Youngblood EP Release @ Fox Cabaret -- 09/22/16

Alexis Young is no stranger to the Vancouver music scene. Formerly of Sex With Strangers, she recently struck out on her own with her solo project Youngblood. And even though she's taken the city by storm the last few months, I've somehow missed every live show... up until now. With her EP Feel Alright coming out the following day, she took to the Fox Cabaret Thursday night to celebrate its release. 

I got to the venue just after Rococode hit the stage; Laura Smith and Andrew Braun joined by drummer Jason Cook for their last show of the year. They focusing on their latest album Don't Worry It Will Be Dark Soon, as fog swirled around the dimly lit band, matching their dark and moody synthpop, with Laura's haunting voice on songs like "Crystalline" and "A Diamond", balanced by Andrew's voice as he took over on the higher energy "Panic Attack".
I feel like I hadn't seen them play a proper show in a while, and it was good to see them again as they put on a strong opening set. 

It wasn't long before an intro video ran on the screen and Youngblood took the stage, Alexis Young front and centre joined by her backing band, which included members of Gay Nineties. And she was a natural in the spotlight as she fronted the band like a firecracker. With great confidence and presence, she hardly stood still, moving and dancing around the stage, even going right up, and into, the crowd.
Starting off with the opening track from the EP, "Broken English", the band played some dreamy indie-pop songs with an edge to them -- she joked after one song there were far too many "fucks" for it to ever be considered for radio, and one of my favourites of the set was "Razor Fine", about those people who you instinctively hate at first sight. 
Other highlights included "Alone With You" and its crushing chorus of "I could never be alone with you", the soaring title track "Feel Alright", and (as if I wasn't already musically enamoured) a great cover of a song off one of my favourite albums: Bloc Party's "Positive Tension". 
The set drew to an end with a sultry jam that grew to an explosive climax, and Alexis visibly grateful for everyone coming to the show. 

It was a great EP release show, and I'm glad I finally got the chance to see Youngblood perform live. Fir the first time, but surely not the last. 

Weekly Photo Roundup - March 2, 2016

Last week in raincouver, a few beautiful women fronted some badass bands to break up the dreary week. Hamilton's own Basia Bulat, touring her latest album Good Advice, got Fortune Soundclub packed out to the brim. She took us on a wild ride through her upbeat new music and some stripped down classics, of course breaking out the hammer dulcimer to everyone's delight. 

Rococode played an intimate set to celebrate their release of the long-anticipated full length Don't Worry, It Will Be Dark Soon. It was a short and punchy introduction to what will surely be a long listening relationship with the album.

Photos by Jessica Brodeur

The Biltmore Phil Harmonic: A Phil Collins Tribute Concert @ Biltmore -- 08/12/15

David Vertesi sure knows how to throw a hell of a party. Every year he and his lovely wife Ambrosia put together a show called Sing It Forward, to benefit the St James Music Academy. Now, about half way between the last one and the next one, Vertesi has organised another fundraiser, a tribute to the great Phil Collins. 

With a backing band consisting of Johnny Andrews on drums, Andrew Rasmussen on keys, Mike Young on bass, and Tristan Paxto on guitar, there was a rotating cavalcade of singers covering the whole spectrum of Phil Collins' career; from his days in Genesis, to his solo material, to his Disney soundtrack. 

And while it would be impossible to give a full rundown of the night, I will say a few of the highlights for me were Dan Moxon (and the rest of Bend Sinister on backing vocals) going "Against All Odds"; a surprise Shad covering Collins' cover of "You Can't Hurry Love" originally by The Supremes; a version of the Genesis song "That's All" by Willa, which rivalled Zeus as the definitive of that song; and, of course, "In The Air Tonight", as owned by Hey Ocean's own Ashleigh Ball. 

Click through to check out photos from every single singer on stage:

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String Fling II w/ Four on the Floor String Quartet @ Rio Theatre -- 02/06/14

A little over a year ago, the Four on the Floor String Quartet -- who have provided strings for virtually every band in Vancouver -- had the chance shine on their own with the first String Fling at the Rio Theatre. It was a great show melding local indie rock with gorgeous, classical strings. Now they are back for a second year, for the second annual String Fling.

The members of the quartet for the night were Michelle Faehrmann on cello, Elliott Vaughan on viola, and violinists Stephanie Chatman and Emily Bach -- with Hannah Epperson on violin and Megan Bradfield on stand up bass also rotating in for a few songs.

They opened with a strings instrumental, and live visuals projected on the screen from an old school overhead projector that ran throughout the show, done by Mind of a Snail Puppet Co. Each artist got three songs, with the Quartet playing segues between each, and the first artist up was Brandon Scott from Yukon Blonde. His own songs were more laid back with a folky singer/songwriter vibe, compared to Yukon Blonde's high energy rock, with the strings punctuating the introspective feeling.

After an amazing and frantically dissonant viola piece by Elliott Vaughn called Nine Fingers, Tonye Aganaba took the stage. There were some technical problems with her guitar for the first song, but the focus of her set was definitely her powerful and soulful voice, which shone through her own songs, as well as a cover of Rihanna's "Diamond".

Another piece from the Quartet called "I Spell Your Name With Other Letters" (or, "Other Letters" for short, or "O.L." for shorter) segued into Jay Malinowski. Admittedly, I have never really liked Bedouin Soundclash, or his solo material, which he was featuring. His new project, called Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast, also includes Elliott Vaughan, and he brought out the piano for one of the songs from the new album. Aside from his own songs, he also included a cover of Krief's "Forever Goodnight", before wrapping up the first half of the evening.

There was a brief intermission, before the show started back up with Michelle on cello, backed by Ali Sidat of Mother Mother on drums, for a really cool number -- starting off with kind of a dark, almost post-rock sound before spinning into a more dancey piece; it was one of my favourite pieces of the night.

Continuing the second half was one of the two leads of Rococode, Laura Smith. Rococode's songs have always had a bit of an eerie or haunting quality to them, and the addition of the strings drove that feeling home. She played a couple new songs, one with Ali and Ryan joining her, before finishing off with a haunting version of "Empire", which may have been my favourite interpretation of the night.

The Quartet went a little more contemporary and covered some Daft Punk before the next act, Ryan Guldemond. He said he wanted to juxtapose the beautiful strings with blasphemous songs, one of which spun into a spoken word monologue about a failed breakup with an ex. The songs were as catchy and sharp as you would expect from the Mother Mother frontman, but a lot less grounded; more surreal, but definitely interesting.

And finally, the night wrapped up with Fur Trade. The Quartet did a version of one of their songs instrumentally before Steve Bays and Parker Bosley were out for the band's very first live show. The two were members of Hot Hot Heat together, and while I was never much of a fan of that band, I have liked Fur Trade's singles, and their live performance was definitely impressive. Their pair of songs, "Kids These Days" and "Same Temptation", got the theatre crowd up to the stage and dancing, for a perfect ending to the main set.

But of course, the members of Four on the Floor were back out for an encore, for one last song, joined by Tonye and Laura on vocals to perform an awesome cover of R. Kelly's ridiculous song "Genius".

The night ran fairly smooth, with near seamless transitioning from one band to the next. I've always enjoyed strings in music, and the best moments from both this year -- and last -- were with acts that you might not consider adding strings to. There seemed to be a lot more synergy between the bands and the quartet this year, and I can only hope the tradition continues, as it is bound to become one of the most anticipated annual events.