Photograph by Yasmeen Ghebari

Photograph by Yasmeen Ghebari

Every October, about two weeks after Thanksgiving, the city of Halifax transforms as 180 bands play in over 20 bars across five days for the Halifax Pop Explosion. You may wonder whether it’s practical for the city, as images of Coachella and Osheaga come to mind, but Halifax is home to the highest amount of bars per capita in Canada and the city is quite small, 262.65 square kilometres to be exact. Walking from bar to bar is an easy feat and there is even a free festival bus to get around the city. The Halifax Pop Explosion hosts a variety of events, including digital workshops and art markets during the day, and in the evenings the city is filled with music. Here is a first hand account of some shows with photos to entice you to visit Halifax next year.

The Zolas

The Zolas were a perfect start to the festival with their upbeat indie tunes. The Zolas epitomize the Canadian indie rock scene with sing-along melodies and some enthusiastic musicians, causing vivacious singing and dancing from the band and the crowd. They played in the intimate Gus’ Pub in the north end of Halifax, letting the crowd get within arms reach, and instigating Zachary Gray (vocals/guitar) to jump out into the crowd.

Bandcamp: The Zolas – Ancient Mars

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— , November 19, 2013    Comments Off on Halifax Pop Explosion 2013

Photograph by Caroline Desilets

The Polaris Music Prize was first awarded in 2006, serving as the Canadian equivalent of Britain’s Mercury Prize, or the United States’ short-lived Shortlist Music Prize. 40 eligible Canadian releases are chosen for the longlist by the Polaris Jury, who then pare the group down to a 10 album shortlist before the final vote. Previously, the award has been given to Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, Caribou, Fucked Up, and Karkwa. The disparity between those winners suggests little rhyme-or-reason is involved with the eventual winner, so the list-making process remains entertaining as ever, as it’s usually anyone’s game.

The most recent winners have come with some stigma attached. Both Fucked Up and Karkwa came completely out of left-field as winners, making many question the final 10-person vote. However, having seen both acts live within the past few months, with Fucked Up making for one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in a long time, and Karkwa completely stealing the show from Plants and Animals, I can no longer say their wins were completely undeserved. I will make no defence for Patrick Watson.

The 2011 shortlist was released yesterday, and despite boasting eight first-time shortlist nominees, it seems to be eliciting more grumbling than previous years. We’re not on the jury, but Ca Va Cool favourites PS I Love You, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Young Galaxy inexplicably did not make the jump from the longlist, and we’re scratching our heads at some of the inclusions. So, without further ado, the artists on the Polaris Music Prize 2011 shortlist:

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— , July 7, 2011    Comments Off on Polaris Music Rant

All Photographs by Marc Rimmer

Braids make sticky, tangled, and impossibly charming indie pop. Much like shampooing with maple syrup, the Calgary quartet shows a penchant for experimentation outside of defined boundaries – be they social or musical. Their debut album, Native Speaker, out this week on Flemish Eye in Canada and Kanine Records in the States, combines tribal delirium with living soundscapes. Like mixing stimulants and depressants, Braids are your morning cup of coffee spiked with codeine. Infused with an undeniable sense of life, Native Speaker trickles from your headphones and burrows into the abyss of your eardrums.

Ca Va Cool recently had an opportunity to speak with Austin Tufts and Raphaelle Standell-Preston of Braids where we discussed high school friendships, climbing trees in the Rockies, and the healing power of grouphugs.

Braids – Lemonade
Braids – Plath Heart

Jan: Another band I really enjoy is from Calgary as well – The Rural Alberta Advantage. But Nils, the lone Calgarian in the trio moved to Toronto to continue with the band there, much like Braids has moved to Montreal. Why do you feel these bands are making the move from Calgary?

Austin Tufts: Well, I’d say it’s 50-50. Some of the larger acts from Calgary do stay – like Women up until recently. Chad VanGaalen is very much rooted in Calgary. It really depends on what you want to get out of music. Living in Calgary can totally achieve a different thing than moving away. I think living in Calgary you get to maintain a sense of community – everyone here knows each other, you’re constantly going to shows with the same people. It’s really comfortable. I think bands that make it to the point where they’re able to travel all the time, like Women and Woodpigeon, it doesn’t really matter that they’re living in Calgary because when they’re at home they’re with their family and their friends which is inspiring to them. Then there are other bands like us and the Rural Alberta Advantage that feel they need to get out and explore things and realize that Calgary isn’t the be-all-end-all of cities for a music scene. Every band has their own reason for moving, a big one of ours was for university.

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— , January 19, 2011    Comments Off on Braids