SXSW 2014 recap

Well, I didn’t make my goal of seeing at least 60 Canadian acts at last week’s SXSW, but I did come close: I caught a total of 59 shows, and 55 of them were Canadians.

Tuesday

  • The Wet Secrets @ The Majestic
  • JP Hoe @ The Majestic
  • Slow Down, Molasses @ The Majestic
  • The Belle Game @ The Majestic
  • Teenburger @ Flamingo Cantina
  • Adam WarRock @ Flamingo Cantina
  • Tribe One @ Flamingo Cantina
  • More or Les @ Flamingo Cantina
  • Dr. Awkward @ Flamingo Cantina
  • MC Lars @ Flamingo Cantina
  • Jesse Dangerously @ Flamingo Cantina

Wednesday

  • The Pack A.D. @ Friends
  • Royal Canoe @ Friends
  • The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer @ Canadian Blast BBQ
  • Andy Shauf @ Canadian Blast BBQ
  • Saidah Baba Talibah @ Canadian Blast BBQ
  • The Darcys @ Canadian Blast BBQ
  • A Tribe Called Red @ Canadian Blast BBQ
  • Grand Analog @ Canadian Blast BBQ
  • The Wilderness of Manitoba @ Soho Lounge
  • BADBADNOTGOOD @ Swan Dive Patio
  • Lowell @ Swan Dive Patio
  • The Darcys @ Swan Dive Patio
  • Reuben and the Dark @ Swan Dive Patio
  • Timber Timbre @ Swan Dive Patio

Thursday

  • Calvin Love @ Headhunters
  • Alden Penner @ Maggie Mae’s
  • Pick a Piper @ Headhunters
  • Sam Roberts Band @ Swan Dive Patio
  • Tough Age @ Headhunters
  • The Pack A.D. @ Headhunters
  • Kaytranada @ Maggie Mae’s
  • Jordan Klassen @ The Hilton Liberty Tavern
  • Greys @ The Parish Underground
  • Alvvays @ The Main
  • PUP @ The Main
  • Slow Down, Molasses @ Friends
  • The Barr Brothers @ St. David’s Bethel Hall
  • Bend Sinister @ Friends

Friday

  • Paper Lions @ Friends
  • Odonis Odonis @ Wonderland
  • Leif Vollebekk @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room
  • Weaves @ Wonderland
  • PUP @ Headhunters
  • Viet Cong @ Swan Dive
  • Mise en Scene @ Friends
  • Magic! @ Friends
  • Alden Penner @ The Velveeta Room
  • Each Other @ The Velveeta Room
  • Rich Aucoin @ Holy Mountain Backyard
  • No Sinner @ Friends
  • July Talk @ Friends
  • The Beaches @ Friends

Saturday

  • The Shilohs @ The Parish Underground
  • Paper Lions @ Friends
  • TRUST @ Elysium
  • Pick a Piper @ Maggie Mae’s Gibson Room
  • Bend Sinister @ The Velveeta Room
  • We Are the City @ The Velveeta Room

Italicized shows indicate either that I only caught a portion of the set, or that I was at the venue but not actively watching the show.

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Prince Innocence – “Dissipate”

I don’t (ache ?), I dissipate
I’m writhing, I’m writhing like a snake
I grasp for something I can break
Every two or three years

Sometimes I fall in love with everyone I meet
I can feel their arms around me
Although we only
Invite me in and let me stay all night
I was lost and now you’ve found me
Found me

I don’t (ache ?), I dissipate
I’m writhing, I’m writhing like a snake
Now I’m in between what I want and need
And it’s very hard to choose

Tonight, it’s an empty kind of want
Gonna make you fill your
Tonight, it’s an empty kind of want
Gonna make you, gonna make you

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Stars – “Backlines”

You pull me in, you take me down, and what you want is what?
I love the colors of the road that lead me home to love
One, two, too many times you took to trip me up
Now that I know it’s all you want, it’s still never enough

Calling on the back lines
Climbing from the battle to the other side
If courage is a live wire
I’ll see it in your eyes

Too many pills think they know how to keep a choke on you
But you’ve got power-pressure when I have too much to lose
The stakes are high, my mind is twisted, and the pressure’s up
At four o’clock, awake, my head more dizzy than a flood

Calling on the back lines
Climbing from the battle to the other side
If courage is a live wire
I’ll see it in your eyes

Running from the battle to the other side
If living isn’t hard-wired
I’ll see it in your eyes

Calling on the back lines
Crawling from the battle to the other side
If living isn’t hard-wired
I’ll see it in your eyes

Calling to the back lines
Hiding from the shadow, leave the rest behind
If courage is a live wire
I’ll see it in your eyes
I’ve seen it in your eyes
I see it in your eyes

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HIGHS – “Summer Dress”

Highs - EPJust because it’s January doesn’t mean you can’t imagine the warmth of the late summer sun’s radiant warmth on your uncovered arms. Need a little musical inspiration to feel those rays? If so, “Summer Dress”, from the Toronto indie pop outfit HIGHS, is likely all the inspiration you need.

