The End of Birds.

Hey folks, well it's been 2 months since my last post. I think that's a sign. I started this blog almost 3 years ago, really just for myself. I wanted a place to talk about music, film and Toronto. I also used it as a way to talk to people I looked up to. People like Barzin, Wilderness of Manitoba, Nick Zubeck... people who've become friends.

So here's what I'm doing. I won't be posting here no more. I'll leave the site up at this address for a while, and when my "Lease" runs out, I'll post the Blogger address. From now on, I'll be focusing my attentions to my personal website (which this sorta was anyways), and writing for the odd blog here and there (hopefully I'll have some content up at Roots Music Canada soon).

Thanks for reading! If you want to continue following me, I'll be posting here:



Shawn William Clarke


Track of the Week: What You Want When you Want by Bellevue

Hey hey! So, tonight there is a great show happening at the Press Club here in Toronto. It features The Tight Ship, Bellevue, and well... me. (Learn more about the show here)

But, lets talk about Bellevue for a sec. They just released a wonderful poppy album called "What You Want".

Here is the 2nd track on that album "What You Want When You Want"


Top 9 of a so so year.

Hey there, so here's the thing. I sat down the other day to write down a top 10 albums of the year list (like everyone is doing). When I was finished, I had 9 albums. That says two things about me; I didn't listen to a lot of music this year, and maybe, this year wasn't a good year for music. I've checked out other people's lists to see if I missed anything... but alas, I either didn't hear it (Janelle Monae, Broken Bells), or I didn't particularly like it (Diamond Rings, Beach House, Robyn).

The second point works for a few of my favorite albums of the year as well. Let me explain. The Arcade Fire released a fantastic record this year, one of my favorites, but it's the worst Arcade Fire album. That statement shouldn't be quoted out of context, my current rating of Arcade Fire albums goes as follows: "Funeral" 5/5, "Neon Bible" 5/5, "The Suburbs" 4/5.

The other big album this year was from Kanye West. Yes, it's a really good album. The production is inspired, "Power" is the song of the year... but... If Kanye had spent just a little more time developing his lyrics, I'd be a happier man. There are wonderful lines like;

"Lost in translation with a whole fuckin’ nation
They say I was the abomination of Obama’s nation
Well, that’s a pretty bad way to start the conversation"

only a few lines away from a clunker like:

Fuck SNL and the whole cast
Tell ‘em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass
More specifically, they can kiss my asshole
I’m an asshole? You niggas got jokes"

I don't expect gold from hip-hop lyrics. But I do expect it from albums that are being pegged as the best of the year, and albums that will probably define a generation. But that's just me.

So for me, nothing was Great. There wasn't anything that really jumped out at me. Maybe I'm just in a weird place this year. Last years list seemed much more exciting (you can read it here), but is Mos Def's "The Estatic" really better than "My Dark Twisted Fantasy"?

Here's my 9:

9. The Many and the Wise- Birdsacrosswater

The problem with this album is that it's not easy to get a hold of. Yes, you can find it on Bandcamp, but there is little to no promo on this album. I'm a huge fan of his work, maybe you'll get something out of it.

8. Working for the Music Man- Daniel Romano

I saw Daniel for the first time at Pop Montreal, and i was floored. A wonderful songwriter.

7. Brothers- The Black Keys

Dan Auerbach's "Keep it Hid" was one of my favorites last year. This isn't quite as good as that album, but it's the pure psych/Blues/Rock that we come to expect from the Black Keys.

6. When You Left the Fire- The Wilderness of Manitoba

The Wilderness of Manitoba has made a wonderful progression from their first EP to this album. The production value has improved quite a bit, and they've come into their own sound (Fleet Foxes comparisons were far more rampant for the earlier album). Great harmonies, and musicianship.

5. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy- Kanye West

Well here it is. For all my complaints, this is a good record. "Power" knocks me over every time.

4. Forgiveness Rock Record- Broken Social Scene

When I first heard this record, I didn't really like it, and put it away for a few months. On further inspection, I've grown to love it. The stripped down lineup is a wonderful contrast to the mess that was 2005's "Broken Social Scene".

3. And Now We Sing- Olenka and the Autumn Lovers

Full disclosure. I'm on a couple of tracks. You can hear my honking saxophone off in the distance. Either way, Olenka has reached a new height with "And Now We Sing", doing away with the Open-door policy of her last efforts, she's put together a solid band who perfectly accentuates her subtle songwriting. Olenka is still one of the best songwriters working anywhere, and, that we can call her our own, is something to be proud of.

