Thursday, 20 December 2012

Top 5 Shows of 2012

2012 was a great year! I was lucky enough to catch some amazing shows. I hope you did too!

Seeing as 2012 is coming to an end, every music writer in the blogsphere is writing their list of top albums/songs/shows. So I thought that maybe I should do that too!

Just for fun, I've compiled my five favourite shows of 2012. Here's my top 5:

5) Passion Pit. The group released their sophomore album this year and played a couple of festival shows the summer (despite lead singer Michael Angelakos' struggle with his mental illness). Their show at Osheaga was fantastic! It was great, hearing the new material live. Although this wasn't my first time seeing the group in concert, I was beyond excited for this show. And it did not disappoint... 

4) Grizzly Bear. This past September, I was able to see Grizzly Bear play at the famous Radio City Music Hall during my trip to NYC. The show was phenomenal! I didn't have high expectations and I was absolutely floored with the performance. Not only did the band sound great, the visuals definitely added a great element to the performance. So worth it! I was just a casual fan before this show; now, I have great appreciation and respect for this band.

3) Matthew Good. Yes, I am still a huge fan of Matthew Good. Yes, I've seen him live half a dozen times. Still, his last show was fantastic! I had seen him play at the NAC in October of 2011 and I was thrilled when he announced he would be playing an acoustic show at Ottawa Folkfest this past August. Only a few days after getting some of his lyrics tattooed on me, he performed a great show with an impressive setlist. Lots of crying ensued.

2) Patrick Watson. In 2012, I (finally) discovered Patrick Watson. Within a six-week period, I was able to see him live twice, once at the Ottawa Folkfest, once at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. I cannot even describe what his music means to me and how happy I am to have discovered his beautiful words. This man knows how to bare his soul in his music, it's so amazing to experience it. Also, it definitely helps that Mr. Watson is down to earth and a total goofball. It's hard not to love this guy!

1) Radiohead. This is by far the most epic show I've seen in 2012. Back in June, I was lucky enough to score tickets to see Radiohead in Montreal. Never in a million years did I ever think I would have the opportunity to catch this group in concert. And although I was only introduced to Radiohead in the last couple of years, I knew I could not miss this show. The setlist was phenomenal and included songs that I absolutely adore, including "Street Spirit", "Idiotheque", "How to Disappear Completely", "Everything in Its Right Place", "All I Need" and "Reckoner". The group had lots of energy and Thom Yorke was dancing up a storm on the stage. The sound completely invaded the Bell Centre and I was taken to a whole other place. For all these reasons, this show totally deserves my #1 spot, hands down.

What shows did you see in 2012? Which ones would make your top 5?

Let's hope that 2013 has a lot more amazing shows in store!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Review: Tokyo Police Club @ Ritual

Friday night, Tokyo Police Club played at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa.

The first band, Topanga started their set at 9:45pm. Unfortunately, I did not make it down to the venue in time to catch them.

I did make it in time to check out the second band. Hollerado, a local band from Manotick, started their set around 10:35pm. I had never heard of these guys before. Their music plays on Live 88.5 all the time, so my friends were quite familiar with them. Also, these local boys won the Big Money Shot music competition back in 2009. I was really impressed with their performance. You could tell that over half of the people in the crowd were there to see these guys. The crowd was so enthusiastic; it was really fun.

Tokyo Police Club only started playing around 11:45pm, which is really late, in my opinion. Luckily, I drank like 3 coffees that day so I was still awake and kicking. The band put on a good set. For the first half of the show, they played only old material, most of which I did not recognize. Finally, during the second half of their show, they started playing material from "Champ", the one album that I know really well.

During the encore, they played "Favourite Food", one of my favourite songs from TCP. They ended the evening by inviting Hollerado on stage and they played "Baby Please Come Home". This was the second Christmas song that was played during the evening. I'm not usually a fan of Christmas music, but their performance of the song was good.

Overall, I enjoyed the show but it definitely wasn't the best performance that I've seen from Tokyo Police Club.

This was my first time going to a show at Ritual. I wasn't sure quite what to expect, to be honest. Overall, I was really pleased. The layout of the venue is not ideal, but overall, I really liked it.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Review: Bruno Mars "Unorthodox Jukebox"

Today, Bruno Mars releases "Unorthodox Jukebox", his sophomore album. His debut album "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" was released back in 2010. Since then, Bruno Mars has proven himself as a legitimate songwriter and R&B/pop artist.

