Interview: Ann Vriend (Canada) 2015 Australian Tour

Ann Vriend
Image Courtesy of Ann Vriend

Interview originally published on Overheard Productions

Ann Vriend is always a popular visitor to Australia at about this time every year.

The contrasts between frozen Alberta, Canada and sizzling Australia are rarely more stark than in January/February, so Ann can hopefully leave the tissues and cough syrup behind, and look forward to sandy beaches, dazzling coral reefs, and the inside of a string of popular Australian venues.

On an afternoon when frying eggs on the pavement in rural Queensland was definitely an option, Bill Quinn spoke with Ann from her sick bed in Edmonton, as she was putting the final touches on her tour, and readying to hop on a plane the following week.

Tour dates for Ann Vriend in Australia:

Saturday 24th January – The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Thursday 29th January – The Reef Casino, Cairns, Qld
Friday 30th January – Sovereign Resort Hotel, Cooktown, Qld
Saturday 31st January – The Reef Casino, Cairns, Qld
Sunday 1st February – Brisbane Jazz Club, Fortitude Valley, Qld
Thursday 5th February – House Concert, Tallai, Qld
Friday 6th February – Mother’s Milk, Sawtell, NSW
Saturday 7th February – Sunset Studio, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 8th February – Ellington Jazz Club, Perth, WA
Tuesday 10th February – House Concert, Fremantle, WA
Thursday 12th February – Paris Cat Jazz Club, Melbourne, Vic
Friday 13th February – Dodges Ferry, Tas
Saturday 14th February – Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Tas
Saturday 14th February – Mountain Mumma, Sheffield, Tas
Sunday 15th February – Old Hepburn Hotel, Hepburn Springs, Vic
Monday 16th February – School Concert, Bendigo, Vic
Thursday 19th February – Django Bar, Marrickville, NSW
Friday 20th February – Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, Canberra, ACT
Friday 27th February to Sunday 1st March – Cobargo Folk Festival, NSW

Keep tabs on any changes and additions at Ann’s gig page.

East Coast Canadian showcases in Sydney and Melbourne

Andy Brown
Image Courtesy of Andy Brown

Canadians Andy Brown (above) and Dave Gunning were last minute support acts last Friday night at The Basement in Sydney, as Folk Uke performed their last gig in Australia before heading back to the US. (Jodi Martin was also on the line-up, making it one hell of a value-packed evening’s entertainment.)

For Dave and Andy, it was a good teaser for two East Coast Canadian showcases this week. Bill Quinn (Overheard Productions) was in the audience and took the chance between brackets to grab a few words with Andy Brown at the merch desk.

Bill Quinn: Andy, which part of Canada are you from?

Andy Brown: From the east coast of Canada, the province of New Brunswick.

BQ: You were telling some amazing stories on stage, but before we get to that, can you tell us ‘The Andy Brown story’?

AB: I’ve been playing music my whole life. I really started taking it serious a few years ago. I put out an album called False Alarm. I had a lot of success with that; had it featured in a big show that was all over the world, and went to number one iTunes.

And that helped me afford to pay for my new album “Tin Man” which I produced myself on the east coast at Halifax at the Sonic Temple.

And because of so many great people here in Australia, I’ve come here, and released it here before I’ve released it in my own country.

BQ: And what’s the reaction been so far?

AB: Great. Just did Woodford Folk Festival – I mean, that spot is magical in general – and everybody seemed to be enjoying the music and the stories behind it. Because I poured a lot into the actual message of every song, so I’m really proud of it.

BQ: Was there anything that prepared you for Woodford?

AB: No! I had no idea what I was in for, and I couldn’t be happier. It was so magical; it was really magic.

BQ: Actually, are there Canadian words for ’40 degrees Centigrade’? Does that actually translate?

AB: Ah… ‘hell on earth’!!

No, we were sleeping in tents, and I remember we both looked at each other and said, ‘I think our organs are melting!’

