Photograph by Dustin Condren

Photograph by Dustin Condren

You’ve read the first half of our best albums of the year, but in the final hours of 2014, we’ll be listening to the music that really gets us going. This past year that meant Scandinavians of both the funky and bleak variety, an existential stoner from Montreal, and an aging punk with dance moves made for broadcast television. There were modern classic albums of sumptuous techno minimalism and the Philadelphia power chords that soundtracked the year. But it was a Canadian indie stalwart who after a decade of fine releases has finally, truly come in to his own – getting points from every one of our writers and solidly becoming Ca Va Cool’s best album of 2014.

Photograph by Victoria Davis

Photograph by Victoria Davis

10. Ought – More Than Any Other Day

For a short while, Montreal’s Ought have burnt brightly, if a little coldly. On their previous EP New Calm, they sounded like a strained David Byrne backed by Joy Division. Now, shouting life-affirming mantras like, “Today more than any other day I am excited to go grocery shopping!” seems be a staple of Ought’s music. With their uplifting LP debut More Than Any Other Day, Ought firmly cement themselves as a positively unmissable act. Throughout both of their latest Toronto shows, Tim Beeler, who commits his talent to guitar and vocals, flailed and shimmied his way through their rhythmic and hypnotic set. Ought affirms that they are, as they put it, a “Habit”, and their frantic energy is palpable in each note and groove they bring on More Than Any Other Day. — Anthony Boire

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— , December 31, 2014    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2014, Pt. 2

Photograph by Steven Walter

South by Southwest is kind of like the Twitter of music festivals. It’s peppy, popular, easy to mock, highly corporate and desperate to hide that fact with little stabs at techy subversiveness. The scene on the ground is as though social networking itself was suddenly given life by a trickster god, as musicians of every flavour and every level of grunginess mingle with industry suits and club kids on spring break. Iffy metaphors aside, the festival deserves its widespread reputation as a hipster-heavy network-a-thon that saturates Austin from downtown to the sticks with more man-hours of music than could possibly be experienced in a standard human year. It’s fun.

I arrive in Austin before the official beginning of the music festival, while the interactive tech and film expos are still in full swing, and before you can say “Wes Anderson” I’m comfortably installed on a patio, chatting with a group of Portlanders about different brands of free-range chicken. I’m off to a comfortable head start on all my stereotypes.

The main drag on Sixth Street is already fairly happening, though it’ll get exponentially more clogged as the week goes on. I spy a familiar face through the open window of the Bat Bar: it’s icon of awkwardness Michael Cera, playing bass with his supergroup-of-a-sort Mister Heavenly. The band is rounded by members of the Unicorns, Man Man, and Modest Mouse, but it’s pretty clear who the gaggle of college girls are crowding around to see, cell phones straining upwards for photos like a curious herd of electric giraffes.

Mister Heavenly – Mister Heavenly

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— , May 10, 2011    3 Comments

Photograph by Handsome Joel Hansen

The holidays tend to be rife with tension, and our Ca Va Cool family is no exception. Picking only 20 albums from 2010’s offerings is tricky; every year, some fantastic records/EPs/tracks are overlooked. Our super-secret ranking process starts from civilized debate and degenerates into name-calling, tantrums and sulking. To pacify the whiners and to give you, the readers, more awesome music, we present our 2010 mixtape. Happy 2011!

Download | The Ca Va Cool 2010 Mixtape – Disc One

01. School of Seven Bells – Windstorm
02. Titus Andronicus – Theme from “Cheers”
03. Sharon Van Etten – Love More
04. Harlem – Someday Soon
05. Baths – Hall
06. Gorillaz – Empire Ants feat. Little Dragon
07. The Black Keys – Unknown Brother
08. Wye Oak – My Creator
09. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Can’t Hear My Eyes
10. Superchunk – Everything at Once

Download | The Ca Va Cool 2010 Mixtape – Disc Two

01. Library Voices – Haunt This House
02. A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Drink Drank Drunk
03. Young Man – Up So Fast
04. Owen Pallett – Scandal at the Parkade
05. Future Islands – Long Flight
06. The Morning Benders – Excuses
07. Gold Panda – India Lately
08. Jenny and Johnny – My Pet Snakes
09. Lindstrøm & Christabelle – Lovesick
10. Spoon – Got Nuffin’

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— , December 31, 2010    Comments Off on The Ca Va Cool Mixtape 2010

Photograph by Tim Snow

Maybe I’m getting too old for festival concerts. Between slathering myself with SPF60, eating $5 hot dogs, running spastically between stages, cursing the overlapping schedule, being inundated with corporate sponsorship and drinking watery beer, I was caught between disillusionment and laughter toward the predictable pattern of music fests.

The Osheaga Music and Arts Festival is in its fifth year, and has swelled from 25,000 to over 50,000 attendees. Despite my opening tirade, Osheaga has plenty to offer: a grassy hill with convenient stage view, venues of varying size (from cozy small sets to mega concerts), performances for many tastes (from small Quebecois bands to…Snoop Dogg?), the ability to walk freely with your drinks (goodbye, beer tent!) and free underwear to anyone willing to provide American Apparel with their email address.

When surrounded by so much chaos, I seem to morph into a reactionary skeptic. I should subtitle this post “The Festival Concert in which Sabrina Becomes a Huge Indie Music Cynic.” So, I apologize ahead of time if any readers take my grumbling opinion personally. But here it is, Osheaga 2010.

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— , August 17, 2010    3 Comments

With the short list announced coincidentally close to Canada Day, the Polaris Music Prize has been cleverly disguised as an icon of national pride. The saga of Polaris says that not only are we geographically gargantuan as a nation, but musically we’re in fine proportion to our size. It takes time to look at all the details, since we as a nation put out an obscene amount of music, but an award like Polaris gives us great cause to wear out our Canadian vinyl through the summer months. From the Besnard Lakes to Broken Social Scene and from Shad to the Sadies, the short list has once again rolled out a tight batch of competition spanning a wide array of genres. Splicing and comparing the ten albums selected for the short list this year can be a daunting task, so we at Ca Va Cool have decided to divide and conquer, to leave you more time to enjoy and celebrate not only the ten albums on the short list or the forty albums on the long list, but as many Canadian albums from the past year as you possibly can.

Broken Social Scene – All to All
Radio Radio – Tomtom
Shad – Rose Garden

Photograph by Chris Gergley

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

If there’s a dark horse in the Polaris race, it may just be the Besnard Lakes. The second-time shortlist nominees are once again looking to take home the big prize. An album blending shoegaze, progressive rock, and psychedelic rock, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night harkens back to the 1970s, drawing comparisons to bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Alan Parsons Project. Husband-and-wife team  Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas trade vocals throughout.  Goreas takes centre stage on album highlight ’Albatross’, bursting through the droning guitars, singing of a heartfelt remembrance of an age long since passed. ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’ eschews that beauty, preferring a condemnation of the darkness of the surrounding world, soundtracked by a workman-like drumbeat and some of the sweetest guitar licks heard since the days of classic rock. Their world is on fire, and the Besnard Lakes channel that intensity into 10 tracks of Polaris-worthy goodness. — Kevin Kania

The Besnard Lakes – And This Is What We Call Progress

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— , July 31, 2010    8 Comments