2. The Suburbs- Arcade Fire

My only complaint with that album is that it's too long. I've been in a lot of arguements about this, but I stand my ground! There is too much filler. Songs like "Modern Man" and "Wasted hours" would make great b-sides, but do little to propel the album. "Sprawl" is a great example of how to do a 2 parter... unfortunately "Half Life" is not. The thing is, the songs that are good are really good. "The Suburbs", "Ready to Start", and the "Sprawl" songs are some of the best of the they've written.

1. Wild Hunt- Tallest Man on Earth

Solo singer/guitarist albums can be pretty lame. "The Wild Hunt", and 2008's "Shallow Grave" are not. Why? For me it comes down to interesting guitar playing, interesting voice, strong Melodies, and engaging imagery. The Tallest Man on Earth has all of those things and more. All the way from Sweden.

Honorable Mention: This is Happening- LCD Soundsystem, Provincial Parks and Breaking Hearts- Handsome Dan and his Gallimaufry, In The Dark Tower EP- William Delray, Swim-Caribou, Contra- Vampire Weekend.

So, what do you think? Was it a good year for music? Anybody have the same problem as me? What does your list look like?


New Music Website!

Hey there! I don't like to focus too much on my music here, so I'll make this short. I finally have a website! You'll notice it's a blogger layout, but I think it looks pretty dapper. Anyways, if you can spare a couple minutes, check it out at:

Please, let me know how I can improve it! Talk soon.


Track of the Week: She Was the World to Me by Daniel Romano

At Pop Montreal this year, i got to see some amazing acts, but one of the nicest surprises was Daniel Romano. He performed a simple set, with lovely background vocals by Misha Bower. There was a wonderful Parsons/Harris vibe, and this track particularly struck a chord. Heartbreaking.


Track of the Week: Don't Get Into It by Whipping Wind

The wonderful folks at OH! Records sent me a copy of the new OH Compilation 2. I'll try to get a full write up soon (you know how slow I've been moving lately), but I just wanted to share a track with you. As with their first compilation the best song here is from the Whipping Wind.

Rumour Has it Whipping Wind will finally get a full album release in the next couple months, I'm pretty excited about this. The songwriting is really top notch, and the production is always interesting.

You can actually download the first OH! Comp (featuring Tidal Wave by Whipping Wind) here at their site for a limited time!


Tour Journal: OAL Toronto

Oh Toronto. What a great welcome! We arrived in my home city around 4 o'clock, and I immediately went to my girlfriends place. This is the longest we've been apart, and I was beginning to miss the gal. I had a few hours to rest, hang out, eat a home cooked meal, and then we headed to the Garrison.

It was great to see so many of our favorite people out! We were humbled. Patrick met up with us again! He's on his way from Halifax back home to Saskatchewan. We made sure to get him up on banjo for a couple of songs.

Opening the show was Weather Station. I've had the pleasure of seeing this band once in the past, and it was a treat to see them again. Most of the show was performed as a duo, guitar and banjo, but they brought in a rhythm section for the last song. A great start to the night.

Our current tour mates, Kite Hill were up next. Every time I see them, they get a little better. Singer/Frontman Ryan Carley is getting more confident in his performance, and the audience were really drawn to him. the already large band was joined by a flute player this time. Folks in Hamilton, Windsor and London are going to be very impressed over the next couple weeks.

And that leaves us. I think we played one of our best shows. Everyone was on the top of their game. My only complaint is that we didn't get to play our best track, Louise of Littleville. That song is usually relegated to the encore list. I'm not entirely sure why, but I've never been a big fan of encores.

Either way, the show was a success, and I'm home. I can't help but feel a little directionless. I'll be out to a few of the Ontario dates (Hamilton and London for sure), but the touring part is kinda over. You get pretty close to people when you tour with them. I probably just need a couple days of rest. I have to find some paying work, and I guess get back to focusing on my own music.

Folks in Ontario, there are still a few great shows coming up, first being tues night in Hamilton. I'll try to get a write up for that, come say hi if you see me there!


Tour Journal: OAL Ottawa/Kingston

Hey folks, lets talk about Ottawa for a second. After Quebec, I fell like we'd run out of steam a bit. We pulled into Ontario and it immediately began raining. When we found Raw Sugar, I was a little disappointed to see that it was a cafe. This has nothing to do with the venue itself. Truth be told, it's a fantastic cafe, great ambiance, they serve good beers, and I hear they have wonderful coffee. My problem is that with a small show, we alter the setlist for a quieter set. The list we settled on, had me playing on only 2 songs. So, I was in a bit of a mood. The one good thing about the gig for me, was seeing our opening act for the first time, Kite Hill. They'll be with the Autumn Lovers on a couple of dates, and they are worth checking out. More on them later.

After my grumpy state, I was glad to get the next day off. Blair, Sara, Dan and I stayed at Blair's friend Katie's place. Lots of room, and we all felt great the next morning. After a walk through the city I found THE BEST RECORD STORE EVER! It's a place called Legends. Their selection is pretty vast, and the price are reasonable. A must see the next time you're in Ottawa.