The first track from HIGHS’ debut, a self-titled EP released in July, “Summer Dress” presents a whimsical, almost youthful sense of energy mixed with African-inspired percussion styles and plenty of sugary but surprisingly sincere layered vocals.

Just like a thread
You go up, up, up, out with the wind
Then you soar through the towns and the villages
But inside your head
You’re still bursting the seams of your summer dress
And inside your head
What a mess, oh, what a mess

And I know you always said you’d never wait around for anything or anyone
And I knew those words you spoke were true when I saw you running off
Running through the river, I could sink in nearer, slipping on the rocks
Turn around to see you with your wrinkles in the water, then the dress came off

And just like a thread
You go up, up, up, out in the air
And you soar with the things that you hope will get you there
But inside your head
You’re still bursting the seams of your summer dress
And inside your head
I hope you find a tune

Yup, and on your way, and if we meet again
I hope you wear that dress that you wore back then
Yup, and on your way, and if I see your face
I hope it’s from the road and from another place

Yup, and on your way, and if we meet again
I hope your summer dress, I hope it’s wearing thin
Yup, and on your way, and if I see your face
I hope it’s from the road

You can find HIGHS at CBC Music, on Facebook, and at their official site. You can also follow them on Twitter and YouTube, buy their music on iTunes or Bandcamp, or stream it at SoundCloud.

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Straylight Run – “Try”

Well, I am just guessing
I’m doing my best to make some sense out of senselessness
I’m talking to my wife, I’m drinking too much wine
I’m working on words, music, and melodies

This is the best, this is the worst
I am the last, I am the first
I’m placing blame and taking credit in a world I can’t control

I try to find a way just to say what I’m chasing
Define what I’m making, believe what I’m saying
To fill this space and feel like I belong
I try to find a way just to say what I’m chasing
Define what I’m making, believe what I’m saying
To fill this space and feel like I belong

I feel I have to find some meaning, I don’t think I see any
I don’t know what it is I see at all
Oh, no one’s got it right, yeah, they’re just telling lies
Combined with their own special kind of truth

And this is the best, this is the worst
I am the last, and I am the first
I’m placing blame and taking credit in a world I can’t control

I try to find a way just to say what I’m chasing
Define what I’m making, believe what I’m saying
To fill this space and feel like I belong
I try to find a way just to say what I’m chasing
Define what I’m making, believe what I’m saying
To fill this space and feel like I belong

When truth is just opinion
When facts entwine with fiction
Well, I just keep wondering
What is there to believe in?

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Tegan and Sara – “Drove Me Wild”

HeartthrobThe latest Tegan and Sara album is an unapologetic break from their first six releases—with synth-y dance-pop replacing the sisters’ traditional indie-folkish lady-rock. While I’m partial to their older sound, the more I listen to Heartthrob, released all the way back in January on Warner Bros., the more it grows on me.

They said in their (incredibly cute) interview with Jian Ghomeshi on Q that they were aiming for a more mainstream, anthemic, radio-friendly appeal, and I’m sure their album sales and ticket sales have confirmed: they’ve got it now.

Putting my quasi-hipster tendency to say “I liked them before they were big” to the side, I can admit that Heartthrob is catchy, accessible, subtly sexy, and pretty well-written, for what it is. Take a listen at SoundCloud!

When I think of you, I think of your skin, golden brown from the sun
Your arms outstretched, your hair cut shorter than it’d been
But still blowing in the wind

When I picture you, I think of your smile
And it drives me wild
Your laugh escaping you, your head thrown to the side
And it drives me wild

You carried romance in the palm of your hand
You called the plays for us
You clung to self-restraint, you followed the plan
You put the brakes on this

And it drove me, and it drove me, and it drove me wild

When I envision you, I think of your sheets, tangled up beneath me
Your body inching close, closer to the edge
I got a hold of you then

When I imagine you, I think of that room
And it drives me wild
Your face relaxed, your voice a whisper in my ear
And it drives me wild

I would’ve had us swerving through those streets, over and over
I would’ve stalled or rushed us through those greens, over and over
But you knew that, and you wouldn’t let me lose control

You can find Tegan and Sara at CBC Music, on Facebook, and at their official site. You can also follow them on Twitter and Tumblr, and you can buy their music on iTunes and SoundCloud.

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On the value of humanities in education

I was listening to On Point on WBUR last week, and the discussion was whether we should continue encouraging students to pursue an education in the humanities, or whether we should direct public funding and support to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs. Of course, like most of these types of discussions, the debate revolved mainly around the greater prospects for employment and wealth accumulation enjoyed by STEM graduates, and how developments in STEM fields are more directly beneficial (er, quantifiable) to our capitalist economy.

