Millions Like Us Podcast – Episode #4

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Delighted to once again to share a brand new episode of ‘Millions Like Us’, a music podcast with myself & Justin Beats, in conjunction with Vancouver news & culture site 604now.

A bi-weekly digest of music from metro Vancouver and beyond, the fourth installment has the usual chatter and top tunes, comprised from an eclectic mix of styles and genres. There’s also a chance of winning tickets for the excellent Girl Band, for their show in The Media Club, Vancouver on November 20th.

Edit – Girl Band have unfortunately had to cancel all their upcoming shows, including Vancouver, due to health reasons. We wish them a speedy recovery and hopefully we’ll see them visit Vancouver in the future.

That#s about that then, we hope you enjoy episode 4. You can read more on it here and listen to episode #4 below, and the tracklist (with links) is after the jump. If you would like to get in touch the show, you email them at millionslikeuspodcast[at]gmail[dot]com.

You can subscribe to ‘Millions Like Us’ on iTunes & Podcast Republic or find us on Facebook & Twitter. Until Episode #5, here’s to good listening.

Episode 4 Tracklist:

Silver Matter – ‘Punks Grown Up’

Joanna Gruesome – ‘Last Year’

Knife Pleats – ‘One Step Too Far’

Girl Band – ‘De Bom Bom’

New Pope – ‘Christopher’

Martha Ffion – ‘So Long’

Mt. Wolf – ‘Hamburg’

BOUSADA – ‘Cast in Gold’

Lil Dicky – ‘Professional Rapper’

Auramics – ‘Founders of Time’

Fake Tears – ‘Second Wind’

Dead Soft – ‘The Wind’

Half Man Half Biscuit – ’24 Hour Garage People’

 

Villagers sing loud and proud: An Interview with Villagers’ Conor O’ Brien

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Having provided us with one of 2015’s finest records in ‘Darling Arithmetic’, it goes without saying that I’m very excited to see Villagers again, when they perform in Vancouver next week, at the Commodore Ballroom with Paul Weller (Tuesday, September 29th). 

It is Conor O’ Brien & Company’s second visit here this year, following their wonderful and absorbing show with Calexico back on July 12th. It  provides a perfect opportunity/excuse to share an interview done with Conor, prior to the last show.

Originally published by the Vancouver Observer on July 2nd – not long after Ireland’s Marriage Equality vote passed – here it is: 

Few, if any, recent Irish act commands as much respect as Villagers, the musical project of Dubliner Conor O’Brien.

Released by indie powerhouse Domino, Darling Arithmetic is a more stripped back affair to the two previous records, both of which were nominated for The Mercury Music Prize; it is Villagers’ most personal album yet. Recorded over eight months last year, with O’Brien putting in eight-hour days, at a barn by his home in Dublin, it is an intimate experience as O’Brien bares his soul on its nine songs.

“It just kind of evolved” that way, O’ Brien says. “I just started writing and tried to let it take me where it did. As it became more personnel and intimate, I realized that was the way it was going, so I was sort of conscious about finishing it of like that. It evolved and then became a conscious thing, and moved into a kind of little project for me to make.”

The fruits of this seclusion are breathtaking, as we’re treated to a delicate and tender, universal album of love and humanity. Previously shy about expressing his sexuality in his music, O’Brien has embraced it on Villagers’ third album.

Amid the softest of musical touches, O’ Brien tackles some of his personal demons, speaking openly about the difficulties that arise with being a gay man in Ireland, and having to deal with “homophobes” and “bigots.”

Previously uncomfortable with discussing his sexuality outside of his personal life, O’ Brien offers candid insight behind change of heart.

“I guess, looking at it objectively, growing up in our country (Ireland), I was 10 years of age when it was made legal to actually be me. I have felt the implications of that since I was born. You learn very quickly not to show people who you are really and how to hide. It’s just something I had to deal with, like most the gay people growing up.”

“When I came to my coming-out journey I guess, a lot people don’t have to come out to potentially hundreds of thousands of people at one time, so it took a little while. I was always writing about it but in a more oblique way, I was using my experiences of it to express more universal themes and this time around I just got a little bit more specific”.”

Fittingly, the album’s release coincided with the run up to Ireland’s Marriage Equality referendum, in which the Irish electorate delivered a resounding ‘Yes’ vote to equality. The result wasn’t always a sure thing, something that played on O’ Brien’s mind. “A few days before the vote I was saying my friends that we couldn’t get too excited as there was a huge possibility that it would be a No. If you look back at the divorce referendum, everyone thought it would be a landslide yes but in the end, it was passed by half a per cent or something. I just had that in my head. I’m really aware that I surround myself with very liberal thinking types and artsy folk, and you can think that’s the world, when it really isn’t.”

