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

Wrapup: Waters & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ La Tulipe 12/10/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Monday December 12, 2011

I made it up to Montreal on Saturday night for the first time in too long. I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Waters album, Out In The Light, since it came out in September, and as a bonus, they opened for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, whose latest effort Hysterical I’ve also enjoyed.

It was a wicked early show (started at 7:30p), so I can’t say that I was surprised to walk into a fairly empty venue just as Waters started playing. But it did feel really strange that only a handful of folks were on the dance floor while Waters cranked through a fairly energetic and engaging set.

Of course, that meant that I was able to stand directly in front of the stage, and even leave my beer on the floor as I walked around for a couple different camera angles.

Van Pierszalowski of Waters

I’ve finally got the aperture setting down for show photos, but I’m still having a hard time with manual focus (as auto-focus uses a beam of light to find the subject, which I assume would be incredibly annoying to the band). So while he gave me plenty of opportunities to get a great shot, this is the best I could do to capture Waters frontman (and former Port O’Brien lead singer) Van Pierszalowski’s impressive headbanging:

Van Pierszalowski of Waters

Eventually Pierszalowski was able to coax some of the more timid from the back, culminating in an acoustic rendition of “Mickey Mantle” played from the floor, with the audience leading the song’s chorus. Pretty damn cool way to end a show, and an excellent way to energize a fairly docile and uninvolved crowd for the main act.

Van Pierszalowski of Waters

Unfortunately, CYHSY did very little to continue that energy. Their music sounded great, a good mix of tunes from their debut self-titled album and their latest, with at least one tune off of their sophomore album. But they had absolutely no stage presence, putting on a performance best characterized by the look on lead singer Alec Ounsworth’s face in this shot:

It’s too bad – I really dig their new album, and hoped I’d catch a performance as energized as the first time I saw them (at Bonnaroo in 2006). But it definitely felt like they’d all taken a handful of sedatives right before taking the stage.

The best part of the night was yet to come, however. Since the show let out so early, I was also lucky enough to stumble upon a k-os performance at Club Soda. I had sadly left my camera behind, but suffice it to say k-os made up for whatever lack of energy I’d been left with from the previous show, accompanied by a break dancer and a kickass band and turntablist. k-os gave me exactly what I asked for in May of 2010 when I wrote “I hope to catch k-os again at some point, preferably playing to a much larger audience with a lot more energy.” Thanks Kevin!

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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.

Good new music

Filed Under: New Releases, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Monday October 4, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about new albums. So long, in fact, that to list everything I’ve purchased since the previous post (July 22) would make this less a blog post and more a short story. So maybe just some highlights then…

First and foremost, if you haven’t yet picked up The Suburbs from Arcade Fire (side note – weren’t they once The Arcade Fire?), then stop reading now, click this link, buy the album, and enjoy. It’s only $5 on Amazon right now.

I recently picked up a few albums released earlier in the year upon recommendations from friends, and I highly recommend all of them. This list includes Teen Dream by Beach House, Broken Bells’ self-titled album, and Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More. All three albums are fairly mellow and pretty widely accessible.

Pick A Dream from Tumi & The Volume is definitely my favorite new release that I’d never heard of. A friend recommended it a few weeks back, and it’s been on pretty heavy rotation ever since. It’s like k-os with a little less rap, or some sort of Black Eyed Peas collaboration with an R&B artist. If you like hip-hop, check this album out.

Speaking of hip-hop, if you haven’t heard of Das Racist, it’s time to check them out. Dan Bolles first brought these guys to my attention, and while I admit that my first reaction was to laugh them off, I’ve come to understand their shtick and I have to say that am really impressed with their newest mixtape, Sit Down Man. The clever wordplay, dripping irony and ridiculous concepts they’ve crafted are definitely worth listening to – just be sure to give the whole thing a listen before passing judgment. Did I mention that it’s free?

Also available for free is the debut album from Burlington’s own Villanelles. While farm’s recent release Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36º F, 10:44 p.m. is my favorite from VT this year, the Villanelles have earned themselves a close second. Give them a listen.