For "Unorthodox Jukebox", Mars has collaborated with some renowned producers, including Mark Ronson and Diplo among others. Overall, the production team behind this album did a phenomenal job.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The album's first single "Locked Out of Heaven" is a good mix of reggae, pop, ska and funk. The song has received a good reception so far, and was (obviously) very influenced by The Police ("Roxanne"). The song is catchy and is an interesting direction for Mars. All in all, a good introduction to the album. Also, the video for the song is good too (see below).

The album starts off strong, with the song "Young Girls". As per his style, Mars' vocals are smooth and filled with soul. "When I Was Your Man", his next single, is a signature Bruno Mars ballad that will definitely strike a chord with listeners. "Show Me" is a groovy, reggae track with a Caribbean feel. The last track of the album, "If I Knew", is an old school love song and showcases Mars' vocals well.

Tracks that stand out to me: "Young Girls", "Gorilla", "Natalie" and "Money Make Her Smile".

Overall, "Unorthodox Jukebox" is filled with smooth vocals, contagious beats and clever lyrics. This album is more fun, more upbeat than its predecessor "Doo-Wops & Hooligans". It has a more mature sound, but remains very true to the Bruno Mars sound.

The album was live streaming here for a while; now you can listen to clips of each track of the album. After having a listen, I will definitely be getting my hands on this album. 

In the meantime, here's the video for "Locked Out of Heaven". Enjoy!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Interview with Band of Horses


On December 6th, Band of Horses played a show at the Métropolis in Montréal. Throughout 2012, the groups has been touring in support of their fourth album "Mirage Rock". Ryan Monroe, along with founder Ben Bridwell (lead vocals, guitar), Tyler Ramsey (guitar), Bill Reynolds (bass), and Creighton Barrett (drums) make up Band of Horses. Monroe, who plays guitar, the keyboards, the organ and also does vocals, has been a member of Band of Horses since 2007.
Before their show, I had the opportunity to sit down with Monroe to discuss the new album, talk about the tour and see what's next for Band of Horses. Thanks to Sors-tu.ca for giving me the opportunity to do the interview.
Julie Cormier-Doiron: So how are you feeling today? Are you guys excited to play in Montréal?
Ryan Monroe: Absolutely. We got up early today and walked around the area. We saw some very cool graffiti around this block. Also, the venue is amazing. We never played a venue this big in Montréal before, so we're very excited.
JCD: As a band, do you prefer to play live shows in smaller, more intimate venues like this one or do you prefer to play in large arenas or large outdoor spaces?
RM: We like to play both. The bigger shows, we like to approach them like they're small gigs, and we approach the smaller shows like they're big gigs. So we try to bring the energy of a small, intimate keg party to the bigger venues so it doesn't seem so disconnected with the crowd, because some of these venues are huge. 
JCD: Band of Horses has an extensive lineup of materials produced with over the years. How do you guys choose what to include in your setlist when you go on tour?
RM: Ben [Bridwell] toils over that an hour at least every night, because we have so many songs [to choose from]. We have four albums worth of materials and we play covers. We try to keep it fresh and we want to play material from every record. Every setlist is different every night, so it's kinda like we roll the dice.
After the soundcheck, we get a feel from the venue and a feel of what would sound good and what we think we would enjoy playing that night. We refer back to what we played last time we were in Montréal to make sure it's not the same set. We try to keep it fresh and mix it up all the time. That just keeps it interesting, because we play so many shows.
JCD: This past year, the group has been touring all around the world. Can you tell me some of the highlights from your tour so far?
RM: We played the Roundhouse in London with Jack White for the iTunes Festival, that was pretty cool. We played lots of gorgeous venues. We opened for My Morning Jacket for part of the summer, and they're like our favourite [band]. They're good friends of ours. That whole tour was like a dream come true. All of it seems like a dream, we're so lucky to be doing it. All of it seems like a big highlight, as far as I'm concerned.
JCD: In September, you guys shared the stage with major acts like Neil Young, Foo Fighters and the Black Keys at the Global Citizen Festival. What was that experience like?
