Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Saint Clare's EP Release Will Rawk

Originally published on Couch Assassin.

Every year, local community radio stations hold funding drives, including CKCU. As part of this year's CKCU funding drive, many sponsored events will take place between October 25 and November 10.

Indie City Madness, a radio show aired every second Tuesday from 5pm to 6pm on CKCU, is hosting 1 Night All Rawk 4: Fun-D CKCU on October 26 at Avant Garde Bar. During this event, many local bands will be performing, including the Apollohs, Tindervox, and Kings Quest, with DJ Eight Cubed from Toronto. The headlining act is Saint Clare, who will be celebrating the release of their EP "Half Holy".

Couch Assassin's very own Julie Cormier-Doiron had the chance to speak to Matthew Clare, singer and guitarist of Saint Clare, to discuss the band's history, their favourites venues and their ideal tourmates.

Couch Assassin: Tell me about the band. How did you all come together to play music? Did you know each other beforehand?

Matthew Clare: Two of the band members are from my former band, the Shakey Aches. Brad Sheffield, who also plays in Loon Choir, played with me in a few bands prior to Loon Choir - The Art Burn and a band that would eventually become Loon Choir (we joke now I was actually Loon Choir for a few days before breaking off to eventually play more punk/garage stuff with The Shakey Aches). Morgan (sax) was a Punk Ottawa ad find and Neil (violin) was brought to my attention through a mutual friend. We started playing as Saint Clare about a year ago and seemed to add members every couple months until we finished recording the EP.

The idea behind Saint Clare is somewhat that I just got tired of playing in "bands." After 10 years of playing in different bands and seeing people come and go for whatever reason, I just wanted a name to record under for the rest of my life - it's a nod to some of my favorite singer-songwriters in that regard: Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. I wanted a way to put out songs I'm writing with lasting power, regardless of who was contributing, playing behind me, or the type of music we were playing.

CA: Tell me about your EP. How long did it take to record?

MC: Way too long [laughs]. We started in April and would have been done in April had we not added sax and violin to the band. The songs have been finished for the last couple months while we put together merch (CDs/tapes) and PR plans. The EP's formal release is October 22 and we're looking forward to headlining the CKCU fundraiser 1 Night All Rawk 4 at Avant Garde on October 26 to celebrate the release.

CA: What other projects are the band members involved with?

MC: I have a long running side project band with a few friends from London and Toronto (Ontario) called Slut Kickin' Fist Mother. Brad plays in Loon Choir and Richard (guitar) plays in a bunch of bands: Mercy Buckets, Chautauqua and Casey Comeau & The Halfmilers.

CA: What are some of your favourite venues to play in Ottawa and why? Is there a venue that you haven't played that you would like to?

MC: Babylon - cause it's always really rowdy. Mavericks/ Café Dekcuf - cause the Spectrasonic guys are just pro and are super great to work with. Avant Garde - cause it's easy to pack. My last band had a dream to record and play a show at Academic Hall at the University. It's one of the oldest theatres in town. I'd still love to make that come true one day!

CA: What's the best part about playing live shows?

MC: I like to believe I give my all to performing, so it's really cathartic for me. I usually end up sweaty, shirtless, and if it's cold enough, steaming outside after the show and that usually is worth a few laughs. In all seriousness though, seeing people connecting with the music and vocals and channeling the energy is the best part. I'm not playing "sit down" or "jazz lounge" type music [laughs].

CA: Can you name some of the bands you've opened for and/or played with in the past? In an ideal world, who would you like to tour with?

MC: So far, we've played a basement house party with Derek from Loon Choir's side project Ballad Fiasco, opened for Loon Choir in Brockville, and opened for Eamon McGrath at Raw Sugar Café. Ideal touring bands would be Islands (of Montreal) or any of the bands from the Elephant 6 Collective - that I'm totally obsessed with (Beulah, Apples in Stereo, The Minders, Neutral Milk Hotel, etc.) Oh yeah, and Kelley Stoltz, cause he's rad.

CA: Why should people attend your EP release at Avant-Garde Bar?

MC: Well, there's no lack of great shows in town this coming Saturday, but I think we've definitely got one of the most diverse lineups in town that night and with CKCU being one of the best radio stations in town, we're definitely the best show in town on Saturday for the best cause!

You can catch Saint Clare at Avant Garde Bar on October 26. Their EP "Half Holy" can be streamed online at http://www.saintclareband.com/.

1 Night All Rawk 4: Fun-D CKCU
October 26, 2013
Avant Garde Bar

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Taking Love and Energy to Another Level

Originally published on Couch Assassin.

Elevate {LOVE} brings two unique events to Ottawa in support of a great community organization. The two events are the brainchild of Sheri Chiprout. Originally from Ottawa, Chiprout lives in Centertown and likes to practice yoga in her spare time. She also likes to organize events that are creative and that promote a healthy lifestyle. Her latest endeavour is Elevate {LOVE}.

