Posts Tagged ‘Awkward Stage’

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here

Charitable Canadians cover Christmas classics

Illustration By Trevor WaurechenTrevor WaurechenI love it when the alliteration takes care of itself.

Last month went into the history books as being the first time on record that Toronto received no snow in November. No such luck for December, as the first major storm of the year is bearing down on us today… so I guess it’s time to bust out the winter coat and boots, start thinking about buying gifts for people and accept that for the next three weeks or so, it’s going to be Christmas music anywhere and everywhere I go.

Generally this is taken as a thing of awfulness, but one set of holiday tunes that most people can abide, if not actually enjoy, is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, with its jazzy take on some holiday standards as well as a few original compositions which have become classics in their own right. It’s kind of the Christmas album that even people who hate Christmas albums can appreciate.

And it’s the basis for a new charitable compilation assembled by the folks at Canadian digital retailers Zunior. A Peanuts Christmas: The 2009 Zunior Holiday Album is a tribute album that features a wide cross-section of Canadian artists re-interpreting the Guaraldi record, including The Awkward Stage, Jill Barber and The Violet Archers. More important than the names involved, however, is the fact that the album is a fresh yet familiar take on the original record, preserving its intrinsic coolness without copying its moves. And more important than that is the fact that all proceeds from this digital collection will go to the Daily Bread Food Bank.

The album is selling for a very reasonable $8.88 Canadian, exclusively at Zunior.

MP3: The Awkward Stage – “Christmas Time Is Here”
MP3: Jill Barber – “The Christmas Song”

Also getting in the spirit of the season with another charitable musical effort is Toronto hardcore act Fucked Up. Even before they officially won the Polaris Prize in September, they were committed to putting the funds to charitable use and they’ve made good on that promise. Matablog reports that their take on Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas” is about to be released with all proceeds from the single going to three organizations committed to the cause of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada – Montreal’s Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Vancouver’s DTES Power of Women Group and Ottawa’s Sisters in Spirit. But don’t think that their cover is all just Damian Abraham bellowing out the song – they’ve enlisted a pretty impressive and eclectic lineup of guests to lend their voices to a worthy cause. The track also features the vocal talents of Yo La Tengo, GZA, Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, Bob Mould, Tegan & Sara, Andrew W.K., TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and everyone’s favourite analrapist, David Cross. The single became available on iTunes last night and will come out as a 7″ single in February of next year.

Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy gives Filter a list of his top ten records of 2009. He releases Heartland on January 12 and plays a show at the Mod Club that same evening.

3VOOR12 has a video session with Basia Bulat recorded atop an Utrecht rooftop in the Netherlands. Her new album Heart Of My Own is out January 26 and she plays Trinity-St. Paul’s on January 16.

The Line Of Best Fit interviews Beatrice Martin of Coeur de Pirate.

The Rural Alberta Advantage has released a new video from Hometowns, which features the trio playing McNulty and getting up on the wire. Or something.

Video: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Drain The Blood”

Sweaty synth-rockers Woodhands, with whom The RAA share drummer Paul Banwatt, have set a January 26 release date for their second album Remorsecapade. Details at Chart, MP3 below.

MP3: Woodhands – “Pockets”

Lightning Dust plays a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR.

Michael Cera talks to MTV about the Scott Pilgrim film, of which a complete cut now exists. I spent this past weekend re-reading all five volumes and am just a little bit tingly with anticipation for this film. And volume six. I want it. I want it now now now nownownownownowNOW.

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Sing A Song

Photo ByAutumn De WildeSo obviously I’m on record as having thought that Rilo Kiley’s last record (and according to some, their last record) Under The Black Light was a massive disappointment. It sounded like both principals were disinterested and just phoning it in, and made me think that maybe frontwoman Jenny Lewis’ solo career – at that point consisting only of the rather lovely and understated country-soul gem Rabbit Fur Coat – was going to be the actual way forward.

Which put her second solo effort, Acid Tongue, under that much more scrutiny. Was the weak and indifferent songwriting on Black Light an aberration or had the wellspring of inspiration that had served so well up to that point actually dried up? Well, it’s definitely a better record than Blacklight, but coming from me that’s not necessarily saying much. It thankfully eschews the genre-hopping of that last Rilo Kiley record and returns again to the rootsier trappings that suits Lewis’ voice best, though not in as quiet a manner as Rabbit Fur Coat. Acid Tongue is a bolder, brassier record with its share of rollicking moments, but what it gains in energy over the first solo record, it loses in vulnerability.

As her success has grown, it seems Lewis’ willingness to expose herself in her songwriting has diminished or what does make it through is thoroughly encrypted. And that’s fine, emotionally naked, heart on sleeve songwriting isn’t for everyone but Lewis has indulged before and the results have been stirring. So instead of a confessional, she’s enlisted a slew of guest stars – Elvis Costello, M Ward and Zooey Deschanel among them – and hosted a party instead. A party where the theme is loose but impeccably played, ’70s-style country-rock. And parties are great, everyone likes parties, but I’ve always been the sort who preferred the quiet 3AM conversations that follow when things have died down.

The AV Club, The Guardian, The List, Blurt, The Independent and The Skinny talk to Lewis about her new record.

MP3: Jenny Lewis – “Acid Tongue”
MySpace: Jenny Lewis

Feist talks to The Winnipeg Sun about visiting the Arctic. She visits Massey Hall on November 1 and the Air Canada Centre on November 3.

Paste talks to Lucinda Williams.

The Denver Post and Colorado Daily Q&A Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields.

Chart talks to Matthew Sweet.

The McGill Tribune interviews Travis Nelson of Okkervil River.

Gotham Acme talks to Joey Burns of Calexico. They’re at the Phoenix on November 18 and with original support act Bowerbirds having cancelled on account of exhaustion, the opener will now be Cuff The Duke.

In response to my “nothing to write about” comment yesterday, Radio Free Canuckistan gently reminded me that The Awkward Stage, who released the wholly underappreciated Slimming Mirrors, Flattering Lights earlier this year, are at the Horseshoe tonight as part of a west coast-acular bill with Said The Whale, Vancougar and Sylvie. Pulse Niagara has an interview with Awkward frontman Shane Nelken, The Toronto Star features Sylvie.

MP3: The Awkward Stage – “Anime Eyes”
MP3: Vancougar – “Obvious”
MP3: Sylvie – “Please Make It Home”