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

Less than 7 questions for Still Life Still

Filed Under: 7 Questions
Written by Brendan
Thursday July 29, 2010
Still Life Still plays Osheaga on August 1, 2010

Photo: Norman Wong

What can I say…7 is a hard number to write sometimes. This has become a pretty expensive hobby in terms of time spent…anyhow.

Drummer Aaron Romaniuk of Still Life Still was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of the band’s upcoming set at Osheaga. Their set is from 2:00-2:40pm on the Scene Verte.

BB: It’s not often that one comes across of band of mid-twenty-year-olds who have been playing together for over 10 years. As 13-year-olds, did you ever imagine you’d be playing festivals like Osheaga and playing residencies at venues like Mercury Lounge?

AR: as 13 year olds we had no clue where this band would take us . as we got older and became closer friends we started to have the same visions . the picture got clearer in our minds

BB: You’ve said that your goal is to make enough money as a band to buy a farm off the grid, grow your own food, etc. You sound like you’d fit in very well in Vermont – have you spent any time here? If not, where do you envision your farm?

AR: we haven’t spent much time in Vermont , only driving threw while on tour , but that would be a great spot .i like to picture the farm somewhere tropical close to mountains and rivers .

BB: The lyrics of your song “T-Shirts” surprised me the first time I heard it. Care to elaborate on the meaning of that song?

AR: t-shirts is just real talk . about being really in love with someone . in love enough to do anything for them .go threw anything with them . its also about using logos on shirts to clean up blood .

BB: Girls Come Too is an impressive debut album. Is there a followup in the works?

AR: we are working on our next record right now actually . we have about 15 new songs written . were recording it at a home studio we have set up with our friend and sometimes band member Markus

BB: With a presumably large collection of unreleased material, do you find that you are more likely to write new songs, or revisit and rework material that you’ve already written?

AR: most of the songs for our next record have all been written in the last year . new songs happen so spontaneously ..we try to just go with the flow .

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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.

What you’re missing if you won’t be at Osheaga

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

I’ve only seen The Black Keys once before — at Lollapalooza in 2007 — and I was as far away from the stage as you could have been and still heard the music, trying to squeeze in a meal. So I’m psyched at another chance to see them, and this time to be a bit closer to the action. The Black Keys — a drummer and a guitarist — make more sound than many 4- or 5-piece bands. Check them out live in Chicago below (there’s some muffled show talking in the middle, but I think this gives a great perspective of what they are like live):

The Black Keys released a new album called Brothers this year, another in a long series of impressive studio work. They manage to sound just like themselves without ever sounding stale or repetitive, with each album having it’s own distinct sound. If you’re a fan of rock ‘n roll, I highly suggest you give Brothers a listen.

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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.

Osheaga Preview: Ra Ra Riot

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday July 26, 2010
Ra Ra Riot

Photo: Doron Gild

Ra Ra Riot is due out with a new album, The Orchard, on August 24. If their 3-song EP Boy is any indication, then I am certain that Ra Ra Riot has most definitely NOT fallen into the sophomore slump. I caught Ra Ra Riot at the Higher Ground in December of 2008, and was incredibly impressed with their live sound. Though I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how terrible one of their opening acts that night sounded (So Many Dynamos). I have friends who still remember the Ra Ra Riot show as being one of the worst they’ve ever been to, until I remind them that Ra Ra Riot was actually amazing…

It’s quite hard to grasp how powerful the cello and violin are in Ra Ra Riot’s music until you’ve seen the lovely ladies of the band play the strings live. Not to mention I’m pretty sure you’ve never seen instruments as cool looking as some of theirs (electric violin in particular). And vocalist Wesley Miles’ voice, which I feared might be too meek to stand out at a live show, was powerful, robust and crisp.

Anyhow, Ra Ra Riot is one of my most anticipated shows at Osheaga, and as a preview I wanted you to hear “Boy” – the first single from their upcoming album. You can download it at their site here. Though I love this song, I love “Keep It Quiet” even more. It’s not much of a festival song though, so I’m not sure I’ll get to hear it this weekend.