But we went and got an air-conditioned hotel room as soon as we were back, and it was very glorious! I think you don’t realise how much you welcome the snow until you spend your first Christmas away from the snow.

BQ: So, you’re here in Australia for just over another week, and you’ve got a couple of gigs coming up.

AB: I’m playing on Tuesday 8th January at Notes Live – an East Coast Canadian showcase with me, Dave Gunning, Tim Chaisson and Vishten. And a traditional Australian fiddle band called Cole and Van Dijk.

And then we’re off to Melbourne and play the Caravan Club on Friday 11th January.

And kicking home on the 14th – unless I don’t get a passport, in which case, I’m here forever!

BQ: You said on stage you lost it, is that right?

AB: Yeah, I don’t know how I did it. I’m still convinced that it’s going to turn up and I’m going to be mad as hell because I spent a bunch of money on getting a new one.

Better safe than sorry!

BQ: OK! Andy, it’s been great talking with you. Thanks very much.

AB: Yeah, thanks so much.

Dates for the two East Coast Canadian showcases:

Tuesday 8th January – Notes Live, Newtown, NSW
Friday 11th January – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC

Dan Mangan’s “Oh Fortune” Album Streaming

Image Courtesy of Dan Mangan

<Follow this link to Exclaim’s exclusive stream of Dan Mangan’s upcoming album “Oh Fortune>

If you take some time out to listen carefully and really reflect on Dan Mangan‘s last record, 2009’s Nice, Nice, Very Nice, it hits you like a ton of bricks how extraordinary this album really was. Personally, songs like “Road Regrets”, “Robots”, “Indie Queens Are Waiting”, “Sold”, “Fair Verona”, and “Basket” are all amongst my all-time favourites from any artist. Producing this many outstanding “single” quality tracks on one album is a remarkable feat, and something it will be interesting to see if Dan Mangan can repeat with his upcoming album Oh Fortune.

Well, thanks to Canadian website Exclaim you can find out for yourself. Keep in mind though, Dan Mangan‘s the kind of artist that grows on you over a few listens.

<Follow this link to Exclaim’s exclusive stream of Dan Mangan’s upcoming album “Oh Fortune”>

There’s plenty of great professionally made videos of Dan Mangan out there on the internet, but I’ve always found this live performance to be particularly powerful.

Elliott BROOD Announce New Album “Days Into Years”

Image courtesy of Elliott BROOD

There’s no other band quite like Canada’s 3-piece death-folk outfit Elliott BROOD. Taking folk’s precarious link with punk to another level, Elliott BROOD often combine the intensity of the heavier end of the punk spectrum (particularly vocally) with traditional instrumentation and melodic arrangements.

Elliott BROOD‘s records have been growing increasingly outstanding with each release, culminating in 2008’s Mountain Meadows. One can only hope that this next record titled Days Into Years, which will be released on the 27th of September by Paper Bags Records, will follow suit and be equally well bequeathed with gems. Paper Bag Records are pre-selling the new album at the moment (via this link). Some personal advice- preorder Cuff The Duke’s new pre-selling album from this small Canadian label while you’re at it ( and save on postage!).

To get a bit of an idea what the new record will sound like, have a listen to the “Northern Air” below. “Banjo Song” is particularly Timber & Steelin’ (a new term that I recently coined to describe music that typifies T&S), but it doesn’t appear to have made the album cut according to the tracklisting (below). Also head to the Paper Bag Records Facebook page to download a new song “If I Get Old”.

