Tag Archives: Owen Pallett

Polaris Prize 2010

Today’s a two for one day, you get two posts in one day.

For those who didn’t notice1, last night was Polaris night, an evening in which 10 bands gather to perform, while judges sit in a room and decide who’s album was the best. The prize seemed to instantly be seen as the greatest measure of good music in Canada. The policy is that genre and sales don’t matter, all that matter is the music. Past winners include (and are limited to) Final Fantasy2, Patrick Watson, Caribou, and Fucked Up.

There’s lots of criticism over who has been picked in the past, but I don’t think anyone in Canada can say that any of those four albums were damn good records. They might not be your cup of tea (Fucked Up, Caribou), but they do what they do well, and made some records that deserve a high amount of praise.

This year the entire shortlist was a list of some amazing musicians. There were only three groups who weren’t my cup of tea in the least (The Besnard Lakes, Tegan & Sara and Broken Social Scene).

  • The Besnard Lakes, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night
  • Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record
  • Caribou, Swim
  • KarkwaLes chemins de verre
  • Dan Mangan, Nice, Nice, Very Nice
  • Owen Pallett, Heartland
  • Radio Radio, Belmundo Regal
  • The Sadies, Darker Circles
  • Shad, TSOL
  • Tegan and Sara, Sainthood

Broken Social Scene started off the evening, and they did exactly what they do very well. If I liked their music I would’ve been in bliss, but I don’t like their music.

Next up were The Sadies, who tore the stage up. Their country rock is unlike any other in the country, and while they make mediocre records, their live show is the best in Canada. I haven’t heard Darker Circles, but if its like their other records, they shouldn’t have been nominated, their records aren’t that good.

Then came Radio Radio, who’s acadian hip hop performance was eye opening to me, and I need to pick up their record. As Kate Harper from Chart tweeted last night, “avec mes pennyloafers ou avec mes deckshoo et j’vas marcher sur la hey ou j’vas marcher sur la hoooooooooooooooooo”

Dan Mangan was my pick for the night. His album Nice, Nice, Very Nice‘s title is an understated review of the album, I’d call it great, great, very great, but in Canada we’re humble. While “Sold” is perhaps the best song on that amazing album, his performance of it last night didn’t sell me. The band seemed uncomfortable performing together, and it was awkward. Fortunately he seemed to get it together for his second song, “Robots” in which he ended with a sing-a-long3 as he stood on a table in the audience telling them that “Robots need love, too. They want to be love by you.”

Then came Besnard Lakes who I think are trying for a Spinal Tap thing, but ending up sounding like a band who spend too much time playing Dungeons and Dragons in their mom’s basement. Not my bag.

Polaris Prize inaugural winner Owen Pallett has finally released an album under his own name, he’s also now expanded his band from one to two people4. He also had joining him Dana Snell5 on drums. His performance was damn good, and makes me want to reevaluate Heartland. It’s not that I dislike the album, but I was never drawn into it. It’s good, but not great, definitely not to the level of He Poos Clouds. I think part of the problem was that it’s on two 12″ discs at 45 RPM. It’s hard to get into a record when you have to stand up to flip the record every 10 minutes.

I’ve seen Shad live once, and while his songs were great, he seemed bored. I was quite enthralled with the music, but the lackluster performance made me never purchase a record of his. He completely changed that for me, with his Polaris performance. He truly put on a great show, and you could tell everyone was into it. He and Radio Radio, the two hip hop artists of the evening were truly the highlights.

Tegan & Sara seemed to get the most buzz, at least in the Twittersphere. They apparently have a very loyal following, which hopefully brought some new attention to the Polaris Prize. While their performance did nothing to impress me, their comedy stylings were top-notch! Perhaps Tegan & Sara are this generation’s Wayne & Shuster.

Caribou, a previous winner, was the final nominee that evening. His performance bored me.

And the winner… Karkwa. Everyone said “what?” but then then said, “okay.”

  1. Are you not in Canada? Are you not on Twitter? []
  2. Owen Pallett []
  3. Gentleman Reg didn’t seem to be singing along. []
  4. Odd that one person is Final Fantasy, and two people are Owen Pallett, but whatever. []
  5. Who plays with Gentleman Reg, and was in the Bicycles. []

February 2010, in review

In December, I set goals for myself, how many films to see this year, how many shows to attend, how many records to purchase, and how many books to read. This is the standings, as of the end of February…

Books I read (2/10 – 20%):
Heaven Is Small by Emily Schultz | Originally published 2009

Films I saw (19/52 – 36.5%):
Whip It | Originally released 2009
24 Hours On Craigslist | Originally released 2005
The Princess And The Frog | Originally released 2009
The Secret of Kells | Originally released 2009
An Education |  Originally released 2009
Invictus | Originally released 2009
The Blind Side | Originally released 2009
The Hurt Locker | Originally released 2009

Albums I bought (22/52 – 42.3%):
Next Year In Zion by Herman Düne (vinyl) | Originally released 2008
Realism by The Magnetic Fields (CD + vinyl)
The Beatles Stereo Box Set | Originally released 2009

Shows I attended (7/52 – 13.5%):
The Magnetic Fields (w/ Laura Barrett) @ Queen Elizabeth II Theatre; February 8, 2010
The Hidden Cameras, Owen Pallett, Thomas, Kids On TV, The Barcelona Pavilion, Mean Red Spiders, Neck a.k.a. Christiana, Boars @ The Garrison; February 14, 2010

Wavelength 500 (Show 5)

My plans of attending Wavelength over the past week seem to have been defeated; of five shows, over the past week, I only attended one. For those who didn’t read my previous post, Wavelength is a music series that has happened every Sunday for the past ten year. To celebrate Wavelength 500 and mourn the end of the weekly series, Toronto was lucky enough to see a five night festival happening in various venues throughout the city.