RM: Oh yeah, [the show] in Central Park. That could be a highlight (laughs). Good call! That was amazing!  To be part of something so special, [like] the Global Poverty Project, that was just insane. To play right before the Black Keyes was really cool and to be able to watch them. I hadn't seen them play in a long time, and they're just killing it right now. A good friend of ours, Gus, plays the bass with them, so it was good to catch up with him too.
We got to sing onstage with Neil Young during his set [at the festival]. We came up and sang "Keep On Rocking in The Free World" with him; that was pretty crazy. That was the second time he asked us to join him on stage. The first time was at the Bridge School Benefit [Concert] in San Francisco a couple of years ago. We were just hanging out backstage and he came up to us and said "We're gonna do an old song of mine, I don't know if you guys are going to be around, to come up and play "There Comes a Time". There will be a pump organ and all these different instruments that you can play." We told him "Yeah, I guess we can stick around and play with you" (laughs). It was so funny, he politely asked us and we were like "Of course". Norah Jones came up and played with him and we all just came on stage and played [together]. I hope we can play with Neil a lot more. I'm glad to see him out playing so much, with Crazy Horse too. That was just insane.
JCD: Ben [Bridwell] had previously mentioned that the recording process for "Mirage Rock" was a little different this time around. Can you tell me more about that? Was it more challenging for you guys as a group in the recording studio?
RM: We were going into it, hoping for a huge departure from the last record. The last record ["Infinite Arms"] was so surgical; we edited and overdubbed so many things. This time was just straight to tape. It's the way that [producer] Glyn Johns wanted it. It was a challenge for us because we played 8 hours straight as a band. We don't really do that that often. We all live in different cities. Now that we're on the road so much, the only time we get together and play is at shows or during soundcheck. So it really helped us grow as a band to be in the same room, always plugged up together and playing 8 or 9 hours straight every day. And we just kept the best [takes].
It was cool, because we were really meticulous about mistakes and everything on the last record. We didn't let anything slide, [the record] had to be a perfect thing. But on this record, mistakes were welcomed. We wanted to sound as human as possible. Glyn Johns was more about capturing the energy than a flawless performance.  We've always had energy and definitely had some flawed performances, that's easy. He helped us become a better band, and we learned to play off each other a little more.
JCD: Would you consider recording your next album in the same process as this one?
RM: I don't know. We loved doing it. We kinda looked at it as an art project. We didn't think of it as "this is our new, big release".  Maybe we should have... We  were just like, "we have an opportunity to work with Glyn Johns. He wants to do it this way, so we'll do it that way". We didn't give it too much thought because it was kind off a no-brainer. We'll make a record in the process of working with a legend.
So the next time, it depends where our heads are at. We might combine the two [recording styles]. We'll probably end up doing something completely different because that's just our nature. No use beating a dead horse, no pun intended (laughs).
JCD: How have the fans been responding to the new material?
RM: They like it, at least it seems like they like it. When we play "Dumpster World", we get people scratching their heads still, because if they haven't heard the new record, I don't think they really understand that song. A lot of the new record is easy to play because basically what you hear live is how we recorded [it]. So "Mirage Rock" is a good representation of how we sound live, except our live shows are amped up a little more.
I think the longer the record has been out, the more receptive people have been to it. I'm like that too; I like to hear familiar things when I go see a band that I like. I think the reception will gradually be warmer as the years pass, once the record sinks in a little bit.
JCD: When you look at "Mirage Rock" compared to the other three albums, the record is a lot more rock 'n' roll, with a much harder sound. Was that intentional or was that just a result of the recording process?
RM: I think it was a result of the recording process. We didn't have time to be like "oh, let's take out the drums", or "let's take this out". It was just five dudes, playing in a room. It was rock music, like how they recorded it in the sixties. Glyn didn't even want us to use pedals. He was like "just plug your guitar straight into the amp. What's all this crap you have here?" So [the record] was just like bare bones, rocking out.
JCD: 2012 has been a big year for Band of Horses. What are you most looking forward to in 2013?

