2016, Side B

hervana-dec-ottawa-poster-v1

The second half of 2016 has been fun! Hervana played a load of really cool shows, including a Nevermind 25th Anniversary show, two December Bashes (where we played our annual 6 Degrees of Nirvana set, gave out loot bags and raised money for two Girls Rock Camps) and our first-ever show in Kingston. (Kingston friends, you were so lovely and cool that it made it driving in a blizzard worth it.)

Given all that, I haven’t had time to write up my list of the best albums of the year, but I did create a playlist of some of my favourite jams of 2016. (Missing is everything on the masterpiece that is Lemonade because it’s not on Spotify.)

Up Next

Just got back from Hervana’s east coast tour of Charlottetown, Halifax, Fredericton and Saint John, which was a blast. What a beautiful place with great people.

Next up, we’re playing Nerd Noise Night in September. We played last year and it was a delight so we’re excited to be back. Details and ticket links can be found here.

We also have something really fun in the works for later in September, which I can’t talk about yet, except to say that it’s going to be cool…

Music was pretty cool in 2015

I haven’t written on this blog in ages, oops! Here’s a post about my favourite albums and shows and songs of 2015.

#7 – Iris – Distance
All of the best bands in Toronto right now are female-fronted and Iris is one of them. For fans of floaty melodies and Slowdive.

#6 – Girlpool – Before The World Was Big
I wish this album had been around when I was 19.

Bonus: Chelle and I went to see Girlpool earlier this year and we met Ryan Hemsworth there which was just a DELIGHT because we are co-presidents of the “Queer Girls 4 Hemmy” fanclub.

#5 Carly Rae Jepsen – Emotion
Sales of this album were criminally low and I don’t know what the hell is wrong with everyone. Oh I’m sorry, you don’t like 15 epic pop choruses tied together by 1986-by-way-of-2015 synths? You ding dongs.

When I have 5 minute of spare time, I’m starting a band called Carly Raeannon Jepsen that exclusively performs pop-punk covers of CRJ songs.

#4 – Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love
A lot of bands have been cashing in on reunion tours lately but Sleater-Kinney was like, “You know what? Here’s a reunion tour AND the best album we’ve ever made.”

Plus I almost cried at their show when they played “Get Up.”

#3 Dilly Dally – Sore
Refer back to what I said in item #7. Dilly Dally gets a lot of comparisons to Nirvana and The Pixies and sure, ok, but there is an importance to what they do that Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz articulated perfectly: “Screaming over heavy guitars has for so long signified a male-oriented narrative. It’s exciting and radical to hear that sound reclaimed by so many artists this year to tell stories in which women and non-binary people are the protagonists—thereby normalizing our status as songwriters in this genre.”

#2 Foxing – Dealer
I fell in love with Foxing at a basement show before their first album came out. Since then they’ve toured their asses off and become one of my all-time favourite bands. This meant I had very high expectations for this album. I almost had to have a little lie down on the floor after they put out a one minute album teaser.

So lucky for me, Dealer had songs like this:

#1 The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmlessness
This album is so good that a music writer suggested he was going to write a list of the 150 moments on it he’s most thankful for and that didn’t seem like hyperbole. This album is so good that last weekend I drove 4 1/2 hours to Ithaca see TWIABP and Foxing and dragged along 3 non-emo (revival) fans who all ended up buying t-shirts and hoodies. They had four guitarists on stage and I henceforth demand nothing less.

This album is so good that is has a song based on the true story of a woman who exacted murderous revenge on rapist bus drivers. Through numerous changeups, it proclaims “I am revenge / I am several women” and ends by promising to “make evil afraid of evil’s shadow.” Top that, other albums.

Hervana in Toronto

I’ve been delinquent about updating this site because I’ve been busy with band stuff this past year. Oops! We’re an all-female Nirvana cover band, appropriately named Hervana.

On June 13th, we’ll be playing at Smiling Buddha – it’s our first Toronto show since January (save for a very fun one night only stint covering The Constantines at Wavelength). We’re playing with a whole bunch of rad bands – check out the FB event for all of the details.

 

June 13 poster

 

Indie Series Awards

ISAMarquee

I headed to Los Angeles last week for the 5th annual Indie Series Awards, where I was nominated in the Best Soundtrack category for my work as Music Supervisor for LESlieVILLE.

I didn’t win, but I was pretty honoured to be among heavy hitters like Hustling, Bloomers, the winner Professional Friend (which is HILARIOUS) and Toronto’s own Out With Dad. I was proud to see so many Toronto-based series a) nominated and b) win their categories, including Aaron Tsang for Best Original Score. Toronto has an amazing web series scene and it was fantastic to see it recognized.

As this IWCC blog post notes: “While there have been a smattering of quality LGBT dramas or characters on TV over the years, it is in web series where they are flourishing. In the Greater Toronto Area alone we have: Out with Dad, BJ Fletcher, LESlieVILLE, Gay Nerds, Who the Fuck is Nancy, Simple Events and Boystown.”

