Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The format will be pretty open. Every Thursday we'll post and talk about song(s) that concern themselves with God, religion, Jesus, redemption, etc. This will be open to interpretation obviously, but will definitely include everything from gospel and beyond; serious and not so.
These topics have been explored within their art by many a great (and not so great) songwriter. These songs carry a great weight, not just for the artist himself, but for the listener, who works out their own thoughts alongside the artist. They can be uplifting like many a gospel track, or intensely introspective, as often the search for meaning is.
So check back every Thursday as we walk through the valley. By no means are we an expert in this vein. Have a favourite song that falls somewhere in the category? By all means let me know and we'll try and get a hold of it.
The inaugural song is the old hymn Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling. Written by Will Thompson, a songwriter and businessman from Chicago in 1880. The song is surely a comforting message to those facing death with the refrain of "ye who are weary come home." It acts to dispel the fear that your sins on earth will bar you entrance into heaven. It portrays Jesus as a benevolent and ultimately forgiving God.
I've included a few versions for you. The first is from Johnny Cash. Recorded during the famed Million Dollar Quartet sessions, Elvis Aaron Presly chimes in to give this a loose, boozy vibe.
Softly and Tenderly - Johnny Cash w/Elvis Presley
The next two are pretty straightforward modern gospel takes on the song. One version by Amy Grant and the next by Randy Travis. Like many attempts to modernize some of these hymns, the end result is a bland and homogenized version that fails to break any new ground. That is arguably the case here. My dad really likes both artists so I thought I'd include them for his sake.
Amy Grant - Softly and Tenderly
Randy Travis - Softly and Tenderly
The last version is by Robert Sean Leonard. It is included on the Jeff Tweedy composed soundtrack to the 2001 Ethan Hawke directed film, Chelsea Walls. He also contributes a cover of Wilco's "The Lonely 1." The album is a great moody little thing. Mainly Tweedy instrumentals, it is easily worth it for this haunting and sparse performance by Leonard. It's good to know if that whole acting thing doesn't work out for him he's got a fallback.
Robert Sean Leonard - Softly and Tenderly (new mp3 sendspace link)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
So Friday was a relatively big day in the music universe. The newest Arcade Fire track was brought into our lives. Zane Lowe premiered it on his radio show on the BBC. Shortly thereafter it was on the tips of tongues and in the ears of many. The song is called Intervention and is presumably the first single off their new album Neon Bible, which is slated for a March release. The song is a reworked version of a tune they played sparingly live during their Funeral days. The new song sounds much bigger, thanks in part to the haunting church organs which float throughout the track. Also, lyrically the song has changed extensively. While it contains various lines from the original, as well as the chorus, it has been fleshed out and obviously reworked a fair bit.
The earlier version I'm referring to is from a performance the Arcade Fire did for Nic Harcourt's excellent Morning Become Eclectic show on KCRW in Los Angeles back in January of 2005. I've meant to post about Morning Becomes Eclectic before but never got around to it. Nic's show runs daily during the week from 9-12 noon. Bands traveling through the LA area stop in and do an in-studio session for Nic. They play a few songs and chat with Nic; devoting the last 30-40 minutes of his show to them. Many a great artist, established and otherwise have played for Nic. If you go to the site I've hyperlinked above you can check out all of the artists that have been by. Get into the archives and waste away your day. Audio and video for 95% of the shows. You can check out the whole Arcade Fire session referred to here. Intervention comes in around the 25 minute mark. A couple of our favourite sessions: The White Stripes circa Get Behind Me Satan, Beck during the Guero era, and Leslie Feist playing some songs off of Let It Die.
What are your thoughts. Does it live up to the hype? Do you even care? Disappointed, excited, wetting your pants? What other 2007 releases have been marked on your calendar. Here at Country Pinball we're pretty predictable: Modest Mouse with Johnny Marr no less, The Shins (whether or not it changes our life), new LCD Soundsystem... 'cause we're losing our edge and all that.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I came across the music of Thao Nguyen this summer and as so often happens, fell in love. And as so often happens thereafter, the sheen wore off and our love was relegated to a folder somewhere in the depths of my PC. Lately I've been coming back to say hello often. I apologized for not calling, you know how hard it is to maintain the intensity of the beginning of the relationship. Now she and I enjoy a reasonable co-existence. I don't take her for granted and she fills my ears with cute pop songs, irresitible harmonies, and the feeling i've been taking one of those thinking walks in the park in the fall.
