Photograph by Christopher Nelson

Though not the first of the major summer festivals, Sasquatch! sure felt like early summer. The Gorge Amphitheatre is nestled in the eastern foothills of the Cascades just outside George, Washington (really), the mountains to the west managed to keep the coastal rains at bay, but the altitude and dry air made for some sunburnt days and brisk nights. We were woefully unprepared for these climatic factors, not to mention the sheer scope of this year’s lineup. Festivals like this one lure you in with a laundry list of bands you would love to see, and then dash those dreams when the schedule is announced and you realize you will only be able to see approximately a third of them – given you’re still standing at the end of the day.

Some tough choices were made to give you the best coverage we could, that is we made game-time decisions and saw whatever we felt like. It would have been lovely to have seen more up and comers but schedule conflicts and the occasional sleep-in (see Day Three) conspired against that notion. Sasquatch!, despite its laid-back west coast feel, is still a commercial festival. If you want cutting edge, beg one of our Toronto writers to cover NXNE, you probably won’t have to beg too hard. What follows is our take on the best of Sasquatch! Music Festival 2010, day by day.

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— , June 9, 2010    3 Comments
Photograph by Yuula Benivolski

Photograph by Yuula Benivolski

The twenty albums included in our Best Albums of 2009 list can only cover so much of the music we’ve enjoyed, so to share some more of our favourites from the past year, we present the Ca Va Cool Mixtape for 2009, just in time to close off the year. As always, we thank you for reading and hope you stick around in the new decade. Happy new year.

Download | The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2009

01. A.C. Newman – Submarines of Stockholm
02. Yeasayer – Tightrope
03. Dog Day – Happiness
04. The Very Best  – Warm Heart of Africa feat. Ezra Koenig
05. Think About Life – Havin’ My Baby
06. Beirut – My Night With the Prostitute from Marseille
07. Tegan and Sara – Someday
08. The Thermals – Now We Can See
09. Timber Timbre – Demon Host
10. Engineers – Song for Andy
11. You Say Party! We Say Die! – Laura Palmer’s Prom
12. The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing
13. Fanfarlo – Luna
14. Julie Doiron – Nice to Come Home
15. Kurt Vile – Freeway
16. Freelance Whales – Ghosting
17. Japandroids – Young Hearts Spark Fire
18. The Raveonettes – Last Dance

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— , December 31, 2009    1 Comment

Photograph by Sarah Cass

Welcome back to Ca Va Cool’s best albums of 2009. The first half of our list featured Wolf Parade off-shoots, a band experiencing a grand reunion, and an array of talented newcomers. Our top ten features the heavy hitters, the very best 2009 had to offer. Our contributors battled mercilessly to formulate this list. We emerge bloodied and bruised, confident that these are ten albums that will stand the test of time. Without further ado, here are Ca Va Cool’s top albums of ’09.

Photograph by Annie Powers

Photograph by Annie Powers

10. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Slumberland)

Gather around children and let me tell you the tale of four New York indie poppers who dubbed themselves The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. In their sugar-coated world all songs were dreamy, dense melodies drenched in saccharine sweet vocals and jangly guitar. Lyrics were emotional proclamations with dark undertones disguised beneath cute refrains and gumdrops. Teenage angst, sexual yearning, misdirected emotions, drug analogies and scattered profanities flowed with their overt sweetness and apparent levity in a musical dichotomy; the battle against light and dark arranging itself into aural beauty. Nothing less could be expected from a troupe of troubadours named after a children’s book and channeling broken hearts of the past into a C86 revival. What will become of the courageous quartet in the new year? The story is to be continued. In the meantime, we can lose ourselves in my favourite track about library love from their self-titled debut album released this year on Slumberland Records. — Sabrina Diemert

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— , December 26, 2009    2 Comments
All Photographs by Jan Kucic-Riker

All Photographs by Jan Kucic-Riker

For those unfamiliar with Halifax, the timid Canadian city performs an annual Megatron-like transformation at the end of each October. Barrington Street goes from mildly intoxicated and raucous to Amy Winehouse on amphetamines with a megaphone. Venues crank subwoofers from comfortable thumping to post-tracheotomy Barry White levels. Mornings involve waking to find a group of five Icelandic men sleeping on inflatable mattresses in your living room. This metamorphosis has occurred for nearly the past seventeen years earning the title of Halifax Pop Explosion. Boasting over 125 acts through the five-day period, Jesse F. Keeler, Gregg Gillis, and Brian King sightings between classes become a commonplace occurrence. Donair pizza, glow sticks, countless layers of clothing, and failed midterms fuel the East Coasts celebration of music.

The festival took place in just over a dozen venues across the city, ranging from theatres and halls, to clubs, pubs, and even a couple of churches. Coincidentally, Halifax claims the highest rate of bars per capita in Canada and as such, there was no shortage of settings to get cozy and personal with the musicians – and Alexander Keith. With most locales within walking distance, reasonable taxi fares, and hospitable residents getting around was painless. This was of paramount importance as the headliners, MSTRKRFT, Final Fantasy, Japandroids and Girl Talk, each played sets within the last two days, driving even the most organized hipster to scheduling psychosis. The packed agenda caused certain acts to have up to five openers and sets running late into the night. Here are a few photos, tracks, and intimacies shared at Halifax Pop Explosion 2009.

Japandroids – Wet Hair
You Say Party! We Say Die! – Dancefloor Destroyer
MSTRKRFT feat. N.O.R.E. – Bounce

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— , November 8, 2009    4 Comments

Japandroids

I am a little upset that I missed the recent love affair between No Age and Death from Above 1979. Luckily, I have been acquainted with the offspring that emerged fully formed from the aforementioned procreation – Japandroids. A mixture of uncompromising percussion and static vocals from two self-proclaimed “sweethearts still naive enough to think they’ll never sell out” reverberate from the band’s favourite place in the world – your sister’s bedroom. When the two-piece band is not in your sister’s bedroom, you can find them in East Vancouver where they formed in 2006 as a creative outlet for post-teenage angst.

If you are not convinced Japandroids are a sight and sound to behold by this sentence, I refer you to the above photograph of them standing behind a flaming drum set. The image contains generous amounts of unadulterated – for lack of a better word – awesome. The thought of David Prowse banging on the depicted inferno while Brian King’s guitar coaxes flames to his bidding could be an accurate portrayal of what Japandroids sound like, and it would not be a stretch to assume similar occurrences at their live shows.

The band released their full-length album Post-Nothing on Unfamiliar Records in late April following two self-released EPs in 2007 and 2008 entitled All Lies and Lullaby Death Jams, respectively. The albums do-it-yourself mentality coupled with an energetic delivery produces a Smashing Pumpkins on steroids late nineties garage-rock spectacular. Approaching Post-Nothing philosophically, the album in disagreement with title leaves you with everything, barring full spiritual enlightenment perhaps. All of that on the low-budget package of a single set of drums, a guitar, and a couple of fanatical vocalists.

Japandroids abundant use of distortion, infectious hooks, and potent drum fills deliver a sound that is exuberant in its lack of insecurities. Much like a loveable high school nerd showing up to a graduation dance with crooked glasses and calculator in hand, tearing up the dance floor with eyes closed and hips swinging to his own free will, Japandroids are uninhibited. Amidst thoughts of running away to France to “French kiss some French girls” as repeated heavily in the track ‘Wet Hair’, the record is an excitable reintroduction to the senseless childhood nostalgia lost through self-consciousness.

Japandroids – Young Hearts Spark Fire
Japandroids – Wet Hair
Japandroids – Heart Sweats

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— , May 15, 2009    4 Comments