Sunday, 30 September 2012

Review: "Celeste and Jesse Forever"

As I try to do often, this week I went to the Bytowne Cinema to check out "Celeste and Jesse Forever", a film starring Rashida Jones (NBC's "The Office) and Andy Samberg (NBC's "Saturday Night Live"). This film is a romantic comedy, filled with heart and laughter.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Jones plays Celeste, a thirty-something woman who has a very successful career as a media consultant. She is separated from her husband Jesse and has decided to getting a divorce is the best thing to do. Celeste's life is sky-rocketing while Jesse is unemployed and living in the studio, behind Celeste's house.

The couple gets confronted by their friends, reminding them that it's weird that they are spending so much time together, although they are getting divorced. Both are content with how things are and they insist that they are still best friends. Essentially, nothing has really changed and both parties have yet to move on. Having been together since high school and married young, Jesse and Celeste are having a hard time making the transition from lovers to friends.

Then Jesse shares some really important/unexpected news and Celeste's world is shattered. She then struggles with the aftermath of her decision of getting a divorce and then tries to move on.

The film is funny but also deals with real issues and real questions. Does young love eventually fizzle away? Can you maintain the good parts of your relationship while getting rid of the bad parts? Is it possible to remain friends after breaking up?

Jones and Samberg are an on-screen couple made in heaven. Their actors' dynamic is fantastic and their chemistry is undeniable. You cannot help but fall for these characters and root for both of them. The film also stars Elijah Wood, Emma Watson and Will McCormmack, who co-wrote the film with Jones. All three actors do a brilliant job in their supporting roles. The script is funny, touching and very real. As an audience member, it is easy to relate to the story and to the characters.

Overall, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" is a film that is both funny and sad, as it deals with real issues that can hit close to home. I strongly recommend this film, as the performances are outstanding and the writing is fantastic. Definitely worth checking out!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Review: Patrick Watson @ Canadian Museum of Civilization

On Friday, I was thrilled to head over to the Canadian Museum of Civilization to see Patrick Watson live. After experiencing a Patrick Watson show at this year's Folkfest, I jumped at the opportunity to see him live again. I had also never been to a show at the theatre of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, so I was curious to check it out.

Watson had two consecutive shows scheduled at the museum; both sold out. When I found out about this show, there were no tickets left for sale. Lucky for me, I found someone who was selling their tickets and got my hands on a pair, right before I left for NYC. Thank god!

The venue is a little small, but feels very intimate. I believe it sits around 500 people and every seat has a great view of the stage. The husband and I were sitting in the seventh row from the front, about 10 feet from the stage. All in all, an amazing spot to see an amazing show. This was especially nice, since the first time I saw Watson, I could barely see the stage through the huge crowds at Folkfest.

The opening act was Thus:Owls. Having never heard of them before, I was curious to see what these guys were all about. This Swedish/Canadian group definitely got the crowd warmed up. They performed a great set with some upbeat, yet raw music. You couldn't help but be captivated with the lead singer's vocals. Her vocals were haunting, yet beautiful. Her sound reminded me of a mix of Feist and Lykke Li, which is an ideal combo for me! I'm extremely pleased that I was able to discover this group and I will definitely be checking out their music in the near future.

Then Mr. Watson took the stage. The singer/songwriter from Montreal had the crowd captivated from the very first note. His band started with a rendition of "Lighthouse", a very beautiful and haunting song (also, a personal favourite of mine). Other songs that were performed included "A Big Bird in a Small Cage", "Noisy Sunday", "Adventures in Your Own Backyard" and "The Great Escape".

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Watson and his band are incredible musicians and seem to be having a great time on stage, which is captivating and rewarding as an audience member. For 2-3 songs, the whole bands comes together at the front of the stage, share a microphone, and sing "campfire" style. It was honestly beautiful to see.

You can just tell by watching his shows that Watson is a fun, happy guy. He genuinely enjoys performing and you cannot help but fall for this guy. He also seems quite at ease on the stage. He likes to interact with the crowd, sharing stories and anecdotes and get the audience to sing along with him. And at times, he left his piano and mic, approached the front of the stage and just sang to the crowd. His voice sounded like a whisper, and those moments are intimate and beautiful.