That night, after a quick hang out with some old friends, I met up with the the 3 other Lovers and we headed off to Katies family cottage near Kingston.

That may have been the best day of the tour. We made a good breakfast (after a nice homemade dinner the night before), and enjoyed the sunny weather. I finally got to go Kayaking! So good.

I think we all felt more relaxed, and better prepared for our show in Kingston. It was a bigger stage, great sound, and packed with a rowdy bunch of Kinston-ites. It may have been one of our best shows this tour. Our first opener was local band Monuments and Statues. There are a lot of great ideas going on in this banjo/cello let indie band. I'm going to watch their progress, I fell like they can be a really great band in a couple of years.

Kite Hill was up next. And wow. What a performance. Leader Ryan Carley brought a larger band this time, upright bass, cello, violin and clarinet helped support his beautiful melodies. I can't wait to see them again.

So, now I'm back home in Toronto. Tonight, we're playing at the Garrison, and I'm really excited. It should be a great show. See you there!


Tour Journal: OAL: Sackville/ St. Andrews/ Quebec City

Well, I'm a couple days behind. But here's the update; Thanksgiving was AMAZING. A really beautiful thing. 21 guests piled into a small living room in Sackville. More food than we knew what to do with. Good friends, new and old. I wouldn't want it any other way.... OH, and the best part, Blair fell in a ditch. True story.

The following day, we said good bye to Kevin, and headed west. St. Andrews is a sleepy town this time of year, the Summer tourist have long gone, but it's a great time to see it. The leaves are fully changed and starting to fall. Emma, a friend of the band, set us up in her step-fathers place, Salty Towers. What a place! Antiques everywhere, parts of the building date back to the late 1800's. The building is maze-like due to the renovations over the last century. So much history.

We played at the Red Herring, and there wasn't much of an audience, but we had great sound! We took advantage of our cheap drinks and had a blast. The few who attended where also treated with small sets by Handsome Dan, Myself, and Blair Whatmore. It was great to see Blair play his originals for the first time this tour, and Dan, as always was enthralling.

Early to rise the next morning. I took one final tour around the city, and we embarked on our longest journey to Quebec City.

We pulled in after about 10 hours. We were glad to be out of the van. Our venue was Fou Bar, a wonderful dark place run by the social and energetic Lily Jodoin. She really is a character,the type you can only find in Quebec!

Our opener was a friend from Halifax, Gianna Lauren. She's also backing a new record, and will be in Ontario later this week, Ottawa and Toronto, take note.

And so, you find me here; a nice apartment in Quebec City, stealing someones Internet, and ready for breakfast., There should be more excitement to come (including how we're going to get this rental van back to Montreal!) Keep checking in.


Tour Journal: OAL Fredricton/ Charlottetown

Hey there! It's been a couple days, let let me tell you what's been going on;

Fredericton. What a great city! The show at The Capital was wonderful, and we got to play the first of 2 shows with our new favorite band North Lakes. The North Lakes have this great 80's new wave/ surf vibe. They hail from Charlottetown, and anyone in the maritimes should check them out if they get the chance.

There was something going on in Fredericton called a Decentralized Dance Party. Apparently it's happening all over the place. Here's what it entails:

The DDP is a portable, battery-powered Party System.
It consists of hundreds of Party People, carrying boomboxes, and a DJ who wears a backpack, containing a powerful FM transmitter.
All the boomboxes are tuned into the DJ’s master FM broadcast, resulting in a mobile, synchronized sound system. This Portable Dance Party roams the night, generating complete awesomeness, street by street and block by block, onto buses and subways, into public fountains and beyond! Inevitably interfacing with the public, together we create an infectious epidemic of fun! A Roaming Party Adventure that lasts all night long!

It was something to see, folks dancing it up in various locations of the city. Pretty cool.

By the time we got to Charlottetown, I was feeling pretty exhausted. My nights of 3-5am bed times are behind me, and the last 2 nights where in that time frame. I was also sleeping on the floor in Fredericton, so I got very little rest. By performance time, I just wasn't in the mood. This was probably my weakest show, which is too bad, because it will be the last with are great late edition, Kevin on bass guitar. They can't all be gems.

Luckily, a good friend of the band Sam Stewart, invited us back to his large house for the night. I slept in a bed, and it was glorious.

So that's it for the update. We're back in Sackville, and we're setting up a huge Thanksgiving meal. There may be up to 30 people at this dinner! It's really exciting, some familiar faces from the road may be showing up. Our good friend Patrick from Halifax is already here, and slaving over the potatoes. This should be an epic night!

Next show is in St. Andrews, tomorrow night. I'll be updating you soon!