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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.

Osheaga Preview: Still Life Still

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Sunday July 25, 2010

One of the few email lists that I really enjoy being on is Arts & Crafts. I’ve learned about several bands from their newsletters, and always get the latest tour info from their impressive list of artists. One of the bands I first learned about in an email from them is Still Life Still, who signed to Arts & Crafts in March 2009. Their 2009 debut release Girls Come Too was partially produced by Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), whose influence is very apparent on the album.

Their song “Danse Cave” made it to the short list for my 2009 favorite music compilation, but didn’t quite make the cut. Anyhow, I’m really looking forward to seeing Still Life Still at Osheaga next weekend, and wanted to give a little taste of their music. Without further ado, here’s Still Life Still performing “Danse Cave”:

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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 music in Montreal this/next week

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

Wolf Parade plays two shows at Le National (my favorite Montreal venue) this week – Thursday and Friday night. If you’re going, expect to be pleased with the material off of their new album Expo 86. I forgot just how good these guys are between all the good-but-not-great releases from the other several bands that front man Spencer Krug also leads (Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown amongst others).

Phantogram, who played the Monkey House over the winter, plays Saturday night at Casa del Popolo.  I think it was Phantogram who I saw described in a review as what The xx would sound like if they stopped talking about sex and started having it (sorry I don’t have a link to the original article).

Passion Pit, the Boston-based electronic outfit with a reputation of putting on amazingly fun shows, will be at Le National on Monday.

And rounding out the list is Au Revoir Simone next Friday at La Sala Rossa.  I’m disappointed to be missing this one, as a college acquaintance of mine, Erika Forster, is 1/3 of the band and I’d love to see her play.

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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.

Quick thought: Stars release new album, EP

Filed Under: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Monday June 21, 2010

Stars - Five GhostsLast week I pre-ordered the new Stars album The Five Ghosts on iTunes, and either by some iTunes mistake or a nice little “thank you” to those who pre-ordered, I was able to download the album – and accompanying EP The Seance – today instead of tomorrow. [Just checked their website and found this: "Due to demand of retailers in both Canada and the USA, the new street date for The Five Ghosts will be JUNE 21, 2010 - both physically and digitally."]

Upon first listen, the EP is outstanding and way outshines the LP. Though I really wanted to order the limited edition 7″ box set, I think now I’m probably glad I didn’t drop that $100. But I am definitely looking forward to spending some more time with this album today and in the coming weeks as I gear up to see Stars at Osheaga.

Late Update: I changed my mind, at least in terms of the LP. Damnit I love Stars. Call them — or me — what you will, but Stars are definitely top 10 favorite bands of the 2000s for me, and this album only cements that status. It’s time to make an interview with these folks a serious goal of mine.

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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.

Of Montreal to play in Burlington – while I’m in Montreal, where they are not from

Filed Under: Live Shows, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Friday June 11, 2010

What a cruel twist of fate. I just learned – via Angioplasty Media – that Of Montreal will be playing the Higher Ground on Saturday, July 31. That, as you may be aware, is the first day of Osheaga. I guess there is a small comfort in knowing that I’ll be immersed in an Arcade Fire show at the same time, but seriously, Higher Ground booking folks, I’d appreciate it if you’d cater to my personal calendar a little better ;-)

For those of you unfamiliar with an Of Montreal show – I’ve been lucky enough to catch a couple in the past two years, and they are quite a treat. Kevin Barnes, the lead singer, was gradually de-robed until he ended up in essentially a golden codpiece, wherein he was hand-painted by some sort of demons until he was completely red-as-the-devil. And that was about 1/100th of the insanity.

This video, of their song “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” from 2007′s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (my favorite album of theirs) should give you a better glimpse into the parallel dimension that you might get to be a part of:

p.s. tickets here.