Of Montreal and Ra Ra Riot round out the recommendations with solid performances on False Priest and The Orchard, respectively. If you like the previous work by either, I recommend the new albums. If you’re new to Of Montreal, start with an earlier album before getting into this one. And if you haven’t heard Ra Ra Riot, I highly recommend both of their albums for the standout strings (cello and violin), frequent falsetto and general pop-rock goodness.

Broken Bells - Broken Bells Tumi And The Volume - Pick A Dream Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard Of Montreal-  False Priest Mumford & Sons  -Sigh No More farm

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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: k-os @ Higher Ground Ballroom, 5/1/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday May 3, 2010

I pre-bought two tickets to the k-os show, in the hopes that someone would come with me. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out (which I guess doesn’t surprise me – not many of the people I know here have much of an interest in hip-hop, and nobody had heard of k-os). So I headed out solo.

I got there about 9:15 (doors opened at 8), and I walked in to an almost entirely empty Ballroom. As in literally 15 people, tops. There was a DJ onstage and 1 or 2 people out on the floor. I can’t say that I was expecting a sold out show, but I definitely wasn’t expecting an empty one either. The first opening act tried to get people interested, beckoning for everyone to come up to the front (there were maybe 20 or 25 people by then), and most people obliged. Unfortunately, the DJ had technical difficulties, one of the MCs didn’t actually perform on any songs, and the one who did was less than stellar, so the energy died down pretty quickly. Underwhelming is a the kindest description I can offer.

Next up was iLL iNTELLEKs, and for two white kids from Vermont, they were OK. But they didn’t deserve to share a stage with k-os, even if less than 100 tickets were sold.

By the time k-os took the stage, there were maybe 70 or 80 people there. Despite such a pathetic turnout, everyone gathered up front and the majority seemed genuinely engaged. Most of the songs played were from his 2009 release “Yes!” though I definitely heard at least one from “Exit” and one from “Atlantis – Hymns for Disco.” All in all, I was really impressed with his performance and just wish Burlington could’ve made it worth his while to come play here, in the hopes that he’d come back. Unfortunately, I’m pretty confident that will not be happening.

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

k-os definitely looks the part for a self-described indie hip-hopper. His skinny, tapered jeans were tucked into his high-top boots. Under his denim jacket was a sleeveless Broken Social Scene hoodie which was pulled up over a beanie that covered his thick mass of dreads. And he left his big aviator shades on for most of the show. He also seemed to enjoy the VT beer that someone in the audience handed him just after he took the stage (though he sure did nurse it!).

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

He is an impressive multi-instrumentalist, playing acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard/piano as well as harmonica (when’s the last time you saw from a hip-hop artist?). He also has a good singing voice (“No auto-tune there” he said after belting out the refrain to one of his songs) which makes for a much more dynamic show than your typical hip-hop act. He was accompanied by a turntablist and a guitarist (who played both electric and acoustic guitars and sang on a few occasions).

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

I was essentially standing front-and-center which made for some good photos and definitely had me very engaged. Thanks to those standing around me for realizing that with such a sparse audience, there was no need for pushing, shoving or jostling for position. I was able to comfortably “dance” the entire show which is always nice (I’ve never seen myself do it, but my guess is that my dancing looks something a little bit closer to “thrashing about”).

I hope to catch k-os again at some point, preferably playing to a much larger audience with a lot more energy.

k-os @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

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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.

Podcast 1 (alpha) – Hip-hop since 2008

Filed Under: podcast, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Thursday April 29, 2010

OPRcast 1: hip-hopThis is the real reason I started doing this actually. I don’t get to spend enough time with other music junkies these days, and it’s really tough over email to communicate about every new album that comes out and every show you’ve been to. The year-end compilations are definitely the best method I’ve had up until now of sharing the really staggering amount of good music that my ears consume every year.

