Montreal Jazz Fest days 3-5. Elizabeth Shepherd, Amanda Mabro, Beast, etc.

Sunday, day three started off with watching Toronto based singer Elizabeth Shepherd. She is fairly straight forward jazz. Quite good though. I listened to her latest album, Heavy Falls the Night, and it is fairly impressive. Despite being Toronto based, she did go to school and earn a degree at Montreal university, McGill.

I only watched a few minutes of Elizabeth Shepherd, as I went to check out Jah Cutta. He is a fairly big name in Canadian reggae. I remembered him mostly from when he performed as Jah Cutta and the Determination band. And for a while he was on local punk label 2112, now part of the Stomp Records label group.

I checked out Elizabeth Shepherd again on her second performance, as I had missed the beginning on her first show. Again, good! Of course she plays the same setlist, as do pretty much all artists that have two shows in the same evening. I have a couple pictures linked on my twitter (one, and two)

From there I headed over to Montreal ska band The Planet Smashers, they never tend to disappoint!

Last night, I saw Amanda Mabro, again, I watched at least 20 minutes of her two sets. She is a local jazz/pop, etc singer. It was the first time I saw her live, and she kind of reminded me of Norah Jones. Her Myspace page says cabaret pop-noir which seems like a good description.

Finally I watched some of Lulu Hughes and the Montreal All City Big Band. I knew her by name mostly, I had seen a music video of hers from years ago, but could not recall without checking it out first. Anyway, she seemed to be doing covers as she was with the big band. I was starting to watch her first set, but that was when it started pouring rain, just about as she took the stage! I waited quite a while beforehand, as it was a slow rain, but when it started pouring I gave up the ghost. She is a bit more adult contemporary, I’d like to check out her solo stuff at some point.

Finally, night 5 was only Beast. They were the featured performer for the night, so the crowd was quite big, easily in the high five digits to upwards of 100 000. As I Tweeted, I was quite far away, but on the plus side no ear damage! I started out checking Lulu Hughes second set right at the front of the house (I think that’s the technical term used), where it was crazy loud, so that did not last long before backing up. Even if I had earplugs, I think it would have been a tad loud.

Regardless, Beast seemed pretty good, I thought they were probably the least likely to be found on the Jazz Fest, as they are kind of electronic indie. At best with jazz elements. Surely they can pull jazz influences in their work, but it does not show. I only knew the song “Mr. Hurricane” from their self titled 2008 debut. They made a video for the song along with “Out of Control”. See “Mr. Hurricane” on YouTube (“Out of Control”, their other video is linked on the side of that page).

Finally, MySpace links to check out any of the above artists. Of course they have official pages too that can easily be found by googling.

Elizabeth Shepherd
Jah Cutta
Amanda Mabro
The Planet Smashers
Beast

Well that is about it for the Jazz Fest for me, I’ll still check it out, but I do not have anyone I am really looking forward to anymore.

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Bad Religion quote #12

Raise Your Voice!

Something everyone should do.

That is the title of track six from No Substance, and also the quote I chose from the album. It is a memorable track in the vein of “Punk Rock Song”.

No Substance was generally not too well received by fans and critics alike. However I liked it, and it tended to grow on me.

I have a couple punk rock blogs (only a few posts on each) that are in dire need of updates. I wrote a post about “Raise Your Voice”, read it at Punk Rock Wisdom. Included is full lyrics. I also reviewed No Substance on the companion blog, Reason for Concern, right when the album was ten years old. Check it out.

Greg Graffin on writing No Substance, full lyrics, and track details at the album page at badreligion.com.

Shane Murphy and Basia Bulat Brian Setzer Orchestra and Shad (Festival International de Jazz de Montreal night 2)

Long enough blog post title?

I caught most of Shane Murphy, who I really only knew by name as a local act, as his album, Street Money Miracle, came out last Fall. My friend recommended him, stating he is an accomplished guitarist. And he should know, as he plays and builds guitars himself!

Shane Murphy is very bluesy, but also with a rock edge. He was quite entertaining, and seemed like quite a good guitarist as mentioned (I don’t play, yet!).

If you missed him, and want to see him, he will be playing at Montreal brew pub Brutopia July 2 and 3 (Friday and Saturday).

Finally, day 2 of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal ended with Basia Bulat.

Tonight’s show was the second of three shows as I mentioned on Twitter. She played, and will play again tomorrow, at the Musée d’art contemporain, located in Place des Arts.

The venue was pretty much a micro auditorium, located in the basement of the Musée.

When I saw her in February, it was more of a proper venue, where it was possible to stand and watch (and react). I was not a particular fan of that setup, however it worked out. She said how night one she was a little nervous as it felt like a high school recital from back in the day. I think my main qualm with this setup was it felt like she could not feed of the audience as much, as we were just sitting, listening. Also slightly since it was a part on the Montreal International Jazz Fest, it was a mix of people in the crowd, not solely her fans, so that took away some possible crowd energy and electricity from the room.

She did enjoy the show after all, as seems she liked us as an audience, and I suppose she got used to the venue. This from what she said on stage and I overheard afterwards. Plus she and her backing band did a two song encore after the song she ends her shows with now (at least in Montreal).

