Photograph by Jenna Wakani

March 19, 2011 – Playing in London, Ontario is a homecoming for indie folk darling Basia Bulat; the singer attended the University of Western Ontario and wrote much of Oh, My Darling here as a student. Prior to interviewing her early last year, I was only passingly familiar with her music, but since then her albums have been on frequent rotation, and I was eager to see her in the live setting. Given her history with the city, it should come as no surprise that her performance at the Aeolian Hall this past Saturday was sold out. Although, having only been to the venue once before and arriving midway through the opening act of Daniel Isaiah, this writer wasn’t expecting such a turnout and had trouble finding a seat. Mind you, I was a bit surprised that the venue was seated in the first place, and felt a little underdressed amongst the generally older crowd.

Following a door prize draw (which seems to be a regular occurrence at the Aeolian), Basia Bulat appeared on stage to thunderous applause. Being my first non-bar show in quite some time, the atmosphere was decidedly different. For one thing, I could actually hear what was happening on stage without dealing with a layer of drunken chatter. The quiet, respectful, almost serene ambience was near church-like, and it lent itself perfectly to the music.

After the opening song, the full band came out to deliver a rousing rendition of ‘Heart of My Own’. Bulat’s set was filled with reminiscing about her time in the city, remarking about seeing the places she has lived and songs she has written. Two or three new songs were debuted, each featuring Bulat alone on guitar. She apologized for turning us into guinea pigs, but the new material was well-received. Bulat finally brought out the autoharp for ‘The Shore’, easily one of the highlights of the night. Following the set closing ‘Gold Rush’, Bulat was brought back to the stage for an encore with a standing ovation. She proceeded to play a Polish song which translated to ‘In the Green Zoo’. Being Polish myself, the ability to understand roughly every other word came in handy. The night ended with Basia and her backup singers performing ‘Before I Knew’, with the rest of the band returning for ‘I Was a Daughter’.

Though Basia Bulat has come a long way since her London days, it’s great to see that she still takes the time to return and play here. With two Polaris-nominated albums already under her belt, it’ll be a pleasure to hear what she comes up with next.

Basia Bulat – I Was a Daughter
Basia Bulat – The Shore

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— , March 22, 2011    Comments Off on Basia Bulat: Aeolian Hall

Photograph by Max Weiland

Concluding our list of the best albums of the year, today we bring you our top ten. Though the airwaves are currently plagued by some kid from Stratford, Ontario with a terrible haircut, these are ten albums that will have a lifespan far beyond 2010. As always, thanks for reading, we hope you’ve enjoyed visiting our site this past year as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. See you in 2011.

Released on 4AD

10. The NationalHigh Violet

Not much has changed for The National since Boxer, for better or worse. Matt Berninger still sings about drugs in an apathetic baritone, while Antony and Bryce Dessner layer drum hooks below guitar hooks below lugubrious three or four-note melodies. High Violet is a statement that the band have pretty much found their sound, and it’s very good listening, though it isn’t the high-water mark Boxer was. It features no ‘Fake Empire’-style polyrhythms, nothing quite as quizzically heartbreaking as ‘Brainy’; if anything, it’s cleaner and slightly louder than earlier releases, adding a touch more of Springsteen by way of The Hold Steady. The epic thickness of their sound is as comforting as ever. Clap your headphones on, dial the volume up, and lie back for 48 minutes on a road trip through your mind. Who cares exactly what a lemonworld is? It sounds good. — Josh Penslar

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— , December 24, 2010    1 Comment

Photograph by Eric Kayne

For the past six years, fellow Canadian music blog i(heart)music has polled Canadian music writers, bloggers, and photographers to publish its annual Hottest Bands in Canada list, summarizing, well, Canadian bands that are hot. This consensus building seems to have worked as top honours in past years were given to critically fawned-over acts such as the Rural Alberta Advantage, Chad VanGaalen, and Feist.

Since the only two rules stated are that bands submitted must be Canadian, however one defines that, and that they be hot, however one defines that, I put together my own criteria for my top 10 submission. I gauged the quality of the band’s recorded output, in most cases their album release, along with the quality I saw and reverence I perceived towards the act’s live show. I also took into consideration if I think they’ve entered or stayed at the height of their careers, and if we can expect big things to come. Most of all, this list answers the completely subjective question of which bands I found most exciting in 2010.

For more of a scientific consensus, check out the full list and for reviews throughout the year of pretty much every Canadian album of the moment, be sure to check out i(heart)music’s feature section.

10. Basia Bulat

Canada’s folk sweetheart continues to bring her orchestrated indie pop to the masses with the steady touring of her second album, Heart of My Own. A talented songwriter with a keen ear for classic melodies, Bulat has garnered a following larger than anticipated for her humble personality.

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— , November 10, 2010    6 Comments

All Photographs by Jan Kucic-Riker

Halifax Pop Explosion is a marked change from the summer festival scene. While there are no beer gardens, Keith’s is never in short supply. The festival swaps the colossal stage of Toronto Island for the warmth of packed bars. Rather than tents, picnic blankets, and sunscreen, festivalgoers arm themselves with scarves, mittens, and umbrellas. Music-lovers inherit a mosaic of stamps connected with permanent marker that forms an impromptu tattoo to symbolise their nights of barhopping. The festival is a mere secret whispered between bus stops as fans travel from one venue to the next. Scheduling is made more complicated by coat-checks, ID checks, and checking out that girl from your ecology class dancing next to Dan Boeckner. Halifax Pop Explosion did not provide the scenic beauty of Sasquatch, the free American Apparel underwear of Osheaga, or even the toddlers sporting oversized ear protection of Toronto Island. What it did provide however, was an unadulterated intimacy. An intimacy only felt in the Pack A.D.’s spittle as they belt out songs no less than two feet away from you or the Handsome Furs spiritual cleansing and confessional at St. Matthew’s Church. The following is a record of those intimacies at HPX2010.

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— , November 5, 2010    1 Comment

Basia Bulat

Indie folk darling Basia Bulat’s second album Heart of My Own is out January 26, and it’s every bit as enjoyable as her 2008 Polaris Prize shortlisted debut. Heart of My Own was largely written on the road, taking inspiration from the sights and sounds experienced on tour. The Yukon had a great effect on her, as can be heard on lead single ‘Gold Rush’. The singer took some time to chat with Ca Va Cool before her tour kicked into high gear.

Basia Bulat – Gold Rush
Basia Bulat – Go On
Basia Bulat – In the Night

Kevin: You’re in New York right now?

Basia Bulat: Yeah, we play at the Bowery Ballroom on Friday.

Kevin: Have you toured the US much? I know you’ve covered Europe and Canada quite a bit, but is this new for you?

Basia: No, I’ve been across the US a few times actually, so it’s nice to be back.

Kevin: Just interesting, I went to [The University of] Western [Ontario], I know you went to Western, you were involved with the local music scene, [campus radio station] CHRW, and you were in the first edition of LOLAfest.

Basia: What were you studying at Western?

Kevin: Biochemistry, so probably not your area.

Basia: But now you’re writing about music for a pastime?

Kevin: Yeah, it’s kind of a weird twist.

Basia: You know, I don’t think it’s that weird, to be honest.

Kevin: Anyway, my question is, what does London mean to you?

Continue Reading ‘Basia Bulat’ Feature Interview »

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— , January 24, 2010    2 Comments