Fri Jun 09, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot like Summer, so next week Darcys hit the pavement with tour dates across North America, and today they roam through the American West in an El Camino in the new video for "Arizona Hwy" courtesy of NPR. "We've always been taken with the kitschiness and heroism of the great American road trip," says Wes Marskell. "It's hard not to be seduced by the freedom and redemption of driving the American West. So, instead of staging a music video we filmed a joyride through the stunning natural backdrops, campy motels, and cheap roadside attractions that make the highways of Southern California so iconic. It's hard to tell where reality begins and ends in this buddy comedy, but it's clear that the aging blue Chevy El Camino slowly emerges as the films' true star.

"Arizona Hwy" single will also feature Jason Couse and Marsksell performing a cover of Prince's "Kiss" on the B-Side. The single is out now via Arts & Crafts.

Last fall, The Darcys released their third original studio album, Centerfold. Exclaim! called it "infectious, retro-tinged electro-pop", while Clash hailed it as "an outlandish exploration of pop ambition." Guided by Grammy Award-winning producer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer, Lucius) Centerfold evokes the heat and wanderlust of the stays in New Zealand and Los Angeles where it was recorded. Centerfold followed 2013's acclaimed Warring, which earned JUNO Award and Polaris Music Prize nominations.

Jun 1 - Toronto, ON - Power Ball
Jun 7 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios
Jun 8 - Seattle, WA - Timbre Room
Jun 9 - Vancouver, BC - Fortune Sound Club
Jun 15 - Edmonton, AB - Starlite
Jun 16 - Calgary, AB - Club Hi Fi
Jun 17 - Saskatoon, SK - Capitol Music Club
Jun 18 - Winnipeg, MB - Winnipeg Jazz Festival
Jun 19 - Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centre
Jun 21 - Chicago, IL - Schubas
Jun 22 - Detroit, MI - El Club
Jun 23 - Prince Edward County, ON - Hayloft Dancehall
Jun 24 - Ottawa, ON - Dragonboat Festival
Jul 29 - Oro-Medonte, ON - WayHome Music & Arts Festival
Aug 19 Elora, ON - Elora Riverfest


Astrocolor sounds like a vision-enhancing strain of kush but is actually a dynamic six-piece electronica group from Victoria, BC. They released their latest EP, Astrocolor II, last month, and it's gaining traction on radio. Astrocolor II a stunning beat-and-pulse driven record of techno, house and funk, blended with intricate strings and jazzy percussion. The EP was produced by Neil Cooke-Dallin and mixed by Count (Tycho, DJ Shadow, Thievery Corporation). Push Too Hard has been featured on numerous Spotify playlists, including Indie All Stars, and Astrocolor has 27,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and counting.

The album is a follow up to their December 2016 self-titled three-track EP of cosmic house and electronics, bridging live with studio recordings, recalling The Chemical Brothers, Air and St. Germain.

Astrocolor delivers an engaging live performance, with a full instrumentation set up, and groove that's sure to get your heart and feet moving.

Commencing with Push Too Hard, featuring sultry vocals by Fox Glove, the album dives into a diverse array of sounds. El Escape wavers through consistent tempo and groove, while Figure It Out and Tokyo Metro are complimented by soulful saxophone and light keys. There are three remix tracks on the album - two by Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness and one by Anand Greenwell that work for both solo listening and the nightclub.

Heather Bambrick
Heather Bambrick

Juno-nominated vocalist and broadcaster Heather Bambrick is all over the TD Jazz Festival this year. The internationally known jazz artist is also a founding member of the Beehive Singers (1994 - 2001) and Broadsway, a Jazz / Cabaret ensemble with whom she is currently actively recording and touring. Heather has been a guest performer with various Jazz ensembles, as well as with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Cathedral Bluffs Orchestra, and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. She will make her debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2017.

Heather's solo recordings include It's About Time and Those Were The Days, both of which were nominated for East Coast Music Awards, and resulted in international airplay and critical acclaim. Her latest solo recording, You'll Never Know , was nominated for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year at the 2017 Juno Awards (Canada's version of the Grammy Awards). It's been praised by critics and industry leaders ( "Heather hits every right note on this record … it's a 'must hear' … " - Mark Rheaume, CBC Radio), and has risen to the top of Canadian Jazz radio charts. Heather's been a guest artist on numerous diverse projects, from the Caliban Bassoon Quartet, to Sophisticated Ladies (the final recording of Jazz great Peter Appleyard), and Just Passing Through (the award-winning recording from Jeff and Don Breithaupt). She has been honoured with Canada's National Jazz Award for Vocalist of the Year..

