I've been sent music...Once, or Twice

You know, the thought never even occurred to me that artists would want to send me their stuff when I started writing this thing.  Twice now this has happened, coincidentally both times it has been our friends to the south.  New York City is where Julia Barry calls home, and the smooth sounds of her jazz should be heard from coast to coast.

I'm fairly new to jazz, only really started to listen to it in the past year.  It's an album like this that is getting me totally hooked.  Once, or Twice is Barrys' 2nd album, and is a beautiful listen.  It's a little slower than the jazz I started listening to, but it's the strength of Julia's voice that really pulls you through each song.  I remember growing up thinking how lame it was that my mother would just lie on the couch and listen to music.  There were a few years of denial, but now I do the exact same thing.  This record is the perfect vibe for that.  Whether it be staying in from the rain, or basking in the sun and relaxing on the patio.

One of my favourite qualities of jazz is it seems to invoke creativity and thought.  It has an inspiring quality, and this disc is no different track 1-11.  Barry does a great job of story-telling, accompanied often by brilliant piano and an array of other instruments.  I felt like just listening has brought my creativity to the surface, even this review has been very easy to write!

If you are a fan of jazz, I am confident you will really enjoy this album.  If you are interested in jazz, then I strongly suggest listening to Once, or Twice as Julia does not short the listener on this one at all.  A gift from the "City That Never Sleeps" to Island SoapBox, and now in spirit of green living, a re-gift to all you lovely people.

Listen to music here: here.
Buy the album here.
Tweet Julia here.


To be a Young Man, an Album Recommendation

I figured before I actually review this album, I had to make it out to the Sooke Potholes.  So now that I’m sitting on the Sooke River, it’s time to get this story straight.  It’s no secret by now that Island SoapBox loves Treelines, and now there are six more reasons. 

Young Man is a six song E.P. released this past Canada Day, and let me tell you,  Lockhart and the boys have done it again.  Like the first record, the music is polished, sounding like veterans of the recording studio.  This album is a great summer listen, all the songs have a sing-a-long quality, and are perfect for the patio party, or the dockside sunset.

You know by the sound that it’s Treelines, but they do a great job of changing pace and feel.  Streetlights borders on a country, where as Ghost Towns is much more rock aggressive.  The diversity of the album is great, keeping you interested the whole time.  The only unfortunate part of this is, you are all too aware of how fast six songs goes by!
The band recently announced a move to Vancouver from their current hometown (and B.C. Music hotbed these days!) Kelowna.  This can only mean an opportunity for more listeners for these great Western rockers.  Tour dates keep popping up, and this album should generate some serious interest.  You can get up to date at www.treelinesmusic.com, as well as access to merch and music.

The album features Young Man, a free download, and a good barometer of the record. It’s music with depth and emotion, all of it seeming positive.  It really is six more songs you can play skip free, adding to an already impressive library.  I’ve already celebrated Treelines Day this year, but I’m doing it again right now, and it’s time you did too.

Buy the album here.


I recommend this for you... An album by The Mountains & the Trees

I'd been checking my mailbox daily for about a week, and then, it was there.  I am talking of course, about my pre-ordered I made this for you album by The Mountains and the Trees (which, by the way, consists of one member, and many helpers).  I ordered this back in April, and I thought a great touch was Jon Janes, the man behind the music, promised anyone who ordered it a hand written thank you.  Lovely right?  He followed through of course and I thought it was a very personal way to send out an album.  Another shining example of an artist getting creative in this industry.

Now, if we were not in a recession, this album would cost $100 and come with a pair of comfortable shoes, that's at the least (I'm thinking you could have options, all the way up to say $20,000 and that get's you a nice compact car).  I immediately wanted to start moving, and be with my thoughts when I pushed play.  It has that kind of vibe to it off the hop, and I really enjoy that.

Unfortunately, this is where my only complaint is for the entire album lays, and it's only because I'm a squeamish wimp.  The first verse has a line about a boy breaking his arm, and the bone going through the skin.  Gives me the heebie jeebies just typing it.  I had to do a little regrouping, but the tune has a great beat (if you're on foot, you may start marching at points), and I soon forgot.