  1. Lindsay
  2. Lines
  3. If I Get Old
  4. Hold You
  5. Will They Bury Us?
  6. West End Sky
  7. Northern Air
  8. My Mother’s Side
  9. Owen Sound
  10. Their Will

Download “Count On Me” from Cuff The Duke’s upcoming “Morning Comes” Album

Image courtesy of Cuff The Duke

Cuff The Duke are leading the charge of Canadian alt-country outfits with just enough “indie” to keep the kids interested; which is really saying something. Cuff The Duke are poised to release their 5th album Morning Comes on October 4th, and they’re giving us all the opportunity to hear and own the first single, “Count On Me”, for free via their Facebook page. The album art is up top and the track listing is down below. If you like your Boy & Bear and your Johnny Flynn, or similar Canadian acts like Elliott Brood and The Wooden Sky- then it’s worth you checking out Cuff The Duke.

<Follow this link to download “Count On Me”>

1. When The Time Is Right
2. You Don’t know What It’s Like
3. Count On Me
4. Standing On The Edge
5. Brightest Part Of The Sun
6. Bound To Your Advice
7. So Many Times Before
8. Drag Me Down
9. Letting Go

Feist To Release New Album “Metals” (+details)

Image courtesy of Feist

Feist has been around the block a few times, there’s no denying it- but it wasn’t until her most recent 2007 album The Reminder that the Canadian songstress finally started to pick up the acolades she deserves. Needless to say, the world’s been patiently waiting for her next body of work to surface- right up until this week when she announced the upcoming release of her new album Metals.  The album will be released on October 4th. Follow this link to her official website to watch the numerous promo clips and look at pre-ordering this very promising work. Track listing is below:

1. The Bad in Each Other
2. Graveyard
3. Caught a Long Wind
4. How Come You Never Go There
5. A Commotion
6. Bittersweet Melodies
7. Anti-Pioneer
8. The Undiscovered First
9. Cicadas and Gulls
10. Woe Be
11. Comfort Me
12. Get It Wrong Get It Right

Spotlight On: Chad Vangaalen

Image courtesy of Chad Vangaalen

“Recluses” always make the best artists. There’s just an inherent difference in all that they do, as if they’re taking art ever so slightly out of the context of the world. Canadian singer/songwriter Chad Vangaalen, from all reports, is a fine example of this. Whilst I’m relatively new to his music, I’ve been listening to his latest two albums recently including Diaper Island, which was only released a couple of weeks ago, on the 17th of May, and would have to be in my list of top five releases of the year thus far.

Chad Vangaalen’s music is diverse enough to move between decidedly different genres within the same record- sometimes out-and-out folk, sometimes moving closer to experimental electronic- but always somehow relevant and definable under the indie-pop umbrella. His voice might be one that requires a taste. It’s hard to be sure. I’m a big fan. In tracks that delve further towards electronica, his piercing voice sounds perfectly suited to it, and not unlike the kind of voice that typifies the genre- like Passion Pit or MGMT or something- but in the folkier tracks he doesn’t sound dissimilar to a version of Fleet Floxes without their trade-mark group vocals. What really typifies his sound is the slightly distorted and prominent electric guitar riffs that monopolise his arrangements. It sounds like acoustic music that’s been electrified for fun- and whilst we’re big fans of acoustic music here at Timber & Steel, it’s just impressive that Chad Vangaalen might be able to carve a unique sound out for himself with something against the grain in such a very simple way. Case and point; the first single from Vangaalen’s new album “Peace Is on the Rise” (below).

Whilst Vangaalen was moved out of his tiny little basement studio for the recording of his latest album, I can’t identify a too bigger stylistic change because of it. Sup Pop have released the latest record, and you can follow this link to their website where you can download the new single, as well as 8 other, older tracks for free. 

Country of Origin: Canada (Calgary)

File Under: Indie pop

Sounds Like: Folk music for surfers


Free Download: New Elliott BROOD- “Northern Air”

Image courtesy of Elliott Brood

Elliott Brood are one of the best live acts I’ve seen, and they were one of the very first acts I spotlighted for Timber and Steel; an article in which I explained how I’d recently gone and seen them play a free show at a practically vacant Jive venue in Adelaide last year. I think they’re the epitome of the alt-country revival coming out of Canada right now, and what has me really excited about them is the fact that their music has been slowly getting better since the release of their debut EP, Tin Type, in 2004. This release and their debut album, Ambassador, were fantastic, but had room for improvement, and that slack was more than taken up by their sophomore album, and most recent album to date, Mountain Meadows. The 13 track album is one of my favourite albums full stop, and I’m curious to know whether the band fulfilled their potential with the record, or whether they have so-far unused gears to push on with.

