News Podcast

Ep. #311: Robbie Fulks

Robbie Fulks is a brilliant singer and songwriter who is based just outside of Chicago, Illinois. His latest album is Upland Stories, which was nominated for two Grammy Awards at the 2017 ceremony, and was released by Bloodshot Records where it earned its spot on ‘best of 2016’ album lists compiled by Rolling Stone, NPR, the Guardian, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and more. Upland Stories is certainly a favourite around my house so I made an effort to connect with Robbie recently and he and I discussed things like the way people listen to music and each other these days, his interest in the Second City and teaching Tina Fey how to play guitar, talking with Trump people, working with Steve Albini for almost 20 years, seeing Bruno Mars and Beyoncé live at the Grammys ceremony, what the word ‘schmoz” means, and much, more. Sponsored by the Bookshelf, Pizza Trokadero, and Planet Bean Coffee.

News Podcast

Ep. #123: Bahamas

Afie Jurvanen is a gifted musician and songwriter who works under the tropical moniker Bahamas. Jurvanen has been an in-demand guitarist who has worked with Feist, the Weather Station, and Zeus among others. He has released three records of his signature folk-tinged rock over the past five years, earning a broad fanbase and award nominations and critical acclaim along the way. His latest album is called Bahamas is Afie, which is out now via Universal Music Canada, and it’s prompted him to tour across the U.S. and Canada over the coming months including a stop at Riverfest Elora on Friday August 22. Here, Afie and I discuss wearing shorts on stage (S.O.S.), Thrush Hermit rules and Joel Plaskett’s legs, the assertively explanatory title of his new album, the lush production of Bahamas is Afie, Don Kerr and the Rooster, distinctive musical chameleons like Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Beck, that moment where you think of an idea, hope in sad songs, Willie Nelson, wanting to name your hypothetical unborn child Owen, choosing music over sports, social hobbies, going your own way when pushed by your parents, moving to Toronto from Barrie and making friends in a music community, grade 13/OAC, the Miami Heat, Chris Bosh, Fantastic Pop festival in Windsor, Afie’s early band Paso Mino with members of Zeus, Jason Collett, competition and ambition in music, contemporary cultural consumption and metrics, how artists are adapting to the new face of the music business, we are the product, Peter Elkas is under-appreciated, the Aretha Franklin chugging Diet Coke in a golf cart before kicking ass at the Grammys story, playing in a rainstorm at a festival in PEI, the pros and cons of making and promoting music, opening up a laundromat, how to do your laundry, Michael P. Clive’s cooking show and Afie’s unreleased instrumental music for it, making the Weather Station’s new album in France, being added to Riverfest Elora at the last minute, Jason Tait of the Weakerthans, the song “Waves,” and then the heat is off.

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I hop on the “I liked Arcade Fire first” bandwagon late… was quoted in a Guelph Mercury article today about the association between Guelph and Arcade Fire. In the wake of their Grammy win this past Sunday night, there’s been plenty of discussion about this band that “stole” a major award from Eminem and Lady Gaga. There are some people who don’t even know who they are when really, they’ve been hugely popular for close to six years now (i.e. they’ve played SNL twice, debuted at #1 on Billboard, have played sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, been on Letterman and Conan, opened for U2, performed publicly with David Byrne, David Bowie, and Bruce Springsteen, collaborated with major filmmakers, and been nominated for Grammys before, etc.). Any way, it’s also sparked a weird ownership discussion about the band among their fans and some media outlets–a kind of entitled, “We knew about them before they were huge and won a Grammy” line of thought I suppose. It’s all a bunch of noise really but now I’ve got myself caught up in it.

This morning, because of the Merc piece,  I began to reflect on my own association with the band and found some links to some of the earliest pieces I wrote about them. I’m sharing them below, not because I feel I’m owed anything or want any kinda cred for my efforts (which include paying attention to things and trying to articulate my feelings about them, and aren’t all that astounding, I realize). It’s just a kinda scrapbooking exercise I suppose. When I first saw Arcade Fire open for Broken Social Scene and Royal City at La Sala Rossa in Montreal in December 2002, it was a fluke that I was even there (RC often brought me on tour with them) but still, I knew they were something else. And now I’m feeling nostalgic about that era for the band and myself too, sure.

I’m nothing but ecstatic and pleased by all of this band’s success, not because I know them vaguely or was lucky enough to share stages with them when they first played Ontario or that I was able to write about their music when few others had the chance to. The fact is, they’re really one of the best bands in the world and they’ve been remarkably poised, composed, and grounded in the face of what I can only imagine is a freakish amount of pressure and scrutiny. They’re really great people making amazing music and I’m proud to have gotten to know them over the years.

So yeah, here are some links to things I’ve written about Arcade Fire since 2003. Enjoy.

A Nathan Lawr article that references AF’s first Guelph show in July 2003, which I organized.

A September 2003 review I wrote about their first EP.

A Unicorns/Arcade Fire combo piece for their first Hillside appearance in July 2004.

Funeral review, 2004.

And a preview piece on their 2005 appearance at Hillside.

And interview/reviews of Neon Bible and The Suburbs for Exclaim!