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Ultimate Valentine's Day playlists: The smooth, the seductive, and the sappy

Jordan Yerman
Feb 13th, 2013

Katrina and the Waves: "Walking on Sunshine" makes two of Spotify's lists of top love songs. Still from music video: EMI Records.

The Best Love Songs for Valentine's Day

Spotify has given us the ultimate Valentine's Day playlists. The following musical collections contain soulful heavyweights, a few retro gems, and one or two sappy-sweet classics.

If you're in a relationship this Valentine's Day, play these tunes for your special someone as you set the table for the special V-day dinner that you've been planning for ages. Because you've been planning for ages... right?

If you're single... well, feel free to play these tunes ironically. With offerings from Bryan Adams, Richard Marx, and Céline Dion, that shouldn't be too hard. However, I must insist that you give "Walking on Sunshine" your full respect.

Vancouver thrash-punks Joyce Collingwood gear towards a jump

Bianca Pencz
Jul 30th, 2012

Image source: Joyce Collingwood's Twitter.

My interview with Vancouver thrash-punks Joyce Collingwood didn’t start out the way you would expect. We didn’t start talking about the new material they’re recording — or about the departure of their singer — but about Molly Ringwald.

“I love Pretty in Pink,” said Gillian Callander, Joyce’s bubbly bassist. “I just love John Hughes movies, all of them.” Sitting cross-legged on their studio floor with a beer in hand, vocalist and guitarist Twitch Carreras nodded along, her cork-screw hair almost dwarfing the rest of her.

If Hughes had ever made a movie about a hardcore outfit, a band like Joyce Collingwood could have been the stars.

Despite their fast and furious sound, the musical equivalent of a slammed shot of Bacardi 151, the band members themselves aren’t quite as intimidating. They’re the types of girls who’d say, “Radical!” without a hint of irony, and probably high-five you at the same time.

“As individuals, we laugh a lot,” said Callander. “Everyone’s always like, ‘You play that music? But you’re so nice!’ It’s all fun. Nobody goes to a show and says, ‘I’m so angry now!’”

Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2012: photos

Jenny Uechi
Jul 15th, 2012

Photos by Craig Fleisch

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival brought back its magic to Jericho Beach this weekend. This year's event brings big names like Ani DiFranco, Dan Mangan and Lucinda Williams, but every artist in this event is worth watching. Sunday is the last day to catch the show: don't miss the chance to see some of the best live music performances you'll see all year.     

If you missed the gorgeous sunny weather on Saturday, don't fret: you'll still get a chance to see your favorite acts today. Ani DiFranco takes the stage again at 11:35 this morning, as well as Holly Near and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. Check out the schedule. 

Watch for more event coverage to come on The Vancouver Observer.

Here are some more photos from photographer Craig Fleisch: 

The controversy surrounding Manu Militari

Dan McPeake
Jul 14th, 2012

24Hours Vancouver columnist Leo Knight recently wrote a piece condemning Montreal rapper Manu Militari and praising the fact the certain government officials are calling for a review of Heritage Funding.  Now for those not in the know, let me backtrack a little. Militari released a single, “L’Attente”, a few months ago. The subsequent music video – released just a couple of weeks ago – has everyone up in arms.

The video allegedly shows attacks on Canadian troops from Afghanistan and is told from the perspective of an Afghani soldier. Almost immediately, there were cries that the video was pro-Taliban and anti-military. Conservative Manitoba MP James Bezan recently wrote an angry rant that saying that he found the video "offensive" and didn’t believe that this was "proper use of taxpayer money."

Meet Vancouver's hottest hometown girl: Grimes, aka Claire Boucher

Bianca Pencz
Jun 25th, 2012

Pictures from Claire Boucher, aka Grimes' Facebook page

From Rolling Stone to W Magazine, it's all about Grimes.

