Wednesday, January 10, 2024
i came prepared for absolution, if you'd only ask

Here's some music I loved this last year:


boygenius - The Record/The Rest
The first EP was (what I assumed was going to be) a cool little one off: three friends who managed to find the time to bring a couple of songs each and record them together and then use it as an excuse to tour. The Record sounds like a real band. You can mostly still tell whose songs are whose, but there's a cohesiveness to the whole. But you probably knew all of that, because between 2018 and now Phoebe Bridgers blew up and then Boygenius really blew up. The Rest was technically the leftovers from the LP sessions, but they sound just as good as the main course.

Militarie Gun - Life Under the Gun
One of my favourite music writers, Tom Breihan, described this as "Agnostic Front trying to become Guided By Voices," and it turns out that rocks as much as it sounds. Catch them in March at the Rickshaw with Spiritual Cramp (who you could describe the same way as Tom described the Gun).

Earl Sweatshirt and the Alchemist - VOIR DIRE 
There's been rumours of an Earl/Alchemist collab for years but also as those years passed Earl's music's got so weird (and wonderful) and abstract, I figured it would just never happen. I definitely didn't think it would sound like this if it ever did happen. The Alchemist at his best and Earl at his most accessible since I Don't Like Shit... 

billy woods and Kenny Segal - Maps
I think I've probably said that billy woods "could rap the dictionary and make it sounds fascinating" and this isn't quite that, but the depth and colour he brings to the least glamorous parts of being a touring musician on Maps is about as close as you can get. He's been making incredible records for much longer, but the frequency of releases since Hiding Places combined with an unwavering quality release over release since then is amazing.

Jess Wiliamson - Time Ain't Accidental
Maps is an airplane record. One about jet setting around in a blur and how sharp the sounds and smells of home are after you've been gone. Time Ain't Accidental is a road trip record--an album that captures the American ideal of soaring down the highway. About getting away from where you were to make something new. It feels like that opening riff from "American Girl." It feels free.

Sun June - Bad Dream Jaguar
If Time Ain't Accidental's about new beginnings, Bad Dream Jaguar's about holding old things together. That's true, but also wouldn't it be annoying if I kept doing this for each subsequent album on this list? Catch them with Slaughter Beach, Dog in a couple weeks.

Miya Folick - Roach
I didn't really get the release strategy for this record--lead single "Oh God" came out way back in April of 2022 and by the time the record came out over a year later, ten of the thirteen songs we're out. But also I didn't get sick of any of them.

Wednesday - Rat Saw God
Maybe "diverse" is the wrong word, because it's all indie rock, but it runs the gamut from songs that would fit on a Gillian Welch record to moments that could be plucked off of an 80s Sonic Youth album and everything in between. They didn't grab me when I saw them live this year, but Rat Saw God's been in constant rotation.

Ratboys - The Window
Still disappointed that Rat Tally record came out last year and ruined a shot at a 2023 rat trifecta.

Armand Hammer - We Buy Diabetic Test Strips
I'm sure I'd seen the signs before, but I never noticed them before this album was announced and I looked it up. And then I noticed them--at least in certain neighbourhoods--in every American city I visited this year: we buy diabetic test strips. A reminder of the truly bleak state of American health care--and that's saying a lot because BC's sucks. Maps found billy woods rapping about the minutiae of his every day life, but his other 2023 release dives headlong into the darkness from the album title down (that's not to say that Maps is particularly easy listening). Elucid and woods always seem to push each other and various times on their latest it sounds like they're going to push themselves into a void. If you passed out and woke up in some kind of Mad Max future, "Trauma Mic" would be the first thing you heard.


Olivia Rodrigo - "get him back!"
This could've just as easily been "bad idea right?," but I'm a sucker for gang vocals on a chorus and the gang of Olivia's sound deliriously fun plotting their revenge together.

Chapell Roan - "Red Wine Supernova"
Speaking of deliriously fun, Chapell Roan crams more punchlines into 3-minutes than Donald Glover does on all the Camp songs, except it doesn't sound like she's trying really hard to do it. She fits just as many hooks in as well.

