Photograph by Dan Stack

August 28, 2010 – Though my day was spent eyeing Lieutenant Commander Worf and Chewbacca from afar, my night was yet again spent at the Horseshoe Tavern, this time to see Wye Oak, who captured my interest when I first heard their cover of the Kinks’ ‘Strangers’ from the AV Club’s Undercover series. Following that I discovered The Knot, an album that would have definitely made my 2009 best of list. Needless to say, I was excited. Female-fronted Toronto band the Caraways opened, providing a genre-hopping start to the evening. What began as a sort of alt-country vibe morphed into something completely different during the set. Still, what captured my eye the most was the drummer’s odd kit setup.

Following a brief interlude, Wye Oak took the stage. For the uninitiated, Wye Oak is a made up of Jenn Wassner and Andy Stack. While Wassner handles vocals and guitars, Stack is on drums AND keyboard bass. This multi-tasking makes them far more complex than your typical duo, and I have to applaud the lack of a backing track. You would think drumming one-handed would bring limitations, but Stack performs ably while Wassner thrashes about. Material was largely drawn from The Knot and this year’s EP My Neighbour/My Creator, along with a pair of songs from their upcoming album. Following Wassner’s plea for a Canadian husband (“I’m available!”), Wye Oak made their exit.

Wye Oak – Take It In

Though I was mostly there for Wye Oak, it was clear from the chants of “Lou!”  who everyone was there to see.  Not knowing much of Lou Barlow, but knowing that he was a member of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, and the Folk Implosion, I felt a certain reverence towards him. As one of the more influential artists I’ve seen, it struck me as odd that he was manning his own merch table, kindly signing anything fans brought. Given his huge back catalogue, I had no idea what to expect from his setlist. I had already ruled out any Dinosaur Jr., but I wasn’t sure if there would be a focus on his recent release with the Minutemen. As soon as he reached the stage, Barlow outlined the plan for the night: an acoustic set by him, followed by an electric set joined by backing band the Minutemen, followed by another acoustic set incorporating his ukulele.

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— , September 1, 2010    1 Comment

Photograph by Annabel Mehran

The year 2009 will be remembered for many things, including the divorce of Jon and Kate Gosselin, Tiger Woods’ infidelity, and of course, the introduction of Keyboard Cat. But aside from those momentous events, some decent music was released. As the year draws to a close, we here at Ca Va Cool continue our list-making ways to bring you our favourite albums of 2009. Through an intense, scientific process, we have distilled the vast amount of quality releases into an essential brew of twenty such albums. Old favourites share space with relative newcomers in the first half of our list.

Sunset Rubdown

20. Sunset RubdownDragonslayer (Jagjaguwar)

Spencer Krug has solidified his position as wizard of the indie world with the release of Dragonslayer. Conjuring up mythical beasts and inspiring a belief in whimsical folklore, all while contorting vocals entangled with punchy keyboards. Dragonslayer is Sunset Rubdown’s white rabbit in the top hat. The witty experimentation paired with outstanding hooks forms an album that is both accessible and multifarious. Dragonslayer compiles an unparalleled consistency as the eight tracks serve as standalone sensations while weaving an outlandish fairytale. The record has the capacity to immerse listeners and encourage exploration. Sunset Rubdown uncovers a new adventure with each thumping refrain of ‘Idiot Heart’ or the possessed chanting of ‘You Go on Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)’. The quintet’s unpolished finish on the album prides itself on the kinks in their armour and much like a good fairytale, each scrape, bruise, and bump has its own merit when fighting dragons. — Jan Kucic-Riker

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— , December 21, 2009    Comments Off on Best Albums of 2009, Pt. 1