Archive for the ‘So Russell…what do you love about music?’ category

Jump up and say WEST!

2012/11/03

The Collective West perform at the Artery tonight, to celebrate the release of their sophomore album, Fire & The Ocean.

The band is excited. Any respectable member of the Edmonton music community is too.

As banjo extraordinaire Erin Faught told this blog’s think-tank: “I feel especially proud of Fire & The Ocean because I think it truly represents The Collective West as the collective we really are– the previous album was a collaboration of all of us on songs that Alex and I had originally written for our solo careers but all of the songs on this album were developed by us as a team. Also Alex recorded and produced this baby entirely in his basement so that’s pretty dang impressive.”

The Alex whom Faught is talking about is Alex Klassen. They teamed up a few years ago, along with Dave Sustrik  and Alex Charlton. If you’ve seen the movie the Avengers, it was just like that. In the time they’ve been writing music and performing together, they’ve not only been getting better and better, but they’ve left audiences with an infectious positivity no one tries to escape from.

If you don’t have tickets yet, there might be some left from yeglive.ca. The show is with Fish & Bird and Lindsey Walker. Doors at the Artery open at 7:30.

Listen to their new song, “Call it Home,” here.

Don’t it make you smile: Wool on Wolves play the Edmonton Folk Fest

2012/08/10

A few months ago, I was sitting with my friend Tom in the Garneau Pub.  He was just about to leave for a trip around India with his wife, and we were having a few bon voyage beers. Tom’s also the singer from the Edmonton band Wool on Wolves, and we’d just listened to the unmastered tracks from their new album. We were talking about the new songs, and how I was going to write about them on my blog.

I told him some ideas I had for the article, but he cut me off.

“Write what you want,” he said.

I immediately had an Almost Famous flashback. Even though, of course, I wasn’t a writer for Rolling Stone, and he wasn’t from a band that would ever be excited to fly in a private airplane. Still, I thought it was funny that we’d ended up vaguely mirroring a scene from one of our favorite movies, and I thought, how the heck did we end up here?

Tom and I became friends in our first year of college in Red Deer, in part because we had a ton of mutual friends, and, more importantly, because we both had shirts with the words “Led Zeppelin.” His love for music was always on his sleeve, and so was his love for his friends. This was always made clear simply by what he said to people. His words had a big impact on me. This is still the same today.

The thing about Tom, you see, is that his words reflect his character, his warmth, and his inability to be insincere. And when he told me to write whatever I wanted on my blog, he wasn’t trying to reference a movie. Tom just wanted me to be honest.

And that’s what he does with his lyrics. To top that off, Tom somehow found four friends who share his uncommon trait to always be genuine – and so Wool on Wolves is a band that embodies authenticity in an increasingly superficial world. They could have been a hip-hop group, a punk band, a jazz ensemble, or a throwback to Stillwater from Almost Famous, but the honesty of their songs would still be shining through.

But Wool on Wolves isn’t a band that fits into those categories, if you believe in things like genres. What they are though, is the band playing on Stage 2 at The Edmonton Folk Fest tonight at 8:00. So come hear Tom’s sincerity, and the passion of Wool on Wolves, for yourself.

Hey, so listen to this…

2012/07/08

One of the seminal music experiences in your whole life happens when you’re just a kid – when someone you look up to plays you something you’ve never heard before. Normally, this person is both a bit older and related to you (but can, of course, be someone from a different family tree), and you take what they say very seriously. Your parents can’t be included, because music you get from them is a whole other seminal music experience on its own.

Take, for example, the eleven-year-old in Almost Famous. His older sister happened to be Zooey Deschanel, and she introduced him to all kinds of great music. The next thing he knows, he’s writing for Rolling Stone. This happens all the time in real life, as long as your name is Cameron Crowe.

Speaking of real life examples, one day, a young and impressionable Chuck Klosterman was given a Mötley Crüe tape by his older brother. The next thing we know, there’s an apologist for  that entire genre called Hair Metal, writing for, well, at least Spin anyways.