End It - "Familia Finito"
After I read Dan Ozzi's incredible profile on The Armed, I started joking that this was the year I became a "hardcore guy." And while that hasn't happened and that Armed record didn't hit me as hard as I wanted it to, this song sure did.

Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, and the Alchemist - "Mancala"
Earl and Vince have been a dynamic duo since the Odd Future days and they blessed us with two collabs on VOIR DIRE. This one's my favourite because of the gospel sample and the little "speak to Vince 'bout it" ally oop at the end of Earl's verse.

Hotline TNT - "If We Keep Hanging Out"
The shoegazey stuff is all well and good, but this lo-fi, mostly acoustic non-album loosey is my shit. 

Ratboys - "The Window"
Julia Steiner wrote this song after her grandmother died in June 2020. She didn't die of Covid, but because of Covid, her grandfather couldn't go in person to say goodbye, so he stood outside her open window to do it and a lot of lyrics are direct quotes from what he said to her that day. I can't imagine how painful that must have been, even if it made sense from a scientific perspective. To be with someone--to love someone--for so long and to be present, but not able to be by their side in their last moments is truly heartbreaking. So even though I adore this song, sometimes I have to turn it off, because it makes me want to bawl my eyes out. 

Jenny Owens Young - "Knife Went In"
It's probably not healthy, but who hasn't been in a place at some point in their life where they want to be with someone who has the same scars as them? I definitely don't want that now, but this captures that feeling pretty perfectly.

BigXthaPlug - "Texas"
This sounds like it could've come straight off of Who is Mike Jones? and that's about the highest compliment I can think of.

The Menzingers - "Hope is a Dangerous Little Thing"
I can't believe that no one told me to listen to this band, because if I had to describe them, it'd be "music for old guys who love the Hold Steady and the Weakerthans."

Samia - "Honey"
Obligatory do you wanna get emotional and hang out in New York? song. Also, name checking Porches and following that with a cover of "Country" was pretty cute.

billy woods and Kenny Segal - "Soft Landing"
billy woods' ability to absolutely cram a song full of "if you know, you know" references while simultaneously conveying exactly what he needs to even if you don't get any of the in-jokes is fully on display here. You probably loved it, if you caught the Prodigy (the Mobb Deep guy, not the electronica guys) lines, but if you didn't you could still relate to that moment of peace when you're looking out the plane window over flyover country. It's a quiet puzzle.

boygenius - "Cool About It"
This record, err I mean, The Record, has Julien songs and Phoebe songs and Lucy songs and then there's a couple that just sound like boygenius songs and those ones are the best.

FIDLAR - "Centipede"
There was that period where FIDLAR stopped writing songs like this and then all of a sudden a few of years ago they started again. And like, I get thinking you can't do the same thing forever, but also what if you're really really good at it? The boys are back.

Domo Genesis, the Alchemist, Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, and Action Bronson - "Elimination Chamber"
These guys could've really phoned it in and it still probably would've been passable. Instead they all dropped one of their best verses of the year (and at the end of the song you know that they know it). I'm a mark for a pro wrestling sample on a rap song too.

Miya Folick - "Get Out Of My House"
The hookiest song off of one of my favourite records of the year and maybe the best song from her live set too.

Dim Wizard w/Superviolet, Jeff Rosenstock, and Illuminati Hotties - “Ride the Vibe
David Combs, who also plays in Bad Moves, uses Dim Wizard to put out the occasional tune with a rotating cast of collaborators. Basically, he writes a song and then goes through his indie rock rolodex and invites whoever he thinks fits best to jam (see also: "X-Games Mode" featuring Ratboys and Mike Krol). 

This one's about a friend coming into a bar he was working at to share an early recording of Babies' "Breakin' the Law" with him (the Kevy in the chorus is Kevin Morby) and listen I don't now how fucking bad this song would've had to be for me to not make myself love it. Turns out it's excellent on its own merits though.

Fatboi Sharif, Roper Williams, and ELUCID - “Scrabble Board Pieces
My music taste really runs the gamut, but if I think back to periods where there was one genre I was really into, rap and noise stick out and this one marries the best of both.

