MUSIC PREVIEW: Two Bears North among cream of the crop

Two Bears North GigCity EdmontonIt’s a banner weekend for live music fans in the city, as a pair of extraordinary albums are being released, with parties to celebrate both of them. And celebrate we should, as both are among the cream of the crop of releases this year by Edmonton artists, in what has undoubtedly been an incredible year for albums by local bands.

The first offering is from Two Bears North, which will release their new album “Comeocean” on Friday night as part of a bill at The Artery (9 pm $13) that also includes local favourites The Provincial Archive. Sophie Heppell and Melissa Walker have assembled a sound that is a brilliant shining combination of Hollerado, Neko Case, and Matt and Kim. Their indie-pop album makes one reminisce about being oceanside, or poolside, delightfully sipping on one of those drinks with an umbrella in it. You know the kind. The Provincial Archive comes into the evening with a dedicated indie folk following. Frontman Craig Schram and the rest of the multi-instrumentalist members released a stellar debut in 2008, and have since followed it up with 2010’s “Maybe We Could Be Holy”. The band recently returned from a lengthy European tour, and there’s word that a third album is in the offing, so expect significant amounts of new material.

Meanwhile, Jom Comyn headlines his own release show Saturday night at Wunderbar (9 pm). Another multi-instrumentalist, his music tends towards the experimental side, and has also been described as a minimalist. Revered by both mainstream media as well as the blog-o-sphere, “In the Dark On 99 (All the Time All the Time)” is his fifth release. The title refers to Comyn’s native 99th Street in Edmonton, which the album was originally an homage to. Also on the bill at Wunderbar is the perfectly positioned Energetic Action, their music somewhere East of punk and West of experimental rock.

Friday 20

Whitemud – Who doesn’t want to party with a band named after one of our major freeways? The throwback grunge act performs at Brixx in a benefit for YESS, along with Storming Alice. Tickets at the door. 9 pm.

Raygun Cowboys – And who doesn’t love a good rockabilly band? No one attending this local favourite’s show. The band headlines a bill that also includes The Von Zippers, and Sam Hate and the Spades. Pawn Shop, 8 pm, $15.

Black Mastiff – This Edmonton psych-soul act headlines a bill that also includes The Fucking Massive and City Of Champions, who dare you to describe their music in one sentence (it can’t be done), and who are getting a lot of well-deserved attention from the city’s music scene. Wunderbar, 9 pm, $10.

Saturday 21

Acoustiholics – This party-folk act performs at the sizable but inviting MacLab Center for the Performing Arts in Leduc on this night. The music of the acoustic trio alludes to a simpler time. Perhaps the ‘60’s, perhaps the ‘70s, it depends on the listener, maybe. Expect to hear a variety of tunes, from country to pop, Celtic to, yes, Christmas. 7:30 pm, $10.

The McDades – Siblings Shannon, Solon and Jeremiah spent their childhood in amongst some of the most legendary folk luminaries ever, and the result is a rich tapestry of folk combined with a world overtone. The Edmonton group has a Juno, Canadian Folk Music Award, and a number of Western Canadian Music Awards to their credit. Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove, 7:30 pm, $45.

Sunday 22

Mac DeMarco – Speaking of incredibly talented musicians, Demarco may be at the top of the heap in this town. After graduating from high school in Edmonton, he moved first to Vancouver, and then to Montreal. His music continues to evolve, a mixture of indie, surf, and psychedelic rock, and his most recent album “2” made the longlist for the Polaris Music Prize. His live shows have also gained significant notoriety due to … well, just say that parental discretion is advised. Brazilian Money and Alex Calder also perform. Wunderbar, 9 pm. [UPDATE: Show moved to Friday, Dec. 27]