Posts Tagged ‘British Columbia’

With Kaputt, which came out 10 years ago this week, Dan Bejar demolished preconceived notions of what his band Destroyer sounded like a little more than a minute into Kaputt, the first saxophone appears. It’s just a little ascending sax run leading into the second verse of “Chinatown” nothing extravagant — but then it’s back, riffing and grooving with increasing fervour, as the song approaches its gentle jazz-pop climax. There’s more sax on “Blue Eyes,” colouring in the margins around Dan Bejar’s bemused references to Beatles songs and long-dead outlaws, before his band goes full lounge-pop during the luxuriating outro of “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker”: saxophones, trumpets, and flutes twirling around each other like faded dispatches from a past era.

That inaugural saxophone, performed by Canadian musician Joseph Shabason, feels like the moment where everything changed for Destroyer. Certainly, it’s the moment where Kaputt lets you know it’s anything but just another Destroyer album.

“Kaputt” released 10 years ago today. The production details are radiant. Glistening synths flicker like strobe lights throughout the title track’s soft-disco pomp. On “Downtown” and “Song For America,” jazzy backing vocalists underline Bejar’s vocals as though they were given the night off from a Steely Dan tour. Fretless bass licks slither underneath it all with the slightest hint of reverb.

Quiet storm, sophisti-pop, smooth jazz — whatever you want to call this stuff, it wasn’t what anyone expected a big-ticket indie album to sound like in 2011. What makes it work, aside from the band’s fluid virtuosity, is that Bejar wholly commits to the bit. Nothing on Kaputt is half-assed, no part executed with a wink or a smirk. The drum sound in “Savage Night At The Opera” has just the right dainty light touch. When “Suicide Demo For Kara Walker” a sprawling meditation on race written with the visual artist Kara Walker.

Plenty of great albums locate profundity within schmaltz, but few of them are as good as Kaputt.

The songwriting on Kaputt is more rich with imagery than discernible meaning. In press materials, Bejar cited “the hopelessness of the future of music” and “the pointlessness of writing songs for today” he said he’d largely lost interest in indie-rock as a serious vehicle for lyric-writing — “I just started blurting things out in a really condensed period of time,” he said of Kaputt‘s process — and yet the album contains some of his greatest, least-fretted-over lines to date.

At the time, the album’s formless writing and sonic textures seemed like a vast departure from Destroyer’s previous LPs. In retrospect, Kaputt has its roots in two Destroyer EPs released in 2009 and 2010, respectively: Bay Of Pigs, which featured a slightly extended version of Kaputt‘s majestic closing track of the same name.


When I made Kaputt people who had one foot in ambient music and one foot in pop music and one foot in jazz and one foot in world music.”

Steely Dan’s pair of late ’70s-early ’80s classics, Aja and Gaucho, both come to mind as well, particularly for their juxtaposition of slick grooves and cynical, debauched lyrics with ample references to recreational drug consumption.

Ten years later, Kaputt isn’t just the consensus pick for Destroyer’s best album (though I might still go to bat for Rubies depending on the day). In retrospect, it’s the pivot point of the group’s entire career — the sax-soaked fulcrum that divides Destroyer’s catalogue into two distinct eras: Before Kaputt  and After Kaputt  generally had some idea of what a new Destroyer album would sound like before it arrived.

Daniel Bejar,
Pete Bourne.
Nicolas Bragg,
David Carswell,
J.P. Carter,
John Collins,
Joseph Shabason,
Sibel Thrasher,