Maple Glider - “Don’t Kiss Me
Here's one that simultaneously bleak (but also probably very familiar to any woman) and beautiful (which anyone can lean into).

Thrash Palace - “Go
I kinda thought we'd heard the last from EMA, since she hadn't really put any original music out for over half a decade, but then all of a sudden there was this song that answered the question, "what if EMA fronted a 90s Sub Pop band?" that came out as via the Sub Pop Singles Club. 10/10, I'll never doubt you again, Erika.

Boldy James and Nicholas Craven - “Brand New Chanel Kicks
When I got out of the hospital from a car accident that sounded many magnitudes less bad than the one Boldy was in, all I could do was get ripping high on oxy and watch Archer. Instead of lying around, he recorded some of the best bars of the year from a wheelchair the day he got out.


Laura Stevenson plays The Wheel with Completions and Katie Malco @ the Vera Project, Seattle

When I was walking from my hotel to the show it seemed like I was going to the same place as an increasingly larger group of younger women (which would check out) who were dressed vaguely like cowgirls (which doesn't, but what do I know about youth fashion?). Turns out Shania Twain was playing at Climate Pledge Arena which towers over the Vera Project. I wrote about this show here.

The Walkmen @ the Showbox, Seattle

I'd been approaching 00s bands getting back together with increasing trepidation. The shows have all been at least fine, but I think my nostalgia for seeing a lot of these bands was more about what it felt like at the time and--this is on me--it does not feel like that now. The Walkmen really seemed like they were thrilled to be playing together again though and that joy was contagious. Contagious enough that I had to catch myself and remember I was pushing 42, not 24. I wrote about this show here.

boygenius with Carly Rae Jepsen, and Illuminati Hotties @ PNE Amphitheatre, Vancouver

It's still very fun to see a band that the vast majority of the crowd absolutely adores. I wrote about this show here.

Lingua Ignota with Chat Pile @ the Rickshaw, Vancouver

This whole show was dark and loud and weird and wonderful. It's the kind of thing I would've crammed into the Emergency Room or some other quasi-legal venue to see 10 or 15-years ago and it was awesome that they packed a 600 seater instead. Chat Pile put out one of my favourite records of 2022 and managed to translate the dense, heavy vibes of God's Country to a live setting. 

There's no other way I can think of to describe Lingua Ignota than powerful. Kristin Hayter's been quoted calling her songs "survivor anthems" and her performance was simultaneously deeply captivating and deeply uncomfortable. Musically, and artistically it was incredible, but it also felt unsettlingly voyeuristic to watch someone express the pain of past abuses on stage with such raw emotion. 

It was the last tour for her Lingua Ignota songs with Hayter explaning that "this music has been excruciating to perform, and I know that what is healthiest for me is to stop performing it." It was a privilege to experience her doing it for one of the last times.

Miya Folick @ the Rio, Vancouver

I've fallen in love with a lot of Miya Folick songs over the last decade or so and she played exactly zero of the ones that came out before her most recent LP, but this show still rocked. Folick can really wail when she feels like it. And while there's less of that on Roach, it was still a treat to hear her sing live for the first time.

now playing: most of this stuff up there

Friday, September 29, 2023
maybe you're right/we're gonna have a good time tonight

I went to Seattle last weekend to see the Walkmen.

They occupy a similar space as Spoon for me, in that, for a long time, if you'd asked me who my favourite bands were, they wouldn't have been on the tip of my tongue, but also I own every one of their records, love them all (although I guess I grew to love a few that I didn't love at first), and saw them basically whenever they headlined a Vancouver show. Over a decade after their last show here though, I know what I like. And I like the Walkmen.

That said, all these 00s reunion gigs have been kinda hit or miss and when I bought the tickets, it was with the thought that maybe I'd go or maybe I'd just sell the tix. But I'm sure glad I went.

They would've been there for hours if they played everything I'd wanted to hear, but they played a big chunk of what I wanted to hear and even snuck in a Jonathan Fire*Eater cover (two if you count "Little House of Savages"). The latter came in the encore was dedicated to Fire*Eater bassist, Tom Frank, with Hamilton Leithauser joking that he might have turned in for the night already, but he "could watch it on YouTube with his kids tomorrow." It was a little jab that it seemed like the entire crowd could relate to, as it didn't seem like the band's been discovered by a new audience at all. Everyone there looked like they knew them from the first time around.

