Kathleen Edwards @ The Back Room

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ the Back Room

. : : September 10th, 2021 : : .

 

Three weeks ago, I posted a high quality, professional recording rip of a condensed Kathleen Edwards set from her autumn 2021 tour.

 

But by the time I put that one online, I was already holding onto a fantastic audience recording of a full set performed at The Back Room in Milwaukee, recorded by a fellow fanatic and blog-reader who graciously donated his tape to Hater-High!

 

I wanted to give the tape some breathing space before posting it — both to encourage fans to actually get out and see the shows on this tour, and also to have time to give it a quick EQ once-over to bring up the vocals and guitars a bit in the mix.

 

But Kathleen’s back at home, and fans across the world (including Canada *cough*) still haven’t had a chance to see her triumphant return to music. This might not quite be the next best thing, but it’s definitely next-best-thing-adjacent.

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Sloan @ Echo Beach

Sloan
Sloan @ CBC Music Festival

. : : May 25th, 2013 : : .

 

OK, I need to buy myself a bit more time.

 

Luckily, I have another short (1 track, 1 interview) 8.5-year old Sloan recording from the inaugural CBC Music Festival at Echo Beach in Toronto. This is a quick audio clip and recording of the band’s opening song (and massive nation-wide hit) Money City Maniacs.

 

Sloan was super huge in the late-90s in Canada, but I resented the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission)’s mandate that 30% of all music played on radio and television be Canadian content and took my contention out on the bands benefiting from the bylaw. Now that I’m older, I do get it — but the loophole still all-too-often employed by the media conglomerates is to play the same half-dozen or so songs and cycle them every couple of hours to fill the quota. The quality of the music was secondary, and felt perpendicular to the music of the international bands that book-ended these tracks. Maybe it has something to do with Canadian Identity or whatnot, but it felt weird, dated, and forced to my ears. In retrospect, it ultimately just wasn’t what I was into at the time, and I let my politics colour my opinion.

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Sloan @ CBC Studio 11

Sloan
Sloan @ CBC Studio 11

. : : September 17th, 2014 : : .

 

It’s been a crazy week, and I don’t have the time to jazz up this story with a lot of narration — but this post officially marks 26-weeks (HALF A YEAR!) of weekly, on-time posts. I wasn’t about to miss it because of things like work and familial obligations!

 

So, here’s tape also celebrating an occasion — it’s six-year birthday was this week! Here’s Sloan previewing songs from their then-new album Commonwealth (billed as essentially 4 solo EPs combined into one LP)!

 

As with all of CBC Backstage Pass’ programming, much of the music is talked over with interview snippets that are rarely of any importance whatsoever — but the sound quality is standard broadcast quality and is worth a listen for Sloan fans. The McCartney-esque Three Queens is especially worth your time; check it in the sample below and grab the rest if you like what you hear.

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Kathleen Edwards @ Mountain Stage

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ Mountain Stage

. : : September 19th, 2021 : : .

 

Total Freedom.

 

A feeling that can only truly be understood, only appreciated, after the heavy weight of oppression.

 

Eight years after the Voyageur album, Kathleen Edwards returned from semi-retirement with an album of songs that are reflective, appreciative, contemplative, and (mostly) positive in Total Freedom.

 

Maybe the most honest, open, and all but entirely unconcealed work yet, fans seem to have found the album a welcome breath of fresh air.

 

Committed to returning to live music in a post-pandemic(?) America, Kathleen took her band on a stretch of dates shortly after the first anniversary of the album’s release.

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The Organ @ Festival Internacional de Benicassim

The Organ
The Organ @ FIB

. : : July 22nd, 2006 : : .

 

What if Morrissy was a lesbian, and the Smiths were an all-girl band from British Columbia, Canada?

 

Well, if you were a fan of indie rock music in the mid-2000s, you might not have to wonder very hard. Especially if you were exposed to The Organ.

 

Had you blinked, you might’ve missed it. If you hadn’t, you might have caught the band’s debut EP Sinking Hearts, or the follow up Grab That Gun (the latter essentially a re-recorded and expanded version of the EP).

 

Grab That Gun spent “more time on top of the Canadian campus-radio charts than any other record released that year” (Wikipedia), and with good reason. The band’s titular instrument heavily encompasses the retro-inspired new wave pop and frontwoman Katie Sketch‘s dour lyrics boldly pay tribute to the influences that made it feel like they could’ve been The Smiths for the Millennial generation.

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The Good Life @ the 360

The Good Life
The Good Life @ 360

. : : May 17th, 2005 : : .

 

You know that album that you hear at just the right time in your life? The one that hits you in the feels every song, from top to bottom? The one that you listen to obsessively for weeks / months on end, almost exclusively?
 

There’s been a few of those for me, but one of the biggest was 2004’s Album of the Year by The Good Life.
 

The Good Life is often diminutively noted as Cursive‘s front man, Tim Kasher‘s side project. One where, for the first two albums, he explored with keyboards and drum samples; lo-fi productions that sound like they were recorded intimately in bedrooms, whispered so as to not wake a roommate or neighbour. A sharp contrast to the angular, aggressive emo of his other band.
 

But the band’s third album took a hard turn into folksy Americana. Album of the Year is a play on popular phrasing — rather than an award or accolade, it’s accounting for a year of an all encompassing and then self-destructing romantic relationship.
 

The subject is not exactly new territory for Kasher; Cursive’s Domestica is famously the only-slightly fictionalized story of his divorce, released four years earlier. But the years between seem to have opened him up to a more balanced, reflexive view that replaced anger with regret.

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Kathleen Edwards @ Cabaret Music Hall

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ Cabaret Music Hall

. : : April 3rd, 2003 : : .
 

It’s not every day you come across a new Kathleen Edwards live recording, let alone one that’s old enough to drink, vote, and be conscripted!

 

Yet, here’s a solid sounding recording of Kathleen at Cabaret Music Hall in Montreal — her first performance in the city, if you can believe it — way back in 2003. A fresh DAT transfer was released earlier this year by original taper stevemtl (and all credit goes to him).

 

The set list seems fairly standard for the time, but if even lightly scrutinized, there’s quite a bit too be impressed by. Remember: this is 2003 and Kathleen has only a single LP to her name. Yet here she is, generously performing well over a dozen songs and clocking in at almost 85-minutes.

 

Among the tracks you’d expect on a tour to promote Failer, you’ll find previews of songs that would end up on Back to Me (Copied Keys, Summerlong), perennial b-side Lazy Eye, some classic rock covers from AC/DC and Black Sabbath, and a song that I’d actually never even heard of before this recording, Shinny.

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The Grenadines @ Drake Underground

The Grenadines
The Grenadines @ Drake Underground

. : : November 13th, 2011 : : .

 

Guess we might as well keep the Birmingham, Alabama-based bands who opened for Maria Taylor theme going.

 

I posted about Dead Fingers last week, but since discovered that I also neglected to post the night’s first opening band, The Grenadines.

 

You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard of them. Looks like after a couple of lowkey EPs, a self-titled LP on a small indie label, and maybe about four active years, the band called it quits. There’s little online of the husband and wife team of Lauren and Michael Shackelford (not to mention guitarist David Swatzell) that hasn’t been scrubbed, but what there is appears to be overwhelmingly positive.

 

Their pop-infused psychedelic rock is infectious, hook-filled and fun that captured the attention of influential indie stalwarts such as Jenny Lewis, Jim Eno, and Andy LeMaster.

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Dead Fingers @ Drake Underground

Dead Fingers
Dead Fingers @ Drake Underground

. : : November 13th, 2011 : : .
 

Speaking of bands that opened for Maria Taylor that I haven’t uploaded in the better part of a decade…

 

Maria’s sister, Kate Taylor, and brother-in-law Taylor Hollingsworth formed an alt-country “cowpunk” bluesy husband-and-wife band known as Dead Fingers. Some four-months before their debut album dropped, with only a three-song sampler to their name, Maria took the duo on the road with her to help generate some buzz.

 

It must’ve been effective, because the duo was listed as one of the top 12 bands you should know in Alabama by Paste Magazine shortly thereafter. A follow-up disc, Big Black Dog, was issued in 2014, but the band has been radio silent since. While Hollingsworth continues to regularly release as a solo artist, Kate seems to have transitioned to a part-time role in the scene (perhaps to care for the couple’s daughter, born shortly after the eponymous debut).

 

A shame, really, because both spouses have the support of indie rock darling Conor Oberst, who has featured both, separately and together, in various incarnations of his bands and has even released a cover of Hollingsworth’s song Dominos with Phoebe Bridgers.

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PJ Bond @ Drake Underground

PJ Bond
PJ Bond @ Drake Underground

. : : February 9th, 2014 : : .

 

While the world’s in a COVID-induced lockdown, I’m still in the process of combing my archives and trying to rediscover recordings that haven’t made it online for whatever reason.

 

My recording of PJ Bond, opening for Maria Taylor at the Drake Underground, is another that slipped through the cracks at the later end of the blog’s earlier incarnation. I actually had to double check the site to verify whether or not it had been already posted.

 

Seven and a half years later, I get to listen to the recording again for the first time — and I wonder why I didn’t remember it more vividly. Songs like Darlin’ I’ve Been Drinking Nights and Untitled (Robot Golf) are the kind of rootsy, punk-influenced Americana that is directly in my wheelhouse.

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