This album was released in 2008, so it’s been a long time between drinks for fans-of-Brood. The new song, “Northern Air”, somewhat suggests an evolutuion in Elliott Brood‘s sound. Whilst slide guitars, banjos, acoustic guitars and Mark Sasso’s trademark husky voice are still prominent features- you can hear harmonica licks creeping into the music, which I’ve never noticed before. Piano is also a heavy element of the song, which had been used in a couple of songs on the last album, but being a 3 piece (with each member contributing multiple instruments as it is), perhaps this will be sacrificed live, or an additional member will be required. Either way, the change is welcome and has got me anticipating the new album all the more, which is to be called Days Into Years. No release date has been set (that I can find), but a special edition 7 inch record including “Northern Air” will be released sometime this month. Download the track for free below:

Oh! Canada Mixtapes by The Line Of Best Fit

Image courtesy of The Line Of Best Fit

One of my favourite music websites is one out of The UK called The Line Of Best Fit. They do a great job of unearthing new music from around the world, and a lot of it overlaps with the kind of stuff Timber & Steel look out for. Their writers and reviewers are talented, their insight is phenomenal, and their work-load is commendable. One of my favourite aspects of the website is the Oh! Canada column which brings to light new music specifically from Canada. When they started publishing this column in mid 2009 they also began releasing free compilation mixtapes showcasing the bands that they wanted to stand behind. You may remember the story we posted publicising the release of their Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux mixtape in December which featured some fantastic indie-folk bands like The Mountains & The Trees, The Wilderness of Manitoba, Woodpigeon & The Great Lake Swimmers. Little did I know at that stage that these mixtapes are released regularly with new artists and songs to discover. Just recently TLOBF released Oh! Canada Volume 15, which, as always, is available for free download. The music on these mixtapes varies in style, so if you’re only looking for specifically folk-ish tracks you’ll have to comb through them- but I’ve gone through the archives and have found the articles for all of the Oh! Canada mixtapes ever produced by TLOBF, and they’re all linked below:

Juno Award Nominees- A Folk Lover’s Guide


Image courtesy of Basia Bulat

Those who read Timber & Steel religiously would know that we tend to follow the Canadian music scene pretty closely. It’s not just the quality of music permeating the great northern land that we’re interested in, it’s the fact that there’s an overwhelming proportion of musicians blending folk influences amongst others, and creating new, however less traditional, breeds of folk. Although the majority of the exciting movements in Canadian music aren’t so much recognised in the mainstream frontier (which is no doubt the same in every country), the Juno awards aren’t completely void of excitement, as we hope to show. Check out a full list of nominees here.

Arcade Fire

There’d be very few readers out there now that aren’t well versed in Arcade Fire. If you hadn’t heard of them before, you’d have probably heard their name connected with their recent Grammy success. There’s no doubt that these guys are indie-rockers first and foremost, but their weaving of traditional influences and instrumentation into their music has made them a T&S friendly act, right from the get-go. This year they’ve been nominated for Album of the Year, Group of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year.

Basia Bulat

This young lady might just be the most exciting artist on this list. As an old-time folk lover, you can easily hear a traditional Irish-like sound in there, which is only thinly veiled by a more contemporary and alternative exterior. She has a fantastic voice, and is one hell of an autoharpist. She’s been nominated for New Artist of the Year.

Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene are in the same boat as Arcade Fire, being an outright indie-rock group with a folky twist. This collective is undoubtedly Canadian music royalty, including members of Stars, Apostle of Hustle, The Weakerthans, Metric, Jason Collett and Feist. They utilise strings, woodwind and brass instruments to achieve large, glorious and layered sounds. They’ve been nominated for Group of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year.