Overall, a fantastic performance (as I knew it would be), an intimate venue, and a whole lot of passion and enchantment.


Honestly, this guy is worth checking out. If you have not listened to Patrick Watson, grab one of his four albums (or all four) and let yourself go on a journey. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Review: Grizzly Bear @ Radio City Music Hall

One of the highlights of my recent trip to New York City was to check out a show at Radio City Music Hall.  During my stay in NYC, there were many shows playing, including Bon Iver and Metric. I was seriously considering going to see Metric, but I decided to go see a band that I hadn't previously seen live. So I decided to check out Grizzly Bear on September 24th.

Image courtesy of
I discovered Grizzly Bear a little over two years ago. Since then, I've been listening to their music on occasion. I would not call myself a huge fan of the group. However, I had taken a quick listen to the group's new album and was curious to check them out live. I am also really excited to check out Radio City Music Hall and see how it measured up as a concert venue.

The show's opening act was Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They put on a decent set. Some of the songs, I really enjoyed; some, not so much. Overall, not a bad opening act; I tend to be harsh when it comes to opening acts and I can be hard to impress.

There didn't seem to be many people in the venue at the beginning of the evening. However, once Grizzly Bear took the stage, the venue was absolutely packed. I feel like this show was pretty special one for the Brooklyn-based group. It definitely felt like a homecoming.

After they began their set with the first song, "Speak in Rounds ", lanterns began to float off the stage and light up. It was quite beautiful. For the rest of the set, the lanterns would float up and down, in various patterns (see pictures here to get an idea). The vocals of Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen were flawless and filled the room with such passion and vulnerability. I was sold!

The group played mostly songs from their latest album "Shields" (released September 18th of this year), including "Sleeping Ute", "A Simple Answer", "Gun-Shy", "Adelma", "Sun in Your Eyes" and "Yet Again" (a favourite of mine). They also played some old favourites, including "Two Weeks", "While You Wait for The Others", "Ready, Able", "Knife" and "On a Neck, On a Spit". The highlight of the entire show for me was definitely their performance of "The Foreground" (video below), which is my absolute favourite Grizzly Bear song.

Although Radio City Music Hall is a huge venue, the show felt incredibly intimate. Between songs, band members were thanking and acknowledging family members and friends that were in attendance. At one point,  one of the band members thanked his 91 year-old grandmother who traveled from Texas to see the show. He also apologized if the sound was too loud for her. Now that's adorable! The whole thing definitely felt like a family affair.

The venue was fantastic. The sound was absolutely impeccable. Overall, the show was absolutely amazing. I am really happy that I decided to attend. Also, my husband, who had never listened to Grizzly Bear before, really enjoyed the show. That's a win for me!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Review: Dragonette "Bodyparts"

Me & Martina @ Bluesfest
I am a huge Dragonette fan. Although I have only been listening to their material since 2009, I am still a huge supporter of this Canadian electro-pop group and I've seen them live three times so far in the last three years.

The group's performances are always very fun and energetic. The last show I saw them play was at this year's Bluesfest. During their set, they played a lot of new material, which was great. Later that evening, I was lucky enough to meet Martina, the band's lead singer. She was an absolute sweetheart and it was so nice chatting with her. It was definitely a highlight for me this year.

Image courtesy of
Dragonette's third album, "Bodyparts", will be available starting September 25th. This week, Hype Machine was featuring the album before its release date so I jumped at the opportunity to listen.

"Bodyparts" is a really fun album. The band doesn't seem to have taken itself too seriously this time around. However, in terms of production value, it doesn't measure up to its predecessor "Fixin to Thrill". I was a bit disappointed, since I felt that this album did not sound as polished as their first two albums. Then again, I was listening to it on computer speakers. Once I get the album in my hands, maybe the sound will come through better and blow my socks off.

In my opinion, the opening track "Run Run Run" and the closing track "Ghost" are two of the weakest songs on the album and seem like an odd choice to me. The track "Ghost" sounds like an entirely different band. Martina's vocals sound so different, which is a bit off putting.