RM: Well, we get to play places we've never played before, like Singapore. We're going back in Australia for a big tour. We'll be doing lot of festivals. In 2012, we didn't do that many festivals. So next year, it'll be fun to hit up all the big festivals around the world. I think that's what we're looking forward to. And we'll probably be kicking around some song ideas, like we always do.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Review: Band of Horses @ Métropolis

Last night, I was lucky enough to see Band of Horses live at the Métropolis. I'm a big fan of the Seattle-based band and I'd been hoping they would make a stop near Ottawa while on tour promoting their latest album "Mirage Rock". Lucky for me, they scheduled a show in the lovely city of Montréal, a city that I just can't get enough of. 

Occasionally, I write for Sorts-tu.ca, a great webzine that promotes and reviews shows in the
Montréal area. I had approached them, asking if they wanted me to review the show for the website and they said yes. They even managed to schedule an interview for me with one of the band members, Ryan Monroe (stay tuned!)


The show started on a good note with "The First Song". However, during the following song "The Great Salt Lake", lead singer/guitarist Ben Bridwell was experiencing technical difficulties with his guitar and the sound. He didn't let this affect his performance though, and kept playing through the issues. Afterwards, the issues were resolved and they continued their set with "Weed Party". 

The group played many songs from their first three albums, including "Marry Song", "Laredo", "Ode to LRC", "Blue Beard" and "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands". And, of course, they played some songs from "Mirage Rock", such as "A Little Biblical", "Slow Cruel Hands of Time", "Everything’s Gonna Be Undone" and "Knock Knock". 

They played some of my absolute favourite songs, including "Is There a Ghost" and "Infinite Arms", which I was not expecting. To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. 

The group also performed "Older", which is a song that I really enjoy and it always seems to get stuck in my head. Bridwell shared with the audience that the song was written by keyboard player Ryan Monroe, who I had the pleasure of talking to earlier that day. During the performance, Monroe did most of the singing and Bridwell joined him at the keyboards. It was a great performance and you could really sense the comradery between the two band members.

I was very satisfied with the band's song selection. Bridwell told the crowd that they picked six songs from each album, which is great. In many cases, when a band tours in support of a new album, they tend to focus on the new material. However, I am very happy that all albums were represented equally in their setlist. I'm sure other fans were happy about that as well.

Their set ended with "The Funeral", an amazing song that gives you the goosebumps every time you hear it. I also believe that it is the song that the band is most known for. Safe to say, the crowd went absolutely crazy and sang their heads off. It was an amazing way to end their set and I was absolutely thrilled!

For the encore, Ben Bridwell and Tyler Ramsey were the only ones to come out on stage. They played a stripped down, raw version of "No One’s Gonna Love You". It was absolutely beautiful! Afterwards, they ended their show with "NW Apt.", followed by a cover of "Am I a Good Man" by Them Two, a song that I had never heard before.

You can tell by watching them live that these guys sincerely enjoying playing music together. They don't take themselves too seriously and they look like they're having a blast on stage. As a concert goer, this is an absolute delight to see.

Overall, I am beyond happy with the show. I was pleasantly surprised by the setlist and I am absolutely thrilled that I was finally able to see the band live. Definitely worth the trip to Montréal!

Stay tuned for my interview with Ryan Monroe from Band of Horses.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Upcoming Show: Band of Horses

For the last few years, I've become a big fan of Band of Horses. Their music is awesome. Some of their songs are haunting and just beautiful; some are just plain ol' rock n' roll! Regardless, their music just takes me to another place and I absolutely love it.

Their fourth album "Mirage Rock" just came out this September and they've been touring around the world since the summer. The band is playing at the Métropolis next week and I am beyond excited to check them out. I spent this past summer, hoping they would play some live shows in Canada. I'm looking forward to seeing them live, although I know they can't possibly play all of my favourite songs of theirs.


Also, who am I kidding? I'm a big fan of beards, and these bearded southern boys definitely rock my socks!

If you're in Montreal next week, you should come to the show. It should be a fun time! Also, if you've never heard of Band of Horses, check them out. They've been around for years and are totally underated. Trust me, these guys should be on your radar.

Here's a video for the song "Neighbor", which is a song that I really like. Also, I find this video calming and quite fitting, seeing as winter is upon us. Happy Friday and enjoy!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Patrick Watson Live

I had a nice little surprise this morning when I check Twitter. NPR Music decided to post a video of Patrick Watson's live show in its entirety on their YouTube channel. If you haven't had the opportunity to see this man and his band in action, then you must watch this video. It's so worth it!

This show took place this past September in Washington, D.C. Watching this video definitely reminds me of what it feels like to be at his shows. It's an experience that heightens all of your senses. It almost feels like falling in love... overwhelming and a bit scary, yet absolutely sublime and beautiful.

If you still haven't gotten your hands on Watson's latest album "Adventures in Your Own Backyard", do it now. The album is absolutely phenomenal! You will not be disappointed.

Thank you NPR! Enjoy everyone! Also, be sure to catch Watson live next time he's in a town near you!


Monday, 26 November 2012

Review: Ellie Goulding "Halcyon"

British pop artist Ellie Goulding has been on my radar since her song "Lights" came out back in 2010. The song was good, I liked it. However, I left it at that and did not investigate further into Ms. Goulding's music.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Her sophomore album "Halcyon" came out in early October. The first single off the album, "Anything Can Happen", was recently featured in a really popular commercial for Beats by Dr. Dre, those cool but really pricey earphones. When I first saw the commercial, the song totally grabbed my attention. Since then, I've been listening to it online non-stop for weeks.

I just got my hands on it last week (finally!), and I am floored. This album is phenomenal. No joke, this girl is the real deal.

The album contains 18 tracks. Goulding co-wrote all the songs on the album (except for "Hanging On", a cover of Active Child) and she also co-produced most of the tracks. In addition to the amazing cover, the album contains a collaboration with the very popular Calvin Harris as well as a single version of her hit "Lights", which has only recently seen success in the U.S.