She released the full-length, Like The Linen, earlier this year. 10 songs about fucking up, finding love, and hoping love doesn't fuck you up. Originally from Virginia, Thao's been spending some time in Seattle with her backing band, The Get Down Stay Down. Hanging out, taking in WNBA games, and recording her followup for the kill rock stars label. She contributed the song "Feet Asleep" to the KRS compilation disc The Sound the Hare Heard which you can purchase here.
Fingers crossed, 2007, will bring us some more Thao. In the meantime, check out her myspace for some new(ish) tracks. She also did a session with Daytrotter which is worth stopping by to hear. As always, support if you dig. Stop on over to insound or Cd Baby to purchase Like The Linen.
Moped Mp3 from Like The Linen
Feet Asleep Mp3
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
I intended to post some Constantines b-sides/covers, etc. on Monday, however, I went home to visit my folks sans computer. I'm hoping to make this a quick one as I managed to pick up the flu while away.
First things first, the Cons show was great as usual. They previewed a few new tracks and if anything is to be gleamed from them expect the new record to be a return to their hardcore vibe while maintaining the poppier side that their last album contained. It sounds hard and it sounds good. Neile's life was there too and has a few photo's for you if that is your thing (scroll down just a little bit to see them).
Everyone loves a good cover. The Constantines are no exception. The covers they've tackled on record and live tend to stay pretty true to the original. Definitely not as adventurous as other bands who try to re-imagine the original, but then you won't find yourself thinking "what a fucking shitty cover" either.
The first song finds the Cons covering Elevator To Hell's (Elevator, Elevator Through) Why I Didn't Like August '93. Elevator to Hell was the solo project of Eric's Trip 's Rick White, post Eric breakup. Julie Doiron was in Eric's Trip with Rick. Now Julie plays in Shotgun & Jaybird. Shotgun & Jaybird opened for the Constantines last week. When The Cons encored with this song Julie joined them onstage. I though that was a nice touchl. Go here for a short little bio on Elevator to Hell (and in comic form no less).
The next is Raw Youth by Royal City. Royal City were on Three Gut Records, as were The Constantines. Although Royal City are no longer, RC's Jim Guthrie still does shows with the Cons every now and again. Jim contributed his own version of The Constantines' Nighttime/Anytime (it's alright) to Believer Magazine's covers record in their summer 2005 issue. This is also where the Cons Elevator to Hell cover was featured. Jim really takes the song to a new place.
Friday, December 01, 2006
If I were asked band # 1 I'm sure I'd emphatically state Dylan. Band #2, equally emphatic, would be The Constantines. The Cons include Bry Webb(vocals), Steve Lambke(guitar), Dallas Wehrle(bass), Wil Kidman(keyboard), and Doug Macgregor(drums). They found each other in the hardcore scene of London/Kitchener-Waterloo/Guelph. Part of the Three Gut Records clan, they inevitably settled in Toronto. Under their belt are three albums of intensely high calibre, '01's self-titled, '03's Shine A Light, and '05's Tournament of Hearts. From the beginning to now, they've graduated from their Fugazi reminiscent beginnings to a more emblematic Neil Young.
They are still plagued with the "Springsteen meets Fugazi" comparisons. Their latest album drew the Neil comparisons which I think is apt(kinda). Both have lyrics that are incredibly poetic. Both are at home reaching deep within themslelves to come up with a song that hits at the heart. Both can also knock out vicious rockers that break in the front door of your mouth and leave you gasping. It is no surprise that the Cons started a Neil Young cover band a few years back called Horsey Craze. They even released a split record with the indie rock "supergroup" The Unintended (Travis and Dallas Good of the Sadies, Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, and Rick White of Eric's Trip and later, Elevator) . The Constantines/Horsey craze contributed four Neil Young covers with the Unintended doing four Gordon Lightfoot songs. Music critics (and bloggers) are lazy. The Neil Young (and Fugazi and Bruce Springsteen before this) references are easy ones. While they may share the same bolt of cloth, the Cons are very much their own band. At war with the heart, they are brilliantly sincere. "Dont talk to me about simple things," Webb sings, "there are no such things."