Tracks that stand out on "Bodyparts" include "Live in this City", "Let It Go", "Right Woman", & "My Work is Done". These tracks are great, upbeat, and remain true to the Dragonette sound, which is really important to fans like myself.

Overall, "Bodyparts" is a good, fun, solid album. I enjoyed listening to it, but the album did not grab me as much as the first two did.


Dragonette just released their new video for "Live in this City" today. Martina's hair looks absolutely fantastic! Also, I am loving the denim on denim. Actually, I am loving every single thing about this video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Folkfest: Day 4

On fourth day of this year's Folkfest, the line-up was just as exciting as the first day. The day was just as cold as day 3, but not as wet.

We headed to Hogs' Back Park around 6pm to check out Said the Whale. I was excited to check out the band again, after seeing them open for Tokyo Police Club two years back.

I walked around the festival grounds for about an hour, waiting for my next scheduled show.

I had been waiting anxiously to see Patrick Watson live at Folkfest. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch him at Osheaga this year. After taking a listening to his first album, "Just Another Ordinary Day", I knew this guy was the real deal.

To say that I was blown away is an understatement. His voice is so stunning and so haunting. His band sounds absolutely phenomenal live. The entire crowd was completely captivated by the performance. The band members on stage seemed to genuinely be having a good time. Although there was a huge crowd, the show felt very intimate. At one point, I looked up at the sky. It was clear and all the stars were visible. At that moment, everything was just beautiful.

Finally, the lovely and adorable Dan Mangan took the main stage. Although Patrick Watson was a hard act to follow, Dan Mangan did a great job and put on a great show. The highlight of his show was when he performed the song "Robots". He grabbed a tambourine, left the stage and went into the crowd. He grabbed a few fans who were sporting robot heads and brought them on stage while the rest of us were singing "Robots need love too. They want to be loved by you". Check out a video of some of the action:

All in all, a fantastic line-up and a great evening at Folkfest.


On the last day of Folkfest, Bon Iver and Hey Rosetta! were playing. I decided to give my ticket to a friend of mine, as I felt I needed a break. Also, staying at home in the warmth was kinda nice.

House of PainT Festival: Putting Hip Hop in the Spotlight

Originally published on Couch Assassin

Next week-end, hip hop enthusiasts in the Ottawa area will gather for House of PainT (HoP). Known as Canada’s Hip Hop festival, House of PainT will be celebrating its ninth anniversary this year. According to Rob Reid, who is responsible for Development, Media and Marketing for the festival, people who have never attended the festival will be amazed. "Picture 200 artists from all disciplines, like graffiti, DJs, MCs, and a Bboy / Bgirl breakdance battle, all participating in our Main EvenT 4-disciplines of Hip Hop jam," adds Reid. "It's the most explosive cultural event in the city."

Compared to other hip hop festivals, HoP is committed to building up Ottawa's local scene; thus, the reason behind this year's theme, 'BuilDing'. "We are building on the success of past years," says Reid, "and building deeper relationships and partnerships within our community, and building a more sustainable cultural economy for urban artists to live and work - right here in Ottawa." House of PainT is a non-profit organization and registered charity that is entirely run by volunteers.

This year's festival has a great line-up of events scheduled. Among these events is a photo exhibit entitled "Sites Unseen". The works of five selected photographers, focusing on the changing visual landscape of a city in transition, will be presented at Fall Down Gallery.
Thursday, September 13th @ Fall Down Gallery, 8pm-1am, by donation.

House of PainT will also feature a spoken word poetry competition, where 12 top ranking poets will compete. The power will be in the audience's hands, as they will be deciding who will reign in this never before seen slam style competition. Special guest judge MAESTRO FRESH WES will be in attendance. This event is not to be missed!
Friday, September 14th @ Shopify (126 York St), 7-10pm, $10.

On September 15, HoP will hold the Main EvenT, a 4-disciplines of Hip Hop jam. The event will take place under Dunbar Bridge at the site of one of Canada's largest legal graffiti walls (at Brewer Park - beside the Rideau River and Carleton University) starting at noon. The event promotes the four disciplines of Hip Hop and will feature DJs, MCs, Graf writers, and an explosive Bboy / Bgirl breakdance battle. In addition, various workshops will be available for youth on breakdancing, rapping, DJing and graffiti art as well as an artist market with many local artists and artisans. This event is free and for people of all ages.
Saturday, September 15 @ Under Dunbar Bridge, starts at 12pm, Free for all ages.