From there the album just gets stronger.  I am by no means a musical expert, but the diversity of instruments on this album is super fun.   Each tune has great depth to it, and I find myself enjoying different bits of the songs each time I listen through.  I've always been a sucker for strings, and the third song on the album, Crossing Crows, features just that.  Coupled with some beautiful back up singing by Jillian Freeman, the two sing back and forth in this instant classic.

Freeman is featured on a few songs on the album (the two work together as well with Bird & Bear, where Freeman has the lead), she lends her voice to song 4, Goodbye Little Town. If you have ever moved from one city to another, prepare to reminisce.  The song paints a wonderful picture, a scene most have us have experienced, the time to move on.

I won't go through song by song, but I hope the vibe of the album is obvious by now.  Janes has folk music figured out.  Plain as day.  He can change the instruments and the speed song to song, but the quality is there the whole time, and the album really has a great flow.

My personal favourite is Minimum Wage Lovers, a great tune for those lucky to have a special someone, especially those of you who have lived or live on the bare minimum(or less!).

The Mountains & the Trees are (is?) touring across Canada right now.  Having attacked the road viciously, including a Trans-Atlantic journey in the months leading up to this album release, Janes has done a great job creating buzz for this record to drop. I expect the demand for Janes to be high, and this touring will not likely stop anytime soon.  Check out http://www.rockandroots.com/ for all info that is The Mountains & the Trees.  Although you are too late for the hand-written thank you (although he seems to be one hell of a guy, so if you asked nice enough...), it is anything but too late to get out and see this act on tour.  While your there grab whatever merch you feel fit, and make sure to return the favour, and say thank you.

Links of interest:

Buy the Album here.


Malahat Revue stop in Victoria

(Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Taggart www.jonathantaggart.com)
I did not realize that Hannah Georgas, Aidan Knight, Jeremy Fisher and Said the Whale would play the entire evening together.  What a pleasant surprise.  Even better was how well they played together.  You would think the 8 musicians on stage play together on a regular basis.  The music was great, all members in sync with each other, their interaction with the crowd and each other was good, they were funny, never leaving any "gaps" in the performance.  Spending this much time together riding from show to show, the chemisty was clearly visable on the stage.  It was obvious that they were just having a great time, and that feeling seemed to spread through Sugar Nightclub. 

It didn't seem to matter who's song they were playing, the crowd ate it all up.  Both halves of the set were great, the 2nd half having a bit more energy.  The crowd really fed off of that, and the 2nd half seemed to fly by.  Live shows are always great, but I haven't witnessed a show that good in a long while.  It was just a perfect storm on stage.

You don't often get to see 8 musicians share the stage, nevermind the collection of talent that has gathered for this Malahat Revue Tour.  The opportunity to see such great Canadian artists collaborating was a ton of fun, and for those of you who have the chance to catch this tour still, I strongly suggest you do it!


Ladies and Gentlemen, Vince Vaccaro

Vince Vaccaro is loving life right now. It’s evident upon meeting the man, and why wouldn’t he be? He just finished playing the inaugural Tall Tree Festival in Port Renfrew, has shows lined up for the summer, and is a finalist in the Peak FM Performance Project. More important than all of that though, is how he got there.
Music has always been a big part of Vaccaros’ life, until about five and a half years ago, when he stopped chasing that dream, and took off for Australia. Who knew that’s all it would take? Spending only months in the Southern Hemisphere, Vince headed back to the Provincial Capital with fire.

“The day I came back, I had come back from a place of not wanting to continue, you know? I mean when you try for so long on something, it is discouraging, you take little steps, but then you also take so many steps back, you know time holds you up, or something doesn’t work out, or whatever it is.
When I came home, it was like “Go, go, go, this is what we’re doing, and this is how I’m gonna do it” just like go, go, go really hard, that was the only thing I had going on. Where as now I’m doing various things, and it’s a little more manageable, a little less stressful.
It’s been 5 years since I’ve come home, so in a way, I feel like this is a completely different place I’m in now where I’m just happy to be. I make music at home, I record in my living room, and I’m happy to be doing that right now again, it feels more like a balanced equation.” Vaccaro told me recently on a hike at Thetis Lake.

Vaccaros’ songs are performed as well as they are written. The live show being such an important part of any musician’s career, Vaccaro has a simple approach.