Toronto’s music talent is equally amazing and I have to give huge thanks to the fantastic artists who let me use their music in LESlieVILLEBonjay, Phedre, Warm Myth and Emma McKenna – as well as KidKulit, who composed the original score components.

Until next time, LA!

An award nomination!

Last year, I was the Music Supervisor for a Toronto-based web series called LESlieVILLE. I put together a soundtrack with some of my own music, some original score by KidKulit and some music by Bonjay, Emma McKenna, Warm Myth and Phedre. I was pretty pleased with the result and it turns out some other people were too – I’ve been nominated for Best Soundtrack at the Indie Series Awards!

The awards happen on April 2nd in LA. It’s a (far-fetched, I thought) secret dream of mine to get to do an acceptance speech at an awards show. I don’t know why. So hopefully A) I will win! and B) I’ll find a way to make it to LA for the ceremony. Cross your fingers!

The Best Albums of 2013, According to Me

If you’re on Rdio and don’t feel like reading all of these words, I made a playlist of my faves from these albums.

Paramore – Paramore
This is an almost perfect album and I listened to it more than anything else this year. There’s straight-ahead pop-punk, but also ukulele interludes and a closing track that ventures into Explosions in the Sky territory. And then there’s “Ain’t It Fun,” the #1 song of 2013, hands down. It all fits together, somehow, into a cohesive package. Throw out your preconceptions of Paramore and listen to this album. You’ll be missing out otherwise.

Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
This album gives me all the feels. I want to marry this album. It sounds like the lady-fronted alt-rock heyday of the 90s, but without sounding dated. Blue Pt. II is the best, but there isn’t a weak track on here.

Foxing – The Albatross
I saw Foxing play to like 20 people in the basement of a house earlier this year, after which I waited very impatiently for new music. The way everyone is talking about an emo revival is pretty stupid, but whatever you want to call it is producing some amazing albums. “Rory” became an immediate fan favourite – it’s the best track on the album – and they released the video for it on my birthday, which was pretty nice.

Shad – Flying Colours
No one else even comes close to writing lyrics like Shad. No one. It’s ridiculous.

Lorde – Pure Heroine
This album is catchy as hell. So many people had their underwear in a bunch about authenticity, complaining about how she worked with a producer to shape the tracks. #1 – Literally everyone does that – punk bands, metal bands, pop singers. Get over it. #2 – Everyone peed their pants when it was announced James Murphy was producing for Arcade Fire. So if you’re an indie rock band working with a producer it’s like the second coming of Jesus but if you’re a 16 year old girl, it’s a sign that you don’t actually have any talent of your own.

Please.

Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
On the surface it sounds like bright, shiny synth-pop, but then the lyrics are like “Hmmm, what’s going on here? This all seems a bit creepy.”

Beyonce – Beyonce
Disco (“Blow”), Burial-esque click clacks (“Haunted”), weird electronic spoken word (“Ghost”), a feminist hip-hop anthem (“Flawless”) and, of course, epic pop tracks (“Pretty Hurts”). Beyonce put all of my favourite things into one album and then gave me 17 videos to go along with it. I don’t know if I will ever love anything again as much as I love the “Flawless” video.

(Also, as a former record label employee, I can’t stop thinking about the logistics of it all. Getting an album like this recorded and delivered to iTunes – with all the videos – is an undertaking. Even with the most bare-bones team possible, there are still quite a few people who have to know about it. The fact that it stayed a secret is amazing. Plus, just how much did all those videos cost?!?!)

The World is a Beautiful Places and I am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
Just please listen to “Getting Sodas.”

Owen – L’Ami du Peuple
Mike Kinsella has been in about 18,000 bands and they’re all super solid. At this very moment, I think he’s in 3 or 4. I don’t even understand how it’s possible. He makes acoustic guitar songs not-boring, which is another substantial feat.

Angel Haze – Dirty Gold
Angel Haze released this album, previously announced for March 2014, on her SoundCloud just as I was writing this list. It was accompanied by an excellent statement about why. Then it disappeared when I was halfway through.

Onwards…

Guitar Synth

Making The Cure To Growing Older was fun. I was happy to send my very first release, self-created from start to finish, out into the world. I learned many things. Such as:

  • While I love making my own music and I’ve marketed plenty of other people’s music – from Taylor Swift to Major Lazer – I do not like marketing my own music. I just don’t have the self-promotion gene.
  • Doing an EP of covers of your favourite artists is a dicey proposition. Because when you create arrangements, record them, mix them, actually pay mechanicals and go through an aggregator and then send it to them and you get nothing but radio silence, it’s a heartbreak x5.
  • Everyone thinks it’s easy to do a cover song. But I’d argue that it’s even tougher than writing your own songs. I almost gave up on the Sunny Day Real Estate track.

Anyway – I’ve started working on a new album. I have half of a demo version of a song recorded and some snippets that could become something. Which isn’t a lot, but I see a glimmer of something good in there, I think.