The gala event will take place at the Mercury Lounge on October 17. Local queen Eva Darling will be hosting and DJ Acro will be spinning beats. The event will also include burlesque and hula hoop performances, as well as tarot card readings. During the evening, attendees can contribute to the live art wall, led by Kate Durie. There is a raffle with a lot of great prizes from local businesses. Although the evening is called a gala, Chiprout says that it will be more like a fun party with lots of fun elements.

And don't forget yoga! According to Chiprout, yoga is fundamental, because “it raises good energy”. The following month, on November 24, the yoga event will take place at the Orange Art Gallery. The event will feature an acro yoga demonstration, a flow yoga session and as well as well a led mediation. Everyone in attendance will received gift bags, featuring products from Lush and other prizes that can be won.

Chiprout couldn't picture holding the gala anywhere other than Mercury Lounge. “I've been going [there] for many years; it's such a wonderful space.” She was looking for something different for the yoga event. Finally, she found the right venue. “Orange Art Gallery is such a cool, unique space. It’s perfect for this event.”

Chiprout did not want to combine the two events because they are two separate experiences. She also did not want to hold the two events too close together. “In my experience, if you plan two things in one weekend, you're risking people not wanting to do both in case you're take up their entire weekend,” explained Chiprout. “They're two different communities, so I can treat them as two separate events.” Despite being separate, both events are creative and have a connection to yoga.

The idea behind these events is to bring good energy and awareness, and raise funds for Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC). According to Chiprout, elevating love is about empowerment and bringing good energy to a cause that is deserving of attention. “This year, I was looking for a way to give back to the community in the best way that I felt that I could,” she explained. After doing research on women's causes and organizations that work to end violence against women, Chiprout discovered SASC. The centre is a feminist collective entirely run by volunteers. “SASC empowers women because it supports them by offering them choices,” said Chiprout. The centre offers various support groups and runs a 24 hour crisis line, in addition to offering other services.

Beyond the fact that it's a wonderful cause, Sheri has worked hard to bring together great performances and entertainment that are sure to please everyone. Check out Elevate {LOVE} and support an amazing community organization while having a great time.

Elevate {LOVE} Gala
@ Mercury Lounge
Thursday, October 17, 2013
$30 advance $40 at the door

Elevate {LOVE} Yoga
@ Orange Art Gallery
Sunday, November 24, 2013
$25 advance $30 at the door

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Review: Nine Inch Nails @ Bell Centre

I discovered the music of Nine Inch Nails in a very interesting way: at one of their live shows. Some friends of mine had two extra tickets and had asked my partner and I to go. I wasn't remotely interested but my partner told me to shut up and take it. At that point, I assumed that if my partner liked it, it was heavy metal, and at that point, I avoided listening to metal like the plague.

That show blew my mind, and I've been a huge NIN fan ever since. I didn't expect that I would be able to see them in concert again, so I was thrilled when i heard they were coming to the Bell Centre.

Their latest album "Hesitation Marks" was released in September, and their "Tensions" tour is in support of the new record. Therefore, you have to expect that some new material will be played at the shows. However, the show at the Bell Centre was announced before the new album came out.

So last Thursday, we drove to Montreal to check out the show. I was really excited. My expectations for this show were quite high...

The show started off with the first track of the new album, "Copy of a". They played more songs off the new album, such as "All Time Low", "Disappointed" and "Came Back Hunted". They played some old favourites too, including "Terrible Lie", "March of the Pigs", "Piggy" and "Head Like a Hole".

A few moments stood out for me. The band performed "Find My Way", a song off the new album. It was a really beautiful performance. It felt intimate and the visual effects were stunning. The band played "The Hand That Feeds", one of my absolute favourite songs. I was thrilled! Finally, the last song of the encore was "Hurt", which is an absolutely heartbreaking and beautiful song. Well done!

Overall, I enjoyed the show. However, I can understand why some fans might have been disappointed. If you did not like the band's new album, then you most likely did not like this show... My partner sure didn't. And although I did enjoy the show, I was disappointed that they did not play more material from the album "With Teeth" (my favourite). And their last show I saw was so brilliant that this time around, it did not quite measure up.

Check out the video below of NIN's performance of "Find My Way" this summer at the Fuji Rock Festival. Enjoy!

Checking Out Irene's Pub

This past weekend, I went to Irene's Pub to check out bands for the very first time. I had been at Irene's once before with some friends to grab some brunch. However, I knew it was about time I checked out this local musical hot spot.

On Sunday, we went to Irene's to check out Dang Guilty. This trio plays an awesome mix of rockabilly, country and bluegrass music. It's entertaining as hell! Make sure to check them out next Sunday!