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Knockanstockan 2015 Review

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Given that I’m over 9,000 miles away, there ain’t much chance of me making an appearance at any Irish festivals but in my absence, my mate and intrepid gig goer, Johnny Feeney was at this year’s Knockanstockan. As always, his makes for interesting and thoroughly enjoyable reading. Thanks as always to Johnny and I’ll leave you in his very capable hands. 

While many festivals continue to expand year on year, Knockanstockan have deliberately gone the other direction, scaling back the size of the main arena and removing the main stage for the second successive year. Live music is now concentrated into three main medium-size stages with a further dedicated dance tent, a performance stage displaying varied entertainment such as debate, spoken word and cabaret and a kids area.

The main arena’s compact but not overcrowded. The camp site is close by so everything is a short walk away – a very important fact considering it’s BYOB. However there are bars scattered around the place also. The crowd are boisterous and friendly and there was no sign or reports of any aggression or trouble over the course of the weekend. Due to work commitments, Friday was unfortunately missed but Saturday proved to be a treat. Helpfully, the weather was also kinder on the Saturday with the sun making the occasional, welcome appearance through the overcast sky. And so to the music.

Dublin four-piece rockers Pretty Beast were first up in the Dimestore Tent (it was marked down as the Circus Tent on the timetable). They played a high-octane set of pulsating rock that fizzed along noisily. As the show progressed the tunes became noticeably more danceable with their heavy riffs underpinned by grooving basslines and synths. The charismatic frontman Donie Keaveney owned the stage and worked up quite a sweat, culminating in him perilously climbing to the top of the scaffolding at the side of the stage towards the end.

Sinead White was next up in the intimate amphitheatre, the Faerie Field. It’s a beautiful setting for the Dublin-based singer-songwriter and a nice way to ease into the day. White plays acoustic guitar throughout but is ably accompanied by lead guitar, bass and drums to flesh out her sound. For her closing song, White hands out 50 plastic kazoos into the crowd in an attempt to get the crowd to join in on the chorus. By the time people have figured out how to play the kazoos White has left the stage so all that’s left is the sound of kazoos all over the place. A cue to exit if ever I’ve heard one.

Upon entering the Burrow, White Chalk have already kicked off their set and are in full flight. They’re a seven–piece band with a penchant for anthemic songs and big, singalong choruses –lots of woahs and doo-doos that you can pick up after a listen or two. Think a strange Arcade Fire/Maccabees/trad hybrid with guitars, percussion, cello, keyboards, mandolins and more. Main vocalist Conor Quinn’s country-tinged voice is unique and not what you’d expect and he’s backed by soaring harmonies. They’re armed with very catchy tunes and certainly get the crowd moving. It would be very interesting to see these guys under a roof in a dark room.

Having known nothing about them before Saturday, Hot Cops were easily the find of the day for me. The Belfast three-piece play brilliantly dark, melodic indie-rock reminiscent of Pavement or Surfer Blood. Vocalist and frontman Carl Eccles comes alive with guitar in hand but just as quickly becomes soft-spoken and mild-mannered with barely a hint of a Belfast accent – so much so in fact that while speaking between songs, when one of the crowd suggests he doesn’t sound like he’s from Belfast he apologises! Drummer Conor Ellison is an absolute powerhouse on the drums. Superb.

Fresh on the trails of Hot Cops, Tramore native Rebecca Collins delivers another stunning performance in the Dimestore Tent. You can see why she’s been compared to the likes of PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi – particularly the former. This is theatrical alternative-rock that’s slightly morbid but utterly mesmerising. Collins is a captivating presence throughout and it’s difficult to take your eyes off her.

Having been impressive the weekend before in Longitude, Otherkin produced another storming set on the Burrow stage on Saturday evening. This Dublin-based four-piece play infectious, upbeat grunge/indie-rock with fuzzy guitars and a real swagger. The band clearly look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage and it’s hard not to get carried away with their enthusiasm. Nothing ground-breaking but very enjoyable all the same.

Festival highlight Elastic Sleep are a bit special. The Cork five-piece specialise in dream-pop/shoegaze along the lines of the quieter side of My Bloody Valentine. Muireann Levis provides breathy, haunting vocals around which the rest of the band create bruising, meandering soundscapes. Music to get well and truly immersed in, these are one of the best live bands around today. The Dimestore Tent didn’t ease off in quality all day. No Spill Blood were next on and the Dublin band produced a scintillating, no-holds-barred barrage of heavy synth-rock. A pummeling, chaotic, high-intensity set has the crowd going absolutely mental, the energy in the tent is electric and a fair amount of sweat is shed. Quality.

As night falls on Knockanstockan, various other attractions come into their own. Apart from more heavy-hitting music on the main stages, the Caravan Club Extravaganza (the dance tent) comes alive and various campfires pop up throughout the main arena where one can engage in various levels of entertaining conversation depending on who you end up beside. A great day, a very fine little festival.