Regardless of the venue, her performance was excellent as it was the last time. And again, her supporting cast of musicians did a great job.

She took the time after the show to meet and greet fans, which was cool. I had a few brief words after the show (since she encouraged us to say hi!) and she seems really down to earth, as she does when performing.

As is the case with all her shows, she did a few songs on her own. Also as her parents are Polish (she was born in Canada though), she did a Polish lullaby as well.

Check Basia out on her myspace page, and her official site.

Next up at the Jazz Fest, Sunday evening, Elizabeth Shepherd, Jah Cutta, and The Planet Smashers. The former two are still during the day, so I can get some decent pictures.

Brian Setzer Orchestra and Shad (Festival International de Jazz de Montreal night 1)

The Brian Setzer Orchestra was the official opening show. Similar to Stevie Wonder last year. I was surprised that there were so many people, but hey, this is Montreal. I am Not sure about the official estimates, but easily over 100 000, and probably 150 000 plus adding on people who had poor views, or where watching on screens nearby, and people who came and went.

The music was quite good. I am not too familiar with his work, I know I heard some of his stuff in the late 90s (The Dirty Boogie) when swing had a fairly decent following, along with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. I know I would have appreciated it more if I was much closer to the stage!

I watched about 40 minutes of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, as Shad, Canadian hip hop up and comer, was playing on another stage. I caught the last 30 minutes of his set, and it was very good. I saw him perform at last years Warped Tour as well, and it seems he is definitely getting better. It also helped that this time around I was more familiar with his music. Definitely worth checking out live, and his recorded albums as well. TSOL his third album was released May 25.

Shad’s official website, shadk.com

I don’t think Brian Setzer needs any more promotional help, but his official website anyway, briansetzer.com.

Bad Religion quote #11

The Gray Race is the first Bad Religion album I listened to extensively. I only really got to know them around the time the video for the Stranger Than Fiction version of “21st Century (Digital Boy)” was airing. Therefore making The Gray Race an album I was looking forward to.

With the above in mind, there is many memorable quotes I could pull from the album. However, I will take one from a memorable track (without a doubt) on the album, a song that goes by the name of “Punk Rock Song”.

10 million dollars on a losing campaign
20 million starving and writhing in pain

I think that quote speaks volumes.

It continues:

Big strong people unwilling to give
Small in vision and perspective
One in five kids below the poverty line
One population runnin’ out of time

Among many examples, BP and the oil spill come to mind. How much have they spent on public relations campaigns versus cleanup? With all the insane messes they are causing.

The Gray Race album page at badreligion.com, including Greg’s commentary on recording TGR, and lyrics.

Your Dose of (live) Celtic Punk Rock

Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphy’s, and now The Real McKenzies all have new live releases out. Flogging Molly are the most traditional of the group, yet still very punk rock influenced.

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone, yet, with music this solid, there is no excuse not to check them out, especially if you have not seen them live, or are hankering to see them again.

March 2 saw the release of Flogging Molly’s first full length live set, Live at the Greek Theatre. Of course they did release Alive Behind the Green Door in 1997 as their first actual release, however that was just over two years or so before their debut album Swagger.

It was released on CD, as well as DVD with their music videos included. Since the Greek Theatre is a 5,700-seat amphitheatre, the DVD would surely we worth checking out!

With Live at the Greek Theatre, they have four quality albums to pick and choose their material from. They picked the song selection well, including fan favourite “Drunken Lullabies”, and one of my favourites, “Salty Dog”.

March 16 (the day before Saint Patrick’s Day) saw the release of the Dropkick Murphy’s new live set, Live On Lansdowne, Boston MA. Material for this live set is culled from seven shows they did over six days, from March 12 – 17, 2009. Of course ending on Saint Patrick’s Day. They were quite a series of shows too, featuring the likes of H2O, Bane, Slapshot, Civet and more! See the listings here. Since they update their news section frequently, there is plenty of video postings to check out as well.

The Dropkick Murphy’s release in a CD release that has a DVD included with the release. The DVD has the concert on it among a few extras. I’m surprised “Barroom Hero” did not make the album, another good one that did not make it on is “For Boston”. However many great tracks did make it on including “Fields Of Athenry”, “Sunshine Highway”, and of course “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” which features another Boston area band, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

The Real McKenzies, although they are Canadian, and Scottish influenced Celtic punk, their live release came out yesterday, titled Shine not Burn. Check out a free mp3, and more details at fatwreck.com.

I have not yet heard The Real McKenzies release, however I have seen all three aforementioned bands live, and they all put on great shows in their own ways, thus making all releases worth checking out.

All official sites:

Flogging Molly
Dropkick Murphy’s
The Real McKenzies

Kelis – Flesh Tone (first impressions aka early review)

I finally have listened to the new Kelis long player, Flesh Tone, albeit once (on the second listen now). Usually I like to listen to albums a few times to get a good feel, however after one listen I think I already do, although I will not go into great detail at the moment.

Ever since her excellent debut, Kaleidoscope, I’ve called myself a fan of hers.