Del Barber

Del Barber is a roots artist with a strong American folk influence, and enough of an indie stripe to have been pedalled by younger audiences. He has a couple of albums, but to be honest, this is the first time I’ve checked him out. I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve heard so far, and intend to keep a close eye on him. He has been nominated for Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year.

Hannah Georgas

This Vancouver-based acoustic singer-songwriter is making really interesting pop songs with lavish arrangements. Her fresh interpretation of Tori Amos-like alt-pop is really refreshing, and has earned her nominations for New Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Definitely T&S friendly. Earlier in the week, editor Evan Hughes credited me with publishing the first female nipple on Timber & Steel, so by posting the video below, I’m really hoping to build somewhat of a rep. for “bringing the sex”, so to speak. It’s a great song, though…

Justin Rutledge

We’ve been covering Rutledge’s goings on here at Timber & Steel ever since he won my heart with the live version of “Don’t Be So Mean, Jellybean” on his myspace (seriously, go check it out!). He’s signed to Six Shooter Records, who give us some great Canadian acts, and you won’t regret spending the time to get to know him, especially his latest album The Early Widows, for which he’s been nominated for Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year. He’s made a couple of short films/acoustic performance videos. An older one is embedded below, but follow this link for another really good one.

Le Vent Du Nord

This is a really cool act, and I’m glad I came across them. They play traditional Quebecois folk music, and yes that’s exactly how it sounds- French, Celtic music. Confused? Canada loves them. They’re nominated for the Group Roots & Traditional Album of the Year.

Luke Doucet

Luke Doucet is a country styled singer-songwriter who has been a landmark on the Canadian roots-music landscape for some time. He’s released 8 records on Six Shooter Records (solo and with his band Veal), the latest of which has been nominated for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Watch him perform a song about an ex-girlfriend with his wife, Melissa McClelland, below. So awkward.

Old Man Luedecke

Old Man Luedecke has recently finished a decent tour of Australia which saw him wowing crowds across the eastern states and Tasmania with his traditional, quick-picking banjo stylings. I’ve heard people say that he was one of the highlights at Woodford Folk Festival, and I’m not surprised. Old Man Luedecke‘s laid back country charm allows him to really engage with the listener. He’s no stranger to the Juno Awards either, taking out the Solo Roots & Traditional Album of the Year in 2009. And he’s been nominated for the same award again for his latest album, My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs.

Owen Pallett

Owen Pallett is a very rare talent. His brand of indie-folk is often compared to Andrew Bird and Sufjan Stevens, and with good reason. Pallett is a fantastic instrumentalist and vocalist who masterfully uses loop-pedals to create swirling layers of full and textured compositions that have all the power of a small orchestra. He has recently toured Australia as well, and played alongside Sufjan Stevens as part of Sydney Festival at The Opera House. His first release under his name (he previously released material as Final Fantasy), Heartland, has been nominated for Alternative Album of the Year. I hope he wins.

Royal Wood

Royal Wood is a creator of classic, organic, and usually acoustic pop music.  From what I’ve heard of him, he favours the piano as his fundamental instrument. He’s a little bit Lior, in that his sound is obviously very derivative, but unique and personal enough to an extent that allows people to become very loyal to it. He’s been around for a while, and i look forward to checking out his past works. He’s been nominated for the Songwriter of the Year award.

Said The Whale

I was surprised to see Said The Whale nominated for New Group of the Year, mainly because I thought they were already an established act. They’ve certainly been gracing my iTunes for some time. Regardless, they do deserve some accolades swung their way. They’re an indie-rock band, who utilise acoustic instruments a lot of the time. I’m a folk lover, and they do something for me. Embedding is disabled for my favourite folk track of their’s, but you can follow this link to view it, or take your chances on the video below.

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