Then, host Tom Ashbrook asked his guest Mark Edmundson, an English professor at the University of Virginia, to defend not just investment in, and support for, the humanities, but to argue for the very value of the humanities themselves. And what Edmundson said was brilliant (listen in at around 25:05):

Tom Ashbrook: From the humanities representative side, speak to the fundamental value of these studies.

Mark Edmundson: Well, the idea [unclear] central to the humanities is simple, two simple words: know yourself. Right? And when we help our students to know themselves, they reach a point where they can determine what’s best for them in their future lives, the kind of jobs they want to pursue, the kind of married life they want to pursue, the way they want to raise their children, and they also find out who they’re going to be professionally, and how they’re going to pursue their professions so as to become, if they wish to be, successful.

But I would add one more thing. And that is that, we in the humanities—and this may be a tad more controversial—we question everything. Not just the government, not just schooling, but also terms like success, prosperity, money. And a student coming out of the humanities is likely to have thought seriously about the values of success, and he may ultimately have rejected them.

It seems to me that we’ve kind of all been agreeing so far that success, monetary power, achievement of a middle class and more than middle class life is the greatest goal that an American can entertain. I’m not so sure. And the humanities put some students in a position to say no to those particular values. Others say yes to them, and I applaud it.

I think that what you want is self-consciousness in life, and an awareness to make the right kinds of decisions for yourself. Just as you do in regard to government; you don’t want those closed-minded people.

I’ve yet to find the meaning of life—mine or otherwise—but Edmundson’s perspective on individualism, critical thinking, and an education that teaches one how to think as opposed to things to know is pretty close to gospel for me.

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Time Warner Cable: catastrophically incompetent

Time Warner Cable logoTwo years ago, when I moved from Massachusetts to Austin, packing and moving everything was so easy—it was only once I’d leased a place that the problems began. Connecting utilities, details of payments and billing, managing service appointments while having a 9-5 job, and getting things working as one would expect them to work consumed enormous amounts of time and caused untold amounts of frustration. Whether it was getting a mattress delivered for the advertised price or getting a Time Warner technician to show up for my scheduled appointments, it was a trying time. Back then, my self-preservation instinct must have taken over; aside from a string of frustrated tweets, the period’s woes exist as nothing more than a scar on my memory—a painful, bloody wound that eventually sealed, allowing me to move on but never to forget.

Now, having moved two weeks ago, I was able once again to enter the pit of despair that one enters after having to deal with Time Warner Cable. Not wanting to let it pass without chronicling their chronic incompetence, I’ve decided to document it—first, as a testament to their terrible internal systems and, second, as but one example of the kinds of things I’ve been dealing with for the past month or so.

Read More »

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Leif Vollebekk – “Southern United States
”

No more words, just listen.

Southern United States…

I had a dream I was standing under the Memphis moon
 with William Blake painting and Crosby crooning. And his father was a sailor who left his mother young, and since she dressed him the same, he took after his father without the last name
: a Welshman from Tennessee
. Yes, he spoke with an accent that resembled no other. He was cut from the cloth and he showed me his daughter
.

Oh, Lilly was a rose. 
Married into money, but it only changed her clothes
, and then she found out what everybody knows, and with her eyes half closed and her hands arisen
, she leaned in to talk and I leaned in to listen. 
She said, “Those political songs, they’re worth missing.”

And I woke at the wheel
 with the wind, road, and radio fluttering in my ears. 
I was following my heart like I hadn’t for years, and 
I put on Lou Reed’s Berlin. 
I had a friend once that asked me, “Who needs Berlin?” “Oh,” I said, “I guess it just depends on the state that you’re in.”

I was stopped at the border
. I don’t know what it is they thought I had but, by the end, I’d had it. 
Low Texas drawl coming over the static
, I looked up at the bristling stars and they looked so sad. It was the Southern United States.

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Chris Kelly – “Cold Feet”

Chris Kelly - Company ManVancouver-based Chris Kelly calls himself “a man for all media”… and he is probably right.

Kelly, once a member of Analog Bell Service, has produced over 150 episodes of the CBC Radio 3 Podcast, and in addition to his work as a radio and web content producer, he dabbles in video production, too. The reason he’s appearing on Another Sunny Day, though, is his latest project. He’s just released Company Man, his first real solo album, and the song that’s been getting a lot of airplay, “Cold Feet”, is simply irresistible.

You can listen to it for free at CBC Music.

I hope my cold feet don’t wake you up, nor the sound of that door
I think I might try to take you up on loving you more
Well, harder than I did before
And I thought of this all at quarter past four

I hope the TV don’t reach your ears or influence your dreams
I know I haven’t felt the same since I left my teens
But I know that’s not how it seems
And I thought of this all at 4:15

Well, when will I sleep?
When when when will I sleep?
Well, when will I sleep?
When when when will I sleep?

You can find Chris Kelly at CBC Music, on Facebook, and at his official site. You can also follow him on Twitter, and you can buy his music on iTunes and Bandcamp.

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