At that very impressionable age, I had someone introduce me to a lot of music I hadn’t heard before. If it wasn’t for him, I may have been stuck in a whirlpool of classic rock and mid-90s California punk forever…

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Three Best Friends Stop in at The Pawn Shop

2012/05/30

The Backstreet Boys. The Spice Girls. N’SYNC. The Sex Pistols. What do all four of these groups have in common? They were manufactured bands. Which means, they were probably comprised of members that didn’t know each other very well. All of them did OK I guess, but that was the entire point of them being together in the first place.

That isn’t the case with Edmonton’s Scenic Route to Alaska. You might just notice a few differences between them and The Backstreet Boys, and not just a lack of synchronized dancing. The band is made up of three best friends, from the same town with the same creative drive. They grew up together ’round Riverdale, and decided to share their love for music onstage with lucky audiences. This trifecta of friendship has become a regular fixture on the music community in town, and across Alberta. You might have heard them on the radio, when their set at Canmore Folk Festival was aired on CKUA, or when they were SONIC 102.9’s Band of the Month. Perhaps you saw them on stage with Kat Danser at the Edmonton Folk Fest, on Balcony TV, or maybe you’ve seen them perform at local fundraisers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but N’SYNC didn’t play many non-profit fundraising events.

…Or maybe, you haven’t had the chance to see them yet! If so, it’s a good thing they’ve got an album release party this Friday at the Pawn Shop!

They don’t all like sunglasses, however.

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The Many Sides to Nowhere: Blurring the lines between music and art

2012/05/09

Jim Nowhere is a punk rocker. If you were in a debate club, you’d have an easier time convincing someone you didn’t want to be a lawyer or a politician than poking holes in this fact. Heck, if you were a philosopher, even you would have a lot of trouble refuting how true this is.

Yep, he’s a punk. He’s got a punk rock attitude. He’s got a punk rock band. He’s even got a punk rock name. Even though you can call him a punk, you could also call him an artist, and you could call him a folk singer.

What you couldn’t call him is somebody that likes fitting into neat little categories.

Labels? Who needs ’em?

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Scott Cook: a storyteller to bring you back home

2012/04/27

If Albertans were superheroes, our power would be the ability to drive really long distances. Really. Talk to someone from the United Kingdom, and they’ll tell you driving somewhere more than a mile away is “really far.” Albertans, on the other hand, won’t even be fazed by a quick round-trip from Edmonton to Calgary, or a jaunt to Vancouver to see a band that doesn’t feel like crossing the Rocky Mountains.

On these long drives, soundtracks are as vital as caffeine and gasoline. Music not only keeps you awake, but adds something to the drive that makes it mean more than just a journey from point A to B.

Fellow Albertans, or anyone else that has this power to drive really, really, far: you know when you’ve been on the road for what seems like forever and you’re finally on the last few miles until you’re back home? The sun is starting to set, the other passengers are asleep, and you know you’re just about there?

That’s what Scott Cook’s music sounds like.

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Getting the Facts Together on the Collective West

2011/06/17

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but recently the mainstream media has really been lacking in the investigative news department. We used to have journalists like April O’Neil willing to go down in the sewers of New York City to get to the bottom of the whole mutant ninja turtle business – and now all we have is TMZ trying to find out which b-list celebrity has anchovies on their pizza.

A reporter from a bygone era

So when I heard rumblings of a new group forming in Edmonton called “the Collective West” – I thought this was my chance for a big scoop. Were they a new political organization like the Alberta Party or the Wild Rose Alliance Party? Were they an underground network of anarchists set to throw off the authority of the federal government? Or were they a group forming to protest the inability of Western Canadian hockey teams to win the Stanley Cup?

To find out, I used the investigative journalist’s secret weapon, Facebook, and asked members of the group some serious questions that would unravel the web of intrigue that surrounds the Collective West. And what I found out was more shocking, more important, and more banjo-filled than any story on tired old western alienation adages, far right-wing political parties, or Canadians that would take to the streets to violently protest the loss of a hockey game…

That’s right, I found a group of people that aren’t idiots. And not only that, but they are in a band. (more…)