Live Acts, the ones I loved and the ones I look forward to

Is it New Year's yet?
Well we're still in that "Year in Review" part of the calender, and I've enjoyed writing these articles.  I am quite excited for Joel Plaskett tomorrow night here in Victoria, and using that as inspiration I've decided to list the live shows from the past year that I really enjoyed, and an act I really want to get out and see.

Mangan and his band at
Alix Goolden Hall
Dan Mangan at Alix Goolden Hall was a really great show.  It was awesome to see him live, after reading reviews of his shows across the country.  Every review seemed to be positive, and it was quite obvious why.  Musically the band could not have been any better, and the fun they shared with the crowd really gave the concert an intimate feeling.  You would be hard pressed to find someone that didn't like Mangan live.

Christina Maria at Lucky Bar

One performance I won't forget from this past year was Christina Maria at Girls with Guitars 2.  Although the majority of the crowd had left, it didn't seem to faze her.  Her performance was amazing.  If you left that show early, you missed out.  It's hard to keep everyones attention in a bar, especially a half empty one, but that's exactly what she did.

Christopher Arruda was brilliant to watch.  We got to see a set of his at Lyme Aid 5 in Victoria, and he was great to see in action.  It was a good set, and it really made me want to see a show that is his own.  With a band and a Grand Piano, I think this guy would blow some peoples minds.

The Malahat Revue at Sugar Nightclub
(Photo Courtesy: Jonathan Taggart http://www.jonathantaggart.com/)
I would have to say there wasn't a show I went to this year that I didn't like.  But I can't very well write about them all again here.  So the last act I'll mention that I enjoyed is The Malahat Revue.  A ridiculous group of musicians got together and played as though they've been a super-group for years.  The fact that they biked from show to show made it all the more awesome.  The best part?  Jeremy Fisher said recently they have some news coming in the New Year, possibly another tour?

And finally an act I am anxious to see.  I am going to Ontario to visit the family in June, and I've just realized that the dates line-up with North by NorthEast.  Although I won't be in Toronto that entire time, I am really hoping The Ruby Spirit will be playing a night I have available.  I really enjoyed their album this year, and have been curious to see their live show.  They really intrigue me and I think it would be quite a spectacle.

Of course there are plenty of other artists I would like to see in the New Year, but I'm even more curious to know what you will be seeing?  What artists did you love from this past season?  Let me know all about your favourite live acts guys, and thank you so much for reading!

Santa photo courtesy blogs.smarter.com


More Stuff I liked

The Island SoapBox Christmas party will never go
for "discount" Santa again...
Well I am on a role now, two posts so close together!  I felt I would just extend my thoughts from yesterday.  2010 was a pretty awesome year for music.  The longer I have to think about it, the more great music I remember!  I enjoyed getting your responses yesterday, I love hearing about what music you like, and what you are looking forward to.  Here are a few more of mine.

I am becoming a fan of Canadian Hip Hop more and more everyday.  I really don't know much about it, and I don't have a ton of artists I listen to, but the ones I do I really enjoy.  Shad is one of those artists.  After seeing him on "The Hour" a few years back, I was intrigued to hear his music.  I've been a fan ever since, and this year's release of TSOL is some of his strongest.  I listened to this album a ton.

Jon Janes approach to the music industry has made me a huge fan in a short amount of time.  "The Mountains and The Trees" is the name of Janes folk act.  For anyone who pre-ordered his 2010 release I made this for you, the East Coast musician sent the album and a hand written note to each individual.  Minimum Wage Lovers is a tune I really love from this record, and the whole thing is a great listen.  With constant touring (Including a tour with Zachary Lucky coming up!), Janes is always working hard to be heard.

I don't know what to say about 100 Blows from "Henry and the Nightcrawlers" except for, it's awesome.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I hit play, but my ears immediately reaped the reward.  It's an album with a great beat, a really fun listen, and it has certainly peaked my interest in this group of individuals.  It was probably my favourite surprise of the year.
An artist who really caught my eye this year, and who I think will continue to grow and have a huge 2011 is Steph Macpherson.  Her talent was quite obvious the first time we saw her, and over the past year she has only gotten stronger.  It seems the timing is right for the B.C. artist to make an impact, and after a big 2010 I would expect no less from her moving forward.

That concludes this go round.  I hope to here more feedback from you guys.  What albums you thought were great, what artists you think we should pay attention to, and what you're digging in general?

*Santa picture from comedy-zone.net 


December Musings from atop Island SoapBox

The economy may still be in the dumps, but 2010
was a great year for music
I don't know how many of these will come, but I do know that I'm going to have to get in on these "year in review" style blogs.  I've decided for this one I'm going to list a few albums from the past year that I really enjoyed.  Please leave any feedback, and list anything that you enjoyed from 2010.  Happy Holidays!

Jeremy Fisher's Flood was an album that I was extremely excited for all year.  I was pumped to review it, and was utterly thrilled to sit down and interview him.  The album is dynamite.  Even with my excitement, it exceeded my expectations.  For an artist who seems to enjoy more success every time he takes his next step, Flood might be a major jump.  I gotta believe there will be nominations in 2011 for this great spin.

Zachary Lucky is an awesome dude I had the pleasure of meeting on one of his many tour stops in Victoria over the past year.  A very chilled out personality who just wants to play his music for you.  You can't help but want success for the passionate singer/songwriter.  Come & Gone might be Lucky's jumping off point.  It was an album that totally blew past my expectations.  Recorded in Yorkton, SK, this is a record any fan of music can really enjoy.