Late Update (6/14/2010): Because one kick in the pants isn’t enough, Osheaga just announced that Of Montreal will be playing at Metropolis on Friday, July 30, while I’ll still be in Burlington. Argh!


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: Angus & Julia Stone @ L’Astral 5/30/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday June 1, 2010

Sunday was marathon day in Burlington, so to avoid the crowds I headed up to Montreal to catch Angus & Julia Stone. I wrote about their latest album, Down The Way, a couple of weeks ago. Read about it and listen to one of their tunes here.

This was my first time to L’Astral – in fact, the first time I’d heard of it. That’s a bit of a rarity, especially given the size of the venue and the fact that I’d passed it several times before when in the neighborhood (Metropolis and Club Soda are both within blocks). It’s a pretty cool venue, minus the two huge deadspots created by giant pillars just off the front corners of the stage. They list capacity at 600 standing, and though last night’s show sold out, I have a hard time believing there were nearly that many people. That made for a decent spot by the side of the stage and room to walk around if I felt like it.

The balcony level is really cool, especially for the folks who get there early enough to have a chair at the very front. I wasn’t one of those people, but I did snap a photo from in between two of them:

Angus & Julia Stone @ L'Astral - May 30, 2010

Anyhow, to the music. Jeff Robataille (sp?), a local, opened with a few songs with an acoustic guitar. A few of the teen girls up front seemed to find him quite special, but I didn’t particularly care for it.

After fixing a snafu with the haze machine (apparently it had hazed the backstage area quite effectively, but hadn’t made it through the curtains to the stage area), Angus & Julia Stone took the stage. To describe their onstage presence as meek isn’t really fair, because it doesn’t capture their earnest and obvious tenderness, but they are both very, very quiet. They played a couple of songs alone, then were joined by a bassist and a drummer for nearly the rest of the set.

Angus & Julia Stone @ L'Astral - May 30, 2010

The music was as ethereal and delightful as I had expected – a very impressive performance by this clearly talented sibling duo. Julia’s voice definitely stole the show in my eyes. Her sweet, breathy vocals also showed flashes of a stunningly powerful and rich sound, leaving me thinking her range as a singer isn’t even partially captured by their catalog. And her Dorothy-red high-heeled shoes definitely added to her impressive aura. Angus & Julia played a wide selection from both of their albums, and were about to play a new one when someone yelled a suggestion from the audience which they played instead (I wish I had shouted words of encouragement for them to try the new one – they were obviously hesitant and easily overwhelmed).

Julia is also an impressive musician – playing both acoustic & electric guitars as well as harmonica, trumpet and piano.

My favorites were “Yellow Brick Road” and “I’m Not Yours” from their latest release. Neil Young, an inspiration and a subject of “Yellow Brick Road,” was definitely well represented and honored with their tribute. I’d actually pay really good money to see that collaboration.

For all their shyness, both Angus and Julia managed to share some quite endearing and entertaining yarns about the subject or the impetus for a particular song. Honestly, I just don’t get why a person would respond to a love-song manifesto from Julia Stone with a hip-hop ballad (one of the stories she told), but then I also don’t get why Emily Haines or Amy Millan have sad love songs to sing. Who are the morons that are screwing these people over? I guess it’s hard to complain when it results in such emotionally charged goodness for my ears.

Angus & Julia Stone @ L'Astral - May 30, 2010

Although I love Angus’ voice on their latest record, I think that he certainly has the most room for growth in terms of the band. He has a pretty voice, and when sung softly, his lyrics are incredibly compelling and touching, but I definitely found myself wishing he’d step out of his shell and really wow the audience with something more.

Angus & Julia Stone is a show I highly recommend seeing if they are in your area. And if they aren’t, I’d still recommend picking up their latest album. I’m glad I made the haul to Montreal last night, even though the U.S. customs agent gave me an unnecessarily hard time on the way back in (which the Canadian border guard correctly forewarned me about on the way to Canada), and clearly had his facts wrong when it comes to “proper documentation” and the legalities of making photocopies of one’s passport.

p.s. Julia covered the tune “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease. Need I say more?