Heather Bambrick TD Jazz Festival dates
Friday, June 23, 2017 Heather Bambrick & Friends feat. June Garber - Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto
Saturday, June 24, 2017Heather Bambrick & Friends feat. Shakura S'Aida - Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto
Thursday, June 29, 2017 Heather Bambrick with the Brian Barlow Big Band OLG Stage on Cumberland Street
Friday, June 30, 2017 Heather Bambrick & Friends feat. Amanda Martinez - Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto
Saturday, July 1, 2017 Heather Bambrick & Friends feat. Micah Barnes - Home Smith Bar at the Old Mill Toronto

Hnry Flwr
Hnry Flwr

Here's an act who doesn't want to be a cult fave if only he's already done that. Quirk album of the week comes from Hnry Flwr. Born into a cult in Iowa, Hnry Flwr grew up meditating and basking in the rays of positivity. After leaving the cult, moving around the world with a psychic single mother, Hnry Flwr landed in New York City as a young man where he learned to cope with the harsh realities of post-cult life by harnessing his earnestly sincere nature in the form of lyric and song. Now with hundreds of songs under his botanical belt, and the balance of light and dark mastered, Hnry Flwr is releasing his debut album, FLOWERAMA, on Paper Garden Records. 

HNRY FLWR is the creator of The Message. In 2014 HNRY FLWR began mixing different length sound waves using ancient synthesizers and a team of musical experts to create a type of music that is 100% earnest. Before this Method of sound control, music was an insincere endeavour solely energized by a pure form of propulsion known as Narcissism. 

FLOWERAMA was recorded at Azimuth Studio with Dave Groener Jr, who has worked with David Byrne, Glen Hansard, They Might Be Giants, Paul Banks. The backing band for Hnry Flwr has evolved and transformed with members of Foxygen, A Place to Bury Strangers, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger all playing with Flwr both in the studio and live.

HNRY FLWR has teamed up with SURVIVING THE GOLDEN AGE to premiere his new single!

Hnry's take on the single: "Little Brother is a meditation on our first glimpse of power as children. Often the first time a child feels empowered is when a younger sibling comes into their life. That power can be intoxicating-- before we understand how dangerous it can be. Young humans grow up and they have to deal with the regret of bullying their younger peers, or they are compensating for their being bullied. Most kids grow up and have to deal with both those things. The reflection conjured by this song is meant to help one to move through that regret and helplessness."

Hnry Flwr on tour:
June 10 -
Brooklyn, NY - Northside Festival @ Vital Joint
June 11 - Brooklyn, NY - Heritage Radio {Snacky Tunes}
June 16 - New York, NY - Berlin [EP Release Party]
June 23 - Queens, NY - Footlight
July 8 - Brooklyn, NY - Lantern Hall - Benefit for Galen
July 29 - New Haven, CT - The Outer Space
Aug 3 - Brooklyn, NY - Our Wicked Lady
Aug 15 - Brooklyn, NY - C'mon Everybody

One of Vancouver's all-time legendary live bands is reuniting to play one of Toronto's all-time legendary live venues - June 16 at The Horseshoe Tavern . One night only. The Smugglers will play their first Toronto show in over 13 years. The reason for the reunion gig is simple: lead singer, author, and broadcaster Grant Lawrence is finally releasing his memoirs of his hard-charging, international touring years, entitled Dirty Windshields: The Best And The Worst Of The Smugglers Tour Diaries , due out in May from Douglas and McIntyre.

"I've been working on this book on and off for over ten years. It's been a huge labour of love. Reading through and shaping my old tour diaries into a book has been both rewarding and embarrassing, much like my career with the Smugglers," Lawrence jokes. "I hoped we'd do a gig to launch the book, and I was thrilled when Live Nation stepped up and offered the Commodore Ballroom. It's not only one of our favourite rooms in the world, but also the last venue standing from the Smugglers gigging era, unless you count the Hastings Community Centre."