“People want to connect man, there is so much disconnect. So for me, without getting stupid deep, it’s just a human connection, and the show is the same way. With the show, I lose myself in the songs, like completely. Sometimes there’s some videos out there, where I’m just, eyes closed, hands in the air, just in the moment. You see it later, and you go “I don’t even remember that” cause you’re so lost in it, and I think people crave that, that real connection that musicians have. I love seeing bands that I would call almost spiritual music. You know Ben Harper? When I see him perform, I’ve seen him three times now, all three times it was just, almost like watching Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley mixed up together. You know when you get that real soulful thing? Just really intense, I like that. I like connecting with music like that. That’s where I think the live show is. You can’t download that.”

With an abundance of talent and experience, Vaccaro has to be a favourite in the Peak FM Performance Project. Great songwriting, along with an excellent stage presence make Vince a tough act to go up against, though he’s trying not to look at it that way.

“It is a crazy thing. My truest feeling is, I'm almost uncomfortable what I would say, going up against some of my best friends. I don’t want to compete against Steph, she's like my sister, you know? So you gotta switch your perspective from going up against, to doing the best you can.
But the air of competition is still out here, it’s around. We all want the top prize. We did an orientation, it was the first commitment we had. I just attended the workshop with Tom Jackson, he’s a performance coach, he’s actually the number one performance coach in the world. He coached us on some stuff, and everything he said made complete sense. And I’m the kinda person that doesn’t wanna be told what to do. If someone tells me what to do, right away my defense is up cause I feel like they're changing me. Even if they want the best of out me, or they're suggesting something out of genuine care, I still have my back up. I don’t know what that is, but I’ve always been that way. I don’t want to change for anything, or I don’t want to change my music for anybody at all. Watching him work with bands, he was awesome. He didn’t change them for his liking, he changed them so that he took the best out of them. Like a music producer in the recording studio gets the best take out of the artist, he’s just getting the best live take out of a performing situation. So that was good for me to see.”

It’s been more than a year since his self-titled full length came out, but that doesn’t mean Vince hasn’t been busy writing and recording. In an ever changing industry, artists are looking for new ways to connect with fans. A lighter approach to recorded goods, and more of a push to the live show seems to be the way these days. The Montreal born musician understands this trend and embraces it fully.

“I’ve been recording some new stuff, I’ve spent the last 6 months or more, just writing, writing, writing. Just being really open to anything that I hear. That’s how I feel music comes to me. It’s not like I sit there and go “I wanna write a song about how beautiful I think this is”.  I just hear music in my head. I don’t even know how to explain it, but I just sorta hear everything. I hear all the parts, it’s like a feeling that comes over you or something. Like when your mood changes, you’re just suddenly super happy.  That’s how music comes to me, suddenly I hear music. So I’ve been open to that, I’ve been writing a ton, I have over 50 songs right now, It’s insane. I picked my favourite four. I put them down last week, and I wanted to be able to tell friends and people, not to spread the word, just share what I’m up to. Like a cool photo I’ve taken. I'm not trying to make it the next thing. If you check it out at http://www.fireandsun.com/, there is an explanation of what it is. Those 4 songs, I’ve been focusing a lot on that. I want to release something for free on the internet. That’s kinda what I want to do, because honestly people don’t really buy music anymore man.  I don’t want to create any more garbage in the world, so I’m gonna do a little bit of free download action. It doesn’t cost me anything to write them, they come to me freely. So who am I to say “pay me this for that.”, it’s like no. If I’m gonna be like the person in between whatever’s out there and music, then cool, you can have it all for free you know. Hopefully they come to the live show, and that’s how I can make a living. That’s sort of my vision right now for my future.”

I feel like a broken record sometimes, but it’s that sort of attitude that makes you want success for the man. When an artist puts his fans up front like that, you can’t help but be impressed. The four tracks available at http://www.fireandsun.com/are solid, my personal favourite being “Coco”, where Vaccaro shows off his bi-lingual skills. With a musical style that is “instant classic rock”, Vaccaro is another kick ass Canadian musician with plenty to offer. With all the momentum he has been gaining, there is no better time to show your support. An easy feat for a musician who wants nothing more than to just share his music and his moments.

Here are a few other sites of interest: