The Bee Side

"If the world is so wrong, then you can take it on with one song."

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Insanely Great Album Review: In the Aeroplane Over The Sea

Confession: I really don’t know much about Neutral Milk Hotel. I do, however, know a lot about April Ludgate of my favourite Thursday night story Parks and Recreation. A friend posted this on FB tonight from Vulture and I just had to share. Favourite line:

Once you hear Jeff Mangum howling about Anne Frank and ghosts and semen and bombs and medical specimens in jars and teeth and dead dogs and Holland in 1945 and synthetic flying machines and your mom sticking a fork in your dad’s shoulder, you will never be able to listen to, like, Third Eye Blind again without ripping your ears off.

April Ludgate, Pawnee’s finest music critic.

(props to my beloved Spiritual Twin for the clip – and trying to help me remember NMH’s music!)

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Stuck Between My Ears*: Mo Kenney

*in which I briefly tell you what random song is stuck in my head. It’s that simple.

My girl had a funspiel in Moncton this past weekend, so I completely missed out on Fredericton’s Shivering Songs Festival which featured, among others, Mo Kenney (you’ll find a review on last Saturday’s lineup here at Ride The Tempo) Kids come first and there’s always next year. But back to the matter at hand: “Sucker” has been getting mad spins over at the Mothercorp and this single has been growing on me (really, the best kind of music love). I like this version posted by CBC Music featuring her pal and producer Joel Plaskett. Stripped down to the core, you really sense the vulnerability in her lyrics.

hip b&w

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How to endure winter: attend a gig, rinse, repeat.

hip b&wI didn’t go out of my way to make New Year’s Resolutions, although I did promise myself to write more. And since the only way I can get my dear West Coast friend S’s voice out of my head reminding me “Yeah, get on that! I’m tired of going to your blog and seeing that picture of Kathleen Edwards,” here I am on January 16, excitedly chatting about a few gigs I’ll seeing soon. Thanks for your patience.

February 1st: this is going to be Tragically Hip Gig #4 for me. The first time was my favourite time: Saint John’s Harbour Station, opening band The Joel Plaskett Emergency before I really appreciated them. I had spent weeks preparing with my one-time radio co-workers (still great friends) by playing Phantom Power and Live Between Us ad nauseum in our office. Husband and I had floor seats and my most cherished memory was watching him sing along to “Grace, Too”. It was a magical time.

I missed them on their following tour through New Brunswick, having given up complimentary music promoter tickets on account of having an actual baby earlier that day. We saw them four years later in Saint John, promoting In Between Evolution, if memory serves, and again when they returned for the first time since the first Bush Administration (maybe? I’m too tired to fact check) to Fredericton’s Aitken Centre on the World Container tour (my least favourite of the three, but only because security didn’t do squat about the throngs who didn’t pay for floor seats rushing the stage. Ugh.)

So here I am with a ticket to their upcoming show at the Casino in Moncton and a copy of their new album Now For Plan A (fave tracks: “Man Machine Poem” and “At Transformation“). I would feel somewhat “been there, done that, why am I enduring those tired Up To Here songs live again with all those other boneheads who haven’t listened to a Hip album since Road Apples?”, except that I am going with a co-worker (and good friend) who has missed every opportunity to see them live and is incredibly thrilled to finally see them. And really, what could be more fun than watching a friend totally losing her mind over seeing the Gord?

Plus, I am hoping another girlfriend/college peep/working mama comes with us to make this a little Thelma and Louise minus the death and all that. Plus plus (?), the Hip are so intrinsically Canadian: it’s our patriotic duty to see them whenever we can. Lord, they wrote a song called “Goodnight Attawapiskat” on their latest album. It doesn’t get more Canadian than that.

Then a month after that, I’ll be taking in the live stylings of one Serena Ryder at the Fredericton Playhouse.

Serena isn’t yet on my list of Strong Women I Love Who Sing and Write About Getting Screwed Over and Having Their Hearts Run Over With The Lawnmower, but Girl writes a good pop song (above, and the only track of hers I have in my arsenal), she doesn’t come off as overly polished, she sings harmony well (heh, see what I did there?), she’s a Mamma Yamma favourite and I find her rise in popularity impressive. Also, my buddy M needed a date and tickets were cheap! I would think that the next time she returns to these parts, she’ll be playing much larger venues. Serena’s becoming kind of a big deal.

I’m not overly in love with her huge single “Stompa”, but my opinion may change when I see this performed in person. I felt the same way about the Hip’s “It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken” back in the day.

(and is it just me, or does the still for this video remind you of this gal?)

alanis old skool

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Your Sunday Night Swoon: Springsteen sings with kids, melts hearts

I don’t want to make it a habit of writing about the same artist two posts in a row but OMIGOD HOW CUTE IS THIS?!!

So my darling Bruce performed last Friday night in Ottawa and pulled a couple of young lads onstage to help him belt out the chorus of “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day”. No biggie, just an incredibly amazing experience for these kids. It’s nice to see Springsteen having a ton of fun on this tour.

I also love that he wore the identical outfit at his Moncton show. I’m sure he has an entire trunk full of those vests. And maybe Max Weinberg borrows them frequently. Or Bruce is pulling rank and taking them from Max’s vest stash. Who knows.

Bruce 1970s

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Cover Me: Springsteen Songs Not Performed By Springsteen

Tonight’s post was inspired by a conversation I had earlier this evening with my hairstylist of 13 years. She was trimming my wet, freshly coloured hair, while I watched video footage on her iPhone of the Ben Harper gig she saw in Portland. She had also seen him in Halifax. I sighed that I regretted missing him, but I’d spent my concert dollars most recently on Kathleen Edwards at Harvest and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Moncton. “Speaking of Bruce,” she piped up, and proceeded to search for Ben Harper’s cover of “Atlantic City”.

And…wow. It’s never easy to hear that song without Bruce’s iconic harmonica, but Ben made it work. And only made me regret not seeing him in Halifax.

So it got me thinking about how other artists interpret my beloved Boss. We all know of the obvious ones: Patti Smith Group’s “Because The Night” (Smith is listed as co-writer, but it was really Bruce’s song first), “Fire” by the Pointer Sisters, and that cover of “Blinded By The Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band that makes me blind with rage (let us never speak of it again.) But what about the not-so-well-known Springsteen covers?

I’ll start with one of my most recent favourite cover songs, Whitehorse’s version of “I’m On Fire”. Whitehorse is essentially husband-and-wife duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, both excellent solo artists in their own right. I like that this version squeezes more musical goodness out of the original, which was beautiful but all too short.

I admit, I don’t know much about Vampire Weekend beyond what I’ve heard on Songza’s Coffee Shop Indie playlist. But I do like what I’ve heard, and this cover of “I’m Goin’ Down” is no exception. It doesn’t stray much from the original track from Born In The USA, but it works for me.

Back to Nebraska: YouTube is full of surprises, like Chris Cornell’s version of “State Trooper” recorded live at a gig in New York. I’m not one for lengthy electric guitar noodling, but it’s a nice contrast to Bruce’s acoustic original.

Another version of “State Trooper” shows up prominently in search results: the one where Bruce teams up with Arcade Fire in Ottawa. I thought that was a one-off, until I found other Boss covers by Arcade Fire, like this one. The audio quality is shaky, but still captures the spirit of the performance.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I might actually prefer their version.

Bruce can do a mean Win Butler, too. Best part of this clip: dude completely losing his shit over the opening bars. And who wouldn’t?

(Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana)


Harvest Swoon: Kathleen Edwards

(Photo Credit: Tanja Tiziana)

I am by no means a fan of the blues, but I enjoy the vibe around downtown Fredericton when the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival arrives in early September. Most years I manage to find at least one show I’m interested in seeing. This year, hands down, it’s Kathleen Edwards.

I was in between jobs (read: unemployed) when Failer was released in 2003 (and haha, how fitting. I was already feeling a little Failer-ish at the time.) I borrowed her disc from the public library I worked at a few hours a week. I am an unabashed fan of women singer-songwriters, so she had me there. I loved her sound: a little alt-country, a little bit influenced by Neil Young, lyrics that suggested she’s had her heart broken more than a few times and that she might be a bit of a bad ass. Continue reading


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