Review: Keith and Renée – Detours

Despite being named as musical ambassadors for both Manitoba Homecoming 2010 and Free the Children’s Adopt a Village Program, Keith Macpherson and Renée Lamoureux have still managed to find to put together this polished album. Detours is the fourth full-length record from these homegrown prairie popsters, and it finds them offering up a brand-new assortment of quality folk-rock.The duo take turns on lead vocals and songwriting duties, resulting in an interesting back-and-forth between the two that saves this collection from too much sameness. It also serves to showcase both Lamoureux and Macpherson’s individual strengths. Lamoureux’s impassioned Amanda Marshall-esque vocals contrast nicely with Macpherson’s introspective, at times almost coy, acoustic guitar-infused melodies. Overall, Detours is radio-friendly Can-pop at its best–clean production, hints of alt-country and folk alongside more straightforward pop/rock tracks, only with a humble, down-to-earth approach that is uniquely Winnipeggian. Keith and Renée may no longer be easily amused, but they know how to make a warm and satisfying record that’s a joy to listen to. (Easily Amused Music, www.keithandrenee.com) Tiff Bartel

Review: The Idgets – New Is the New Old

Shawn Bergen gets my respect. On the follow up album to 2007’s Come On EP, Bergen wrote every song, played almost every instrument, sang on every track and produced, mixed and recorded the album himself. New is the New Old features ten tracks, all firmly rooted in the alternative rock sound, and all of them ready for airplay on the radio. Despite the DIY spirit that is present on the album, I found that I was unable to really get into New is the New Old. Even though there are a couple of standout tracks on the album, such as “Avatars” and “It’s All True (Except the Facts),” the album just did not excite me at all. It felt too formulaic, like I had heard this all before. As I said earlier, I respect Bergen for his work on the album, and he can write some decent music. His album just is not for me. (Independent, www.myspace.com/idgets) Charles Lefebvre

Review: Tom Keenan – Romantic Fitness

Actor/artist/drunkard Tom Keenan’s long-awaited solo debut is a dose of stark poetic folk-rock that tells tales of punch-ups at weddings and glue huffing criminal rampages. Similar to a folky version of the Eels, Keenan’s wonderfully dark lyrics complement the seemingly uplifting, light-hearted folk ballads. Standout tracks include: “Please Don’t Think Less of Me,” which deals with an assumed dead body and features agreat-sounding organ section. Also: “I don’t Want to Lie Down,” a song about starting a drunken brawl at a wedding with the father of the bride. Easily best track on the album is the country twang foot-stomper “River St.,” which features a catchy chorus you can’t help but fall in love with. Much like his brother Patrick Keenan, Tom has one heck of back up band including the D-Rangers’ Jaxon Haldane, Twilight Hotel’s Dave Quanbury, the Waking Eyes’ Matt Peters and Jicah’s Jeff Bruce. (Independent, www.myspace.com/tommydouglaskeenan) Kent Davies

Review: Boats – Cannonballs, Cannonballs

The sophomore album from one of Winnipeg’s most fully-realized bands plays through like a Saturday-morning cartoon jamboree, with Mat Klachefsky’s high-pitched singing, fast-paced songs, and sing-alongs around every other corner. Most of Klachefsky’s lyrics either seem like they’re about growing up (“Haircuts for Everybody,” “Summercamp vs. the Fake Moustache Tree”) or they seem like they’re coming from a naively young point of view (“Sunrise on the Muffin District,” “Movie Scores; We Hummed”), even though they’re way too absurd for even a kid to think of. But whether you’ve got an inner-child to appeal to or not, most songs chug along to the shuffle of a keyboard’s preset drum pattern or some oddly propulsive drum beat, making them intrinsically happy. And Klachefsky and co. have come in and made them catchy, one thing that they do quite well. If you’re ever in need of a sugar high, this album would definitely do you just as well. (Majestic Triumph, www.yeahboats.com) Taylor Burgess

Vampires – Will Give You the Clap

By Taylor Benjamin Burgess

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For the past year, Vampires have been racking up bigger and bigger live shows, including the past two Element Sircuses and the always-packed Cabaret! at the Standard. When this guitar-and-drum duo plays, they navigate some sweat-drenched territory between southern rock and Interpol, whipping the crowd into head-swinging and dancing. And if that isn’t enough, Josh Butcher and David Dobbs stop in the middle of their set, trade instruments, and keep on going. After building a local following, they’ve gotten around to recording, with the help of Jeff Patteson of Home Street Recording and some new rented gear. Stylus eventually wrangled a 15-minute phone call out of David Dobbs.

