More music this week

Rae Spoon.
Bombay Bicycle Club.
Hey Ocean.

Rae Spoon

Rae Spoon isn’t quite a household name, but Calgary’s transgender alt-country songwriter-gone-dance pop crooner is definitely making waves. The shift began in 2008 when Spoon released the genre bending superioryouareinferior, which was then long listed for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize.

Spoon’s sixth release, the Young Galaxy-esque I Can’t Keep All of Our Secrets is a dance-rock affair inspired by the loss of a friend.

“I wanted to write about grief, about the phases of grief,” Spoon recently told Outwords. “It’s kind of an upbeat dance tune about grief.”

Crash Landing is a punchy New Order popper, while the moody Ghost of a Boy and Are You Jealous of the Dead? fall into the more fragile category. Despite all of this variety, the disc is incredibly cohesive. It largely plays into the fact that Spoon’s songwriting transcends genre and categorization.

Despite a 14 year career, people are still curious about the singer’s gender, even though this has been addressed in nearly every article ever written about Spoon. “I identify as gender retired,” Spoon says. “I’ve tried being a woman and a man and I wasn’t good at either of them.”

What Rae Spoon is good at is performing, and you can catch Spoon and the Super Fun Queer Dance Party at Gio’s Friday, February 24 at 10 p.m. Admission at the door is a unique sliding scale of $5 to $10 (though no one will be turned away), and all funds go directly to fund Spoon’s tour.


- Nicholas Friesen

Bombay Bicycle Club

London’s hottest indie band, Bombay Bicycle Club, is a remarkably productive group - they’ve made three albums in the past three years. The young four-member band has been working with Jim Abbiss, the same producer who worked with Britain’s biggest indie band, The Arctic Monkeys.

Flaws, released in 2010, was their breakout album. However, with its cool acoustics and intense yearnings, the record has given them a soft-sided edge that normally would not come out of a band until much later - when experience and being on the road would define their sound in more musical detail.

BBC’s latest album, A Different Kind of Fix was finally released in North America on Feb. 15. It’s a disc full of soothing sounds and hypnotic beats while occasionally knocking on the door of house or trance.

Lead singer and guitarist Jack Steadman’s haunting voice and Ed Nash’s bass hooks give Bombay Bicycle Club an incredibly unique sound. Adding in piano pieces and eclectic sounds, the band’s reverberation is one of a kind.

Songs such as Shuffle and How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, are emerging signatures of a band with so much promise. The tunes don’t initially seem brilliant, but as you listen to them again, you can hear depth. I cannot help but hear mixes that are reminiscent of U2.

Riding on its success in the U.K., Bombay Bicycle Club has been nominated for a 2012 NME award for Best Emerging Band. Check out this buzz-worthy band at the West End Cultural Centre on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18.25 at Ticketmaster.

- John Van Laar

Hey Ocean

After a pair of critically acclaimed discs - 2008’s It’s Easier to be Somebody Else and 2010’s Stop Looking Like Music - Vancouver trio Hey Ocean is about to release its third album Is this March.

Consisting of vocalist/flautist Ashleigh Ball, vocalist/guitarist David Beckingham and vocalist/bassist Dave Vertesi, this pop group started out as a casual affair but quickly became a prominent project in each of their lives.

Touring Canada three times on the strength of its first disc, Hey Ocean then enlisted indie rock guru Jose Contreras (By Divine Right) to produce the follow-up. The result got them opening tour slots for the likes of Shad, Sarah Harmer, Xavier Rudd and Bedouin Soundclash. These discs were all released independently on the trio’s own Pop Machine label, started with friends and Juno winners Said the Whale.

To preface the Is LP, the band released the Vertesi produced Big Blue Wave EP last fall after signing to Universal Music Canada. Despite having the tune Islands featured on a recent episode of American adults-as-teens drama One Tree Hill, the band’s visas were denied for the West Coast U.S. tour that was planned for February.

Thankfully, this doesn’t affect Winnipeg fans who will be checking the band out at the Park Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. with opener Jack Straight. Tickets are $13 in advance and $18 at the door.

- Nicholas Friesen

Published in Volume 66, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 22, 2012)

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