Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

Plain Mister Smith © Sandra Lockwood

Plain Mister Smith is often lost, perambulating about in space. He makes music with friends to keep him from wondering off….Why be yourself when you can take on the persona of someone or something else? You can get up in the morning and glance at your face and body in the mirror but instead of the conventional you looking back, your imagination takes over. When creating a new identity if in a fresh environment then the possibilities are endless. A backstory can be formed that dreamily shapes your personality, a fun project suddenly turning into a natural way of living as people take interest. Why be yourself? But then what is a real self?.

“The Rat” is about those times when you are feeling empty and small and you begin to fantasize about having another life,” Plain Mister Smith explains “You begin to live in envy of those who seem to lead lives filled with heroics, love, great deeds, extravagance! But underneath these vicarious fantasies and projections of stars and heroes and ‘beautiful people’, you know it’s kind of a lie, and really you’re just a Dirty Rat living your life in the Rat pack.”

The Rat,” the latest single by Plain Mister Smith featuring singer-songwriter Jordan Klassen. Plain Mister Smith is the alias of Mark Jowett, a musician from Vancouver who has previously been a part of Moev and Cinderpop.

“The Rat” follows the debut single “Strangers Strangers” released in June, a folkier softer track (also featuring the vocals of Jordan Klassen) which explores the hypnotic possibilities of being a dreamer.  Both are taken from the up-coming EP to be released in October, a gathering of uncomplicated songs that, with their lyrically absurdity and experimental approach to instrumentation, transports into the odd university of Plain Mister Smith.

Released September 17th, 2021
Music Recorded and written and produced by Plain Mister Smith
Vocals by Jordan Klassen Drums by John Raham

Bay Area’s amplified and electric artful dodgers Fake Fruit have become one of the most exciting and talked about local acts as of late. With much fanfare surrounding the arrival off their self-titled release.

Post-punk lovers have a new act to follow in Fake Fruit, a Vancouver-bred, Bay Area-based quartet whose self-titled debut is out now on Rocks In Your Head Records. The band cite Pink Flag-era Wire, Pylon and Mazzy Star as influences, and Fake Fruit bears that synthesis out: You’ll find the first two acts’ versatile, hard-edged, bright- and fast-burning guitar rock (“Old Skin,” “Yolk”), as well as the last one’s engrossing quiet-loud dynamics (“Stroke My Ego”).

But that specific stylistic fusion is only a jumping-off point: “Keep You” finds singer and guitarist Hannah D’Amato’s melodic vocals overlaying hypnotic shoegaze guitars (courtesy of Alex Post on lead) and a clattering low end (Martin Miller on bass, Miles MacDiarmid on drums), while album closer “Milkman” finds D’Amato sharing vocal duties over deft guitar harmonics and a motorik backbeat. And an X factor in all this is Fake Fruit’s mordant lyricism: “My dog speaks more than you did tonight,” D’Amato sneers on “Keep You,” a laugh line on an album that shows serious potential.

Hannah D’Amato has been leading Fake Fruit though various line-ups and various cities for five years, but didn’t find her footing until landing in San Francisco with a steady, talented group of bandmates and a champion in Sonny Smith (Sonny & The Sunsets) who tried to get band signed to a proper indie before just putting this album out himself. “Fake Fruit” has the energy of a debut but the assuredness and nuance of a third album, using standard indie rock parts but making them feel brand new.

The Band:

Hannah D’Amato- Vox + Guitar
Alex Post- Lead Guitar
Miles MacDiarmid- Drums
Martin Miller- Bass

“No Mutuals” , the new single from the debut record of Oakland’s Fake Fruit, available on Rocks In Your Head Records March 5th.

May be art of 1 person

Francis Of Delirium are a duo out of Luxembourg matching Jana Bahrich, a 19-year-old Vancouver native, with the significantly older drummer and producer Chris Hewett, who hails from Seattle. They’re dropping their new EP “Wading” in April on Dalliance Recordings, which has released music from the likes of Gia Margaret and Common Holly. It’s preceded today by “Let It All Go,” a talky and anthemic multi-segmented track that climaxes with Bahrich repeatedly yelling, “Aren’t you tired of being alone?!”

Francis Of Delirium is the product of an unlikely collaboration: Vocalist Jana Bahrich is a 19-year-old from Vancouver, drummer Chris Hewett is almost 30 years older and from Seattle, but the two met and teamed up in Luxembourg, of all places. Together, they’ve made spiky, grunge-inflected indie rock on Wading, a sophomore EP released this past spring. But the band is already changing, still in the early stages of crafting their sound: More recent singles “Come Out And Play” and “All Love” leaned in a more atmospheric, shoegaze-oriented direction, and they were the best songs Francis have released yet.

With an accompanying claymation-filled music video. “Let It All Go” unfurls with an energy on the brink of self-detonation. It’s a steamy, cathartic breakup song drawing on classic indie rock and emo, marked by Bahrich’s exasperated spoken vocals and climaxing with violently euphoric yelps of “Aren’t you tired of being alone?” Instead of shying away from the ugliness of relationships, it displays it shamelessly, while also lending self-forgiveness. Bahrich says the new single “feels like this vertigo, justifying and grappling and releasing.