That was part of the reason that I wasn't sure how things were going to go. It was a Sunday night on the nostalgia circuit and the crowd and the band--save for Leithauser, who hasn't seemed to have aged--didn't seem like a group that really exerted a lot of energy on Sunday nights, myself included.

But it sure didn't feel like I was in my 40s on a Sunday.

"What's in it for Me" got things started with a slow simmer, but once they tore into "Wake Up" for song two, we were off to the races.

I'd forgotten how much I love how Paul Maroon's guitar sounds live, like it's ping ponging all over the place, sounding totally wild, but somehow like he's in control at the same time. And maybe it's kinda stupid to say "I love 'The Rat'." But I'd forgotten how much I really love "The Rat" when it's turned up loud--louder than I ever manage in headphones these days and much, much louder than I'll ever play over speakers in our sedate apartment.

It seemed like they'd forgotten a couple of things since they called it quits too, most notably, how much fun it is to play in a band with your some of your favourite people in the world. Maybe near the first ending it wasn't anymore. But on Sunday, they looked like they remembered again and were having the times of their lives. And Leithauser made sure he let everyone know just how happy he was to be there again. Up there on stage, but most importantly, up there with his best friends.

now playing: Wilco - "Ten Dead"


Wednesday, August 30, 2023
and if they try to slow you down, tell 'em all to go to hell

I started a podcast. It's going to be monthly and each episode will be about one Vancouver band and one of their songs. It's called Slang of the City and the first episode's about "The House That Heaven Built." Thanks to my friend Graham for joining me. You can find links to listen to it here.

now playing: Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built

Sunday, July 30, 2023
i'll give everything i've got/please take what i can give

Last time boygenius came through town way back in November of 2018 things were a little different. And, like, that's putting aside the myriad of stuff that's not directly related to the band. 

They played the Commodore--capacity 1,000--and the show was billed as "Julien Baker and Pheobe Bridgers with Lucy Dacus," because I'm not sure enough people would've known what was happening if they were just billed under the shared band name. But also, with just a self-titled EP to their shared credit, the bulk of the show really was the three individual sets (although the combined mini-set to close things out did highlight the night).

This time around, they played the PNE Ampitheatre, a venue that can hold about seven times what the Commodore can. That show poster just said "boygenius" at the top and that's all they needed to sell the whole place out weeks in advance. The set featured just a single song each from each individual artist. That EP, as good as it is, seemed like a fun excuse for three friends to tour together, but now they're supporting a critically acclaimed full length. Also, their opener has a Billboard Hot 100 #1 on her resume.

Illuminati Hotties started things off at the very un-rock and roll hour of 5:50pm, although Sarah Tudzin did her best to rock out anyways. We were still making our way in when they kicked things off with their (really great) latest single, "Truck." The energy amped up from there, with "Pool Hopping" from 2021's Let Me Do One More highlighting a very brief set. 

I think we were standing by Carly Rae Jepsen's family, some of whom were very cute in their CRJ garb. Maybe it's because I haven't been to an outdoor show in awhile, but the sun beating down on a glorified parking lot didn't exactly feel like the best venue for songs like "All That" and "Run Away With Me." Still, at this point, the pride of Mission's a veteran pro, and she showed it, tearing through a 15-song set that confidently plunked "Call Me Maybe" dead centre. 

I'm too old to really have an idea of how popular bands are with young people. I know the band's core audience is much younger than me and obviously they're getting pretty huge in general if they're playing MSG on this tour. But man, people fucking love boygenius.

Don't get me wrong, if you asked me, I would say that I love boygenius, but I don't really fall in love with new bands the same way I did when I was 15 or 25 or even 30. Last night, the PNE was full of people who are young enough to have a new favourite band though, and it sure seemed like for many of them, boygenius is it. It was awesome to see and based on how good the Record is and how good the band sounded performing it (and they performed all of it plus all of the EP, plus an unreleased the Record outtake), it's easy to understand why their popularity is exploding.

