A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Good new music

Filed Under: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Monday November 29, 2010

Mariage Blanc - Mariage BlancThe last few months of the year tend to be a little lighter on the new releases, but there are always a few that stand out as noteworthy. Among this list, and not to be missed in the rush to put together year-end favorite music lists are the following:

Mariage Blanc by Mariage Blanc
This self-recorded indie-pop effort is the debut LP for Pittsburgh’s Mariage Blanc, and one that had me hooked at first listen. From sleigh bells and shimmering melodies in “Whatever You Say I Am” to feedback-laced guitar and bouncing bass in “Poor Portraits” and “Rag to a Bull”, these guys have put together an album with no holes and quite a few bright spots.

All Those I Know by Eric & Magill
This is a free album that I would have gladly paid good money for. Yup, it’s free. The album’s complexity brings about a wide range of emotions. “You Make It So Good” feels like an expanding bouncing bubble beneath you, buoyant and energetic before “Should We All Wake Up” throws a giant pin into the bubble and brings you crashing down.

Undercard by The Extra Lens
The Extra Lens, once The Extra Glenns, is a collaboration of John Darnielle (of Mountain Goats fame) and Franklin Bruno. This is their first release in 8 years, and definitely a quality one. If you’re a Mountain Goats fan, pick this up.

Speaking of year-end favorite music lists, I have begun thinking of mine. It’s going to be a very tough year to choose just 80 minutes worth of music. If you want a copy when they’re ready, just shoot me an email using the “Email Me” link at the top of the page.

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Upcoming Shows in Burlington

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Sunday November 28, 2010

There are a few good shows coming up that I recommend seeing.  If you were to only go to one of them, I highly recommend Langhorne Slim.  He made my Favorite Music 2006 list, and I’ve been dying to see him live ever since.  His live show is supposed to be outstanding…

Wednesday, December 1
Langhorne Slim @ Higher Ground

Tuesday, December 7
Miniature Tigers w/Maga @ Monkey House

Maga is one of my favorite local acts, and sure to put on a good show. They alone make the cost of admission worth it, though I also recommend sticking around for Brooklyn’s Miniature Tigers.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: Horse Feathers & Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground 11/10/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Thursday November 11, 2010

If there’s one word I could use to describe last night’s show, it would be “beautiful.” Though I’m not sure that quite does justice to the performances by Horse Feathers and Anais Mitchell.

Sadly I missed Paddy Reagan (as Paper Castles), who opened the show. I got there to a fairly packed house (I didn’t bother to try and count the people, but the Showcase Lounge was significantly more full than I’ve seen it in a very long time). I have to assume that Anais (a Vermonter) was the big draw, but regardless of why they were there, it was nice to see such a large crowd for a folk music show.

Horse Feathers came on first (they were co-billed with Anais, and I’m pretty sure she’s been opening for them, so again, I have to assume it had to do with the show being in VT). They are a four-person band, with Justin Ringle on vocals & (mostly) acoustic guitar, Catherine O’Dell on cello, Nathan Crockett on violin and Sam Cooper as a multi-instrumentalist (including drums, banjo, xylophone and a variety of others).

Horse Feathers

They played several songs from House With No Home, my favorite album of theirs, as well as a lot of songs off of their latest album Thistled Spring. Ringle’s vocals were obviously the highlight of the show, imparting such sorrow without being weepy or melodramatic. I also particularly liked the plucking of the cello, and my personal favorite instrument of the night — the edge of a cymbal played with a bow. Definitely never seen that before, and it created such a unique sound.

As the sunlight dwindles, the days get colder and winter nestles in for the long haul, Horse Feathers put on a performance that seemed to perfectly match my mood. You can be sure that they’ll be on heavy rotation for the cold, dark months to come.

Anais Mitchell took the stage with a couple of her friends, one on electric guitar and the other on drums/keys/etc. They played an assortment of her solo material and songs from her rock opera “Hadestown.” This is the second time I’ve seen Anais play (the first being my very first show in Burlington, in early 2007), and she has definitely made huge leaps forward. Her voice is still out of this world, but she appeared much more confident and at home in the spotlight, where she definitely belongs.

Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground 11/10/2010

The songs I liked most were the ones Anais played alone — I think her voice tended to shine more (it’s really tough to describe, but I think caramel coated sugar is a good descriptor). I heard a couple of different people in the audience talking to each other about how outstanding her singing voice is, and I couldn’t agree more. Not that she isn’t already well on her way, but I expect very big things from Anais as more people have the chance to hear her sing.

Because folk music doesn’t always translate well at a live show, I tend not to go to folk-ish shows very often, but Anais Mitchell and Horse Feathers proved to me last night that a folk performance can be as captivating and beautiful as any.

Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Twitter-length Wrapup: Hey Rosetta! @ Higher Ground 11/8/2010

Filed Under: Twitter-Length Review
Written by Brendan
Tuesday November 9, 2010

I don’t love all the shows I go to, and sometimes I don’t have so much to write about those shows. So I’m introducing a new form of review: the twitter-length wrapup. A 140-character (or less) summary of my experience. Here goes:

Not enough songs. Good vocals, but uninspired presentation. Small crowd. Cool instruments, but missing something. Drummer seemed bored.

Hey Rosetta! @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT, 11/8/2010

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

7 Questions for Hey Rosetta!

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday November 8, 2010

Hey Rosetta!

Photo credit: Jule Malet-Veale

Canadian rockers Hey Rosetta! are playing the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground tonight (opening for Sarah Harmer), and bass guitarist Josh Ward was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of their set. If you’re in town tonight, definitely check these guys out.

BB: Montreal and Toronto have been real incubators of quality indie rock over the past decade. Though it’s a smaller city, is there any such music scene in St. Johns, or are you pioneering the way? Do you think bands like BSS, Metric, Stars, etc have helped pave the way to a larger audience for other Canadian bands?

JW: It’s a funny thing, the St. John’s music scene. It has one of the most impressive amateur music scenes that I think I’ve ever seen, in terms of creative and talented people. With that, though, there are few bands from there who do it professionally, or go out and tour. It seems like music is always just something on the side. Your dentist might also be your favourite singer/songwriter. I think we’re lucky that we still have a small town kinda vibe. Chances are you know most of the people in the “scene” and as a result, there’s a lot of support.

There have been a lot of really amazing Canadian bands over the years who have certainly helped to make it possible for bands like us to do what we do. The bands you mentioned are great, and successful, proving that there is something to this “Canadian music.” We see it a lot when we’re out on the road. There’s a great respect all over for bands from Canada these days.

BB: I read on your tour blog that you’ll be bringing a smaller lineup on the next leg of your tour — who’s staying behind, and who makes that call?

JW: Well, on this leg we’re opening for Sarah Harmer, and her management wanted something a little lighter, and specifically smaller than we usually are. We had a discussion about it, and our guitarist, Adam, decided to sit this one out.

BB: I see that you’re working on a new album for early next year — did you write much of it while on the road, or did you take a break and make a more concerted effort to put together an album?

JW: Sometimes it is kind of difficult to find the time to really sit down and focus on writing an album while touring so much. A lot of these songs took a long time to develop. We would get together and bash out the tunes wherever we could find a little break, and do what we could (often forgetting most of the work we had done on them since the previous time we got together). There was no real extended break to strictly work on writing this album though. In fact, some of the tunes really only came together finally in the studio.

BB: You won several awards for Into Your Lungs – how has that success affected the creation of your upcoming effort? Did it create pressure, inspiration, something else?

JW: I’m not sure that success has affected the creation of the new album so much. Certainly we all feel a little anxious about it, though. There will likely be expectations from people of what it should be. I just hope this album can stand on its own. We really worked hard on it, and are proud of it as it is. Hopefully it won’t have to live in some shadow.

BB: Your band profiles have stayed pretty busy on Facebook and Twitter — who’s managing that stuff, and has the connection with your fans on those networks changed your experience as a band?

JW: We all kinda take part in that stuff. Our manager does some of the quick updates, but the rest is directly from one of us (usually Tim with the blogs, or Phil). It would be hard to imagine where this band would be without those types of networks. In the beginning, especially, we had a really strong internet community of fans and friends who helped us out immeasurably on our early tours. Not to mention getting hooked up with other bands and venues from abroad. It’s a great way to stay in touch with all those familiar faces we see on the road.