Released January 25th, 2011


The Story of The Written Years starts here, Almost exactly 7 years ago, I moved into a little all-white-but-still-grungy Burnaby basement with one of my best friends Kane and started writing & demoing the songs that would be become our first (self-titled) album. The songs started out solely as a way for me to get things off of my chest, to help digest both the isolation and wonder I felt being in a new and much bigger city than I had grown up in. We were still green as hell (and I think that little album is a reflection of that) but we were lucky enough to have some people believe in us early on. Our producer Ryan Worsley helped make us sound larger and more grandiose than the 3 piece that we were (our good friend Kodie Krogh being that third). I can’t thank that record enough for what it did for me – if I didn’t have that outlet and if I didn’t put all those frustrations and anxieties on paper, I can guarantee that I would not be the same person that I am today. We were also fortunate enough that someone by the name of Brian Dyck witnessed our very very first show and was eager enough to fight for a spot in the project. It turns out that that couldn’t have been a better thing because Brian came to be someone who really helped take the project’s sound and live show to where it ended up last year. So many hours and late nights him and I spent pouring over..over a bright grey Ableton screen trying to dial in the perfect synth sounds for this record. Together (this time, our good friend Alex Richardson included), we worked for years on a release that we really believed in, despite some of my own voice loss issues and still learning the ropes. Alex also really stepped forward as a writing partner for me and helped me take my melodies to a place where I hadn’t been able to on my own.

The result was a record that we re-did a couple times over but ended up saying everything we felt like we really needed to say, lyrically and as musicians. We didn’t try to make a pop album, it’s dark at times but was its own catharsis for me. I talk so much about the frustrations I had with the type of lifestyle I was living and the shitty places I felt like I was relying on for emotional support. I wrote about how helpless it can feel to lose your voice – something I depended on so much as a form of expression.

I’m sure the amount of times we went back up to bat with this thing is a running joke in the Echoplant studio, it definitely is among ourselves. The reality is that those guys put a lot of time and hard work into it. Not only Ryan but also Matt DiPomponio, his assistant engineer, was an absolute source of energy and enthusiasm for us. He never complained once, despite the demanding schedule, and always had a way of making things feel effortless and fun, despite the immense stress that we were actually putting ourselves under.

Until now, I was admittedly scared of putting this 2nd record out. Maybe on some level because it means finally calling it “finished” after so long but also because we’ve continued to grow so much since then. It’s a tough part of my life to reflect on and I admit a lot in it to where such transparency and vulnerability can feel a bit unsettling for me.

But with this comes something positive. It means that it makes sense to finally put this record out that so many people worked so hard on. it’s a batch of songs about desperation, about a longing I had to change myself and reclaim parts of myself that I had lost. If there’s one feeling I think we always managed to capture well, I think that’s the one of nostalgia and these 10 songs are full of that. It felt appropriate to call it “A Cinematic Goodbye” as a send-off to the project as a whole. To boot, we all pretty much live in different cities now.

The 10th track was one of the last written and was where I felt I finally found some acceptance. The ending to this story never had to be a resolution, but it just needed to be a coming-to-terms with what I was fighting. That not-so-little 5 1/2 minute piece of music really summed up for us everything we wanted to do at the time. It doesn’t conform to any real expectations and really just says everything we felt we needed to. The bass line in there is honestly one of my favourite things ever and the drums go through like 10 different beats but I love every one of them. I remember the last vocal session we had, it was at about midnight the night before and I hadn’t finished these lyrics yet. I had a near panic attack and took a few-hour walk only to come back and hit Save on the final lyrics by 4:30am. Slightly delirious the morning after, Matt and I finished the vocal tracks and finally sat back after such a long week. I think I called my brother right after in some sort of exhausted victory lap.


Anyway, I’m sorry this whole thing has been so long but I wanted to give this record and project its proper due. There’s one other person that I would really like to thank here and that’s an incredibly thoughtful and motivational manager by the name of Jeff Ojeda. Jeff had only been on board in the final year but had brought such a level of care and expertise for the project that we never could have asked for. He also did such an amazing job of linking us up with more people that have helped us further our vision, including JVP who blew us away with his mix of Superficial Feeling. I guess I’m just kidding though because there really are so many other people that I should thank – people that helped us out with some beautiful additions on the record and during our live shows (Laura Genschorek, Benji Klassen, Siobhan Lauzon, AJ Buckley, Elliott McKerr, Julia Huggins, Michael Cumblidge, Kelsey Huggan, Emma Song-Carrillo, Sheena Truong, Mitch Walford, Jamie Smail, Ryan Morey, Ryan Eno, Matt Thomas, Cam Nicklaus, Richard Mitchell, Tyson Sulley) or lent us their advice & skills (Sebastian Galina, Murray Ash, Kevin Lim).

