Tag Archives: blake jacob

Isobel Trigger not to be missed

Reviewed by Blake Jacob

Isobel Trigger’s April 3rd, 2014 show at the Strathcona Clubhouse was a high-caliber performance. The group’s polished act is characterized by ethereal vocals, heavy rhythm, energy and gorgeous melody. Isobel Trigger undoubtedly belongs in a large performance hall and deserves much recognition.

The set began with “Champion,” showing off the band’s expertise and synchronization. Isobel Trigger is comprised of Felicia Harding (vocals, guitar and synth), Brett Faulkner (guitar), Kyle Lowther (bass) and Ariel Tseng (drums).  Harding’s vocals are impossible to ignore.  With a lilting, impressive range reminiscent of Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries, Harding’s style is silvery and enchanting.  Harding is a captivating performer and knows how to engage the audience while maintaining her professional demeanor. Tseng’s skill is particularly apparent in the energy of “Nightmares” and in “Sugar Cube,” keeping a strong beat and a hypnotizing rhythm. The audience nodded and danced with abandon.

The band performed a cover medley of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and The Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”  Though the covers were flawlessly executed, they paled in comparison to the band’s original work.

The star piece of the night was the band’s single, “Dust and Bones,” an addictive track that juxtaposed powerful crescendo with sweet vocals. The song has recently received frequent airplay on The Zone 91.3, during Isobel Trigger’s title as the station’s Band of the Month. The track has definite potential to top national alt rock/pop charts.

“The song is about those formative experiences you had when listening to certain songs for the first time,” Harding says.  “[It’s about] the magic you felt, and how listening to them now can transport you back to that time, place and feeling.”

The band has several exciting upcoming events, including: Rock The Royal on May 24th, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal and McPherson theatres.  The event will feature several well-established local acts and pay tribute to 90s greats. Look for Isobel Trigger at Tall Tree Festival on the last weekend in June, and at July 26th at Lucky Bar for the release of their EP Nocturnal.

Isobel Trigger is unique: they have been likened to No Doubt and Florence and the Machine, probably due to their experimental style. Their skill and sound is too large to be contained on a small stage.  It will be a pleasure to see the band play the Royal Theatre and other locations deserving of their talent.

Rock The Royal tickets/info

Tall Tree Music Festival

Zone Band of the Month: Isobel Trigger


Blake Jacob is a Vancouver Island writer and composer.

Vagabond’s melodies extraordinary

Jeffrey Michael Straker
Vagabond (2012)
Produced by Danny Michel

Reviewed by Blake Jacob

Vagabond is the precisely arranged fifth album of singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Michael Straker. Jeffery “swears he was born under the piano on the family farm” in Saskatchewan, and his experience shows. The album is a flawless work of art, skillfully produced by Canadian multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Danny Michel. Straker’s music is sometimes described as “piano-folk-pop-cabaret,” which proves how impossible it is to label him with any particular genre. The variety of moods in his music is refreshing. From the high energy and flamboyance on “Sans Souci,” to the gentle, wistful sound of “Burn The Boats,” this album is consistently delightful to the ear. It begged an immediate second, third, and fourth listen.

Vagabond is noteworthy because of its impeccable presentation of an array of extraordinary piano melodies. A particular jewel on Vagabond is “Myopia.” It is a surprising up-tempo track full of lilting, light piano work contrasted with power vocals. “Raven” has the swelling chorus for the entire audience of a sold-out concert hall to sing along to. So does the “deep down, deep down inside of my soul” of the chorus of “Rosetta Stone.” Straker is skilled at pulling heartstrings. “Birchbark Canoe” heals and breaks the heart at the same time with memorable climax and cadence and a woefully sung, “maybe we’re better off as friends.” Straker is an excellent vocalist, displaying variety in a seemingly effortless way. His skill is especially apparent on “Cathode Rays,” where his voice ranges from gravelly to silvery to wonderfully tremulous.