"Halcyon" contains all of the ingredients for a great pop album: heavy, contagious beats, great pop lyrics and raw, beautiful vocals. The album is cohesive and all the tracks are quite good. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing Goulding's vocals are. Also, she's super adorable, has an awesome accent and a wicked haircut. That doesn't hurt. Also, from what I can tell from her Twitter account, she seems like a pretty cool gal

So just like I suspected: I have fallen in love with Ellie Goulding. How predictable! In all honesty, I enjoy all the songs on this album. That's a very rare thing! I am beyond impressed... Great work, Ms. Goulding! I expect some great things from this girl. Keep your eyes (and ears) open! Also, I'm pretty sure I'll be traveling to Montreal in January to see Ms. Goulding live.

Check out the video for the latest single "Figure 8", which happens to be my favourite track on the album. Enjoy!


Also, you need to listen to this cover. It's too good to pass up! Here's "Hanging On".

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Like an Old Friend

Music is like an old friend. Sometimes, you won't see or talk to a friend for a really long time. But when you reconnect, it's like you never spent any time apart, like nothing has changed. The same applies to music: you won't listen to an album, an artist or a group for a really long time but when you do listen to it again, it feels like magic, like coming home in a way.

I follow a lot of my favourite artists/groups on Twitter. It's a great way to keep up with their projects, their upcoming tour dates, new video releases and a bunch of other stuff.

This week, the very talented Jay Malinowski tweeted at me, after I suggested he come to Ottawa to play with his new project, the Deadcoast. I consider myself a fan of Jay Malinowski. I was never a big fan of Bedouin Soundclash. It's not that I didn't like the group, I was just indifferent honestly. Then I was lucky enough to catch the group when they opened for Metric a few years back. They are absolutely phenomenal live. I was sold! These guys are the real deal!

In 2010, I got my hands on Malinowski's solo album "Bright Lights and Bruises" and I was blown away. The album is amazing! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch him live while he was touring in support of this album. I'm still waiting for my chance to see him live. So I keep checking his Twitter account to see when he will be playing live shows. Unfortunately, he won't be playing in Ottawa just yet and I can't make it to Montreal for his show next week (for those of you who know me, normally I would).

I will admit, I don't listen to "Bright Lights and Bruises" very often, but when I do, it cuts me to the core and I feel a sense of peace. It's a wonderful feeling. That's what I love about music: it can take you places and make you feel so many different emotions. And I am so grateful for that.

Have a listen to "There's a Light", one of my favourite tracks of "Bright Lights and Bruises". Also, if you have a chance, check out the music video; it is absolutely stunning. Enjoy!


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Flying Solo

I'm a very social person. I like being around people. I don't need to be in a large group of people to feel comfortable but I enjoy spending time with friends and acquaintances as much as possible. I don't necessarily like to spend time alone, especially not in my tiny apartment.

This year, I feel like I am embracing spending time alone. I know what my interests and hobbies are. And although I have many friends who share those interest/hobbies, I don't necessarily have anyone who is game to do anything at any given time. Except for my husband. He is open-minded and willing to do anything and go anywhere... most of the time.

This week-end, there was a huge UFC event taking place on Saturday, one that I desperately wanted to see. Gaston is my go-to UFC buddy. This is something that we both enjoy doing together. However, on Saturday, my husband went to the event in Montreal while I stayed in Ottawa, since I had a volunteer engagement to take care of. Safe to say, I wasn't sure quite what to do... None of my friends like UFC but I really wanted to see the event. So I decided that I wouldn't let the fact that I was flying solo stop me from checking out the fights. So I took a bus, headed downtown, and managed to get in a crowded bar and watch UFC at the bar with a group of rowdy boys. The fights were good, and definitely worth seeing. I even made a friend at the bar, one who didn't know much about UFC so I was able to teach him a few things.

***

Back in September, there was a movie playing at the Bytowne that I really wanted to see. Normally, movies only play at the Bytowne for a limited number of days. For this particular movie, there was only one day that I could have possible seen it. Unfortunately, none of my friends were available to watch it. I really didn't want to miss my chance to see this movie, so I went anyways. I sat by myself, laughed by myself, upstairs in the balcony. I really enjoyed the movie, and I also enjoyed the experience of watching a movie by myself.

