With Jason Collett’s musical repertoire, it’s hard to believe he’s a carpenter by trade.
A veteran to the Canadian music scene, Collett’s toured with powerhouse collective Broken Social Scene, collaborated with artists like Feist, Emily Haines, and Hawksley Workman, and garnered critical acclaim in Canada as well as across the border.
But Collett isn’t quick to forget his humble roots.
Collett says he was skeptical of having the luxury of time to write when he made his transition from musical hobbyist to full-time musician after joining BSS.
“But it allowed me to really appreciate the little things, and I felt it was a real blessing to get,” he says.
However, Collett doesn’t have much free time in his schedule these days. This year has been one of the busiest for the indie rocker.
He’s been touring all year and released Rat a Tat Tat, his fourth full-length solo album, along with the companion EP To Wit To Woo in March. He released Pony Tricks — a collection of stripped-down acoustic recordings of some of his songs — just last month.
Rat a Tat Tat, a collaborative project with Mike O’Brien and Carlin Nicholson of Zeus, also made the 2010 Polaris Prize long list, spawning the catchy bass-driven single, “Love Is A Dirty Word.”
“It was more of an organic project that way,” Collett says of the collaboration. “We’ve developed a really good rapport as friends and musicians. They know me well and I trust them […] so it was a natural fit.”
As a result, the writing and recording process this time around varied from the familiar structure of past albums. Collett wrote songs with actual players in mind instead of having a revolving door of various musicians coming to play on the record.
“We just went in the studio and messed around,” Collett says. “And I find working that way really fruitful because you’re getting first impressions […] and nine times out of ten, if you’re going on good instincts, that’s what you want — that’s where the magic is.”
And for Collett, the magic itself is really in the mystery of songwriting.
“There’s a real element of mystery to [songwriting],” he says. “It’s like, where the hell do these things come from? Because I feel like I’m more of a vehicle than an inventor of songs.”
Recording in various studios and different environments, including an obligatory 48-hour “classic late night shambolic” recording session at Feist’s ranch, also added to the feeling of spontaneity on Rat a Tat Tat.
“[When] you’re up all night, tipsy and tired, and your brains are smoked out, you get to a very disarmed place where your intellect is fried,” Collett says. “So you’re just going on pure instinct.”
He hopes to expand on the intimacy of instinct on his current solo acoustic tour, aptly titled the “Undressed Tour,” where one can expect a reworking of his vast catalogue into stripped-down sessions of just him and his guitar — much like on Pony Tricks.
Bringing along Al Tuck, a musician he praises as “the greatest songwriter of [his] generation,” Collett is excited to play London’s Aeolian Hall — a venue he says really lends itself to a listening room.
“I find that I really like being able to play that way, be really vulnerable, and have less distance between the stage and the audience,” Collett says. “I think it’s ultimately what you’re trying to achieve — to have some kind of communication with who you’re playing with.”
This article was originally published on WesternGazette.ca
**Transcript of interview can be read here.
While television shows like American Idol rarely ever find musicians who can translate successfully into popular music sphere, it seems as if a shy Aussie beat the slim odds. Lisa Mitchell, an Australian Idol alum, stood out on the talent show for her coy, singer-songwriter demeanor. Released in 2009, Mitchell recorded her debut full-length Wonder in the UK, which has now reached Platinum in Australia. Canadians who do not know her might have actually heard one of her most popular singles, “Coin Laundry,” in a Bell Canada television ad (available for download below). She has been nominated for 3 ARIAs, won the Australian Music Prize (equivalent to Canada’s Polaris Prize) for Wonder, opened for Jason Mraz, and played big Australian festivals like Big Day Out.
Her musical style, some people may say, is full of soft child-like vocals and is unmistakably twee. Simple yet intricate in their arrangements, the girl has a penchant for multiple vocal track layers and most of her songs have the ability of making you smile. Go ahead, I dare you. Because regardless of whether or not you think she’s a musical revelation, you won’t be able to surpress your smile.
[MP3]: Lisa Mitchell – “Coin Laundry” (right-click, save as)
In a time when band names are getting more and more complicated, Washington is plain and simple. Washington is the moniker of Megan Washington and her band. I’ve only recently stumbled across this pop gem, and I’m not one to shy away from some good ‘ol pop music. She’s been really popular in Australia for the past year or so and just released her debut I Believe You, Liar. Her radio-friendly sound ranges from mellow pop like “Clementine,” to the quirky “How to Tame Lions” and even more polished, drilling tracks like “Cement.” Give her a listen, because I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about this this Aussie popstar soon enough.
