Photograph by Tim Snow

Maybe I’m getting too old for festival concerts. Between slathering myself with SPF60, eating $5 hot dogs, running spastically between stages, cursing the overlapping schedule, being inundated with corporate sponsorship and drinking watery beer, I was caught between disillusionment and laughter toward the predictable pattern of music fests.

The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is in its fifth year, and has swelled from 25,000 to over 50,000 attendees. Despite my opening tirade, Osheaga has plenty to offer: a grassy hill with convenient stage view, venues of varying size (from cozy small sets to mega concerts), performances for many tastes (from small Quebecois bands to…Snoop Dogg?), the ability to walk freely with your drinks (goodbye, beer tent!) and free underwear to anyone willing to provide American Apparel with their email address.

When surrounded by so much chaos, I seem to morph into a reactionary skeptic. I should subtitle this post “The Festival Concert in which Sabrina Becomes a Huge Indie Music Cynic.” So, I apologize ahead of time if any readers take my grumbling opinion personally. But here it is, Osheaga 2010.

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— , August 17, 2010    3 Comments

Photograph by Eric Kayne

Perhaps as a result of the build-up and massive amounts of hype, I approached my first listen of The Suburbs with a bit of caution and cynicism. Right around ‘Deep Blue’, after questioning why a chess-playing computer was being name-dropped, I was feeling a little unsure of the album. Whereas Funeral and Neon Bible strived for an anthemic sound, The Suburbs takes a more low-key approach. While not as immediate as its predecessors, The Suburbs is likely the band’s most cohesive album to date.  Going beyond the mere mention of the suburbs in nearly every song, the recurring themes of growing up and looking back on your childhood prove remarkably resonant on subsequent listens. Learning to drive is referred to several times. It’s one of the first true examples of independence from our youth, and even if the end result is just driving around and around and around, as vocalized by Win Butler on ‘Month of May’, that small taste of freedom brings back pleasant memories.

The record is largely based on Win and Will Butler’s childhood growing up in Texas, and though it acts as a criticism of suburbia and fond remembrance of the past, the latter is favoured, even idealized. The cliché “You can’t go home again” comes to mind. ‘We Used to Wait’ serves as a commentary on the fast-paced modern world, offering letter-writing as something we’ve lost to technology. Taking the metaphor even further, how many people waited until the release date to listen to this album? Coming to grips with the modern world is another recurring theme, notably the modern kids of ‘Rococo’. ‘Sprawl I’ and ‘Sprawl II’ take aim at the encompassing problem of urban sprawl. As Régine asks for darkness, I have to smirk, as there’s a RONA down the street from me that completely flushes out the night sky.

Arcade Fire – We Used to Wait
Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

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— , August 5, 2010    Comments Off on Arcade Fire: The Suburbs

Photograph by Dave MacIntyre

UPDATE: This contest is now closed, the winners have been notified by email.

Few bands are capable of inspiring a rabid fervor in their fanbase like Arcade Fire. It’s hard to believe that we’ve only known about The Suburbs for about two months, with almost daily news, tracks and tour dates coming from a band that has largely been inactive since the Neon Bible tour. With the album released yesterday, what better way to celebrate than by grabbing some tickets to one of Arcade Fire’s storied live shows? Courtesy of the fine folks at Collective Concerts, we’re giving away three pairs of passes to Arcade Fire’s Toronto show on Olympic Island on Saturday, August 14. With The Sadies and Janelle Monáe opening, it’s certainly a unique bill. To enter, send an email with “Now I’m ready to start” in the subject line to and include your full name in the body. This contest closes Wednesday, August 11 at midnight. Note that these passes do not include the ferry fee, so make sure to grab some ferry tickets so you don’t miss the boat.


— , August 3, 2010    3 Comments

All Photographs by Levin Samuel

On June 11, Arcade Fire began a surprise two-night stint at the Music Hall on Toronto’s Danforth Street. Expectations for the band’s forthcoming third album, The Suburbs, were high as new material was previewed.

Arcade Fire – Month of May
Arcade Fire – We Used to Wait
Arcade Fire – Ready to Start

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— , June 21, 2010    2 Comments

Photograph by Meqo Sam Cecil

Welcome back to Ca Va Cool’s countdown of the 20 Best Canadian Albums of the 2000s. By now you’ve read the first half of our list which included everything from cult favourites to mainstream hits which truly answered the question “Old world underground, where are you now?”. The conclusion of our list offers you ten undeniable, bonafide, outright classics of Canadian indie. These albums showed that Canada was host to some of the most vibrant musical movements on the planet and for the first time, instead of borrowed nostalgia from our parents’ record collections, this was the music we lived. These are the albums which made us sing, dance, rock out, think, love, and pick up instruments to do it all again. It’s been one hell of the decade, here are the Best Canadian Albums of the 2000s.

Death from Above 1979

10. Death from Above 1979You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine (Last Gang, 2004)

When I first listened to You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, I wasn’t sure what it was. It was kind of like metal and kind of like dance music, but it was surely like nothing I had heard before. It was a breath of fresh air in the Toronto scene which captured such a diverse group of listeners. You could dig this album if you liked rock, punk, dance, metal, just about anything that could be sold in an alternative section of a mainstream music store. ‘Romantic Rights’ even got its fair share of play on MuchMusic. I was hopeful to see what would come next from the duo, which unfortunately would be a statement from bass player Jesse Keeler saying that they’ve called it quits. The two members now have their own separate projects, where appropriately one makes dance music (MSTRKRFT), and one makes rock music (Sebastien Grainger and The Mountains). — Kyle Sikorsi

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— , December 11, 2009    22 Comments