Streaming Cafe

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wax Mannequin-Madame Tussauds would not be happy

by Malcolm Petch
Madame Tussauds would not be happy with Hamilton-based Wax Mannequin: he shape shifts as readily as a wizard’s wand on a day off in the country. That’s not usually a desired trait in a sculpture of wax.

Wax Mannequin, the stage name of indie singer-songwriter Chris Adeney, embraces a genre he calls “Strange-Folk”, and it’s clear he’s not losing sleep trying to fit into someone else’s definition of what makes a successful touring music act. And therein lies the beauty: the freshness of Wax’s writing is unencumbered by presumption and pretending. His lyrics – sometimes abstract, other times apparently just absurd – show a mind ready and willing to step outside the circle of “same-old, same-old” in order to capture whatever is needed to continue the ever-expanding scope of expression Wax obviously enjoys.

Like any good recording artist, Wax’s early work consisted of four-track recordings made with nylon-stringed guitar and circuit-bent electronics (that’s when you take some toy like a “See ‘n Spell” and tweak its electronic innards until it emits controllable squawks that can be used in music-making…). And when he started playing bars in the southern Ontario region in the early 2000’s, that’s the type of music he put on display – very much a performance artist as well as a musician. His second album, entitled and Gun, came out in 2003 as Wax started travelling outside his standard geographical playing locations.

As his music-touring region grew, so did his volume of expression; by 2004 Wax was waxing eloquent with distorted electric guitars and “bombastic” electronic accompaniment. The shape shifting was underway. His two albums from that period (2004’s The Price and 2007’s Orchardand Ire) are full band-backed records that reflect that louder passion.

2009 saw another shift, with a record entitled Saxon that was decidedly contemplative when compared to Wax’s previous two albums.  A focus on melody and deeper lyrics overshadowed the loud energy of earlier work, and the album earned a growing following for Wax Mannequin in Europe. The following is growing so much, in fact, that Saxon was re-released on Germany’s Artful Sounds record label.

The latest album from Wax’s arsenal, No Safe Home, reflects an even more intense shape shift to a wandering muse theme, and is even a further move along the scale away from loud electric to ambient acoustic. Wax’s own PR writing calls No Safe Home a “…hauntingly spacious, sparsely produced acoustic record”, and it’s clear even from the album title that Wax has found more resonance in travelling with his music than he has in staying home.

From a 2009 interview in Exclaim! Canada: “For nearly a decade, Hamilton ON's Wax Mannequin has toiled in relative obscurity, bringing his amalgam of electro-folk and post-modern classic rock to different continents and as many real and makeshift venues as possible. That hard worn, roundabout path brings us to the masterful Saxon, an earnest batch of songs, most of which are performed on classical guitar and blend Wax Mannequin's trademark theatricality and darkly humorous perspective like nothing he's ever issued.“

And Wax Mannequin will make his StreamingCafé debut on July 28th. This seems like a perfect match: an acoustic yet electronic singer-songwriter taking stage on the folk-ish wood-wall stage of SC and being streamed digitally live around the world.

Well worth the trek to Streaming Café! Live in person at 596 Leon Ave in Kelowna, or online at streamingcafe.net; in either case, it all happens at 7pm Pacific time. Hope to see you there!

Germany's Sarah Brendel | North American Album Release

by Malcolm Petch
At Streaming Café we tend to develop long-term relationships with some of our favourite artists. One of those becoming a regular fixture here is Sarah Brendel, who will be joining us on July 7th.

What’s different about this long-term relationship, though, is that Sarah is from Germany, and her town of Dresden is a looong way from us here on the western-most side of North America.

Brendel is touring in support of her new album, Before the Mountains, which has just been released. In contrast to the produced layers of instruments on some of her earlier work, …Mountains is all what-you-see-is-what-you-get, with vocals, guitar and drums all recorded live-from-the-floor with no overdubs. The result is a faithful representation of a live Brendel performance, with both grit and poignancy coming through clearly.