The Constantines play tonight at Call the Office. The rest of their dates are as follows:
December 1 - Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON w/ Shotgun and Jaybird & Lullabye Arkestra
December 2 - Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON Canada Care benefit w/ Jason Collett
December 2 - Underground, Hamilton, ON w/ Shotgun and Jaybird & Lullabye Arkestra
December 8 - Townehouse Tavern, Sudbury, ON w/ The Creeping Nobodies
December 9 - Ford Plant, Brantford, ON w/ The Creeping Nobodies
January 29 - Memorial Centre, Peterborough, ON support for the Tragically Hip
January 31 - General Motors, Oshawa, On support for the Tragically Hip
Febuary 2 - Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, ON support for the Tragically Hip
I love you all with a big heart...
From Shine A Light
Tank Commander (hung up in a warehouse town)
From Tournament of Hearts
Draw Us Lines
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Off the top of my head If I were to offer my favourite albums of the year I'm sure Regina Spektor's Begin To Hope would be there. Released this past summer, most notable is the maturation from 2004's Soviet Kitsch. While her previous efforts fell in line with the quirky stylings of anti-folk, Begin To Hope contains a more polished Spektor. As the title hints, we also see a more optimistic side of her songwriting.
I first came across Ms. Spektor when The Strokes took her along for their Room on Fire tour in 2003. Although complications prevented her from performing that night, she was soon on the tips of many a music fans tongue. She also traded vocals with head stroke Julian Casablancas on the b-side of the "Reptilia" single, "Modern Girls & Old Fashioned Men."
Since then it's been an upward trajectory. Trained classically at piano, you find yourself falling in love with the awkward chamber pop of her earlier albums, or the heir to the piano poet crown of her latest. Sincerity is what keeps you around and listening.
Regina Spektor & Julian Casablancas - Modern Girls & Old Fashioned Men
Regina Spektor - Poor Little Rich Boy (From Soviet Kitsch)
Regina Spektor - Us (Ibid)
Regina Spektor - Fidelity (from Begin To Hope)
Regina Spektor - Apres Moi (Ibid)
Update: Over at The Late Greats Regina is getting some love. Lots of links to some great live Spektor sessions so check it out. I am also in love with this video. It really accents the song and brings it on home. See it here, fall in love.
Monday, November 27, 2006
While I was waiting to get in I struck up a conversation with Chris from Neiles Life, who I recognized from his blog. Neiles Life is another London blog. We had a good little chat about blogging in general and Chris gave me some shit for my low scoring on the Hold Steady album I reviewed in the university paper. Chris just finished posting his top 50 albums of the year so you should head on over there to check out things. He runs a good site that always has some decent tracks worth stopping by for. He also has a big love for the rich history of the east coast independent scene. Anyone who talks about the Local Rabbits is alright in my books.
Aside from that I'm tapped out and exhausted. Monday's are for breezing through. I'll leave you with a few tracks that have been taking up my ears this weekend.
This a cover of the Warren Zevon original by Magnolia Electric Co. This version stays pretty true to the original, albeit with a few small stamps. I can't seem to stop listening to the track. Perhaps, it is the earnestness of Jason Molina's delivery. Either way, download the track, courtesy of You Ain't No Picasso.
If comparing and contrasting is your thing....
Warren Zevon - Werewolves of London
I was catching up with my new favourite television show, Heroes, the other night and realized i had never seen the first ep. I got around to watching it and fell in love with a song playing in the background during a scene. The song? "Eyes" by Rogue Wave. It was released as a b-side to the "Publish My Love" single off their latest, the 2005 release Descended Like Vultures. It's a beautiful love song that aches in your ears for a long while.
Friday, November 24, 2006
A bit excited about this show to be honest. It has been a good 2/3 years since I last saw Joel Plaskett. I went through a mega fan phase when I was 20, seeing him live a good 6 times in the same number of months.
Joel started things young when he formed Thrush Hermit as a tender teen circa 1992. Around '95 halifax became appointed by the international press(well American really) as the "New Seattle". A bidding war for Sloan ensued and high expectations turned to rap rock and teen pop. Easily one of the most important bands of this so-called "Halifax pop explosion" were Thrush Hermit. Signed to Sloan's Murder Records imprint, the band released 3 great EP's, along with the full-lengths Sweet Homewrecker (1997) and Clayton Park (1999). They disbanded amicably in '99 leaving behind a still vibrant east coast scene.