***

This summer, during Bluesfest, I managed to see a lot of shows and spend time with a lot of friends. However, there were many instances where some of my friends wanted to stay at the Electro stage while I wanted to check out some bands at the other stages. During some instances, I was actually required to write about specific bands for my favourite Montreal blog, Sors-tu. Although I prefer going to shows with friends, I have come to enjoy watching shows by myself... I get to choose how close/far I get to watch and I can just immerse myself in the music without worrying about making small talk or ignoring my friend(s).

***

So more and more, I do stuff by myself... even if it's just little things, like going to a yoga class by myself. A year ago, it's something that I would have never done. Slowly I'm beginning to see that spending time solo can be an empowering thing.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Chilling with Owls by Nature

This past week-end, I discovered a great Canadian band: Owls by Nature. I first heard of this group two weeks ago, after their PR rep contacted Couch Assassin to see if we would feature their upcoming show in Ottawa. I volunteered to do a quick write-up about the band. After writing a post about their show at the Rainbow Bistro, I was eager to check out the band.


The band has been touring across Canada on an ongoing basis for two years and they are currently promoting their second album "Everything is Hunted". 

This past Sunday, an old friend and I headed to the Rainbow to see the show. First of all, the Rainbow Bistro is an amazing venue. I cannot believe that I had never gone to see shows there before. Clearly, I've been missing out!

The boys of Owls by Nature put on a really energetic show. They sure know how to have fun on stage. You can't help but enjoy yourself when listening to their blend of folk-rock.

Later that evening, my husband joined to catch the rest of the show. As soon as he showed up, he took one look at the banjo player and said "That looks like Cory". After the show, we had the chance to talk with the guys and turns out, the husband was right. Cory is indeed in the band! Gaston recognized him from playing local bars back home in Moncton a few years ago.

What a great group of guys! Be sure to check out the band when they play your town. Here's their latest video, for the song "Hurricane".


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Owls by Nature Step Into the Spotlight

Originally published on Couch Assassin.

This Remembrance Day, head out to the Rainbow Bistro and check out Owls by Nature. Based out of Edmonton, Alberta, the group has been playing together since April 2010. Their show on November 11th will support the release of their long-awaited sophomore album “Everything Is Hunted”.

Owls by Nature is a collaboration of five musicians from across Canada who met in a prairie town bar. The band features Ian McIntosh, Sean Hamilton, Cory D., Doc deGroot, and Freddy Brenton. They describe their sound as “whiskey-fuelled folk rock anthems for people who like to party”.

Since their first album "Backwater" was produced and released in early 2011, the group has matured and grown and so has their songwriting style. According to Sean Hamilton, the bassist and one of the band's vocalists, the new album is also better in terms of recording quality. "The time we spent on [the album] in the studio and the team that we worked with was above anything we could have hoped for," said Hamilton. He also added that this album is a step closer to truly finding the sound that is purely their own.

Since their inception, Owls by Nature are more solidified as a group. They have been touring on and off for over two years. So far, the group has only played shows in Canada but they are anticipating playing shows in the U.S. very soon. The group loves playing live shows because of the unpredictability. "If a song goes somewhere new or different, we can roll with it and something new may stem from it," Hamilton explained. He explained that the band grows from one show to next, especially when touring. "We get to see it all build in front of our eyes."

When asked what people can expect from their live show, Hamilton laughed and said that the audience should expect a lot of whiskey. In general, the group tends to give a very energetic performance and put on a good show for the audience.

This is the group's first time playing a show in Ottawa. They are optimistic about their upcoming show and are looking forward to seeing what the city is all about. "It's always fun to see what each local scene has to offer." Be sure to check out Owls by Nature in action at the Rainbow on November 11th. Ottawa is sure to give these western boys a warm welcome.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Good News

I heard some fantastic news yesterday, via Twitter (where else?)

Passion Pit will be playing a show in Montreal this February at my all-time favourite venue, le Métropolis. After hearing their latest album and seeing them live at Osheaga, I am thrilled that I will get the opportunity to see them live again. They are one of my favourite bands.

See you at the show!

In the meantime... Enjoy!


Monday, 22 October 2012

Week-end in Montreal

This past week-end, I traveled to check out some shows in the lovely city of Montreal. This is something I do every few months. If it were up to me, I'd probably be in Montreal once a week to catch shows.

I started writing concert reviews this year, and so far, I really like it. Before this year's Bluesfest, I approached one of my favorite music website Sors-tu based in Montreal to see if they were looking for contributors. They accepted my offer and I was able to write two different reviews on different days of Bluesfest. This website is fantastic and always keeps me in the loop on upcoming shows in the area.

I knew I was headed to Montreal to catch some shows, so I reached out to them again and they agreed to let me write more reviews on the shows I was going to see. This is really exciting because I adore this website. Also, I get to practice my French writing skills.