With the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation, HoP is presenting its first Concert Under the Bridge on Sunday, September 16. This event will also take place under Dunbar Bridge. This year's all-star, all-Canadian line-up includes Shad, Maestro Fresh Wes, Kid Koala, Flight Distance, Masia One, Radio Radio, D-Track, Atherton, with DJs Magnficent and Killah Karyen. A limited number of advanced tickets are available for sale online.
Sunday, September 16 @ Under Dunbar Bridge, 12-7pm, $20.

For more information on House of PainT, please visit

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Folkfest: Day 3

Day 3 of Ottawa Folk Festival was a wet one. A wet and cold one. Being the practical gal that I am, I took out my bright blue rain boots and my parka and headed to Hogs' Back Park.

After a friend introduced me to them, I've come to really enjoy the music of the Great Lake Swimmers. I was really excited to hear that they were playing at Folkfest. I really enjoyed their set.

Afterwards, LP was playing at the Ravenlaw stage. I made a point to check out her show, although I had never heard of her. A few friends of mine said she was great, so I thought it might be worth while to stick around.

Am I ever glad I stuck around! LP was absolutely phenomenal! The power behind that voice is out of this world. She put on a very fun and energetic show. By far, the best discovery of Folkfest!

While LP was playing at the Ravenlaw stage, Yukon Blonde was rocking out on the Tartan Homes stage. Although it was really tempting to leave LP and go check them out,  I decided to stay at the Ravenlaw stage. I did have a chance to catch Yukon Blonde's last two songs. There was a nice crowd gathered at the stage and people were sharing great feedback on the band's performance.

The headliner that evening was Great Big Sea. After a few hours in the cold and wet weather, I felt ready to head home. Overall, day 3 was fantastic and I was pleased.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Folkfest: Day 2 + Julie Doiron & the Wrong Guys

Day 2 of the Ottawa Folk Festival was a (very) short one for me. Not only was I exhausted, I also found out that one of my close friends, who currently lives in Toronto, was in town.

I headed to Hogs' Back Park and checked out Timber Timbre. It was the only show I was interested in checking out.

The show was great. Lead man Taylor Kirk showed up on stage solo, with a blues guitar and a bass drum. The show was really intimate and it sounded fantastic. I wasn't very familiar with Timber Timbre's material but this was definitely a good introduction.

Afterwards, the headliner was Lindsey Buckingham, of Fleetwood Mac. I had planned on staying for a bit, and checking out a few songs. However, when the opportunity to catch up with a good friend presented itself, I took advantage of it.

After grabbing a few drinks with my friend and her fiancé, I headed towards downtown to meet my husband and his friends at Café Dekcuf, where Julie Doiron & the Wrong Guys were playing. I was lucky enough to be able to catch the last few songs from their set and Julie's (solo) encore at the end.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The band is comprised of Julie, Eamon McGrath, and two members of Cancer Bats. They sounded really good. It's too bad that there weren't more people in attendance. 

Seeing as Julie and I share the same name (or most of it), I joked with my friends that I needed to confront her about this. One of Gaston's friend is a good friend with Julie's manager. She introduced us and told him that Julie and I had the same name. Once he heard that, he grabbed me and introduced me to Julie. It was a bit awkward right at first, as she seemed confused when her manager told her that I was Julie Doiron too. Once we started chatting, everything was great. She is such a sweet girl. I really enjoyed talking to her. She totally won me over with her performance and her nice personality.

Overall, it was a good night of music.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Ottawa Folk Festival: Day 1

The Ottawa Folk Festival began last night on a high note. Although I've attended shows at Folkfest for the past two years, this year is the first time that I decided to get a full festival pass.

Day 1 had the best lineup of the festival, in my opinion. At the very least, it was the lineup that I was most excited to see.