Joel released his solo debut In Need of Medical Attention the same year. By the time of 2001's Down at the Khyber Joel had formed the tight backing band The Emergency and the rest was pop history. 2003's Truthfully, Truthfully cemented Joel's place as an important Canadian songwriter, garnering him his greatest critical and commercial success to date.
Joel's songs veer towards a pop styling. Expansive and heartfelt his songs explore the modern Canada. While nationalistic at times he touches upon universal themes of the heart and mind. After releasing solo effort La De Da in 2005, Joel has been busy touring as always. You may have heard his "Nowhere With You" gracing K-Mart commercials throughout the summer. Surprising at first, repeated listens ensure that Joel is still creating the same heartfelt songs that endear us to him.
Joel plays London tonight with The Emergency. He'll be in Toronto on Saturday for the annual Festival of the Lights Christmas tree lighting at Nathan Phillips Square, wrappin up the mini tour in Hamilton on Monday night.
Thrush Hermit - Hated It
Joel Plaskett - Down at the Khyber
"Nowhere With You" can be found on the bonus disc that accompanies this year's live Joel DVD Make A Little Noise. It may very well be worth it for the track "Million Dollars" which is included on said bonus disc and is also streaming over at Joel Plaskett's website.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I probably didn't wet my pants today. But my mind likes to blow its top sometimes. Especially over perfect little rock and roll songs.
White Denim - shakeshakeshake
Everything else about white denim sucks. You can't wear it without some asshole asking you if you used to be in Whitesnake.
Daniel Johnston is a singer/songwriter type, born 1961, who grew to fame during the mid-80's in Austin Texas. Counting The Beatles as his most important influence, Daniel crafted low-fi pop tunes revered for there clever wordplay and childish imagery. Daniel was kind of an odd duck who suffered from a variety of psychological disorders. Often when he is on the verge of success he has suffered an episode that has usually required hospitalization. The mental episodes allowed Daniel's significant legend to grow. Today he continues to live in Texas. Under the care of hs parents Daniel continues to make music. His cartoon style artwork has also spawned its own successful career.
Although I was familiar with the name for a while, I only came across Daniel's music a year ago. This came in the form of Beck's cover of Daniel's True Love Will Find You In The End, which appeared on 2004's Discovered Covered. When I tracked down the original I wasn't entirely hooked and thus ventured off. Daniel's been in my mind lately though. It started a month or two back when I picked up M. Ward's latest, Post War. I fell in love with the track, To Go Home, which I quickly learned was a cover of a Daniel song. Jumping off from that Daniel Johnston and his music have been jumping into my life at random moments the past months. It seems that fate is guiding me to give it another chance. Without boring you with the weird coincidences and instances, it culminated in Roommate Luke randomly walking into the living room and mentioning he'd picked up The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
Getting past the more trying material can be difficult, however once you do you are instantly rewarded. If you're looking to find out more about Daniel his wikipedia entry is a good start. Hi, How are you? is the official site for all things Daniel, while fan site Rejected Unknown maintains a great discography among other things.
M. Ward - To Go Home
Daniel Johnston - To Go Home
Daniel Johnston - Never Before/Never Again
Daniel Johnston - Ain't No Woman Gonna Make A George Jones Outta Me
Daniel Johnston - I Killed the Monster
Daniel Johnston - I Saw Her Standing There
The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There
Monday, November 20, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Has anyone else seen the teaser trailer for the new season of 24. Safe to assume I am entirely excited. Jack bauer is rocking a super sweet political prisoner super beard. Go here to see it. Start salivating for january's premiere.
My favourite band (and yours too right, right, RIGHT!!!!) The glorious Constantines are scheduled to play Call The Office November 30th. Cardiac arrest.
I was gonna post some friday Mp3's for you. Something to fall in love with. My file hosting is upgrading so we're out of luck for now. I'll update it when things are back online.
Edit: My hosting service was ezarchive. They are upgrading to a 3.0 version. Sounds swell enough except for the fact that the new service is shit. EZ is/was widely used by bloggers, but many folks are abandoning ship. It may be a few days while I look for a better file service before I can continue serving you fine folks with music. Stay patient and optimistic.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine featuring Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas is their annual Hot List issue. Under the heading Hot Anticipation the mag lists "Alt-Rock Reunions." Pavement, The Smiths, The Replacements, Husker Du, as well as a few other bands are listed along with a short writeup speculating on the likelihood of a reunion. The only rule is that all the original members of the band (or the original members from when the band was making their most important music) must be part of the reunion.