Friday night, I headed to the Théâtre Corona to check out Dragonette live.  I wrote a review about it, one that I am extremely proud of. The show was great, especially since they played a lot of their new material from their latest album "Bodyparts". It was a really fun show and I danced a whole lot! The opening acts were good also.

I was also able to write a review on the Black Label Society show. They were playing Saturday night at the Métropolis, my absolute favorite venue in Montreal. I hadn't been there since last May for the Cranberries show. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well during the show. However, I still managed to enjoy the show.

So in case you haven't already, check out Sors-tu.ca. It's a great website. Also, if you don't understand French, at least you can see the awesome pictures.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Julie Goes to the Big Apple

In case you didn't know, I'm not a big traveler. Traveling gives me anxiety and it's no fun! When I do travel, I tend to stick with cities that are close by, like Montréal or Toronto, unless I decide to venture far and go visit my family in NB.

For years, I've been talking about going to visit New York City. Finally, I decided to seal the deal this summer, when Porter was having a sale. I booked our flights, and that was that! We found a great little apartment to rent in the Upper East Side so we were all set.

Day 1 of NYC included a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a visit to the top of the Rockfeller Center. The view from the Top of the Rock is absolutely breathtaking! Also, we stopped by the Lego store, which was so fun. Loved it!




















On Day 2, we walked around Manhattan and visited Times Square. We also decided to go for a boat tour and check out the Statue of Liberty. Instead of taking a 2 hour or 3 hour boat tour, we decided to take the 30 minute ride on a speedboat... Why not?!? Well, after the boat ride, we were absolutely soaked from head to toe! But seeing as it was so windy, we dried off as we were walking through Manhattan. Finally, in the evening, we went to a sports lounge and watched the UFC event.

































On Day 3, we took the subway and headed to Coney Island. Going to NYC was my idea. When I asked my husband if there was anything in particular that he wanted to do during our trip, he said "eat a hot dog on Coney Island". So I obliged and an hour subway ride later, there we were! Coney Island was absolutely stunning and the weather was wonderful. I am pleased that we went there. Also, the subway is really easy to use.

Later that day, we went to the Museum of Modern Art, then we caught "Avenue Q" off Broadway. It was a great show and we only paid $20 each ticket. An awesome deal! Afterwards, we ended the evening at  Lucille's, which is B.B. King's bar and we listening to some blues, had some drinks and enjoyed a nice meal.



















































On Day 4, we walked through Central Park (well, parts of it). Absolutely stunning! It's hard to see the whole park, because it's so huge.Then we walked along 5th Avenue and then I stopped by the DryBar to get my hair done before our night out.

During the evening, we went to check out Grizzly Bear at Radio City Music Hall. The music venue is absolutely stunning and the show was fantastic! Definitely worth checking out.






















































Overall, I had an amazing time in NYC. The weather was perfect and we did lots of fun stuff. NYC is definitely a city that matches my personality and I cannot wait to go back and visit more of the city.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Get Off The Couch! Celebrating With Couch Assassin

Originally published on Couch Assassin.


This Saturday get off the couch and come celebrate with Couch Assassin! On October 13th, Mercury Lounge will be showcasing some of Ottawa's best talent.

Couch Assassin began as an idea by Lisa Zimmerman back in 2009. Having moved to Ottawa from New Zealand, Lisa was looking for fun things to do but found it was challenging to find out what was happening in Ottawa. She decided to do something about it and created a spreadsheet with event information that she shared with a group of friends. "One of my friends suggested I turn my spreadsheet into a blog," says Lisa. She then designed an amateur website and began posting event listings of online.

Lisa was connected with Daniel Spence through a mutual friend. For years Daniel had wanted to do something similar, but couldn't find the right collaborators and knew he wouldn't be able to maintain such an ambitious project on his own. He jumped at the opportunity to partner with Lisa to create a more full-featured Couch Assassin. “Planning a Friday night used to involve visiting 15 different websites," said Daniel. "We decided to fix that and build a resource for the whole community.” Daniel built and designed a more sophisticated version of the website which was launched in January 2011. Since then the website has seen many changes and new features added, including the local artist directory and a blog focused on previewing upcoming events and showcasing local talent. Couch Assassin is also fully mobile-enabled, automatically adjusting to fit smartphone and tablet screens with no need to download a special app.

Couch Assassin offers a user-friendly event calendar, with daily listings organized by genre. The artist directory is a great tool that allows local artists to find each other to set up shows or collaborations, and that helps non-artists discover some of the creativity on offer in Ottawa.