Earlier that week-end, I checked out Miss Polygamy and Garden of Weeds at Irene's. Before that, I hit up Ribtoberfest on Sparks street, where Ilvekyo was playing a free show. James, who plays the stand up bass with Dan Guilty also plays with this group. I first saw Ilvekyo on the rooftop of Jack Pine this summer.

I really liked Irene's and I will definitely be back. You can check Dang Guilty every Sunday at Irene's for the month of October. See you at Irene's!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

September in a Nutshell

Can't believe that September is already over! I've been insanely busy this month at work, and in my personal life. Despite the craziness, I still managed to have fun and see some great shows... I was just too busy to sit down and blog about it!

So here's the month of September in a Nutshell:
  • At the beginning of the month, I went to the Ottawa Folk Festival to cover some shows for Sors-tu. I saw some good shows and discovered some great bands, including the Avett Brothers and Matt Andersen. Truth to told, I was disappointed that Neil Young cancelled and I would not have gone to this year's festival if I wasn't on assignment.
  • For the first time, I checked out a show at Raw Sugar Café. Although I'd been to Raw Sugar many times, I had never seen a live show there. When I heard that Eamon McGrath was playing there, I was really excited. I saw McGrath play two years ago at Zaphod's and I really enjoyed the show. This time around, McGrath played a lot of new material. The setting was quite intimate, and it was so enjoyable to see McGrath rocking out in the middle of the living room type space at Raw Sugar. Overall, it was a great show and I was lucky enough to meet a lot of people and even chat with McGrath afterwards.
  •  After seeing the poster, I decided that I wanted to check out indie group Braids at Ritual Nightclub. Yep, I often look at posters and I can just tell whether or not I would like an artist/group. Also, my girl Elly invited me to check it out with her. I was really impressed with the group, and I enjoyed the show very much. Their sound reminded me of Purity Rings, a group I really enjoy. The group recently released their second album "Flourish // Perish". Go get it now!
  •  I participated in festivities in celebration of the 2nd annual Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau, a "dusk-until-dawn celebration of Contemporary Art and local culture that takes place across multiple venues". This year's theme was SUPERNOVA! Many spaces (both physical and outdoor) hosted events, shows or art installations as part of Nuit Blanche. I loved it! Although it was raining, we had a blast. Starting at 1am, we started our trek in the Byward Market and stopped at the Ottawa School of Art, the SAINT-LAURENT+HILL GALLERY, Upward Dog Yoga studio, Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts (which is a church!), la Petite Mort Gallery and Saw Gallery. There were some really interesting projects on display. I really enjoyed the video installations at the church. By far my favourite of the evening (or morning). We also got to see a short theater performance taking place in the jail cell in the basement of the Arts Court building. Overall, I really enjoyed seeing people at the different spots, participating in these events. It's obvious to me that people in Ottawa love and support culture in our city! Next year, take a nap in the afternoon and stay up all night so you can be part of Nuit Blanche!
  • Last weekend, my friends and I went to check out Greg McEvoy at Avant-Garde Bar for the release of this EP "Sea of Yards". A singer/songwriter based in Toronto, McEvoy is a nice, down to earth guy. I had met him previously and saw him play on the rooftop of JackPine earlier this summer. Since then, I've kept him on my radar. He played an acoustic set that summer afternoon on the rooftop so it was refreshing to see him play with a full band. The show also included performances by Danielle Knibbe, Brittanny Kwasnick and Papermaps. It sounded like entirely new material. The show was really fun, and Avant-Garde was the perfect venue!
So that sums up my September... At least what I remember of it! Looking back at what I did, it reminds how I truly love this city and what it has to offer.

I wish you all a great October!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Review: Matthew Good "Arrows of Desire"

Image courtesy of hmv.ca
It's no secret: I love Matthew Good. His music has been part of my life for a long time, and I've seen him live half a dozen times. His music just knows how to cut me and make me bleed from my insides out. It even inspired my last tattoo. There's just something about it...

Good's latest album "Arrows of Desire" was released on September 24. This is his sixth solo studio album, since Matthew Good Band was disbanded.

His previous album "Lights of Endangered Species" was very experimental. I know many die hard Matthew Good fans that did not like that album. In my case, I really enjoyed the album and thought it was quite a breakthrough for Good. The album included a lot more instrumental and orchestral elements to it, and the structure of the songs was a bit different than his other albums. To me, it was refreshing and very creative.

Overall, "Arrows of Desire" is a really good album. The sound is very reminiscent of Matthew Good back in the early 2000's. Matt Good fans who did not like "Lights of Endangered Species" will most likely love this album. It screams classic Matthew Good.

For me, a few songs mostly stand out in  "Arrows of Desire", mostly "Garden of Knives", "Guns of Carolina" and "Via Dolorosa".

In my books, Matthew Good can do no wrong. I'll be a fan of his forever. Did you get your hands on "Arrows of Desire"? What's your favourite song off the album?

Check out the video below for the song "Guns of Carolina". Enjoy!