Before the Mountains was produced by Brendel’s friend Arno Jordan, and recorded in the German artist-community facility where both Brendel and Jordan live with their respective families. The rustic retreat centre that both their families call home is a large manor house, or Schloss, that is set in the tiny hamlet of Rhorsdorf on the outskirts of Dresden (made famous in Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five). The castle-like centre houses several different families who have gathered together as part of an artistic community. There’s an in-house pub, too…

photo by Hanna Stober
Sarah Brendel has graced the wood wall at Streaming Café in July 2010 and again in August of 2011 (seems to be a summer-time theme happening here…). “Graced the wood wall” means she’s played here. And already in 2012 she’s been part of the Lille Gard music fest, playing alongside other international and regional artists in the outdoor Canada-Day weekend festival hosted by Tribehouse.

Before the Mountains is definitely a full-length album. Some of the 15 tracks are fresh recordings of tunes that have been featured in Sarah’s earlier performances here at Streaming Café, while most are new to listeners everywhere. There are definite influences showing on this recording, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and it doesn’t take a hard stretch of imagination to hear shades of Larry Norman and even Sgt. Pepper floating to the surface in different songs. In fact, there are a couple of song intros that might even leave you thinking you’re about to hear a Johnny Cash tune; but it develops into a Brendel original, of course.

One of the joys of hearing live music is being able to groove along to songs you already know; often a new album-release tour show involves old faves interlaced among the new tunes, so that concert-goers can get their fill of tunes they already know plus get exposure to the new tracks. But in this marvelous digital age, Sarah Brendel fans can get a listen to the new album ahead of time (and even buy it, of course) by following this link to Before the Mountains posted on the SC website.

Check out Sarah Brendel’s new album, enjoy some of the live videos of her previous SC performances, and then make a date with yourself (or someone you like) to see and hear this energetic German singer-songwriter live at Streaming Café on July 7th; as always, show starts live in person and online at 7pm Pacific time.

Here's the video "What A Happy Life" from here new album that was filmed in Dresden.

July Performers | Video Overview

by Michael Donley
We've got another great line-up of performers for the month of July. Joining us across the Canadian landscape from Vancouver to Nova Scotia, hoping the border to Boston and spanning the ocean to Germany & New Zealand. Every artist is definitely worth digging into, so have a look through the videos and links. Hope to see you at a show this month, either in person or the inter-web!
If you missed a performance from last month check out highlights in our past shows section.

Sarah Brendel - July 7th - 7pm (PST)
We are very happy to have our friends Sarah Brendel back at the cafe. Sarah is singer-songwriter from Germany and she is celebrating the North American release of her new album "Before the Mountains".  Unique voice, writing and talent.

Pat LePoidevin w/ van der Wel - July 14th - 7pm (PST)
If you've been following the Streaming Cafe for a while you'll know that we released a full length live album with Pat LePoidevin from his performance a year and a half ago (Pat LePoidevin live at Streaming Cafe). It's great to have him back! Pat brings his unique writing and performance style to the cafe on the 14th.
New Zealand's van der Wel opens the show and brings his rough-hewn folk songs to what is sure to be a packed house. He was an original member of indie/rock band Treelines when he lived in Kelowna.

The Abramson Singers w/Rachel Taylor - July 21st - 7pm (PST)

Vancouver native Leah Abramson, formerly of traditional folk bands Dyad, The Crooked Jades, and indie-rockers Octoberman enlisted her friends in some of Vancouver’s best-loved bands (members of Fond of Tigers, Dan Mangan’s band, Headwater) to play her haunting folk-noir originals as The Abramson Singers.
Leah (Abramson Singers) first caught my ears with her song "Fools Gold". A really great tune.

Rachel Taylor  is a Boston based performing songwriter who spent just enough time at Berklee to make her dangerous and has spent enough time on the road to make her strong. She creates a blend of alternative folk and intelligent pop.

Wax Mannequin -  July 28th - 7pm (PST)
Wax Mannequin has toured incessantly within Canada over the past six years (+ 30 times!), with more recent forays into Europe and Australia. He has built up a devoted fan base and released 6 albums that have all done really well on College Radio. He has toured with the likes of Geoff Berner, BA Johnston, Jenny Omnichord and the Burning Hell, to name a few, and has had the honor of opening up for such great acts such as The Arcade Fire, The Weakerthans, The Rheostatics, White Cowbell Oklahoma and many more...
Going to be a wicked show!