I missed the first four shows, and unfortunately wasn’t able to see The Bicycles, Laura Barrett, Evening Hymns, Diamond Rings, Picastro, Constantines or numerous other bands, I did however get to see a show I will never forget.

Opening the show were BoarsNeckMean Red Spiders. They were all good. I enjoyed them all but don’t remember enough about any of them to have anything much to say.

The Barcelona Pavilion were probably my highlight of the show. I had wondered for a long time why anyone cared for any music performed by Steve Kado. I had seem him perform a number of times, and just didn’t get it, it didn’t make sense to me. Sure, I had respect for him, and the □□□□□□ Recording Club he helped found and admired the spirit of DIY so very much embodied by □□□□□□ and Wavelength. I’ve also been to The Boat many times and seen bands who were part of the Bad Band Revolution, and always wondered why anyone liked this self-admitted “bad bands,” seriously, they were horrible. I’ve always related Kado to that. Kado used to play in a band called The Barcelona Pavilion, and they reformed in their original lineup for Wavelength 500.

I was blown away by their performance, sure musically, it fit in with the bad band revolution, but it had all those wonderful tenants of good punk! I also haven’t moshed in a long time, and that was a nice change from usual… oh and did I mention that Maggie MacDonald is hot?

The best I can say about Kids on TV is that they are theatrical; I could also say they’re gay, but for some odd reason the two seem to go hand in hand. Their set didn’t really do anything for me, and I didn’t quite understand why anyone else was enjoying it; I found it to be cliché and boring.

Did you know that “Tranzac” is an adjective? As in, “This band is rather Trazacy.” Well, before Thomas came on, I asked someone what they were like, and he said “Tranzacy.” Then after getting bored with them, and hovering elsewhere in the bar, I mentioned my boredom to someone else, and she said, “yeah, they’re very Tranzac.” In closing, they were boring, and not an exciting secret act, the following secret act was much better.

Did someone say Owen Pallett? Oh my! For those who don’t know Owen Pallett used to record and tour under the name Final Fantasy. He’s recently decided to start going by his actual name. Pallett’s set’s biggest drawback was the 30 minutes for him to set up his excessive amounts of gear to play four songs. However, those four songs were absolutely wonderful. Before he left the stage he announced that he would be back in a few with The Hidden Cameras.

Yes, The Hidden Cameras. I’ve never been a fan. I have a strange double 7″ EP, and have listened to it a couple times. but I never really got into them. Unlike Kids on TV, I completely understand why they have a following, and really dug seeing them live. I was able to get into the groove of the audience, and enjoy the show for what it was. I still won’t be buying any of their records any time soon, but I’ll have fun if they randomly decide to close a show I’m at.

Above photo of Doc Pickles taken by Garry Tsaconas, used with permission.

January 2010, in review

In December, I set goals for myself, how many films to see this year, how many shows to attend, how many records to purchase, and how many books to read. This is the standings, as of the end of January…

Books I read (1/10 – 10%):
Animal Farm by George Orwell | Originally published 1945

Films I saw (11/52 – 21%):
It’s Complicated | Originally released 2009
Magicians | Originally released 2007
A Single Man | Originally released 2009
Fantastic Mr. Fox | Originally released 2009
After Elizabeth II (Documentary, from CBC Doc Zone)
Crazy Heart | Originally released 2009
Brüno | Originally released 2009
Dan In Real Life | Originally released 2009
Men Who Stare at Goats | Originally released 2009
It Happened One Night | Originally released 1934
A Boy And His Dog | Originally released 1975

Albums I bought (7/52 – 13%):
Gene Clark by Gene Clark (vinyl) | Originally released 1971
The New Despair by The Gothic Archies (CD EP) | Originally released 1997
The Wayward Bus by The Magnetic Fields (CD) | Originally released 1992
Distant Plastic Trees by The Magnetic Fields (CD) | Originally released 1991
Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love by Jonathan Richman (CD) | Originally released  2004
Heartland by Owen Pallett (vinyl)
Mal De Mer by Ben Gunning (CD)

Shows I attended (5/52 – 9%):
Julie Doiron (w/ Will Kidman) @ The Cobourg; January 9, 2010
Krupke, Skip Jensen & Ginger & Irene @ Rancho Relaxo; January 15, 2010
$100 (w/ The Lonesome Ace Stringband & Stripmall Ballads) @ The Horseshoe Tavern;  January 22, 2010
Ben Gunning (w/ Allie Hughes) @ The Rivoli; January 29, 2010
The Dress Whites @ Bread & Circus; January 30, 2010