Flesh Tone is only nine tracks long, including the intro, yet it still clocks in at over 37 minutes. “22nd Century”, the second track kind of gives the listener a good idea of the album. By the title I mean, however as does the song itself. I am suggesting that the music is very futuristic feeling.

I have not listened to Kelis Was Here extensively, however based on the singles, and from what I know in general, Flesh Tone is a drastically different sound.

In some cases, artists (and bands) making the same album over and over may not always be bad, however evolving as an artist is a very good thing, perhaps essential.

With all that in mind, the new Kelis could be considered electro meets hip hop/R&B. There is even elements in one song that remind me of a prominent rock band. I’ll reveal who in a proper review in a little while.

Definitely worth a listen (and then some).

Paloma Faith – Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?

The Amy Winehouse comparisons are inevitable, and have probably already occurred since this album came out September 28, 2009. I think I read one beforehand, and saw another while writing this review. And to get it out of the way, I do think “Broken Doll” sounds a little like an Amy Winehouse track, it feels like a mid tempo track that could have been recorded by Winehouse. As does the title track, “Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful?”, however it is a slower number, almost ballad like, with a strings section.

To put the comparison to rest, as I will compare artists, for the sole sake of comparison, the lead-off track is “Stone Cold Sober”. Enough said!

Speaking of the lead-off track, it definitely fits the bill. As well as being the first single. It is overflowing with soul, charisma, rock, and horn section.

I usually listen to the music first, and this is no different, however I like to see who the songwriter credits belong to, and I am happy to see Paloma Faith has writing credits on all tracks.

“Upside Down”, is a groovy, bass heavy track, again with soul. I think using the term throwback has been used over and over again, desite that, this track fits that well, similar to some of Christina Aguilera’s work on Back to Basics, however not as showy and elaborate.

“New York” to me is an exceptional song. It is very close to being perfect. It is one of those tracks that manages to bring chills upon listening. It is a soulful ballad that tells a story, and that features London’s Souls of Prophecy Gospel Choir.

Paloma Faith’s first big break came when she was noticed by an A&R man when she was fronting the manager’s band of a pub she worked in. After that, she seems to have been a rebel artist in the vein of P!nk, in that when he refused to turn off his phone during the audition, she eventually stormed off. She said to the record label executive, “if you’re going to be anything to do with my career, I’d rather sing in pubs for the rest of my life. Then I told him to fuck off.”

“Play On” ends the album in good fashion. All in all a solid debut on its own.

Obligatory links:

Official site
MySpace
YouTube
Twitter

Music videos

Stone Cold Sober
New York
Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful
Upside Down

Bad Religion quote #10

I want to bask in your golden light
Submerge in electric waves
I need my connection to the world outside

From “Television” off the album Stranger than Fiction. Given the song title it is safe to bet what the lyrics are referring to.

“Television” was written by Brett Gurewitz and Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde). It features Tim Armstrong of Rancid as well. Johnette Napolitano sings backup vocals on “Struck a Nerve”, from Recipe for Hate, Bad Religion’s previous album that came out just shy of a year earlier. Therefore he must have helped write it while he was in the studio for “Struck a Nerve”.

Another twoferone, that is to say two quotes for the price of one.

From “Slumber”,

Your life is historically meaningful
And spans a significant time

To put “Slumber” in context, a bit more of the lyrics:

So, you’re feeling unimportant
‘Cuz you’ve got nothing to say
And your life is just a ramble
No one understands you anyway

Well, I’ve got a piece of news son
That might make you change your mind
Your life is historically meaningful
And spans a significant time

Well, now do you feel a little better?
Lift up your head and walk away
Knowing we’re all in this together
For such a short time anyway

There is just no time to parade around sulking,
I would rather laugh than cry
The rich, the poor, the strong, the weak,
we share this place together
And we pitch in to help it die

Full lyrics, and Greg (on writing) and Brett (on recording) audio commentaries at the official Bad Religion page.

Music on television June 13 – 19, 2010

Bold signifies personal picks.

Monday June 14

Cyndi Lauper on The Late Show with David Letterman
Cee-Lo Green on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Shelby Lynne on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Sarah McLachlan was on Regis and Kelly

Tuesday June 15

Devo on The Late Show with David Letterman
Travie McCoy on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Ozzy Osbourne on Jimmy Kimmel (not) Live!
Broken Social Scene on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
La Roux on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from April 13.)
Tom Petty on Tavis Smiley

Wednesday June 16

Matisyahu on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
Devo on The Colbert Report (recommended as it is on the Colbert Report! Maybe new Devo will be okay, who knows.)
The Gaslight Anthem on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Gossip on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from April 14.)
Lil Jon on Chelsea Lately

Thursday June 17

Broken Bells on Jimmy Kimmel (not) Live!
She & Him on Last Call with Carson Daly (repeat from April 15.)
Mel. B on Lopez Tonight (not sure if she is promoting music, although she does have new music on the way)

Friday June 18

Devo on Regis and Kelly
Kelis on The Tonight Show not with Conan O’Brien
The Roots with Yim Yames on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Saturday June 19
Jay-Z on Saturday Night Live (repeat from May 8.)