W talked about her "saucer-sized eyes and tendency to curse," and said the Montreal-based musician "looks and acts like a comic book nerd’s dream girl." Rolling Stone called her ballads "sumptuous" and recounted that she cooked up her music with GarageBand in her bedroom.

When Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) was a baby in Vancouver, she constantly hummed to herself, her mother, Sandy Garossino, told the Vancouver Observer. Born loving music, Grimes began creating it early, in her own way. “Everything starts with beats for her," Garossino said.

Scissor Sisters lose a bit of their magic with new album Magic Hour

Bianca Pencz
Jun 7th, 2012

Image from the band's Facebook.

With respect, the Scissor Sisters are not ones to compromise their rainbow-tinted vision. The "Filthy, Gorgeous" hitmakers used a flexed male derrière as the cover of their last album, the phenomenal Night Work, as a "fuck you" to critics who had accused the band of turning from the gay fanbase that made them famous.

But, as evidenced by the schizophrenic quality of their new album Magic Hour, a little compromise, a reining-in, would have been a good thing.

White Lung melts faces with brand-new record Sorry at the Biltmore

Bianca Pencz
May 29th, 2012

Picture of White Lung from the band's Facebook.

Punk band White Lung is as beloved by the Vancouver scene as the smell of PBR. To anyone who attended the release party for their new LP Sorry, Thursday night at Biltmore Cabaret, it’s easy to see why.

The night started calmly enough. The audience gradually filled the floor, walking slowly forward from the shadows like zombies to the living, to watch Men at Adventure. Almost a poppy version of fellow locals Shearing Pinx, their sound was a fitting opener.

Zia McCabe ponders the mysteries of life, and The Dandy Warhols' new album

Bianca Pencz
May 23rd, 2012

Images from the band's Facebooks.

From performing naked, to releasing their own mixes of years-old records, to writing a “goth” album for their newest release, This Machine, The Dandy Warhols have become known for consistently doing whatever they want and making it work for them.

The Dandys’ flame-haired synth-mistress Zia McCabe said that’s what keeps the sparks flying, 18 years and 10 albums on, when I talked to her last Thursday from their tour bus, winding through San Francisco at the time.

“We're always trying to fill a gap, taste-wise. Not in a trying-to-be-different kind of way, but what needs do we have for music that aren’t being satisfied? We satisfy it for ourselves,” she said. “That's why you get so much diversity with our albums.”

McCabe had had a trying week, rescheduling our interview twice in two days. But the tour route beckons, and she’s eager to answer the call.

Jonny Pierce of The Drums talks change, North America and Dolly Parton

Bianca Pencz
Apr 28th, 2012

Photos from The Drums' official site.

Brooklyn indie-poppers The Drums will be hitting Vancouver in less than two weeks, at Venue on May 8.

Everything about the band is classically simple, from their music, to their
clean-cut American boy style—right down to their two-syllable name. A drum is immediate, visceral, and it suits them perfectly.

They made their first splash in 2010, with the reissue of their 2009 single “Let’s Go Surfing”. Since then, it’s been a story of quick success and further charting singles.

“We only do songs that we really love,” singer (and unique dancer) Jonny Pierce told the VO last week. “The fact that other people love them too is a humbling thing.”

The Raveonettes rave on as usual on new EP Into the Night

Bianca Pencz
Apr 25th, 2012

Photos from their official Facebook.

The Raveonettes' new EP Into the Night is business as usual for the Danish duo. But when "business as usual" means visionary noise pop and velvet-black melodies, who's really complaining?

The four tracks sound a bit like B-sides from last year's full-length Raven in the Grave, but that's not to say that they aren't as engaging. The first descending guitar notes lead you into a underground of sound grown thick with fuzz, from which shadowy noise pop and Sune Rose Wagner's and Sharin Foo's androgynous harmonies echo.

Their lyrics, always a highlight (despite their dark tendencies), are still that great balance of self-aware humour and teenage-blind emotion: "Oh heartbreak, I hate you," or, "Do you care if I die? Do you care if I die?"

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