Photograph by Jason Halstead

Provincial is John K. Samson’s first full-length solo album. Collecting re-recorded versions of songs from his previously released EPs City Route 85 and Provincial Road 222, along with a few extras, the Weakerthans’ frontman finds himself able to explore a bit musically and indulge in a bit of weirdness.

Not that anything here would be particularly out of place on a Weakerthans album, but the subject matter is certainly more varied, and as a whole the album is more subdued. Most noticeable is ‘http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/’ formerly known as ‘Petition’, which is less a song and more a plea to get hockey player (and fellow Manitoba native) Reggie Leach into the Hall of Fame. ‘Stop Error’ is much improved on this record, as Samson’s solo vocals evoke more pathos than the awkward choir found on the EP. Though the Call of Duty 4 shout-out is still a little jarring. ‘The Last And’ is as good as ever, and the knowledge that it was inspired by the relationship of Edna Krabappel and Seymour Skinner only improves that. As for the new songs, the clear stand-out is ‘When I Write My Master’s Thesis’. More upbeat than the rest of the album, still name-dropping video games (take that Lana del Rey), anyone who’s been in grad school can relate to the light at the end of the tunnel Samson presents here.

With Samson’s body of work, it’s strange to call Provincial a debut, but in any case, it’s a successful one. Now get to work on that all-Virtute concept album, Samson.

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— , January 20, 2012    Comments Off on John K. Samson: Provincial

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The leaves are turning green, flowers are blooming and if you live in Toronto the smog is slowly starting to settle in; all signs of spring. With the warmer weather and themes of renewal, growth and romance on the horizon, Ca Va Cool presents a seasonally fitting mixtape. Whether you head outdoors for a weekend escape or you find yourself strolling through the park on a lunch break, take a moment to enjoy the following bands that have clearly nailed the spirit of such a lovely season.

Download | The ‘Under a Cherry Blossom’ Mixtape

Fleet Foxes

01 | Fleet Foxes – Sun It Rises

Fleet Foxes are a five-piece group from Seattle with soothing guitars and mesmerizing vocals. ‘Sun It Rises’ is also the opening track on their acclaimed self-titled album released last June. The variety of carefully plucked acoustic arrangements accompanied by Robin Pecknold’s voice have the ability shake the deepest slumber as Fleet Foxes scoff at hibernation. The band is currently on tour and they’ll be making two stops in Canada – Montréal and Toronto on August 3 and 4, respectively.

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02 | Air France – June Evenings

Based in Gothenburg, Sweden, the blissful electronic duo of Henri and Joel produce rhythmic pop music that quickly carries you away. ‘June Evenings’ off their No Way Down EP is analogous to sensory overload from the sounds of birds chirping to imagery of the first rays of sunshine peering through your bedroom curtains. The group is yet to release a full-length album but to their credit, the music they have produced to date is as close as anyone has reached to dream pop perfection. To quote Air France, “Give in, it’s spring”.

Continue reading ‘Under a Cherry Blossom’ mixtape »

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— , May 18, 2009    4 Comments

The Weakerthans

April 3, 2009 – London Music Hall, London, ON

After a three-night stand in Toronto, the Canadian all-star Rolling Tundra Revue featuring the Constantines and the Weakerthans was in full force when it hit London this past Friday. Prior to this I had never been to the London Music Hall, though I flaked out on a Hawksley Workman show there a few months ago. London’s music scene is currently in the midst of some turmoil. With the death of smaller London venues such as the Embassy, Salt Lounge and the Alex P. Keaton over the past few months, we’re left with Call the Office and several seldom-used mid-size venues. With Bloc Party drawing a rather depressing turnout when I last saw them, I wasn’t expecting the show to be as massive as it was. To my surprise, the room was packed within minutes of doors opening. In my experience, London isn’t a very concert-going city, but there appeared to be a healthy influx of people from around the area in attendance.

The Constantines – Nighttime/Anytime (It’s Alright)
The Weakerthans – Plea from a Cat Named Virtute
The Weakerthans – Aside

Continue Reading ‘Rolling Tundra Revue’ Concert Feature »

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— , April 10, 2009    3 Comments

Plants & Animals

I just checked out Montreal’s Plants & Animals this weekend at the Wolfe Island Music Festival and couldn’t have been more pleased. A bit Wolf Parade, a bit Apostle of Hustle, but undeniably their own, Plants & Animals is definitely becoming one of Canada’s indie bands to watch. They released their debut album on Secret City Records this February, which was announced in July as one of the contenders for Canada’s Polaris Music Prize.

Plants & Animals – Bye Bye Bye
Plants & Animals – Good Friend

The winner of Polaris will be announced on September 29. The 2008 shortlist is as follows:

I’m rooting for Two Hours Traffic because they’re pretty much my favourite Canadian band right now, their album rules, and they’re the underdog. Any other favourites?

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— , August 15, 2008    2 Comments