Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Elephant Stone [2012]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Elephant Stone @ Zaphod Beeblebrox, 2012

Artist: Elephant Stone
When: November 28th, 2012
Where: Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ottawa
Context: I got to see Elephant Stone for a second time in late 2012 at the legendary, but sadly now defunct, Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa’s Byward Market. The four-piece psychedelic indie rock band out of Montreal, led by bass/sitar player, Rishi Dhir, took to the stage in a blaze of swirling, psychedelic guitars. It was as if the doors to Zaphod’s were thrown open and instead of crisp wintry cold, wafts of fresh and warm summer air breezed through the room. Even though they started off their set with a couple of newer tracks, there was still a familiarity that pervaded their sweet sixties-influenced sound and I couldn’t help but allow a smile to creep on to my face. From the Polaris prize-nominated debut album, “The seven seas”, Dhir and company breathed fresh life into personal faves, “How long?”, the title track, and the elegantly epic, “Don’t you know”. They also introduced the crowd to eagerly anticipated new material from their sophomore album, that was due out the following February, including the latest single “Heavy moon” (the namesake for that particular tour), which only whet my appetite for more.
Point of reference song: Love the sinner, hate the sin

Rishi Dhir of Elephant Stone
Miles Dupire-Gagnon on drums
Stephen ‘The Venk’ Venkatarangam and Gabriel Lambert
Miles and Rishi
Gabriel Lambert and Miles Dupire-Gagnon
Rishi with the sitar

Playlist: New tunes from 2022, part one

Happy Monday!* And while we’re at it, happy fifth anniversary to this very blog!

It’s been hard to believe I’ve been at this thing for five years now but really, time has felt a bit weird and out of sorts of late. I’m pretty sure I swore last year that I would try to get my stuff together and put together a proper celebratory post to acknowledge this landmark milestone, but of course, it snuck up on me again. And the best I’ve got is to share part one of my annual, four part playlist of brand new tunes.

“…Best I’ve got..” What am I saying?

These things really are celebrations unto themselves – each truly an exhibition of some of the best music that has passed my ears each year and soundtracked my daily trials and tribulations. If you’ve happened upon this blog at the right time in the past few years, you’d know that each of the parts of these playlists represent twenty-five tunes released during the previous three months and that I have tickled my fancy to some degree.

The year 2022 started off pretty much as the last two years have ended: very much dictated by the tidal waves of this pandemic and the eternal question of when things might return back to whatever normal ever was. Indeed, things for me have been for the most part status quo. I keep working from home, listening to tunes, reading, writing, and spending as much time as I can with my lovely wife. Truly, I do my best to find joy where I can in these crazy times. One thing that has been somewhat different is the amount I’ve spent on the road, travelling between Ottawa and Toronto and back, which means, of course, plenty of car tunes. Spotify and the number of playlists I’ve created thus far have been my saving grace thus far.

More recently, however, I’ve decided to give Apple Music a try. I know a lot of people decided to cut ties with Spotify over the whole Joe Rogan debacle but I don’t really spend a lot of time on the podcasts and have no idea who the guy is so that wasn’t ever a dealbreaker. For me, I’ve always been curious about Apple Music because I am pretty much knee deep in Apple products every where else and have always been happy with the quality and connectivity the company has provided. So far, Apple Music, too, has been as great as expected. The immediate bonus was having my extensive digital music collection available across all my devices. The only downside so far came when I went to create this part one playlist and found out that for some reason, WordPress, that platform upon which this blog is built, doesn’t play nice in the sandbox with Apple Music. So instead of embedding a playlist sampler as I usually do, I’ll include a link to the playlist below. It should work for all you fellow Apple cult initiates and for the rest of you, try out the link and let me know how it works for you. As always, though, if it doesn’t work, I’ve included links to YouTube videos for each of song in the playlist below.

So without further ado, I’ll present twenty five new tunes that have helped keep me going over the first three months of 2022. Highlights include:

      • “Morbid fascination”, a bombastic, statement making playlist intro by Brighton, England-based duo, Blood Red Shoes
      • I’m not always onboard with everything they do, but “Chaos space marine” off their sophomore record has Black Country, New Road reminding me of a certain Montreal band called Arcade Fire circa mid-2000s
      • Glenn Donaldson released my favourite album last year as The Reds, Pinks and Purples and he’s struck gold again with his third long-player, “Summer at land’s end”, this excellent single, “Let’s pretend we’re not in love”, is a prime example
      • I’ve always been a huge fan of Frank Turner‘s songwriting and perhaps because of my age, am drawn to the stripped down tracks that highlight this talent and so when he includes acoustic versions as bonus tracks, like this acoustic version of “Haven’t been doing so well”, I’m sold
      • Britt Daniel and his band Spoon have returned with a new album after five years and this track off it, “Wild”, is triumph epitomized
      • Montreal psych-rockers Elephant Stone have released a new concept EP, their first release completely in French ‘par excellence’, and “M. Lonely” is track one
      • And finally, 90s glam rock/britpop holdouts Placebo have released their first new album in 9 years and “Beautiful James” sounds like they’ve never left us

