Photograph by Jon Bergman

Welsh septet Los Campesinos! are currently on the North American leg of their tour in support of their fourth album, Hello Sadness. Intrepid Ca Va Cool correspondent Kevin Kania caught up with guitarist Neil Campesinos! before their show at London Music Hall in London, Ontario to discuss growing up with fans, destination recording, and the pains of making a music video.

Kevin: You played Letterman last week, was that your network TV debut?

Neil Campesinos!: We played a show in Los Angeles a few years ago and they filmed it for Carson Daly, but that’s not as big a deal, is it? [With Letterman] we were absolutely petrified, it was without a doubt kind of like a highlight, felt like a big deal, we were just so nervous, you load in, rehearse in the morning, go away, and then you come back ten minutes before you’re on, and then all of a sudden, “and here’s Los Campesinos!” you play, and it’s all over in a flash. I was just shaking for the whole thing with no recollection. It was surreal. It just flew by, it was crazy.

Kevin: Gareth made some comment to Dave, I didn’t quite catch it.

Neil: He had a scarf on the stage for a sports team called the Welton Rovers, and David Letterman was like, “Oh, Football!” and Gareth’s like, “Well, soccer.” David said that was a little condescending. It was all in good spirits.

Kevin: Football does seem to be of huge importance in your songs.

Neil: We actually really wanted to get a foam ball for venues like this. They’re amazing to play in.

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— , February 6, 2012    Comments Off on Los Campesinos!

Photograph by Jon Bergman

With no obvious favourite as in past years, we here at Ca Va Cool were left to our own devices when choosing the ten best albums of 2011. Much like the first half of our list, the top ten features a stylistic array from the year’s offerings. Plenty to enjoy, from sincere and contrived chill vibes to literary-rock, dubstep to soft-rock verging on quiet storm, and our first top album to be a debut. As always, thanks for reading. See you in 2012.

10. Handsome FursSound Kapital

Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry seem forever changed by their travels throughout Eastern Europe and Asia. They’ve created a sparse, yet pulsating album in Sound Kapital, inspired by the kids in regions of the world who love music so much that they risk imprisonment by making it. The album is dark, loud, and penetrating with a focus more on beats and vocals than the duo’s earlier, more guitar-based offerings. Boeckner’s voice remains simply one of the most authentic and powerful around, and one only has to see the Handsome Furs live to witness their commitment to the music and those that inspired it. Songs like ‘Serve the People’, ‘Cheap Music’ and ‘No Feelings’ seem to embody not only the headspace they were in when creating the album, but make me believe that the demise of Wolf Parade was worth the tears. — Christian Kraeker

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— , December 25, 2011    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2011, Pt. 2

Photograph by Anna M. Campbell

As Ca Va Cool concludes its fifth year and the arbitrary music-ranking period of 2011 comes to a close, the gang assembled (virtually) once again to bring you our twenty favourite albums of the year. The bottom half of our list features riot grrrls old and new, an R&B resurrection, and, interestingly, most of the Philadelphia rock scene. Stay tuned for the conclusion of our list with the ten best albums of 2011, when we get around to it.

20. The Rural Alberta Advantage Departing

Arriving in the dead of winter early this year, Departing lived up to high expectations by not really departing at all from the rock ‘n’ nostalgia formula that powered the Rural Alberta Advantage’s 2009 debut Hometowns. A new batch of crafty songs from Nils Edenloff continues to blur the line between homesickness and heartbreak; Paul Banwatt’s manic beats continue to provide the gasoline. Feeling more and more comfortable in their shoes as a dedicated three-piece ensemble, Edenloff, Banwatt, and keyboardist Amy Cole focus on what they’re best at: compelling, unpretentious indie-folk drawn through the emotional mesh of all that we must leave behind. Plus some kickass drums. — Josh Penslar

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— , December 19, 2011    1 Comment

Photograph by Vanessa Heins

It’s been a busy few years for Hey Rosetta!, Newfoundland’s premier indie music export. They’ve become a fixture on the Polaris Prize shortlist and toured their ambitious Can-rock virtually non-stop, though judging by their multiple sellout crowds at the cavernous Phoenix in Toronto this week, the country is still in the mood to hear more. In that spirit, I joined frontman Tim Baker and cellist/guitarist/utility outfielder Romesh Thavanathan on one of the band’s rare days off for a traditional Toronto burrito lunch. Read on if you’ve ever wondered about the hidden gems of the St. John’s music scene, or how to start a rock band without owning an electric guitar, or what kind of burrito a true Newfoundlander enjoys.

Josh: First things first. What kind of burritos did you get, and why?

Romesh Thavanathan: I got the large halibut, because I’m a baller.

Tim Baker:  I got the small halibut, because I’m not a baller, or at least less of a baller.

Josh: With a couple days off in Toronto before your next show, what are you getting up to?

Both: Recovery. [Laughs]

Tim: It’s been a long run and a long time since we’ve had any days off. I think the last time we had a few was a month and a half ago, when we got to Australia.

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— , November 24, 2011    1 Comment

Photograph by Chris Graham

Who are Library Voices? They are a seven-piece pop group from Saskatchewan whose new album Summer of Lust should be popping up on a number of Best of 2011 lists. They are fun-loving literary types who will probably kick your ass at shot chess. They write with one foot in the 1960s and the other in the not-too-distant future. In short, they’re a bit like Vampire Weekend, except that they’re Canadian and don’t give you a mild urge to punch them in the face.

As they endeavour to spread their name (memorably misremembered by a friend-of-a-friend as “The Shushing Librarians”), the live act should help. Library Voices bring serious weapons-grade energy to every show. Eoin Hickey-Cameron (above: top centre), for example, isn’t a bassist out of Central Casting lurking in the corner in a hoodie. He’ll jump up on a monitor or kick drum, get soaked with sweat by the end of the third song, trade stupid faces with the sax player, flop his hair back and forth like a really gross shampoo commercial—and there are seven of these guys. The notoriously dance-averse Horseshoe crowd at their recent Toronto show even showed moments of bopping and swaying, if not, you know, actual dancing.

I sat down with 28.6% of the band, namely songwriter/synth player Mike Dawson and guitarist Brennan Ross (above: far right and far left, respectively), to talk about audiobooks and how to get kicked out of one’s apartment.

Josh: How’s the tour been so far?

Brennan Ross: It’s great. It’s hard to really tell when it started—it’s been sort of perpetually going on. We went out to Victoria and Halifax and back, we’re starting to go into the States.

Josh: How do you find it touring in the States as a Canadian band?

Mike Dawson: It’s sort of like starting over. We’ve been feeling really well accepted when we meet people down there, when they discover our band, but people aren’t aware. In Canada people are a little spoiled because having access to bands from the States is second nature. They might as well be from down the road. It’s not the case the other way round—because there are so many incredible bands in the States, they’re not always so aware of what’s going on in Canada. So in that capacity it sort of feels like a first tour sometimes, building crowds and meeting people, sleeping on the floor at the sound guy’s house. With his six roommates. But it’s awesome. It helps you keep yourself in check.

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— , November 13, 2011    Comments Off on Library Voices