So for those following the story, hopefully this doesn’t end up being a total “goodbye” from us. Anyone who’s ever attended a show, bought a copy of our record, bought a tee shirt or just believed in us in any way: thank you so so much, we cannot express how much that stuff meant to us and really kept us working hard. We love you.

Wade, Kane, Brian & Alex
Written Years  Released October 9, 2020 The Band: Wade Ouellet – Vocals, Words, Guitar, Keys
Kane Enders – Drums, Percussion
Brian Dyck – Bass, Keys
Alex Richardson – Guitar, Vocals

This week John Jeffrey, the drummer for Moon Duo, announced his debut solo album, “Passage”, and shared its first single, the eight-minute long instrumental “Leaving Franklin.” Passage is due out October 30th via Jean Sandwich (a Portland-based label).

“Passage” consists of four lengthy jazz-influenced instrumental songs and a press release says Jeffrey was inspired by Alice Coltrane and Canadian painter Takao Tanabe. Recorded in a series of sessions at The Hive, with engineer Colin Stewart, Jeffrey drew inspiration from the jazz principles of spontaneity, dynamism, progression, and improvisation, the singular spirituality of Alice Coltrane and the mist-veiled landscapes of Canadian painter Takao Tanabe. He approached each session as an experiment in not only improvisation but also a kind of anti-composition in which he sought to remove ego from the creative process and to reimagine the self as a channel for natural processes, rendered through music. Playing to the rhythms of something unseen – a hidden partner that made itself known only in the moment of contact – Jeffrey sought to capture rather than design.

​The four shimmering instrumentals that compromise the album are like a landscape unto themselves. At once grounding and expansive, molecular and infinite, they defy easy categorization. There are no linear surfaces, only elemental processes that curve and weave, disappear and reappear; a detailed interplay of atmospheric synths and meditative rhythm evokes the motion of water, the momentary ray of light through tall trees. Like a sonic rendering of one of Tanabe’s distant shorelines, there is both beauty and mystery here – a quality just out of reach, that rewards close attention but does not pursue it.
“I didn’t want to have a structure in place, in order to be guided in a specific direction,” says Jeffrey in a press release. “Everything was developed around simple rhythmic patterns.”


When on touring breaks in 2018 and 2019 Jeffrey returned home to Vancouver Island, BC and recorded a series of sessions with engineer Colin Stewart.

John Jeffrey – drums, bass, guitar, synth, vibraphone
Rolla Olak – guitar
Marc Jenkins – pedal steel

Releases October 30th, 2020.

Image may contain: one or more people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and night, text that says 'JAPANDROIDS MASSEY FUCKING HALL Digital 6.26 Vinyl 10.2 ANTH'

Canadian garage rockers Japandroids shared their first live album, “Massey Fucking Hall”, recorded at the aforementioned iconic Toronto venue from their 2017 tour with Cloud Nothings. “We’ve actually recorded a number of shows over the years, and for one reason or another, they just didn’t turn out,” drummer David Prowse explained. “We both like where this show catches us. We are at a bit of a crossroads in some ways between the band that put out Post-Nothing back in 2009 and where we are going. This setlist captures the first three albums really well and shows how much we’ve changed since those Post-Nothing days. We still have the energy but we have better command of our instruments and our voices. It feels a little less off the rails but still has a ton of momentum.