A band that certainly can't complain about 2010 is Island SoapBox favourites, Treelines.  "Summer Song" was named CBC Radio 3's "R3-30 Song of the Summer" shortly after the band relocated to Vancouver.  The boys used the second half of 2010 to set up shop in Van City, and have done nothing but build momentum with their release of Young Man.

That's it for this post.  I'll get another one out soon, including a short list of acts I think you should watch out for in 2011!  Who are your artists of choice? Any albums that really blew you away this year?


Ruffle your Feathers this Holiday Season

Look, it even comes with a handwritten note.

I've got another Christmas tune here for you guys that I quite enjoyed.  Lucky for me Katie Schaan let me know about The Ruffled Feathers, and their free Christmas song "The Highest Mountain".  Great tune to add to the holiday collection!


"Our First Christmas" Tis the Season to listen...

Light Organ Records has arrived on the scene in time for Christmas 2010.  Giving us "Our First Christmas" An album featuring all sorts of local acts, and all sorts of Christmas songs that don't suck.

I'm not sure what it is about traditional Christmas music, but I've never really enjoyed it.  So when Christmas music comes around that I do enjoy, it is all the more exciting. This way I can feel more in tune with the season, and less like a Grinch!

You can tell right from the first note it's a seasonal listen.  Bells jingle and "Fa la la, fa la la" is sung perfectly by Adaline & Frederick.  The song "Let's stay inside" is a wonderful start with a great BC feel.

The Zolas actually have one of my favourite songs on the album right up next simply called "Snow".  Admittedly this is a group I don't know much about, but the after hearing this jam and really, really liking it, I'm going to check more of them out!

As usual, I won't go through every track here with you guys, but there is one more I really enjoyed.  The Fugitives put forth "Christmas at the Office Party".  It's a very enjoyable acoustic diddy, and it contains my favourite line on the album.  "Christmas, fuck yeah...fuck yeah".  I mean how good is that?  Toss in a little Harp for good measure and you have me sold.

It's great to see Light Organ Records giving us more access to local content.  This is an excellent Christmas album, and a great way to introduce yourself to some bands you may not have heard yet.  I strongly suggest giving it a spin this holiday season, it is after all, Christmas music that doesn't suck.


Dan Mangan, need I say more?

Dan Mangan and his band playing at
Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria, BC

You can find all sorts of news and information on Dan Mangan these days.  Google his name and pages of articles and news appear.  The thing is though, none of it is negative.  You can't find someone saying a bad thing about the man.

Dan Mangan is an asshole.  Ok, that's obviously not true, but I thought I could make this article unique in a hurry (I'm just looking for hits, it's pure greed really ;).

Truth is Dan Mangan is a class act.  His care for both music and his fans is genuine.  The man loves to play and boy oh boy do people love to hear him do just that. 

Playing to hundreds of people in halls and theatres across the country has become the norm for Mangan. The success and attention brought on from Nice Nice Very Nice, his sophomore LP recorded in 2009.  The record becoming a favourite for many fans of Canadian Indie.  Add his live show, where years of touring and playing are evident, and there is a bona fide Canadian Star here.

As proud as he is of his latest works, the really amazing thing here is how confident and excited he is to get back in the studio.  You can hear it in his voice. Nothing but positivity surrounds his movement forward.

"Nice Nice Very Nice kinda exceeded everyone’s expectations in terms of where it would go, and how many people would latch onto it. I've had a lot of people ask me, "Do you feel like you have to live up to it?" I feel more like I’m ready to just blow right by it. I’m just excited to keep moving."

Fans of Mangan know how much work he has done to get here.  Always busy and seemingly always on the road, music is the mans life.  Even this interview he has mashed in to his day, working on a sandwich at the same time.  Although being busy is nothing new, having people to share the journey with is.

"If you are on your own, and you are having an off night, there is no one to lean on except for yourself. Whereas if you have that unit, if someone is having an off night, then everyone else lifts them up.  There is that team mentality of everyone getting their head in the game and playing a great show. The band that I have are just such amazing people, everybody is able to connect in the moment. It’s amazing.

For it to be that way you have to have the collective will of everyone there, and that doesn't always happen.  So I'm pretty lucky."

Besides the ability to pick each other up, this group of musicians is helping Dan take that next step.  These guys are the reason his confidence is so evident.  In the past, it was Mangans' dream to chase, and he would hire help to get there.  Now the dream is collective, and that energy is feeding the creative process.

"This time we are going in as a much more cohesive band, and the players are just fantastic.  I think my material has grown too, it’s probably some of my strongest and most honest work yet. So they're (the band) connecting with the material, and I’m connecting with them connecting with the material, and everything is kinda circulating. There is a lot of great synergy happening in that regard. I feel like now we are entering the studio with idea we wanna create something great.

It's certainly going to be a different sounding album.  I’m so proud of Nice Nice Very Nice, but it's a couple years old now. I'm feeling like I have more to say in my career and my body of work.  I have more to say and I wanna say it. That's where I'm at now."

The Vancouver based singer/songwriter is hoping to release the record in the fall of 2011.  The group takes all that positive energy into the studio this month.  With the nominations and awards already piled high for Nice Nice Very Nice, there is no reason to think next years release could take this Canadian act from star, to Superstar.