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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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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Nada Surf @ Cutting Room Studios

Nada Surf
Nada Surf @ KEXP

. : : January 7th, 2010 : : .
 

Nada Surf was riding an incredible career resurgence.

 

Often classified as a one hit wonder with the alternative radio hit Popular in the mid-90s, creative differences with their records label lead them to sit out their sophomore album, Proximity Effect, in North America.

 

Constant touring in Europe while waiting for their contacts to expire lead to a diamond sharp refinement, and the band was surprisingly wholly embraced by the indie-rock community for their follow up disc, Let Go, which was in turn followed up by excellent efforts The Weight is a Gift and Lucky.

 

The band has also had some crossover success with soundtrack covers of songs like If You Leave (OMD), Where is my Mind (Pixies), and All You Need is Love (Beatles) in the mid-to-late-aughts.

 

It was unusual that the band would follow up a trio of critically acclaimed indie rock albums with a covers album — especially one with a selection of songs considerably left of the dial.

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So Many Dynamos @ KEXP Studios

So Many Dynamos @ KEXP
So Many Dynamos @ KEXP

. : : October 22nd, 2006 : : .

 

I’m still trying to get through the backlog of unreleased or lost tapes I have, and it stretches pretty far back.

 

The good news is, it’s been a great way to rediscover fantastic music that may have fallen by the wayside in recent years.

 

Take for example, So Many Dynamos: my favourite dance-punk band who’s barely made a peep in the last seven years. They seem to still be active, but barely; their Facebook has a single post from May 2020, and nothing since or before until you scroll to July 2017.

 

Although it’s not my usual taste in musical genres, their 2006 album Flashlights (oh my god, it’s been 15-years!?) was an instant hit for me. I shared it with friends, shouted it from rooftops, and played it endlessly.

 

I even scoured KEXP Radio’s now sadly defunct lossless radio archive and captured this excellent performance the band put on in their studio shortly after the album’s release.

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Nicole Atkins @ Public Square Park

Nicole Atkins @ Public Square Park
Nicole Atkins @ Public Square Park

. : :September 5th, 2020 : : .

 

Nicole Atkins‘ fifth album, Italian Ice, was released just shy of a year ago. The world was a different place then. Sure, COVID-19 was a thing, but it was still on it’s first escalation. Musical artists were struggling with whether to postpone albums and upcoming summer tour dates amid the uncertainty and, artistically speaking, we were at a comparative standstill.

 

Unable to keep the LP under wraps, Nicole proceeded with the album’s release, and promoted it with radio appearances and a weekly streamed “porch performance” from her home, featuring a variety of musical guests.

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Hannah Georgas @ SiriusXM

Hannah Georgas

. : : July 18th, 2020 : : .

 

2020 was … unusual.

 

Gripped by a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, relegated to stay-at-home orders and curfews, live concerts stopped being a thing. At least, in the typical sense of the phrase.

 

Pivoting to engage fanbases, generate income, and continue to spark creative drive, musicians began to take up live-streaming performances en masse. Like many live performances, the quality varied.

 

Usually, things like the venue, PA system, and sound person on duty were deciding factors on sound and visuals, but now it was the artists’ home studio set-up, internet upload speed, and network congestion. And to say it’s been a learning curve for everyone would be putting it somewhat mildly. However, as the year wore on, the quality by and large improved.

 

The new challenge arising as 2020 came to a close was not how much will I enjoy this live stream, and turned more toward how many live streams can I enjoy?

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Royal Wood @ CBC Studio 211

Royal Wood
Royal Wood @ Studio 211

. : : March 2014 : : .

Royal Wood was one of my early Canadian Music Week discoveries. His powerful piano pop performances of songs Do You Recall and On Top of Your Love immediately made me a fan, and I ended up seeing him live 4-times in about 14-months spanning 2010-2011.

Alas! Other musical acts became a distraction, and he had slipped off my radar a bit when his follow up album, We Were Born To Glory, came out.

I did capture a couple of performances Royal did for CBC’s First Play Live program that aired shortly after the album’s release, but the station’s running interview tracks over top the first verses of the songs annoyed me to no end, and I didn’t give them the attention they deserve.

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Kathleen Edwards @ BBC Radio

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ BBC

. : : June 7th, 2007 : : .

Bob Harris’ radio show for BBC Radio 2 co-sponsored the NXNE event that first introduced me to Kathleen Edwards. Harris was fond of the roots rock scene in Canada, and was known to promote it on the other side of the pond whenever possible.

It’s hard to say whether or not that concert — you know, the one that introduced me to Kathleen, Jim Bryson, Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, etc. — would have still happened without his support and the Beeb’s agreement to record it for airing on his program. I like to imagine it wouldn’t have: it was a confluence of random happenstance that brought all these acts together, and me to that room.

I then have to give a lot of credit to Bob and the BBC for their part in my obsession with deep fondness of these performers and their music.

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Kathleen Edwards @ KCRW Studios

Kathleen Edwards
Kathleen Edwards @ KCRW

. : : March 24th, 2005 : : .

How are you all enjoying the all-Kathleen Edwards end of summer special?

Hopefully, you’re finding something new in all the something old. I have a few more up my sleeve, starting with this set Kathleen and band performed for LA radio station KCRW on their famed Morning Becomes Eclectic show back in 2005.

KCRW gave the band space for a generous 7-song set and interview and they took full advantage. The group played about half of Back To Me — an album that was only three weeks old at the time, but recently celebrated its 15th birthday — a note-worthy version of Somewhere Else where Kathleen and original writer Jim Bryson trade off vocals, and Unknown Legend, a great Neil Young cover!

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