But I feel like there has to be something better. So I’m giving this a whirl – 30 minutes podcasts of varying genres and inspirations, mostly from albums that have come out in the past several years. Looking to try something new? Give it a whirl. I’ll post them here for streaming over the web, and they’ll be available via iTunes Podcasts for those of you so inclined.

This one is specifically for Eric and Erik. I’ve been sporadically buying hip-hop albums over the past few years, and felt like I’d finally put together a small collection worth sharing. Also, I’m seeing k-os at The Higher Ground on Saturday, so I’ve been on a bit of an afternoon hip-hop kick (like Red Bull, I think my days of hip-hop in the morning are over).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

download mp3 | iTunes (not available yet)

Track List
Fornever – Murs and 9th Wonder | Fornever (3:38)
What About Us? – Mr. Lif | I Heard it Today (3:00)
I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman – k-os | Yes! (3:12)
Say What’s Real – Drake | So Far Gone (3:51)
S**t is Real – Tech N9ne | Killer (3:43)
Get it right now! – Del The Funky Homosapien | Funk Man (4:52)
Scared – Jake One f/Blueprint | White Van Music (2:30)
The Leak – Elzhi | The Preface (3:34)

p.s. Lil’ Kim is coming to Higher Ground!?! How is she still touring? Or not incarcerated? Or alive? Were only it 1997, I’d be there in a heartbeat (admittedly, I put on Foxy Brown’s “Ill Na Na” as I began writing this post).


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.

Coming soon to Burlington

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday April 28, 2010

I hope anyone in the Burlington area can appreciate with me what amazing music our local venues are bringing to town these days. It’s actually bordering on too much good music at once (ok, that’s not technically possible, unless two shows overlap and I have to miss one).

There’s a handy Google calendar over there on the left that lists good upcoming shows in Burlington and Montreal, but I really feel the need to share with you the plethora of good acts that’ll be in the area over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 28
White Rabbits @ Petit Campus, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Saturday, May 1
k-os @ Higher Ground
Listen | Tickets

Sunday, May 2
Yeasayer @ Le National, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Wednesday, May 5
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Friday, May 7
Shout Out Louds @ Cabaret Juste Pour Rire, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Sunday, May 9
Givers @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Tuesday, May 11
Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Thursday, May 20
Midlake @ Le National, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Unfortunately, it’s looking like I’m going to miss at least 2 of the Montreal shows. I wonder how much a cab costs…

Anyhow, thanks to Monkey House and Higher Ground for continuing to bring good music through the Burlington area – I really feel like this is the best the national indie scene has been represented since I moved here a little over 3 years ago. Keep up the good work!

[as a side note, I wanted to acknowledge my hatred for myspace, while still giving the site credit for being the easiest way to hear a few songs from any given band. sorry for including so many links there, but I think you'll find it as useful as I do for pure music sampling purposes. unlike iTunes, Amie St. or emusic, myspace lets you hear full songs, which I think is really important in judging the merits of a band.]

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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.

Yes! Yes! Yes! k-os coming to Burlington!

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday April 7, 2010

Not sure if I used enough exclamation points there. thoughts?

Anyhow, this is seriously exciting news for fans of:

  1. hip-hop
  2. Canada
  3. Broken Social Scene
  4. life

During my year in Salt Lake City, I found and fell in love with one of the most innovative, intellectual and inspirational hip-hop artists out there: Canada’s own k-os (or K-OS or K-os). His 2003 release, “Exit” became one of the very, very few things to keep me sane out there. You may have heard one of the singles off of that album, “Superstarr Pt. Zero:”

To get to the point, k-os will be gracing Burlington’s Higher Ground with his presence on Saturday, May 1. DON’T MISS IT!

In case you still aren’t sold, or you are wary of a hip-hop show, please do note that k-os was featured on “Windsurfing Nation” from Broken Social Scene’s 2005 release “Broken Social Scene” (which I must say is by far their most impressive album).

I own all 4 of k-os’ albums: “Exit,” “Joyful Rebellion,” “Atlantis – Hymns for Disco” and “Yes!” — and well, you probably should too.

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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.