Alt-rock band Arkells last year released Blink Once, a seventh full-length album, on Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company and released in partnership with Virgin Music Label & Artist Services US. The Arkells plan to release a new album, Blink Twice, later this year!
“I’m not folk,” Steve Poltz said when he was hanging out with some members of the audience after his recent show at Jammin’ Java. In his song “Wrong Town,” on his recently released album Stardust and Satellites, he jokes about being “Americana if you wanna.” He also describes Emmylou Harris as his fashion icon, mixed with a little Don Was.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what Steve Poltz does. He’s a guy with an acoustic guitar, and that does often indicate some sort of folksinger. But there’s some definite punk energy to him, too. He is also a total weirdo, more than a little out of his mind. His show, both in and between songs, often veered in filthy and scatological territory, much of it improvised, providing the audience with a one-of-kind experience.
Peter Sagar, more popularly known as Homeshake, first made his name as guitarist for Mac DeMarco! The Montreal-based singer-songwriter released Under the Weather, his fifth studio album as Homeshake, last year, and now he’s coming to perform at 9:30 Club on Friday, April 22.
“Lifting your spirits,” teased Cowboy Junkies vocalist Margo Timmins in the band’s recent appearance at The Birchmere, “is not what we do.”
It wasn’t quite a joke, as it’s a true statement. “Upbeat” would not describe their music, which is deeply moody and full of heartache. Sonically, the Junkies accomplish this by combining two distinct musical traditions, both of which have plenty of sadness: the alternative and art-rock of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground — whose “Sweet Jane” still occupies a central place in their setlist — and David Bowie, whose “Five Years” they covered in their encore, and the dusty Americana embodied by their late friend, the legendary Townes Van Zandt, whose “Rake” was featured in the second set.
Since they last appeared at The Birchmere before the pandemic, the Junkies have released two albums. The first, Ghosts, came out in 2020, and was made in response to the death of the Timmins siblings’ mother.
Christopher Vanderkooy shreds on the electric guitar during a Peach Pit performance at 9:30 Club on April 2, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
Though naturally some of a band’s recorded material is going to create some expectations of its in-person sound, a musical act doesn’t have to let its studio work define its live presentation.
But whether it’s by foresight or luck, the bulk of some artists’ songbooks turns out to be scalable thanks to either a set trajectory or built-in room for improvisation to expand and amplify the sound.
Peach Pit, a red-hot indie pop-rock outfit out of Vancouver, has experienced a rapid rise to popularity since its two founding members graduated high school. As students, Neil Smith and Christopher Vanderkooy teamed up in 2014 to create what began as a possible one-off music project.
Leif Vollebekk performs at Union Stage on April 1, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
A voice that sounds like it’s lived a lifetime’s worth of heartache — if that’s not a solid foundation for an indie folk singer-songwriter, then possessing the skills of a world-class multi-instrumentalist would most certainly assist those efforts.
Leif Vollebekk began playing instruments as a little kid in Ottawa, and it would appear that the countless hours the 36-year-old spent training served as a worthwhile and illuminating runway for the music he’s offering the world today. Leif offered that music to a receptive audience at Union Stage in DC recently.
Andy Shauf leads his band in a performance at Black Cat on March 30, 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
When a musician is so particular enough about their sound as to be exact, it can be heard in their recordings. Translating that approach to a live performance should be appreciated and admired for the impressive feat that is.
After two previous attempts were simply not to be due to the pandemic and travel challenges, Andy Shauf finally returned the nation’s capital to appear at Black Cat recently for a tasteful and rewarding display of the unique and flawless brand of music that has made him a sensational figure out of Western Canada.
ACTORS play live at Pie Shop in DC on April 3, 2022. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
ACTORS, a quartet hailing from Vancouver, have garnered some attention over the past 10 years for creating music hailed by the North American goth crowd. But as evidenced by a recent concert at Pie Shop in DC, the dark wave band fully possesses an abundance of rock ‘n roll chops that distinguished them from many of their peers.
Tate McRae performs at 9:30 Club on March 27, 2022. (Photo by Katie Child)
Packing the floor, pressing in on the railings of the balcony, inching in towards the barricade, and conversing about their shared dedication to their favorite artists, a sold-out crowd at DC’s 9:30 Club recently waited in anticipation for the charmingly entrancing Tate McRae to take on center stage.
Canadian dark wavers ACTORS released their sophomore album, Acts of Worship, in 2021. Acts of Worship is an album of driving beats, massive hooks, and dramatic atmospheres — equally melancholy and electrifying.