Thanks to Josh for taking the time out of a busy schedule. Here’s Hey Rosetta! playing A Thousand Suns (at a venue quite a bit larger than the one they’ll be playing tonight, but you get the point…):

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: The Joy Formidable @ Le Petit Campus 11/4/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Friday November 5, 2010

Rachel and I drove up to Montreal last night to see The Joy Formidable, who we’ve both been dying to see since their EP A Balloon Called Moaning came out this past summer. I wrote about the haunting vocals, driving guitar riffs and frantic drumming in a post in June.

We left Burlington early to try and beat the traffic and get in dinner up there. It was a miserable, rainy drive both ways which definitely took a little more out of both of us than the trip up and back usually does. We ended up getting to the club early which was cool because we got to really check out the space, and wasn’t cool because we had to both wait for and then listen to the opening band, who I definitely didn’t care for. Seems like they had all the right pieces, but their sound was boring at best.

The next band, The Dig, definitely brought me back to life a bit. They were an energetic 4-piece (drums, bass, guitar and guitar/keys), out on a brief swing with The Joy Formidable. The bassist Emile Mosseri and the guitarist David Baldwin shared singing duties, and both held their own, though Mosseri’s parts were definitely the highlight. The bouncing bass got the crowd moving and psyched up for the main act. I’d definitely see these guys again.

The Joy Formidable @ Le Petit Campus 11/4/2010

Rhydian Dafydd, Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas of The Joy Formidable

There were about 60 people there when The Joy Formidable took the stage, about 2/3 standing right up in front, and 1/3 in the back of the room sitting at tables, which must have felt a bit odd from the stage. They started with “Cradle”, and we were quickly introduced to lead singer Ritzy Bryan’s crazy eyes (exactly as it sounds), which definitely added an edge to their performance throughout. It was a great song to start with, and definitely got the crowd pumped. Bryan and drummer Matt Thomas were full of energy, with her thrashing her guitar around stage, and him with a face full of hair and arms that moved so fast you could barely see them. They had a great rock vibe.

There were three songs that I can think of that I loved, “Cradle, The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade,” and their final number “Whirring”, which they extended into a massive writhing, sweating ear-bursting freak out (glad I had my EarLove hi-fi earplugs with me). That performance definitely made the show for me.

Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas

Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas

Unfortunately, the rest of the songs, mostly a mix of new material including their recently released single “Popinjay” fell a little flat with me. It’s often really tough to hear a song live for the first time, especially at a club with fairly poor acoustics, because I find myself trying to hear things, instead of just listening and feeling. So I don’t want to say that their new material was necessarily not as good, but I definitely felt a lack of connection. I also found myself thinking how nice it’d be if they added some keys to their lineup (there were at least 2 songs which included pre-recorded sounds that could have been played by an actual person).

The set lasted barely an hour, which on most nights might have disappointed me, but I was so exhausted and really wanted to get the drive home over so I could be back in bed. I’d see The Joy Formidable again if they came to Burlington, and would definitely make it a point to hear more of their new stuff before I did. They put on a good — though not great — show, and could definitely benefit from a room with clearer acoustics. I recommend seeing them if they come to your town, with the caveat that their show is a bit of a mixed bag of fantastic and fair.

Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable @ Le Petit Campus, Montreal 11/4/2010

Ritzy Bryan

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Upcoming shows in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday November 2, 2010

There is a lot of good music over the next couple of weeks in this area, and I wanted to bring some of it to your attention (though you can always check for good upcoming shows in Burlington and Montreal using the calendar to the right). You can listen to any of the bands using the links below. I highly recommend any and all of these shows, and will be making it to several myself.

The Joy Formidable @ Petit Campus, Montreal
Thursday, Nov. 4

Morning Benders @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Sunday, Nov. 7

Hey Rosetta! (opening for Sarah Harmer) @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Monday, Nov. 8

Clinic @ La Sala Rossa, Montreal
Tuesday, Nov. 9

Glasser @ Il Motore, Montreal
Wednesday, Nov. 10

Horse Feathers & Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Wednesday, Nov. 10

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti @ Le National, Montreal
Tuesday, Nov. 16

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.