Sometimes, there’s too much good music. Mixtapes are a chance to pick and choose from the spectrum of too muchness and bring friends and readers some of the best of what I’ve heard recently. But sometimes there’s still too much, which is why I decided to split this mix into 2 parts, or ‘sides’, if you will. Part 1 is California Sunrise, because as you’ll learn quickly in the captions below, California has inadvertently become a major theme in my listening choices as of late. Like past mixes, this one’s heavily influenced by how I feel with the on-set of my favourite time of year, and is an effort to share a soundtrack perfect for your sun-kissed days and sweaty nights. Stay tuned for part 2 next week.

Download | California Sunrise Mixtape

Blackbird Blackbird – Sunspray

As promised, this mix comes chock-full of Californian inspiration. ‘Sunspray’ starts the trend, with band Blackbird Blackbird hailing from San Francisco. Since March of last year, they’ve steadily released a series of EPs leading to this March’s Summer Heart full-length. My favourite track by the band comes from their second EP Let’s Move on Together. The unintelligibly faint vocals layered overtop synths create a delicate yet danceable tune, seemingly made for an intimate slow dance in a sea of raging fast-dancers.

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— , July 11, 2011    3 Comments

After my one year hiatus from this city, I returned to witness the fifth edition of the London Ontario Live Arts Festival, affectionately referred to as LOLA. Each September, the hipsters of the city descend on Victoria Park to witness four days of free music and art installations. While I missed out on seeing Yoko Ono’s billboard, I was focussed on the musical portion of the festival. What follows is a brief overview of this year’s LOLAfest.

Zeus

LOLA kicked off Thursday night with a double bill from Zeus and Jamie Lidell at Rum Runners. Although unlike the rest of the festival it was a pay event, it seemed to offer the most value. It’s a wonder more bands don’t play Rum Runners, aside from some poorly placed columns, it’s a fairly intimate venue, and the upper balcony offers an alternate perspective. During NXNE,  I saw Zeus perform at El Mocambo following the Golden Dogs as a secret act. I hadn’t listened to them at the time, so I didn’t feel terrible leaving midset, as I was tired and amped for Pavement the next day. Perhaps feeling remorse for the slight, I thought I would give them another shot. Zeus’ classic rock-inspired style was a bit odd considering the headliner, but I found I enjoyed them much more when not half-asleep. The band members frequently traded vocals as well as instruments, adding great variety and spontaneity to the set. Leaving the stage with shouts for an encore, the band could have easily been a headliner, as there were just as many people coming to see them as Jamie Lidell.

Zeus – Marching Through Your Head

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— , September 24, 2010    Comments Off on London Ontario Live Arts Festival 2010
Photograph by May Truong

Photograph by May Truong

As the decade comes to a close and music magazines and blogs publish their “Best Albums of the Decade” lists, we here at Ca Va Cool decided to take a different direction. Sure, we could tell you that Kid A or Is This It is the greatest album of the last ten years, but you’ve already heard that. Instead, we’ve decided to make a list of something we hold very close to our hearts, Canadian music. By counting down the 20 best albums of the decade, we hope to pay respect to truly classic albums and shine a light on some underappreciated gems which can be enjoyed no matter where you come from. From regional hits to international sensations, our list showcases the best albums that music scenes all over Canada, from Vancouver to the Maritimes, have released this past decade. Here, in all its glory, is Ca Va Cool’s Best Canadian Albums of the 2000s.

