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.

Continue Reading ‘Hey Rosetta!’ Feature Interview »

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— , November 24, 2011    1 Comment

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

Photograph by Jill Willcott

February 22, 2011 – After that Grammy win, it’s a pity this year’s Polaris Prize will likely go to Arcade Fire by default, but there have already been several amazing Canadian albums released this year and Hey Rosetta! has joined them with Seeds. The East Coast band’s third album manages to elevate them beyond simply being just a rock band with a string section to something more. With fellow Newfoundlanders Gramercy Riffs in tow, the band played a sold out show at London, Ontario’s Call the Office.

Gramercy Riffs gave a brief but entertaining set, providing some heartbreak rock to whet the crowd’s appetite for the main event. Vocalist Mara Pellerin made an amusing comment about how the bar was like a maze, then sheepishly stealing a crowd member’s “a-maze-ing” joke. True enough, Call the Office does have a questionable sightline, highlighted by the column located in the center of the crowd.

Hey Rosetta!’s set largely consisted of material from the recently released Seeds and previous Polaris shortlist nominee Into Your Lungs. The band opened with ‘Welcome’, showing off their spiffy lighting system. Even at the center of twin spotlights, frontman Tim Baker was self-deprecating throughout the night, speaking of redemption when attempting a song that was screwed up the last time the band played London. The set’s highlight was the three song sequence of ‘I’ve Been Awake for a Long, Long, Time’, ‘Seeds’, and ‘Red Heart’. The band worked a few covers into the setlist, incorporating the Beatles’ ‘Within You Without You’ into one of their songs, while the encore included a version of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ with Gramercy Riffs’ Mara Pellerin guesting on vocals. Despite the cold, it was worth coming out to see that people from the Rock are in fact, capable of rock.

Hey Rosetta! – Welcome
Gramercy Riffs – Call Me

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— , March 4, 2011    1 Comment