Following The Pixies, The Smiths, and the Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement is this year's rumoured high profile act to headline the Coachella Festival in May. Safe money seems to be on Malkmus and co. Morissey reported that he turned down a payday of 5 million for last year's Coachella.
Although not included in the list, Chavez has decided to beat everyone else to the punch. For those not familiar with Chavez you may be forgiven. The band existed for only a few brief years. The Band is/was Matt Sweeney, Clay Tarver, Scott Masciarelli, and drummer James Lo. Known for the excellent guitar work of Sweeney and Tarver, they released 1995's Gone Glimmering and 1996's Ride The Fader and then essentially disbanded. Sweeney was in Billy Corgan's post Pumpkins project Zwan. He also collaborated with Bonnie "Prince" Billy on 2005's Superwolf. I'm not too familiar with what the rest of the gang has been up to. Matador just released a 2-disc, 1-dvd box set, Better Days Will Haunt You. It compiles the original two albums plus some B-sides. All the tracks have been remastered for your listening pleasure.
The band has announced four dates with all four original members with more to possibly follow:
12/30/06-San Francisco, CA
Chavez - Ride The Fader
Chavez - You Faded
Monday, October 23, 2006
The commercial I previously mentioned was the World Cup one where the trio of backpackers run around Europe. If you can't remember which one that was the song should jog your memory.
Deadly Snakes - Everybody Seems To Think (They've Got Some Kind of Hold on Me)
The song is off their beyond phenomenal 2003 release Ode To Joy. Your soul is not complete until you've heard it.
A month or two back my brother Derek started up a conversation that went something like this:
Derek: Hey have you seen those Yaris commercials?
Derek: You know that song they play in it? I think it's a Deadly Snakes tune.
Me: I don't think so. Just sounds like a little riff. I'm sure someone just hammered it out solely for that commercial. It's kinda funky though.
Derek: Oh Ok.
Fast Forward a few months later and D sends me a link. Turns out he was right. The "riff" is from The Deadly Snakes' Graveyard Shake off their second album I'm Not Your Soldier Anymore. Although the first two Snakes albums aren't immensely hard to find you do have to do a bit of legwork. I hadn't so I'm using that as an excuse for my not recognizing it. Thanks to Derek for following through and proving his brother wrong.
check out the Yaris riff here...
And compare it to the song: Deadly Snakes - Graveyard Shake
When it was reported that Jack White would be writing a song for a Coke commercial it created a bit of a stir. The usual "sellout" shouts were leveled. At the height of the "The" bands hype The White Stripes were famously offered a cool million
to appear in a Gap advertisement. This was turned down. Jack's involment with Coca Cola strikes some as hypocritical. As Jack sees it "To be asked to write something particular along one theme of love in a worldwide form that I'm not really used to appealed to me." The advert aired in Australia this past Spring. It is doubtful we shall ever see it played in North America. Regardless, it is on Youtube to check out for yourself. I personally enjoyed both the advert and the song. As you'll see the advert employs some of the same techniques as seen previously in the video for the Stripes' video for their song The Hardest Button to Button. The song is very Jack White and quite beautiful from my perspective. If your background is in the punk or ultra indie hipster ethos then your immediate disdain is duly noted.
Jack White and Coca-Cola
Jack White - What Goes Around Comes Around (Mp3)
Ever been sitting in front of the tv and heard a song you would never expect? Ever seen a company take a song and use it in some way that completely misses what the song is all about. Leave a comment and let us know.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Photo credit: Jacques Woodcock
Viva Voce has been clogging up my headwaves this past week. Comprised of the Portland based husband/wife duo of Kevin and Anita Robinson, Viva Voce just released their 3rd LP, Get Yr Blood Sucked Out. I came across the band less then a week ago. I was playing the 4 or so tracks I had all weekend looking for any flaw I could find. I was grasping at straws basically, anything I could do so I wouldn't have to go out and buy it and thus have to sit down and justify to myself buying another record. I went through an economic rough patch all summer basically and didn't buy an album for about 6 months. To make up for this I've bought atleast 12 in the past month. My way of evening things out I suppose.