Photograph by Chris Smith

Photograph by Chris Smith

20. Joel Plaskett EmergencyTruthfully Truthfully (MapleMusic, 2003)

When thinking of the greatest Canadian music genres/scenes of this past decade, it’s seemingly impossible to forget the influence of East Coast pop music. We begin our list with Nova Scotia’s best indie musical export, Joel Plaskett. Carrying the torch from ’90s legends Sloan, Joel Plaskett maintained the chugging electric guitar of 70’s power pop, incorporating the lyrical romanticism of his father’s folk idols, all from his hometown Halifax. On the Emergency’s second album, Truthfully Truthfully, Plaskett’s showcases the best of his charmingly witty lyrics and hook-ridden guitar work. As lovably awkward as Jonathan Richman, Plaskett nonetheless seemed as comfortable rocking out as Angus Young. Following the release, Joel Plaskett became a household name to Canadian music fans. He has been nominated twice for the Polaris Music Prize for his later work, produced countless albums for young East Coast bands, including the wonderful Little Jabs by Two Hours Traffic, and he still lives in Nova Scotia. — Daniel Hernandez

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— , December 7, 2009    7 Comments

If you don’t know where you came from … who cares where you’re going.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, speaking about the inclusion of a group of elementary school kids on his and band-mate Zach Sheilds’ new music project (Dead Man’s Bones) beefcake and apple-of-the-Canadian-eye, Ryan Gosling, said the following:

You know when you’re a kid and you get crayons and papers and just draw whatever you want and it’s just a bunch of messy lines, but to you it makes sense, and then they put it on the fridge? From that point on, you’re always trying to get back on the fridge, you start drawing things that look like something, like, the more it looks like a horse, the more chance you have of getting it on the fridge. We wanted to get back to that place before we were trying to make the fridge. We wanted to work with people who hadn’t been affected in that way yet.

The interview goes on to talk about Gosling’s new project, which is shaping up to be amazing – but that part stuck out in my head, made an impression, and re-surfaced when I got a chance to speak with the manager of Kingston, Ontario’s Grad Club earlier this week.

The Grad Club is an old Victorian home on the outskirts of Queen’s University and for 38 years it’s been a home, bar, restaurant and (at times) place for music, for students and local community members. Recently, it was one of a hundred venues to be included in CBC Radio 3’s list of top live music venues in Canada, and over the past few weeks, thanks to votes from patrons, Canadian live-music fans, pretentious Queen’s University students and indie kids alike, has made the top 10 list, currently in contention for the coveted “numba one spot” of Canada’s Best Venue.

For a venue around the size of a student home, with “a stage the size of a post-it-note” located in a city of 120,000, this is really an impressive feat. So much so, that it got me thinking about what has driven people in droves to vote for this charming venue, and what the Grad Club’s success in this poll represents for the live music scene/business in Canada and even around the world.

(more…)

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— , February 23, 2009    6 Comments

This year’s mixtape is ready for you to download. The two disc set is packed with 2008 favourites from all of our writers.

Download: The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2008 – Disc 1

01. She & Him – Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
02. Hot Chip – Ready for the Floor
03. Chad VanGaalen – TMNT Mask
04. Bloc Party – Signs
05. Mystery Jets – Young Love feat. Laura Marling
06. TV on the Radio – Family Tree
07. DeVotchKa – Transliterator
08. Wilco w/ Fleet Foxes – I Shall Be Released
09. Wolf Parade – Soldier’s Grin
10. M83 – Graveyard Girl
11. Albert Hammond, Jr. – GfC
12. Vampire Weekend – Walcott
13. Brendan Canning – Churches Under the Stairs
14. Cut Copy – Lights and Music
15. Los Campesinos! – This Is How You Spell…

Download: The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2008 – Disc 2

01. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
02. Passion Pit – Sleepyhead
03. Born Ruffians – Little Garçon
04. The Clips – Space Kidz
05. The Radio Dept. – Freddie and the Trojan Horse
06. Bon Iver – Re: Stacks
07. Lykke Li – Dance Dance Dance
08. Portishead – Machine Gun
09. No Age – Eraser
10. Plants and Animals – New Kind of Love
11. Bodies of Water – Gold, Tan, Peach, and Grey
12. Fleet Foxes – Oliver James
13. Deerhunter – Never Stops
14. Santogold – Creator
15. Beast – Ashtray

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— , December 24, 2008    4 Comments