Sun Ra Star System

with Dixie's Death Pool & Shades of Scorpius
April 19th @ The China Cloud

Sun Ra Star System || photo by Steve Louie

Sun Ra Star System || photo by Steve Louie

The China Cloud has never looked better than it did at the end of a chaotic—but thoroughly rewarding—Record Store Day in Vancouver. Soaking wet from the persistent rains, the beautiful and charming interior seemed ripped right out of my brightest fantasies.

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Dralms

with Holy Hum
April 16 @ The Media Club

Dralms || photo by Steve Louie

Dralms || photo by Steve Louie

Amid the bumping of mid-set bathroom goers (never stand stage-right at the Media Club) Holy Hum began their opening, at times melodic but predominantly ambient, set. Frontman Andrew Lee’s voice was crystalline, his glassy vocals stretched with the sea of droning waves surrounding them. Together, these sustained notes spun the outline of a glacial soundscape. Vast with layers of synth, Lee strummed a relay between strings while a quickening drum rhythm led the song to shore.

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Gal Gracen

with Young Braised, Wetface & Space Bros
April 11th @ They Live Video

Gal Gracen || photo by Lauren Ray

Gal Gracen || photo by Lauren Ray

When Space Bros, one of Tom Whalen’s numerous projects, took the stage at They Live Video on April 11, no one seemed to know what to make of it. Noise art or DJ set from hell? The room hummed with distracted chatter, punctuated with hoots of encouragement—whether sincere or sarcastic, I couldn’t tell. Read More »

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

with Speedy Ortiz
April 10th @ The Rickshaw Theatre

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks || photo by Alan Derksen

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks || photo by Alan Derksen

There was no escaping the wistful, rosewater-infused, dewy-eyed saturnalia that a Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks performance can sometimes squeeze from their long-time fans. By no means a nostalgia act, don’t get me wrong, but judging by the tattered vintage shirts from Malkmus’ former band on display, a very retro mist was tangible in the air.

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Hunting

with Shuyler Jansen and Joyce Island
April 9th @ The Biltmore

Hunting || photo by Jon Vincent

Hunting || photo by Jon Vincent

I had high hopes for the album release party at the Biltmore for recent Nevado signees, Hunting, and did my best to keep them that way as I descended from cold air to the quiet tedium of an early-to-rise group of Cowichan sweaters with local songstress Lisa Joyce aka Joyce Island taking the stage. She opened with “Mercy on Me,” but not before she had the chance to explain, “This is a song about, um, fucking your life up.” Prefacing each of the alt-country tunes with an unpoetic tribute became ritualistic. Nods were given to Rob Ford, Pussy Riot, the civil unrest in Crimea, Rita MacNeil, and simply “assholes” in general as she recited the majority of last year’s self-titled EP before closing the set on an adapted cover of Hank Williams’ “Sundown and Sorrow” with the hurried excitement only the onset of a tour can incite.

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The War on Drugs

with White Laces
March 29th @ The Biltmore

The Saturday night crowd at the Biltmore rose consistently. By 8 p.m., opening act White Laces began playing abruptly, to a half-full crowd. Announcing they’re from Richmond, Virginia, the four-piece had a full and earthy rumble; the bass, keys, guitar, drums, and laptop tracks spread evenly in a blanket of sound. The continuous fusion of chords and drum steps gave an overall ethos of indistinct rockability. Every sound seemed to rush in the same direction.

White Laces || photo by Julia Badayeva

White Laces || photo by Julia Badayeva

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Perfect Pussy

with N.213 Group VIsion
March 25th @ The Cobalt

Perfect Pussy || photo by Steve Louie

Perfect Pussy || photo by Steve Louie

One of Perfect Pussy’s well-known songs to this point in their brief career is called “Interference Fits,” and though to my knowledge this was not a part of their set at the Cobalt on March 25, interference certainly did fit for both opening act N.213 Group Vision and PP themselves.

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Editor’s Note

FOR THE RECORD

While April used to be content to just bring May flowers and give people another reason to smoke weed outside, there’s a growing reason to say “so long!” to March: Record Store Day. What started six years ago as a way to celebrate vinyl has since exploded into a music-lover’s equivalent of Christmas. Exclusive releases, in-store performances, and overall good vibes are just a few of the reasons why you should call in sick and head down to your favourite record store on April 19.

My first experience with Record Store Day came when I was at Coachella in 2009. Between sunburns and autograph signings, we wandered into the reprieving shelter of the record tent where I was surprised at how much I wanted to buy everything in sight. I was still new to the record Renaissance and had had barely enough money to justify attending the festival in the first place, much less a surplus to spend on something as nonessential as records. Regardless, I splurged on a pair of Weakerthans and Fleet Foxes LPs and to this day still have the reusable bag they came in. I was hooked. For a sneak peek at some of the great things happening around town, check out the spread on pages six and seven of this here magazine.

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Cool

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Pezzutto summarizes the non-consequences best, “People will say this sucks?”

Advised in jazz dens, scribbled by beatniks, and nodded during the reigns of rock and grunge; the word ‘cool’ has survived decades of discourse. As slang, its meaning is spongy. It has absorbed changes with the times and at present purveys a nuance as twofold as its spelling. Behind one ‘o’ is a light offhandedness and behind the other, a heavy measurement of self-worth.

Adrien Teacher, Amanda Pezzutto and Shawn Mrazek

Adrien Teacher, Amanda Pezzutto and Shawn Mrazek

Embracing this multi-faceted term is Vancouver funk trio Cool. Formed in June of last year, Cool is comprised of former Apollo Ghosts members Adrian Teacher (guitar) and Amanda Pezzutto (bass), as well as Shawn Mrazek (drums) of Shawn Mrazek Lives! This superstar group enjoys how casual and commonplace their title is — though they also invite its more contemplative connotations.

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Teenagre

“Our songs are sort of prom-sounding. We think about that a lot—prom bands and through the ages how they’re kind of the same but also really reflect each of those ages. There’s an innocence implied in that that we’re interested in.”

It’s one of those sleepy winter afternoons that could easily pass for spring. The sun hangs lazily in the waning hours of daylight as I make my way down Kingsway towards Our Town Cafe for my interview with Teenagre. Inside the cafe, there’s a familiar hum of steaming milk, roasters and patrons lost in thought.

Matthew Friesen, Eva Prkachin and Erik Hermans

Matthew Friesen, Eva Prkachin and Erik Hermans

The band are in good spirits, looking relaxed and cheerful as they settle in with hot beverages and cookies in hand. Though violinist Zuzia Juskiewicz is absent for the interview—currently doing an artist residency in New York—I’m still joined by the rest of Teenagre: bassist Matthew Friesen, guitarist Eva Prkachin, and drummer Erik Hermans.

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