Get the lowdown on Vancouver's music scene

NMW ready to rock
With more than 200 musical acts to check out, international showcases, and various conferences, New Music West promises to have lots to offer this year–everything except a big-name keynote speaker. "We're fine with that," NMW president Jory Groberman told the Straight . "Instead, we went with a whole bunch of industry insiders rather than with a Gene Simmons or someone with a lot of flash. Because we want this to be for real."

Among the main attractions is a Danish spotlight in the Gaoler's Mews courtyard on Friday (May 4). Working with the Danish consulate, NMW was able to book the latest and greatest from the Scandinavian hotbed, including Vincent Van GoGo, Outlandish, Surfact, and Funky Nashville. On Saturday (May 5) at Bar None, (New York's industry answer to Pitchfork) is showcasing a mixed bag of indie acts. Capping the five-day event is Apostle of Hustle at the Red Room on Sunday (May 6). "We're hoping to put it [NMW] back on track," said Groberman, who took over NMW three years ago. "We want to make sure that Vancouver stays on the map by having something–at least one annual event where our own music industry comes together." For more info, visit .

> Sarah Rowland


Cocker picks choir
In last week's Straight , we reported that Jarvis Cocker was advertising on his MySpace page for local bands to open his shows during his current tour. When that was written, the former Pulp frontman hadn't yet selected an act from Vancouver for his May 1 Commodore appearance. But a couple of weeks ago Cocker's label, Rough Trade, e-mailed the Choir Practice with the good news.

"We were pretty surprised," says singer-bassist Shane Turner , who also plays in Love and Mathematics. "I was saying to a couple of the people in the band that he wasn't going to check our MySpace page. Then we got an e-mail a week later saying he wanted us to open. It's a good feeling because three of us are huge Pulp fans. Which is kind of funny, because he said in the interview that he's avoiding bands that are influenced by Pulp. Luckily, we don't sound like we are. But This Is Hardcore is one of my favourite albums."

The Choir Practice was formed about a year ago by the Gay's Coco Culbertson "as an excuse to drink wine and sing with friends", says Turner. Featuring anywhere from eight to 12 members, the group's vocal-heavy pop is showcased on a Mint Records debut due out May 15. The band plays a CD-release party at the Railway Club May 18.

> Shawn Conner


Spidey climbs the Mountain
In what can only be called a major coup, Black Mountain has a new song on the Spider-Man 3 soundtrack. While past album tie-ins with the megamillion-dollar franchise have leaned heavily toward the mainstream, the latest features such alternative heroes as the Flaming Lips (with the intriguingly titled "Supreme Being Teaches Spider-Man How to Be in Love"), Rogue Wave, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Vancouver's own Black Mountain, with "Stay Free". The Straight reached out to leader Stephen McBean , who responded with this enigmatic e-mail: "We took a plane to sunset sound and hung in the Doors reverb chamber. it was a trip. Josh [Wells] used some hihats from the second world war. i'm in birmingham. sabbath walked these streets. I watched Toostie [sic] last night and ate pizza pops for lunch."

Black Mountain isn't the first local act to land on a Spider-Man soundtrack: Nickelback's Chad Kroeger sang on "Hero", a huge hit from the first movie.

> Shawn Conner