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


When not working as part Vancouver post-punk collective Crack Cloud, Daniel Roberson makes gorgeous, eerily chill music as “Peace Chord”, with piano, ambient synths and layers of harmony as its primary elements. Peace Chord’s self-titled debut, Peace Chord was made in the shed behind the communal house that I and rest of Crack Cloud live in. I recorded most of it there, as well as in my parent’s living room, during and after the making of Pain Olympics with Crack Cloud. In that ramshackle space I found stillness for the first time after three years of oscillation; between harm-reduction work in overdose prevention sites and low-barrier shelters, and tour with Crack Cloud. In the stillness of that space, I was afforded time to reflect on the thoughts and experiences that had gone unseen: Loss of love. The dying of my grandfather. The dying of friends to overdose. Seeing new countries. Bearing witness to celebration and trauma. While I was writing, I was also building a Buchla 200 synthesizer, learning to weave on a loom, keeping my hands busy. Like treading water, providing buoyancy to process and meditate on these experiences.

Weaving a spiritual lens through which I can interpret what I’ve seen.

‘Memo’ is a song from the debut album ‘Peace Chord’. Recorded, Produced and Performed by Peace Chord (Daniel Roberson)

Releases February 5th, 2021

Sam Lynch is a Vancouver based singer-songwriter and musician, who makes wallflower hush-rock songs that will stare you down and slow your breathing. Her debut album “Little Disappearance” is out now via Birthday Cake. Since the release of her 2017 single “Mess You Made” and 2018 EP “Light and Lines”, Lynch has been gathering a dedicated audience by way of her confessional song writing and emotionally evocative live performances.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table as I write this, the same spot where so many of my songs seem to start. I’m thinking back to a year and a half ago, sitting at this table, scribbling down my thoughts and fears before flying to Montréal to begin my first studio recording process—it feels like a lifetime ago. this record captures some of my biggest and smallest moments from the past few years of my life. in the widest sense, this collection of songs circles around various forms of loss—loss of self, loss of memory, loss of time and youth; the experience of moving through your days, but feeling like little pieces are going missing as it’s all happening. yet, through recording these songs, I have begun to understand that loss can be so much more than heartbreak: a clearing, a catalyst.this record holds a dissolving resentment, a release, a fading memory, a changing reflection; a little disappearance. thank you, endlessly, for giving these songs a place to land. my words look puny in relation to the gratitude I feel. xx

“Good Year” off Sam’s album ‘Little Disappearance’—out now via Birthday Cake.

Vancouver art collective Crack Cloud have shared their debut album “PAIN OLYMPICS”, marked by album highlight and lead single “Ouster Stew.” It was self-produced and written and recorded in Calgary and Vancouver between June 2017 and December 2019. The group’s previous release was their 2019 single “The Next Fix,” which followed their exceptional 2018 self-titled EP. Earlier this year, Paste featured them in our list of 30 Canadian artists you need to know in 2020. In comparison to the tightly-coiled, guitar-driven post-punk of their self-titled release, “Ouster Stew” is more colorful and eccentric—adding synths and saxophone into the mix. Lead singer Zach Choy’s (the group are adamant not to call him a frontman, doubling down on their decentralized model) vocals are positively waggish as their guitars squawk with an art-rock-meets-funk vivacity.

Like Psychic TV before them, Crack Cloud have a philosophy, and one that they are not afraid to wear on their sleeves. While their anarchic, phantasmagorical visuals, heavy use of symbology, and seemingly never-ending cast of colourful collaborators have often invited cult comparisons, this really does the collective no justice.


There is no apocalyptic death drive here; no cult of personality; no hierarchy of power. While frontman and lyricist Zach Choy is in many ways the face of the group, the collective is one founded on equality, and in his cryptic lyrical blending of poetics, polemics and personal experience, Choy is truly the mouthpiece of something far larger than himself. Nowhere else is this more apparent than on the album’s first single, ‘The Next Fix.’ What begins as a caustic, claustrophobic account of addiction swells into a sprawling, euphoric hymn as Choy is joined by a choir of seemingly endless celestial voices. Less a cult then; more a church. Listening to this song or watching its accompanying self-directed video is a truly spiritual experience, and in its building, jubilant movement it offers a glimpse of Crack Cloud’s most vital message: using community to turn adversity into hope.

This isn’t just bravado; its a story born of deep, personal experience. Crack Cloud operate on the frontline of Canada’s out-of-control opiate crisis, mobilising and organizing in Vancouver’s harm reduction programmes.

The group themselves have had their fair share of trauma, and the collective LP offers its members a vital vehicle for rehabilitation and recovery. As the tagline on the album’s back cover makes clear then, this is absolutely ‘based on true shit.

Part Three of the “Pain Olympics” 2020 series, made DIY by the Crack Cloud Media Collective

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

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.