Although the website first went online in 2010, Couch Assassin is finally ready to throw its launch party and let Ottawa know that it's here to get people off the couch. "We decided that now was a good time to throw a launch party, since our team of contributors has grown," explained Lisa. "This party is a great opportunity to spread the word about Couch Assassin, but also to discover and support great local talent."

"It's also our way of inviting everyone to participate in this project with us," said Daniel. "All Couch Assassins are volunteers with a passion for having fun in Ottawa, and we want to involve other like-minded writers, promoters and event organizers to help build an even more dynamic and exciting arts and cultural scene."

This weekend's Couch Assassin party will feature live performances by local artists and musicians, including Dynamite Motel and Loon Choir. One of Ottawa's most exciting female vocalists, Dynamite Motel is a fusion of Blues Classics and Jazz favourites with original songwriting. Dynamite Motel is an anagram for Mindy Amelotte, one of the newest members of the Ottawa music scene. Ottawa's Loon Choir are a seven piece indie-rock/art-pop band whose unique sound and energetic live set has generated growing acclaim. The group has had a busy summer, touring in support of their new record Fire Poems. The band has been gaining momentum from performances at NXNE, JunoFest, Ottawa's Bluesfest and POP Montreal.

Spoken word artist John Akpata will also perform poetry at the event. DJ Magnificent will be entertaining the crowd with his beats throughout the evening. In addition, there will be live art by Adam Fraser Davidson.

On Saturday, be sure to stop by the Mercury Lounge between 8 and 11 and check out an amazing line up of local musicians and artists. You won't be disappointed!

Preview: Get Off the Couch

Since August, I have been working with Couch Assassin, contributing to their blog and helping organize their upcoming launch party. Couch Assassin is a great website that features listings on upcoming events in Ottawa. You can find information on anything going on in the city: music shows, art exhibits, movies, theatre, and everything in between. People can even upload their own events!

Although the website has been launched for some time, my fellow assassins Lisa and Daniel have decided that now is a great time to throw a kick-ass launch party...

Well, it's finally here! Get Off the Couch: A Couch Assassin Party will be taking place this Saturday, October 13th at the Mercury Lounge. There is a great line-up of live performances happening during the evening, including Dynamite Motel and Loon Choir.

I am really excited to check out these bands. I've heard a lot of Dynamite Motel and heard that she is a fantastic performer. I'm also psyched that Loon Choir will be performing. Unfortunately, I missed them when they were opening for the Jezabels this summer.

There will also be a performance by spoken word artist John Akpata and beats by DJ Magnificent. There will even be an artist in attendance who will create live art during the evening. Seriously, we have everything in this line-up! And it's only $5 to get in.... You are definitely getting your money's worth!

Check out our awesome poster designed by graphic designer Miss Vautour (also a great friend of mine).

See you Saturday!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Review: "Celeste and Jesse Forever"

As I try to do often, this week I went to the Bytowne Cinema to check out "Celeste and Jesse Forever", a film starring Rashida Jones (NBC's "The Office) and Andy Samberg (NBC's "Saturday Night Live"). This film is a romantic comedy, filled with heart and laughter.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Jones plays Celeste, a thirty-something woman who has a very successful career as a media consultant. She is separated from her husband Jesse and has decided to getting a divorce is the best thing to do. Celeste's life is sky-rocketing while Jesse is unemployed and living in the studio, behind Celeste's house.

The couple gets confronted by their friends, reminding them that it's weird that they are spending so much time together, although they are getting divorced. Both are content with how things are and they insist that they are still best friends. Essentially, nothing has really changed and both parties have yet to move on. Having been together since high school and married young, Jesse and Celeste are having a hard time making the transition from lovers to friends.

Then Jesse shares some really important/unexpected news and Celeste's world is shattered. She then struggles with the aftermath of her decision of getting a divorce and then tries to move on.

The film is funny but also deals with real issues and real questions. Does young love eventually fizzle away? Can you maintain the good parts of your relationship while getting rid of the bad parts? Is it possible to remain friends after breaking up?

Jones and Samberg are an on-screen couple made in heaven. Their actors' dynamic is fantastic and their chemistry is undeniable. You cannot help but fall for these characters and root for both of them. The film also stars Elijah Wood, Emma Watson and Will McCormmack, who co-wrote the film with Jones. All three actors do a brilliant job in their supporting roles. The script is funny, touching and very real. As an audience member, it is easy to relate to the story and to the characters.

Overall, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" is a film that is both funny and sad, as it deals with real issues that can hit close to home. I strongly recommend this film, as the performances are outstanding and the writing is fantastic. Definitely worth checking out!