Joining Grant Lawrence and The Smugglers is an all-star pop-punk line up of friends, Chixdiggit from Calgary (celebrating their own 25 th anniversary in 2017), and Needles // Pins from Vancouver.

Lawrence is an award-winning author, CBC personality, singer, and columnist. His new book, Dirty Windshields, is his third. His previous books are Adventures In Solitude (Harbour Publishing, 2010) and The Lonely End of the Rink (Douglas & McIntyre, 2013). At the CBC, Grant is known mostly for his work with the groundbreaking Radio 3 and their championing of Canadian independent music. Previously, he worked as an indie label publicist and as a concert promoter. At age 19, he co-promoted one of the Commodore Ballroom's most legendary shows: the Screaming Trees, Nirvana, the Doughboys and the Wongs in 1991. Grant is the lead singer of the Smugglers and the goalie for the Flying Vees beer league hockey team. He is married to musician Jill Barber and they live in Vancouver, BC, with their two children.

Formed when most of the members were still in high school in West Vancouver, The Smugglers came of age during the grunge explosion, and came into their own in the pop-punk heyday of the mid-1990s while on Mint Records in Canada and Lookout Records in the USA. Releasing eight albums over the years of 1988-2004, the band's booze-fuelled, sweaty, and famously energetic live shows (complete with dancing and kissing contests) took them across Canada, the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Along the way, the "Canadian Ambassadors of Rock 'n' Roll" collided with the Hives, Mudhoney, the Queers, Supersnazz, Fugazi, the Dwarves, thee Headcoats, the Mr. T Experience, the Mummies and many more.

Heather Rankin
Heather Rankin

Just out from Heather Rankin an evocative new video via CTV Morning Live Atlantic for her song "Titanically" from JUNO nominated albumA Fine Line. The video was inspired by the story of Wallace Hartley, the Titanic's bandmaster and violinist.

Wallace Hartley's violin case was recovered strapped to Hartley's body, buoyed mostly out of the water by his life jacket, and thus preserved in good condition. It was taken to Halifax by the Mackay-Bennett Cable Ship that recovered many of the Titanic's victims in April, 1912. Several newspaper articles listed the items recovered with Hartley, including a "music case." From Halifax, the violin and its case was returned to Hartley's fiancée, Maria Robinson, who had given the violin to him, engraved with their names, as an engagement gift.

For decades Titanic historians did not know that the violin and the case had been given to Maria, they were only aware of the items Hartley's father signed for in Liverpool, as a record was kept of his receiving them. Thus the "music case" that was referenced in initial newspaper clippings remained a mystery. Titanic enthusiasts and scholars were divided about whether the case was reported mistakenly and the violin lost, or whether it had been lost between Halifax and Liverpool. Meanwhile, Maria, who never married and had no children, left the violin and its case to a bandmaster at a Salvation Army, who gave it to a music teacher, who gave it to a violin pupil. In 2006 it was found it in the attic of the pupil's son. In 2006 Hartley's violin and its case came to light, and it was auctioned for 1.7 million dollars in 2013, making it the most expensive Titanic artifact to date.

"Titanically" is told from the perspective of the violin yearning to be returned to the man who loved and played it. It was directed by Thom Fitzgerald and it is an exploration of the immortality of music, of the musician's spirit and of the enduring stories surrounding the Titanic. It features a Wallace Hartley kind of character, played by Callum Dunphy, who accompanies Rankin through water, mud and time, all while continually playing his beloved violin. The story also has an emotional connection for Rankin, whose brother John Morris Rankin, was also a violinist and like Hartley, died tragically in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving behind a deep musical legacy.  

Upcoming Tour Dates
July 6 - Cape Breton, NS - NS Kitchen Fest
July 14 &15 - Kempt Shore, NS - Kempt Shore Maritime Acoustic Festival
August 10 & 11 - Lunenburg, NS - Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival

Pokey LaFarge
Pokey LaFarge

BITS'N'PIECES Worthwhile live gigs this week include G.T.A. homegrown punks The Flatliners atop a four band bill for two nights at Lee's Palace Jun. 16 &17, retro rocker Pokey laFarge debuts new album Manic Revelations June 16, Chicago, IL, Metro, June 17, Detroit, MI, Magic Stick.

The Flatliners Photo Credit Gilda Louise Aloisi
The Flatliners
Photo Credit Gilda Louise Aloisi