Although my friend and I attempted to make it to Hog's Back Park to check out Matt Mays at 7pm, parking was nearly impossible to find. When we finally arrived, Matt Mays was ending his set. I wasn't bothered by this, seeing as I've seen Matt Mays before. However, we were right on time to catch the next act!

Matthew Good was the artist that I absolutely needed to see yesterday. Although it's been less than a year since the last time I've seen him live, he had announced that he would be playing a solo acoustic set. I was thrilled when I heard this news. During his "Hospital Music" tour, he played a solo acoustic set and it was the best Matt Good show I had seen so far.

This show did not disappoint! Matt played a great set and was unordinarily talkative and social with the audience, most likely as a result of alcohol intake. At one point, he referred to himself as a "Gin Snob" since the kind he was drinking was "cheap". At the beginning of the show, I was thinking that this might annoy me during the show. However, it was hard to be annoyed when he was playing such great material!

He performed acoustic versions of most of my favorite songs, including "Surburbia", "While We Were Hunting Rabbits", "Strange Days", "Avalanche" and "99% of Us is Failure". Unfortunately, he did not play any songs from his most recent album "Lights of Endangered Species", which I can understand would be challenging for him to do acoustically, seeing as there are so many instruments used in the album. He also didn't play anything from his album "Vancouver", which was a bit disappointing as well.

Overall, an amazing performance by Matt Good. Everyone in the audience seemed pleased, although I don't think that most of them knew that he was not playing with a full band. The most important thing is that I knew and was excited about it and my expectations were definitely met.

The headliner that evening was Ben Harper. I am a huge fan of his and I have seen him live twice at Bluesfest. When he began his set at Folkfest, I quickly realized that he would be playing solo as well, which I found very exciting.

During this set, Ben played many different instruments, including vibraphone, piano, ukulele and guitars, both electric and acoustic.

Ben played a lot of great songs from his older albums, including "Burn One Down", "Diamonds on the Inside", "Not Fire, Not Ice", "Forever", and "Walk Away".

At the end of his set, Ben shared with the crowd the story of when he met the late Jeff Buckley. As a tribute to him, he played a cover of "Hallelujah", which was absolutely raw and filled with so much emotion. I was brought to tears. By far the highlight of the night for me.

Overall, it was a really beautiful performance that felt quite intimate. I was very impressed and I really enjoyed it. However, it seemed like most of the crowd had left early and the few people who were still there during Ben Harper's performance were not interested in listening to his music, which is very unfortunate. Some people can't recognize talent/good music even when it's slapping them in the face.

Tonight is day 2 of Folkfest. Let's see how many shows I have the energy to catch!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Review: "Your Sister's Sister"

**Note that this is my first movie review. You've been warned**

File:Your Sister's Sister poster.jpg
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
This past week-end, I went to see "Your Sister's Sister" at the Bytowne. After seeing the trailer, and since I am a huge fan of Emily Blunt, I really wanted to see this film. In addition, the film received good reviews at TIFF.

Emily Blunt plays Iris, whose friend Jack (Mark Duplass) is having a hard time getting over his brother's death. She sends him to stay at her family's remote cabin. Upon his arrival, Jack discovers that Iris' sister Hannah is already staying at the cabin.

After an awkward meeting, Jack and Hannah end up drinking together then having a drunk sexual encounter. Iris shows up the next morning and things begin to unravel.

The relationship between the sisters is magical and it makes you want to join their family. The dynamic between all three characters is quite interesting to watch and their relationship progresses in an unusual way.

Mark Duplass and Rosemarie Dewitt were both unknowns to me. However, both their performances were outstanding. Dewitt definitely steals the show in the film. The actress (who starred alongside Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married") did a phenomenal job as Blunt's sister. Blunt is a pleasure to watch, as usual. Duplass does a great job as Jack, a guy unable to find himself and figure out his life after losing his brother a year earlier. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Duplass actually co-wrote and co-directed the film "Jeff Who Lives at Home", another great film that is worth checking out.

Overall, "Your Sister's Sister" is a cute, light-hearted comedy. The performances are great and the film had some really funny moments. The ending wasn't quite what I was expecting but it can still be considered a good ending. All in all, this film is worth checking out.