[LISTEN]: Washington – “Clementine”
[MP3]: Washington – “How to Tame Lions” (right-click, save as)
[MP3]: Washington – “Cement” (right-click, save as)
This four-piece from Sydney been on the mouths of many recently and has been touted as one of the big upcoming acts for quite a while. They’ve toured with the likes of Tegan & Sara and they don’t even have a full-length record out yet. With three EPs under their belts and picking up steam, the Jezabels are starting to gain overseas recognition in North American. The band has played a slew of US dates and are gearing up for their Canadian tour. A mix of pop, rock, indie and even a little alternative thrown in at times, the Jezabels are a diverse band whose honest songs are universally relatable.
And Canada, Canada, Canada–please don’t miss this quartet when they come around next week (dates are below). Sadly, I won’t be in Toronto for the show as I’m stuck out of town for school, so please go and enjoy for me so I can live vicariously through you!
[MP3]: The Jezabels – “Easy to Love” (right-click, save as)
[MP3]: The Jezabels – “She’s So Hard” (right-click, save as)
[LISTEN]: The Jezabels – “Mace Spray”
Oct. 26 Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern
Oct. 28 Calgary, AB – The Republik*
Oct. 30 Vancouver, BC – Pit Pub (Uni of BC)*
Nov. 3 Edmonton, AB, The Starlite Room*
Nov. 4 Regina, SK – The Exchange*
Nov. 5 Saskatoon, SK – Amigo’s*
Nov. 6 Winnipeg, MB – The Royal Albert Arms*
Marina and the Diamonds / Young the Giants
Opera House, Toronto ON September 8
By Whitney Tam
Marina and the Diamonds (she is Marina Diamandis and her fans are the “diamonds”) has already established herself as an up-and-coming pop artist in her native UK, selling out shows and garnering a nomination for this year’s coveted BRIT Critic’s Choice award. With her first gig in Canada and her only stop in the country this tour at Toronto’s Opera House, Marina showcased the best The Family Jewels had to offer.
It would be easy to say that California’s Young the Giant are your typical indie rock band, but their lush arrangements, catchy guitar licks, and infectious energy were right on point to get the crowd hyped for Marina and the Diamond’s set.
The stunning raven-haired Brit sauntered on stage with a deadpan stare, shades, and an air of mystique that immediately commanded the full attention of the audience. She and her four-piece band opened the show with the appropriate “you-think-you-know-me-but-you-really-don’t” track, “The Outsider,” a sort of invitation to fans to really get to know Marina during the stretch of the show. Fan favourites like “I Am Not A Robot” and “Shampain” had the usually stiff Toronto crowd of 20-somethings jumping up and down and singing along word for word, while solo, piano-accompanied performances of “Numb” and “Obsessions” highlighted her unique brand of vocals (which are now stronger, steadier, and much improved).
Midway through the set, the band jammed to an instrumental build-up until Marina reappeared decked out in the infamous all-American letter jacket, dollar-sign glasses, and two (stuffed toy) burgers, signalling the jump into “Hollywood”―a humorous take on the starry-eyed, tabloid-obsessed society that is America.
Drilling through 12 of the 13 witty, radio-friendly tracks off her debut release, The Family Jewels, the show ended with a fitting two-song encore that summed up what separates Marina and the Diamonds from the never-ending crop of pop artists: her ability to flip pop culture on its head and create something new, honest, and unexpected. Stripped down to only a simple piano melody, she transformed 3OH!3′s raunchy “Starstrukk” lyrics into a subdued ballad (that if not executed properly could have been disastrous; luckily it wasn’t) and ended the night with chirpy “Mowgli’s Road,” the first single off her debut.
A true performer in all respects, Marina and the Diamonds put on a show that kept the audience captivated from start to finish, questionable dance moves and all. The entire set was laced with her distinct falsetto and signature high-pitched howls, yelps, wails, and cuckoos, and proved that she isn’t afraid to be quirky. Like she said in “Hollywood,” she isn’t Shakira or Catharine Zeta; she’s Marina. And her Diamonds were sparkling with her all night long.
This review was originally published on Exclaim.ca.