After playing the last of their 200 shows in more than 40 countries in support of their critically acclaimed 2012 album Celebration Rock, Japandroids took a much needed break to rest and recover after their last show in November of 2013. The band would not play again for three years. This month, they made their triumphant return to the stage, playing intimate shows in Vancouver, LA, Toronto, London and NYC, in which they treated fans to their favourites from Celebration Rock and Post-Nothing, and previewed a handful of new, unreleased songs. 

Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, was written clandestinely throughout 2014 and 2015 in Vancouver, Toronto, New Orleans, and Mexico City. It was (mostly) recorded by Jesse Gander (who had previously recorded both Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock) at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, BC (September-November, 2015). One song, True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will, was recorded by Damian Taylor during an exploratory recording session at Golden Ratio in Montreal, QC (February, 2015). 

Like Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock, the album is 8 songs. This is because 8 songs is the standard template for a great rock n roll album: Raw Power by The Stooges, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen, Marquee Moon by Television, IV by Led Zeppelin, Horses by Patti Smith, Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Remain In Light by Talking Heads, Master Of Puppets by Metallica, etc.

Like Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock, the album was sequenced specifically for the LP. On Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, side A (songs 1-4) and side B (songs 5-7) each follow their own loose narrative. Taken together as one, they form an even looser narrative, with the final song on side B (song 8) acting as an epilogue.



Back in October we played at Massey Hall. It was surreal to play such a beautiful and historic venue. The people at Massey Hall filmed and recorded the entire show and have put together this mini concert documentary, which shows some of the songs we played that night along with some clips from an interview we did right before the show. It’s a pretty cool document of an unforgettable night.

Band Members:
Brian King & David Prowse

Try to resist a unit that Brooklyn Vegan described as “a whole band made of Jimbos from The Simpsons.” If Danger Mouse was the last straw for you with Parquet Courts, here’s the Stooges to their Velvet Underground, an all-spikes sarcasm brigade formed around the holy mission to Make Indie Angular Again on 2018’s deliciously discordant Seeing Green and 2019’s slightly craftier Club Nites. Just check the Archers of Loaf grunge-bursts that punctuate Dumb’s “Submission” or the manic Beefheart-sliding-on-a-dessert-cart-into-a-wall spree of “My Condolences.” And they even mock their own revival with an anti-anthem called “Slacker Needs Serious Work.”

The only time Dumb break g/b/d allegiance is to stick a gloriously honking sax solo at the end of “Beef Hits,” revealing their most furious song as their silliest, as most angry dweebs boil down to anyway.

Less than a year since they signed to Mint Records for 2018’s Seeing Green, Dumb is already back with a new full-length, Club Nites — this time with even more neuroticism and indignation. Club Nites is a collection of narratives drawn from the nightlife ecosystem.
Released June 7th, 2019

Dumb – Club Nites From the album “Club Nites” available via Mint Records.

Dan Bejar’s Destroyer returned with their new album “Have We Met” via Merge Records. Have We Met caps off an arc begun almost a decade ago, when Dan Bejar released his landmark album Kaputt and entered the most accessible, acclaimed, yet no less eccentric chapter of his career. Informed by the claustrophobic atmosphere of our times, Have We Met is cerebral and absurd even by Bejar’s standards. Bizarre scenes and non-sequiturs abound. Bejar often sounds like a man slowly unravelling over greyscale, icy synth backdrops. But in the epic swell of “Crimson Tide,” was the first I heard from this album and is an immediate Destroyer classic! the new wave pulse of “It Doesn’t Just Happen,” or the sneakily catchy refrains of “The Man In Black’s Blues,” Bejar crafted apocalypse music that’s every bit as transporting as it is discomfiting.