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Review: Right Through – The Sun Hot

right throughI know these guys have said that they like Fugazi and a number of other bands on Dischord Records, but I still hear hints of Pavement in some songs—especially in the upbeat intro and the grandiose guitar duel of title track “The Sun Hot.” However, Pavement didn’t take themselves seriously. Singers Jesse Hill and Cole Woods trade off vocal duties quite smoothly, having two distinct voices, and they sing a wash of nice wide chords when the two blend them together. Their lyrics are mostly concerned with nostalgia, (which I find really ironic since not all of the band members have graduated from high school yet) but they yearn for a memory-filled past well. As a group, Right Through are never out of step with one another and their musical chops really shine through on The Sun Hot, which is best at its really moody moments. It’s awesome that these guys have taken their angst and channelled it into something like a disc like this. (Independent, www.myspace.com/rightthrough) Taylor Benjamin Burgess

Review: Steve Basham – Thicker

steve basham thickerLocal weirdo-rocker Steve Basham’s follow-up to his previous solo disc Thick comes at you with the same lo-fi hilariousness that his music collective Mortfell Oktorium are known for. The first cut, “Bored Like a Dinosaur Robot with His Magical Pet Dog,” is an hilarious tale of honesty and intrigue in which Basham laments about writing songs because he’s bored until he starts another year of art school. That sets the stage for a series of rockin’ playful songs about underwater spiders and dead whales. With help from his Mortfell bandmates J.R. Hill and Toby Gillies, Basham’s songs are a lot catchier and thoughtful than his previous efforts without losing their charming silly spirit. (Mortfell Oktorium, www.myspace.com/stevestbasham) Kent Davies

Melodies on Mercredi – Tunes for the Taking, Pudding for Purchase

By Jenny Henkelman

carlyguitarThe West End Cultural Centre is putting all of its new space to good use. The new building has plenty of space for, say, visual art as well as the beautiful tunes we’re accustomed to hearing at Winnipeg’s best listening room. This spring, the Melodies on Mercredi series is bringing the two together and providing a showcase for emerging artists all at the same time. And also pudding cups.
Maybe you saw the first edition in February, with Kipp Kocay and a display of work by the photography collective f/action. April 7 will bring a new version with music by Del Barber and Carly Dow. For the visual component, art students at Daniel MacIntyre Collegiate are creating works inspired by the singer-songwriters’ music. “It is very exciting and honoring to be part of the Melodies on Mercredi series,” says Carly Dow. “The WECC is one of my favourite venues in the city. I love the idea of combining visual art with music, and I am glad to see so much support for upcoming artists!”

The fact that high school-age artists will be creating visual art to go with her folky songs is pretty appropriate for Dow, given that she herself picked up the guitar in grade ten. “I was extremely inspired after hearing a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ at a Remembrance Day service.  A lot of my close friends were also very involved in music at the time, and they had a huge influence on my songwriting and performing.”

High school wasn’t the only place Dow found a supportive community for making music; like a growing roster of Winnipeg folkies (from Cara Luft to the Fo!ps), she participated in the Winnipeg Folk Festival’s Young Performers program. “I learned a lot and made many personal connections through those experiences,” she says. “Each of my mentors have been amazing (Luke Doucet, Carolyn Mark, Cara Luft, Amelia Curran), and I would definitely recommend the program to any young artists who are interested in getting exposure. Winnipeg has a fantastic folk music community, and I’ve seen a passion and love for music here like nowhere else.”

The Lytics – Ingredients for a New Recipe

By Sabrina Carnevale
TheLytics_PhotobyCheyenneRaWinnipeg’s hip-hop community has been a tight-knit one since the 1990s. Even today, local hip-hop acts turn out to play live every other week and usually to a packed house. So when the Lytics, made up of brothers Alex “B-Flat” Sannie, Andrew “A-Nice” Sannie, Anthony “Ashy” Sannie as well as their cousin Mungala “Munga” Londe, came on the scene in 2003, these sweet-faced 20-somethings were the new kids on the block.
“You have so many artists [in Winnipeg] who are able to make music inexpensively and as frequent as they want and, as a result, there are tons of hip hop shows,” says eldest brother B-Flat, 29. “Whether we feel totally a part of it, I don’t know.”

The Lytics make music on their own terms—no one tells them they have to sound a certain way. In that respect, they don’t necessarily feel they fit into just one of Winnipeg’s musical niches.

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Eve Rice – From Vav Jungle to DJ Beekeeni

By Cindy Doyle

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Eve Rice is no stranger to Winnipeg’s music scene. Whether you know her as the electro-charged, sex kitten Vav Jungle or as DJ Beekeeni, if you’ve been to dance parties, various openings or even fundraisers around the city this past year, it is likely that Rice has made you dance at least once. Rice was part of the lineup for Stylus’ 20th birthday bash this past October; this January, Stylus sat down and talked to one of Winnipeg’s most renowned music veterans about her plans for the future and her ideas about making and loving music as we embark on a new decade.

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