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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.

More artists added to Osheaga lineup

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday May 26, 2010

Well, two months after picking up tickets to this summer’s Osheaga Music & Arts Festival in a dizzied state of excitement, the good news just keeps on coming. Osheaga just announced another dozen or so artists, including Ra Ra Riot and Still Life Still.

I think actually we’re now getting into the situation where there might be too many bands that I want to see, such that I’ll end up having to miss some sets. I guess in the grand scheme of things, that’s a pretty good problem to have.

So far, my ideal schedule would include the following artists:

Arcade Fire
Stars
Metric
Ra Ra Riot
Still Life Still
The National
The Black Keys
Beach House
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Blitzen Trapper
The Morning Benders
Horse Feathers


and if it works out, I’d also be interested in checking out:
Devo
Pavement
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
Seu Jorge (of Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou fame)
Sonic Youth
Cage the Elephant
Japandroids
Galactic

p.s. Osheaga folks, if you’re reading this, I’ve applied for a media pass (hint, hint…)

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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: Midlake @ Le National, 5/20/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Friday May 21, 2010

I first saw Midlake in the back stage of the Black Cat (D.C.) in 2006. They, along with Cold War Kids, were opening for Sound Team. A pretty damn good billing in retrospect, though I hadn’t heard of any of them at the time. I can’t say that I remember much of the Midlake set, so I’m thankful I got to see them again last night, and I will definitely not forget that show for a while.

I got really nervous when we first walked in – there wasn’t a single person in the bar area and the woman at the ticket booth knew who we were when we walked up to pick up our will-call. I just wasn’t ready for another empty show – my soul couldn’t take it. Luckily, there turned out to be a fairly decent crowd when we made it into the stage area.

Midlake @ Le National, Montreal - May 20, 2010

We caught one song from the second opener and were able to easily make our way down to the front as Midlake got set up. A few minutes before they came out, a remote-controlled helicopter flew out from the backstage and hovered around menacingly, seemingly taunting the audience. Oddly, people didn’t really seem to notice.

Midlake, who I was expecting to be a five-person band, rolled out on stage seven deep. That amounts to one person on the piano/flute/secondary percussion, four guitars (variably acoustic and electric), one bass and a drummer. I didn’t know until I was reading more about them this morning, but the initial band met in college, where they were all studying jazz music. Their depth of musical talent was apparent – never before have I been to a rock show where not just one but two of the band members played the flute (not to mention the two recorders that were played).

Midlake @ Le National May 20, 2010

Midlake’s sound is layered with richness and depth (thanks in large part to the 4 guitars). Their live performance really brings the music on their albums to life, lending it such sullen emotion and character. They played a good selection from both “The Trials of Van Occupanther” (2006) and their new release, “The Courage of Others.” The standout to me would probably be Roscoe, which in addition to being one of my favorite songs, was played masterfully. But seriously, there was not a bad song among them. There wasn’t much dancing, but there was enough tapping, bobbing and nodding to tell that the whole place felt the same way.

Tim Smith, the lead singer, definitely has a pretty reserved demeanor onstage, and actually seemed to be a little embarrassed at times when Eric Pulido, one of the guitarists and secondary vocalist, talked to the audience. For a band with such a serious sound, the stage banter was surprisingly fun and light-hearted. Midlake had some gear stolen a few nights before, and told the tale of yet another attempt at robbing them the night before the show, an attempt thwarted by one of the band members who ran down the would-be thief and tripped him.

Tim Smith of Midlake @ Le National May 20, 2010

Midlake are masterful, sorrowful, soulful musicians and the show last night was an impressive display of it all. I’m definitely looking forward to their next visit to this area.

On a semi-related note, I still have a lot of work to do on my photography and post-production work, but I am loving my new Panasonic DMC-LX3 camera, which took the photos in 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.