Interestingly, Straker is a descendant of Beethoven by six degrees of student-teacher lineage. Perhaps the magic of innovation connects them. Vagabond is easy to become obsessed with because it is so expert and unique. After you hear it one time, be prepared to listen to nothing else for several months . . . maybe indefinitely.

Blake Jacob is a Vancouver Island poet whose essential nutrients are optimism, wordsmithery, and captivating melody.

A few gems at WORK

WORK: Annual UVic BFA Visual Arts showcase
April 19-27, Visual Arts building, UVic
Free and open to the public

Reviewed by Blake Jacob

The annual UVic Visual Arts showcase, WORK, is taking place until April 29. The show is curated beautifully in the many spacious rooms of the Visual Arts building, and features projects of over 40 undergraduate students. These are young artists who are finding their way, so the works on display demonstrate various levels of maturity. However, interspersed among the studies of marijuana paraphernalia and photographs of pensive-looking cheerleaders are a few unique gems.

One outstanding work is a series of untitled portrait photographs by Claire Aitken. The artist’s knowledge of light and shadow led to the successful execution of captivating photos. The portraits are black and white and  displayed in oversized frames. Several groups of showcase attendees lingered at length near these portraits, discussing them animatedly. It seemed clear that this work was well-received.

Another remarkable piece is an untitled painting by Mia Watkins. The painting is beautiful and jarring at the same time. The artist is attentive to detail and chose a fantastic color palette. Unfortunately, the lighting in the area was a bit dim and didn’t give the piece the justice it deserved.

A third noteworthy work is Brittany Giniver’s portrait series “My Mother at 21.” The work is a series of photographs which are recreations of the subject’s mothers. The subjects are styled, posed, and dressed similarly to the subjects of the original photographs, composed in matching settings. Some of the subjects look very much like their mothers; when they are posed in the same setting, the photos beg a double-take. Other subjects are so dissimilar in appearance to their mothers that the juxtaposition provokes thought. It would have been powerful to see more non-white families in the series, but the work still raises questions despite its lack of diversity.

The showcase is worth a visit to see the memorable pieces that stand out from the crowd.

Blake Jacob is a Vancouver Island poet whose essential nutrients are optimism, wordsmithery, and captivating melody.


Marina MArina captivates audience

Marina MArina
Victoria House Concert B
April 4, 2013

Reviewed by Blake Jacob

An enthusiastic group welcomed West Coast folk artist Marina MArina to Victoria House Concert b on April 4, 2013. Marina’s unique warmth and striking music made this evening unforgettable. Her captivating opening act, folk duo The Ghostbirds, was a perfect match for her with their ethereal vocal arrangements and powerful lyrics.

Marina is a true storyteller, drawing in her listener with an easy smile and natural, comedic charm. Her melodies are comforting and unique. She introduces one song with, “This is my invitation song to all,” connecting the audience to her and to one another. A few people in the crowd reminisce between songs about attending one of Marina’s shows and spending a magical night afterwards singing along to her album in a pedi-cab under the stars.

One can’t resist singing along with Marina. Her voice is gorgeously smoky and full of feeling. As she sings, “I’ll be waiting when the truth gets in,” one envisions that she always finds the sweet in the bittersweet.  Even her heartbreak songs seem lighthearted and hopeful. She remembers, “I reminisced because I miss the one hot moment when we kissed,” and then sharply, cynically, “but love is a con,” winking at the laughing and nodding audience members.

Marina’s music is reminiscent of, but not derivative of, Ani DiFranco. Her cover of DiFranco’s “You Had Time” was such a beautiful reinvention that hearing this song may forever evoke a memory of this night. A listener feels uplifted, centered, as if experiencing “a few green trees to clear your mind,” as one of her songs offers.  When maracas and tambourines were passed through the audience, it felt as if these listeners had become a family supplementing her rhythm. This group of approximately thirty strangers-turned-friends begged her back for two encores. Marina sings, “in this place, we’re all the same,” and that feeling is undeniable.


Blake Jacob is a Vancouver Island poet whose essential nutrients are optimism, wordsmithery, and captivating melody.