“Have We Met” settles into disquieting grooves and atmospheres by employing the sounds of 80s soft rock and adult contemporary in ways that often feel slightly off-kilter. However, while Dan Bejar may twist a traditionally comfortable sonic palette, it is never distorted to the point of being abrasive or unapproachable. Furthermore, his lyrics may grimly reckon with the ending of things hope, love, and life as we know it

Released January 31st, 2020
The Band:
Dan Bejar: vox, synthesizer
Nicolas Bragg: guitar
John Collins: bass, synthesizer, drum programming, granular synthesis

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The rock canon has many anti-heroes, Black Mountain being the latest. In the past, Can’s ‘Tago Mago’ established that the only rule in rock and roll is that there are no rules. Delinquent proto-metallers Black Sabbath demonstrated that you can make a lot from not that much. Now Black Mountain teach us that you don’t have to be afraid of the past to move bravely into the future

This single continues in the vein of last record Destroyer, with a more mechanized, sterile ’80s sound, with a b-side more in the ’70s freak rock style of the earlier albums. “Echoes” was kicking ‘round for years before Randall Dunn took the IV production reins and transformed it from its original Gene Clark tailcoating.
The b-side, “Flux”, is Black Mountain’s Turkish psych homage. It’s original title may have been Flounders In A Turkish Bathhouse.”


Released May 1st, 2020

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and indoor

Vancouver five-piece Blessed unveiled their debut album “Salt” last year, and it’s a moody, shape-shifting album with a treasure trove of interesting sounds. Pulling from psych, krautrock, industrial, math rock and post-punk, Blessed are intense and evocative, and every time you think they’ve played their final sonic wild card, they present another. Formed in the early winter months of 2015 in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley, Blessed were born from a shared creative objective. From the start, its original four members found themselves naturally amalgamating elements of Post-Hardcore, Minimalism, New Wave, Krautrock, and Punk. To date, Blessed has released one single with Toronto’s Buzz Records (Weaves, Dilly Dally, Greys), and two critically lauded EPs. The Fader wrote of the EP II: “Dominated by the high-fructose riffing pioneered by Deerhoof, giving way to a darker, propulsive jam that’s just as chaotic, yet well-controlled.”

From this marginal yet supportive scene, Blessed built connections with a broader community. Their unparalleled work ethic took them on a set of tours that was ambitious for any band, but mostly unheard of for one without a full-length release. Together, they played 225 shows across North America, including stops at Sled Island, SXSW, and supporting slots with acts ranging from Preoccupations, The Courtneys, Chastity, and The Austerity Program. Meanwhile, individual members found time to tour Europe, and start side projects touted by The Needle Drop.
Band Members:
Mitchell Trainor,
Drew Riekman,
Reuben Houweling,
Jake Holmes,
Matt Mckeen,

Blessed’s single “Disease” off their debut record “Salt” coming out on April 5th.

Dan Bejar started Destroyer as a solo home-recording project in the early to mid-nineties. Exploring and overturning genressuch as glam, MIDI, yacht rock, & even underground Spanish independent artists, Bejar was proclaimed “Rock’s Exiled King” 


Originally released August 28th, 2015

Dan Bejar: vocals, midi marimba on track 8
Ted Bois: piano, yamaha d-50 on track 3
Nicolas Bragg: electric guitar
David Carswell: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, midi tuba on track 4
JP Carter: trumpet, effects
John Collins: bass
Joseph Shabason: saxophones, flutes
Josh Wells: drums, congas, bongos and various percussion

Image may contain: 4 people

Vancouver’s Dumb make whimsical slack rock that’s anything but. The band’s cool, campy outlook is both anxious and chill, enveloped in jittery rhythms and bright, fervent riffs. When Dumb settle down a bit, like on the driving “Mint,” they are no less biting. The sprightly single has dual meaning, playfully referencing both money and the Dumb’s new label, Mint Records. “The song ‘Barnyard’ is about a character who is walking along a highway towards an event that they don’t want to attend, becoming delusional in the process. We also wanted to make this a danceable song”


Band Members
Frankie Rossino
Shavonne Ronnie
Hully Muctab
Pistol P

Releases June 22nd, 2018
written and played by DUMB