The BarryGruff Fortnightly Vancouver Gig Guide (April 29th – May 11th)

A fortnightly list of recommended events taking place in Vancouver. Here’s what’s caught my eye over the next 14 days! 

Feel free to let me know if I missed anything of interest in the comments or you can always shoot me an email about upcoming shows.

Thursday, April 30th

Wishyunu @ Hindenburg, 23 West Cordova, Gastown, Vancouver (9pm, $10)

  • [Alt-Pop] Portland drum/synth du, Wishyunu (wish-u-new) have a penchant for weird and wonderful atmospheric electronic pop. Support from Redrick Sultan, The Wandering Halls & Cave Girl.

Young Fathers @ Fortune Sound Club, 147 E Pender St, Vancouver, (9pm, $15+Fees)

  • [Hip-Hop] Scotish Hip-Hop trio & Mecury Prize winners, Young Fathers, tour in support of their new LP ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’. Suppport from Mas Ysa.

Saturday, May 2nd 

Waxahatchee @ Biltmore Cabaret 2755 Prince Edward St, Vancouver (8pm, $14+Fees)

  • [Indie/Lo-Fi] Katie Crutchfield brings her lo-fi indie project to Vancouver to support her latest LP ‘Ivy Trip​p​’. With guests GIRLPOOL (utterly raw, infectious and supremely brilliant poppy-punk – more here) and Knife Pleats.

Tough Age @ The Astoria, 769 E. Hastings St, Vancouver (9pm, $8)

  • [Garage/Indie] Hometown fuzzed-up garage rock maestros return to Vancouver ahead of their new LP. W/ guests Energy Slime, Fountain, Milk & Needles//Pins.

Ponderosa 2015 Lineup Launch Party @ ANZA Club, Australia New Zealand Association, 3 W. 8th, Vancouver  (9pm, Entry by Donation)

  • Ponderosa Arts & Music Festival 2015 lineup launch w/ music from Colleen Rennison of No Sinner, DJ Joshua Oldsoul & more.

Nowhere Fast @ The Morrissey, 1227 Granville Street, Vancouver (9pm – 3am, Free)

  • [DJ] Regular night of post-punk, indie, garage rock & pop-dance tunes  w/ Bryce Dunn

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The BarryGruff Fortnightly Vancouver Gig Guide (April 16th – 30th)

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Like any city, there’s quite a lot of stuff goes on in Vancouver week on week. So with that in mind, the plan is to try and compile a list of recommended events taking place every fortnight.

In time, hopefully the lists will grow and become more and more comprehensive, and serve as something of a catalyst to go to more shows and unearth more interesting stuff that’s going on. Here’s what’s caught my eye over the next 14 days! 

Feel free to let me know if I missed anything of interest in the comments or you can always shoot me an email about upcoming shows.

Thursday, April 16th

Erol Alkan @ M.i.a., 350 Water Street, Vancouver (10pm)

  • [Dance/Electro] Reputable London DJ, remixer, label founder, club promoter, radio host hits up new venue. [Cancelled]

 Friday, April 17th

Co-op Radio’s 40th Anniversary @ WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac, Vancouver (7pm, $10-15)

  • Celebrating 40 years of community operated & innovate radio, featuring The Creaking Planks and Purple Soul.

Discorder Fundraiser + Launch Party @ The Astoria, 769, East Hastings St. Vancouver (8pm, $5/$10)

  • Fundraiser for Vancouver music, arts & culture mag w/ music from Stefana Fratila, Wetface, The Crowbots, Still Creek Murder, Energy Slime, bb.yu [dj set], Andy Resto [dj set]

Saturday, April 18th

Record Store Day @ Neptoon Records,  3561 Main, Vancouver (10am – 10pm, Free)

  • Performances from local acts No Sinner, Tough Age, Poor Form & more, plus a meet ‘n’ greet with Eric Burdon. Yes, that Eric Burdon.

Record Store Day @ Vinyl Records, 319 W. Hastings (11am – 7pm, Free)

  • In store performances from K’Immortal, Dawn Pemberton, Tonye Aganaba & more.

Record Store Day @ Red Cat Records, 4332 Main Street, Vancouver (3pm – 9pm, Free)

  • In store performances from The Backhomes, Frog Eyes, Hello Blue Roses & more.

Record Store Day @ Horse Records, 2447 E. Hastings, Vancouver (10am, Free)

  • In store performances from Peace, Flyin’, SP Davis, Mecca Normal & more.

Record Store Day @ Beat Street Records,  439 W. Hastings St. Vancouver,

  • Live DJs in store all day.

Nowhere Fast @ The Morrissey, 1227 Granville Street, Vancouver (9pm – 3am, Free)

  • Regular night of post-punk, indie, garage rock & pop-dance tunes  w/ Bryce Dunn

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