There's this infectious joy just radiating from that stage too. They look like they're having the best time up there and the crowd was more than happy to give all that energy back to them. All in all, it was one of those shows that felt pretty special.

now playing: Jenny Owen Youngs - Knife Went In

Wednesday, July 26, 2023
all i want to do is just sit here and write it all down and rest for awhile

I haven't really had a moment where I had to stick my neck out--like really risk something--to do what I felt was the right thing. I like to think that I'd do it. I imagine most people do. But even contemplating really having to throw something meaningful away feels daunting too. It seems downright terrifying to do it over and over again. 

But Sinead O'Connor did it. She's the fucking realest. 

And she also released one of the finest pop singles of all time. Rest in Power.

now playing: Sinead O'Connor - Black Boys on Mopeds

Monday, May 08, 2023
the hardest part is getting old

I took the train down to Seattle last weekend to see Laura Stevenson's Wheel 10th Anniversary tour.

I didn't hear Wheel when it was released. Laura Stevenson has kinda flown under the radar her whole career and she was definitely outside of my purview in 2013. But--as I've mentioned since I started sporadically jotting things down here again--her music is the music I've grown to love the most since I stopped writing this thing regularly. I'd have a hard time picking my favourite one of her records, but I fucking love Wheel, so I was stoked to hear the whole thing live and in full, especially since I missed her touring it the first time around.

I was also stoked to see a show at the Vera Project for the first time in ages (I think the last time was Shellac before Wheel even came out). Vera's a place that every city should have, but there's not many places like it. It's an always all ages venue that also hosts workshops, an art gallery, a screen print shop, and a recording studio. It's the kind of place I would've lived in when I was 15/16 and I'm just glad it exists. I wish we had something similar here.

Laura was on Craig Finn's (excellent) podcast, That's How I Remember It, and talked about the upcoming tour and how arrangement/production-wise, she did a lot of stuff in the studio because she could. And if I had a complaint about Wheel, it would be that it feels weirdly busy. On that note, it was nice to hear the songs, not exactly reimagined, but given a little space. Opener, "Renée," is a song that already sounds so moving in it's recorded version and it made me well up a little when it reached its climax (quoted in the title of this blog). Most of the familiar flourishes were there, but that extra breathing room really centred things on Laura's voice.

I also loved how it was just dead quiet during songs. As I mentioned above, Laura's kinda flown under the radar and I'd take that further to say it's kinda weird that she's not more popular, especially now, considering how much attention a lot of acts she's inspired are getting. But that also meant that people who go to see her are really there to see her and there wasn't the usual ambient chatter during the quiet parts.

I wish there'd been more time for more songs after the Wheel set, but the encore did included a really beautiful cover of "Strong Enough" (here's that from the night before in Portland) with opener Katie Malco and Kayleigh Goldsworthy (who was on keys and violin in Laura's band). Shout out to soon-to-be Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Sheryl Crow.

now playing: Laura Stevenson - "Telluride"

Saturday, February 18, 2023
just be in love when you love that song on and on


Happy 20th birthday to one of my favourite records of all time. And thanks to one of my favourite music writers for giving it a proper write up.

