead guitar, halfway through the song he hauls the guitar onto his back, sits down and starts playing the keyboard – still singing. This was how the whole set went down, not only did Dan rock lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and drums but during Odessa he busted out a recorder and wowed the crowed with that little white pipe!

Being an all ages show there was no one was standing near the stage (boozers were at the back), my friends and I took position at the front because I enjoy watching musicians in action. I suggest getting close at this show, watching Caribou play live is quite hypnotizing, both albums are instrumental-heavy so seeing what goes into each song was extremely entertaining.

The greatest part about this show was when Dan Snaith played drums along with the lead drummer (Brad Weber of Pick a Piper). In my mind, having two drummers is extremely difficult to pull off because of the precise timing needed. These drum duets were executed with such precision that it actually sounded like one drummer with astoundingly complex beats.

It is apparent that Caribou are meticulous about practicing because their show is literally flawless, every tune is impeccably tight yet very detailed. I came away from this show with two things: Leave House as my new Caribou high rotation tune and an extremely high regard for Dan Snaith, you’ve got to hand it to a musical mastermind that also has a PHD in Mathematics.

CMW Re-Cap: Fest Highlights

Posted on by guestwriter in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 6 Comments

Toronto–  So I think in the future when I say that my routine of little sleep and a lot of coffee will help me make it through CMW and work, I will think twice about the validity of that statement.  After a heavy schedule with CMW and work, followed by an even more insane week of work, I did not think I would survive until this weekend to write this.  Now with kangaroos, koala bears, the full selection of Tim Tam flavours, and lovely beaches on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about what to pack in one suitcase, and of course what Canadian music to preach to the Aussie office.  What better list to start with than with my favs from this year’s CMW.

1.   The Mountains and the Trees at Central’s Factor Breakthrough Session

I had heard of the Mountains and the Trees sometime last year, and was waiting for my opportunity to hear him perform live.  Hailing from Newfoundland, the Mountains and the Trees (a.k.a. Jon Janes), croons songs about things from his day to day life, to the lament of a person leaving his little town by the sea for better opportunity.  His performance was honest, humble and with heart—the type of show that sits you down, captivates you by story through song, and one which you find yourself humming along with, or tapping your foot to the beat of the drum.  Okay, so maybe a man who plays guitar, harmonica, banjo, and ukulele makes me weak in the knees, but there’s an earnest air to his overall performance which I think is rare.  The Mountains and the Trees embark on a UK tour in May, but will be back in Toronto for NXNE in June.  Highly, highly recommend you check him out if you are a fan of folk rock.

2. Jason Collett, Zeus, and Bahamas at the Bonfire Ball, Lee’s Palace

I’m already a big fan of Jason Collett, so when I went to show I thought I was going to see a regular concert, with each act taking its turn.  I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone was each other’s back up band and played a solid 3 hour set of each other’s songs.  Not ever having seen a show like this before, I was really impressed even with Jason Collett’s apologies as he told the crowd they were still learning each other’s songs.  If he hadn’t said anything I would not have known—their chemistry on stage and their never ending energy would have told you this wasn’t their first show but maybe their tenth.  Zeus was a lot of fun, with songs and performances that sometimes reminded me of the Beatles.  Bahamas was also fantastic and a great discovery for me.  As for Jason Collett, his set included a lot of songs from his highly acclaimed album, Idols of Exile (which was also fine by me, because they were all my favourite songs).  Overall, I had a great time, and it wasn’t just because of the three cups of coffee I had before the show!  You can also read Paul’s review here.

3. Jeff Martin at the Sirius Song Writer’s Café, Mod Club

Where has Jeff Martin been all these years?  Admittedly, I haven’t kept up with his music since the Tea Party—way back in my days from middle school and high school.  All I can say is that watching his performance at this age allowed me to gain a better appreciation for his level of musicianship.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  Read about his performance here, from Mark, my partner in crime.

4. Joel Plaskett at the Sirius Song Writer’s Café, Mod Club

If there is one country which loves Joel Plaskett more than Canada, it is Australia.  I probably won’t understand why they love him so much until I get there, but given his following I’ll spare the office the opportunity to listen to my rendition of Deny, Deny, Deny.  The audience was treated to an acoustic set backed by Peter Elkas, and within the first strum of the guitar he had the majority of the club singing along.  As mentioned in my CMW primer, I’ve seen him more times than I care to share, and in classic Plaskett tradition (which I can definitely attest to), his performance left yet another crowd yelling, screaming, and begging for more.  Read Mark’s review about Joel here.

5. Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines at the Indie Awards, Royal York Hotel

I think perhaps the Indie Awards deserve a spot alone.  Compared to last year, the show has certainly improved.  With a better line up and longer sets, everyone was able to enjoy performances from the likes of Plants and Animals, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines.  While I love Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines, I do feel they could have picked other slightly lesser known bands to promote in front of a live, radio, and video audience.  Nevertheless, Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines were outstanding and my favourites of the show.  I’ve seen each band many times, and both groups never fail to disappoint.

Honourable Mention:

Otter Petter at Central’s Factor Breakthrough Session

From Chicago, Otter Petter, plays sugar coated alt rock that’s reminiscent of Matthew Sweet.  Not always my cup of tea, I’ve heard a lot of bands try and do the same but failed to play music that could get me past thoughts and feelings of annoyance, headache, and the desire to stick a pen in my eye.  I find their music a good balance of guitar, harmony, and nah nah’s.  Songs are not too long and not too short, and leave you pretty satisfied.  It’s up beat feel good music.  So if you’re in the mood for sugary sweet indie rock, I would check out Otter Petter.

Best show: The Mountains and the Trees

Best show from a band you have never heard before: Bahamas and Otter Petter

Worst show: tie between We are the City and The Darcys (I’m sorry, I don’t want to be mean)

Best CMW moment: the return of Jeff Martin

Worst CMW moment: the asshole at the El Mo who would not stop farting while I was trying to take pictures of We Are the City.  That may have been why I disliked the set so much.  So sorry again.

Hillside Music Festival 2009: Final Recap

Posted on by Brian in Concerts, Hillside | 1 Comment

It’s been a couple of days now since Hillside. We’ve dried off, had some time to reflect, think about what we saw, and come to some conclusions. Here are the acts we enjoyed most (or least) in a number of categories we just made up.

Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Singing Face: The lead singer of Attack in Black.


Just look at that scowl! Top notch. Attack in Black were pretty good. They quite clearly listened to an unhealthy amount of grunge music at a young age, but have a pretty bright future ahead of them if they can catch a few breaks. Read more