Here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it:

1. “Morbid fascination” Blood Red Shoes (from the album Ghosts on tape)

2. “Giving in to the love” Aurora (from the album The gods we can touch)

3. “The Overload” Yard Act (from the album Yard Act)

4. “Karl Kardel building” Kids On A Crime Spree (from the album Fall in love not in line)

5. “Chaos space marine” Black Country, New Road (from the album Ants from up there)

6. “Let’s pretend we’re not in love” The Reds, Pinks And Purples (from the album Summer at land’s end)

7. “Anybody else inside” The Slow Show (from the album Still life)

8. “Spud infinity” Big Thief (from the album Dragon new warm mountain I believe in you)

9. “Haven’t been doing so well (acoustic)” Frank Turner (from the album FTHC)

10. “Something like love” Andy Bell (from the album Flicker)

11. “Wild” Spoon (from the album Lucifer on the sofa)

12. “Circles” Basement Revolver (from the album Embody)

13. “Am I really going to die” White Lies (from the album As I try not to fall apart)

14. “Blame (feat. Miki Berenyi” Blushing (from the album Possessions)

15. “M. Lonely” Elephant Stone (from the EP Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune)

16. “Hurts to love” Beach House (from the album Once twice melody)

17. “In the name of (Garden version)” Basia Bulat (from the album The Garden)

18. “You in everything” Gangs Of Youth (from the album Angel in realtime)

19. “The tipping point” Tears For Fears (from the album The tipping point)

20. “All being fine” King Hannah (from the album I’m not sorry I was just being me)

21. “In need of repair” Band Of Horses (from the album Things are great)

22. “Means to bleed” The Mysterines (from the album Reeling)

23. “Only wanna see u tonight” Young Guv (from the album Guv III)

24. “Jeff Goldblum” Mattiel (from the album Georgia gothic)

25. “Beautiful James” Placebo (from the album Never let me go)

Apple initiates or lab rats can click here to let me know if this link works to sample the above tracks as a whole playlist.

And as always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe and continue to be well. Above all, enjoy the tunes.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.

*Whenever I say those words, I automatically start singing the words: “You’re twistin’ my melon man.”


Best tunes of 2020: #28 Elephant Stone “Hollow world”

<< #29    |    #27 >>

Elephant Stone is a Montreal-based psych-rock quartet that was formed by bassist and sitar player Rishi Dhir back in 2008. I got into them pretty much right from the start because I loved Dhir’s work with The High Dials* and was more than a little sad when I heard he had left that group.

Elephant Stone’s 2009 debut album, “The seven seas”, had me sold immediately and had me trying to convince all of my other friends to give the band a go as well. I got to see them live at the now defunct Zaphod Beeblebrox here in Ottawa back in 2010 and then, three years later, I saw Dhir perform live onstage with Beck at Montreal’s Osheaga festival. Indeed, Dhir’s sitar work is well known and sought after in the psych rock circles and he’s collaborated, either live or in studio, with the likes of The Horrors, The Black Angels, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and the aforementioned Beck. He even created a psych-rock supergroup of sorts called MIEN and released one self-titled album in 2018, that included the work of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham.

But I’ve strayed off course a bit here. Rishi Dhir is the driving force behind Elephant Stone but he’s also always had a great team behind him. Each of the group’s five albums have been critically acclaimed, and each has told a different story. On their 2020 album, “Hollow”, Dhir and his band are reaching out to a dystopian world of disconnected and unhappy souls, one that was inspired by the impacts on our society by social media.

“We long to feel less empty inside our hollow world
These hollow days bring so much hurt”

These are words from the opening track, “Hollow world”, but if you weren’t paying attention, you could be forgiven for thinking the message more uplifting than that. The song is a dreamy and technicolour piece of paradise, one that refracts blinding shards of light in all directions. Much like the best of Elephant Stone, this smacks of what The Beatles might’ve been had George Harrison had more sway at the height of his Indian classical music fascination. It is bright pop and sounds young, joyful and hopeful, especially when Rishi brings out his daughter Meera Skye Dhir to join him on vocals to close things out. Genius.

*Another excellent Canadian indie rock outfit out of Montreal with a psych rock influenced sound.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2020 list, click here.