now playing: Cat Power - He War



upcoming shows
2/8 Twin Sister, Eleanor Friedberger, and Ava Luna @ the Media Club
2/9 David Choi @ the Rio
2/10 Secret Chiefs 3 and Dengue Fever @ the Rickshaw
2/13 White Buffalo @ the Media Club
2/14 The Ballyntines and Pleasure Cruise (TT) @ the Biltmore
2/18 Grimes w/Born Gold @ Fortune (early)
2/18 Cruel Young Heart, Young Liars, the Oh Wells, and Matiation @ the Dodson Rooms (AA)
2/18 Cursive w/UME @the Media Club
2/19 The Asteroids Galaxy Tour w/Vacationer @ Venue
2/20 Veronica Falls w/Bleached @ the Media Club
2/26 DJ Krush @ Fortune
2/29 Trevor Hall @ the Media Club
3/6 Slow Club w/Signals @ the Media Club
3/7 Cloud Nothings w/Mr. Dream @ the Media Clubr
3/8 Islands @ the Rio
3/10 Memoryhouse @ the Waldorf
3/17 William Fitzsimmons @ the Biltmore (early)
3/18 Magnetic Fields @ the Vogue (AA)
3/21 Plants & Animals>/b> @ the Rickshaw
3/22 Drive-by Truckers @ the Commodore
3/23 White Rabbits @ the Biltmore
3/23 Loney Dear @ the Media Club
3/24 Sharon Van Etten and the War on Drugs @ the Biltmore (early)
3/25 Nada Surf and An Horse @ the Rickshaw
3/27 The Ting Tings @ the Commodore
4/5 House de Racket @ the Electric Owl
4/6 Chairlift w/Nite Jewel @ the Electric Owl
4/7 Heartless Bastards @ the Media Club
4/8 Metronomy @ Venue
4/8 Gotye @ the Vogue (AA)
4/9 Cults @ Venue
4/10 First Aid Kit @ Venue
4/10 Andrew Bird w/Laura Marling @ the Vogue (AA)
4/13 The Odds and the Grapes of Wrath @ the Rickshaw
4/14 The Joel Plaskett Emergency @ the Vogue (AA)
4/24 School of Seven Bells w/Exitmusic @ the Electric Owl
4/26 Justice @ the PNE Forum (AA)
4/27 M83 @ the Vogue (AA)
4/27 Yukon Blonde @ the Commodore
4/28 Neon Indian @ Venue (early)
5/6 Delta Spirit w/Waters @ the Electric Owl
5/9 Yann Tiersen @ the Rickshaw
5/11 Great Lake Swimmers w/Cold Specks @ the Commodore
5/12 The Boxer Rebellion> @ the Biltmore
5/27 Coeur de Pirate @ Venue

AA = all ages
DG = @damaged goods
DFTK = @dirty for the kids
FJW = @fake jazz wed
EN = @easy now
GD = @glory days
HL = @higher learning JH = @junior high
JY= @junkyard
RRPP = @rocknroll pizza party
SD = @shindig
TT = @toonie tuesday
NW = @no worries

more shows
the biltmore
the railway
the red room

club action
culture club
damaged goods
east van soul club
glory days
ice cream social
no more strangers
wild zero

local favourites

mostly music
a day in the life of...
a reminder
chipped hip
duncan's donuts
expressway to my skull
goodnight neverland
hero hill
the indie files
my indie world
radio zero
the skinny
weird pop vancouver
winnie cooper

red cat

formed a band
the abramson singers
black mountain
the clips
fine mist
no gold
nu sensae
twin crystals
white lung

dj kicks
betti forde
cam dales
dg djs
expendable youth
john cougar
paul devro

everything else
beyond robson
chez nous presents
linds & nicola
ryan walter wagner
safe amplification site society
the straight
twee death
urban diner
vancouver is awesome
vanity presents

everywhere else

brooklyn vegan
copy, right
feed your habit
for the 'records'
good weather for airstrikes
gorilla vs. bear
i am fuel, you are friends
i (heart) music
largehearted boy
mad decent
mcnutt against the music
more cowbell
music (for robots)
my old kentucky blog
the outernet
palms out sounds
pop (all love)
rock, paper, pixels
said the gramophone
soul sides
songs: illinois
weird canada

you ain't no picasso

cbc radio 3
coke machine glow
glorious noise
schedule two
tiny mixtapes




on repeat
i'll make you a tape
one song
promo pile

previous posts
i came prepared for absolution, if you'd only ask
maybe you're right/we're gonna have a good time to...
and if they try to slow you down, tell 'em all to ...
i'll give everything i've got/please take what i c...
all i want to do is just sit here and write it all...
the hardest part is getting old
just be in love when you love that song on and on
going once, going twice, now i'm sold
all we want from you are the kicks you've given us
i read it in a fanzine/it wasn't even in/some big ...


mp3s are for preview purposes, if you like what you hear, buy it at your favourite indie record store. please don't direct link to photos. click for more.

writing by Quinn
unless noted

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