Listening to Get Yr Blood.. there are a lot of influences to take in. A lot of motown and pop, definitely a psychedic vibe that comes across also. These kids are at home with quiet and smart, layered pop tunes, that are anything but the ordinary, or laying out fuzzed out spins that threaten to break off but are kept in place by Anita's deft guitar. The record hops from primal to achingly beautiful all within twelve tracks.
The album is out on Barsuk. You can pick it up there. Or amazon. Whatever your fancy be.
The band just passed through Toronto a few days ago. They are on tour with The Silversun Pickups. Currently somewhere around the mid-west and making their way over to Seattle and Portland. Check out the remaining dates over at Viva Voce's website.
Viva Voce - So Many Miles(MP3)
Viva Voce - Special Thing(Mp3)
If you'll go back a few posts I'm pretty sure I posted another track by these folks a few days ago. All tracks are off Get Yr Blood Sucked Out. Seek it out at your earliest convenience.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The Shins - Mine's Not A High Horse(Mp3)
Also, Jeff Tweedy decked a fan. When he was here in the Summer he seemed like such a fine upstanding lad. While it's not like Wilco and Mr. Tweedy are exactly scraping for press or accolades does anyone else agree that his songwriting is criminally underrated. For the level of talent his compositions show his level of fame should be more on par with that of a U2 or a Coldplay. Anyone?
Wilco - I Got You (At the end of the Century)(Mp3)
The Monday news cycle brought news (and later videos) of an altercation that Saddle Creek band, Two Gallants, had an altercation with the law in Houston that ended up in somewhat of a melee onstage and later on outside. Punches and accusations were thrown, several people were tasered (and I thought only resourceful teen detectives did that). In the end a few members of the opening bands spent a night behind bars. Pitchfork talks with Two Gallants' Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel who offer their account. Stereogum also reports. You can watch some fan videos of the action here and here.
Two Gallants - Las Cruces Jail(Mp3)
Two Gallants - Long Summer Day (Mp3)
Where's that Mp3 of Fuck Tha Police or I Fought The Law when you want to sonically drive the point home. Maybe its hanging out with our copy of Body Count's Cop Killer.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Matt Barber & The Union Dues w/ The Spades - October 24
@ Call The Office - $10
Bob Dylan w/ The Foo Fighters - November 3 @ John Labatt Centre - Tix various $$$
Shout Out Out Out - November 9 @ CTO
The Joel Plaskett Emergency - November 24 @ CTO - $12
The Dylan show is looking more and more unlikely. Pricey and I believe tix might be sold out anyways. Shout Out Out Out just played here a short while ago. Don't hold your breath for Joel. He's been scheduled to play atleast three times the past year and each time it has ended up cancelled. Also,
London Ontario Live Arts (L.O.L.A) is a new organization launching this month with free music and art festival. Its free and takes place October 28th on Dundas street. Performers include: Cuff The Duke, Elliott Brood, The Wooden Stars, Jon Rae & The River, Tokyo Police Club, A Northern Chorus, The Hylozoists, and Born Ruffians.
Festivities kick off round 1pm. More details to come.
Other than that..... Stop reading. Get out and shake your ass.
Viva Voce - From The Devil Himself (Mp3)
Elliott Brood - The Bridge (Mp3)
Friday, October 13, 2006
Welcome back kids. We hope your turkey weekend was delicious. We hope you had things to be thankful for. Around here we've been reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. Ben did lots of cool things beyond his little experiment with that kite. Ben was also big on being industrious. Work, Work, Work. That's what he said. It worked for him. What does this have to do with the photo above. Absolutely nothing. We just fancy dear old Ben and thought you should know. If he was still alive we'd ask him to be our friend. Anyone crazy enough to tempt lightning is pretty cool in our books. Another person we'd like to be our friend is The Flints. Earlier this year we asked the band to be our internet friend on Myspace. They accepted. Normally our friends share their cookies with us. The Flints haven't offered yet. We don't mind because they make rock and roll music. Rock and roll music is marginally better than cookies. This Toronto-based band put out an Ep entitled There Used To Be A Time last year. The EP's breezy pop has been melting our hearts since. The band is the brainchild of Stan Flint and Al Huizenga. Rounded out by a few friends, when The Flints are not playing my sister's tea parties they also play real shows. By real we mean in front of an audience at places like The Alex P. Keaton. This Saturday in fact.
The Flints were in town in June and played The Alex P., as well as a fun in-store at Grooves Record store. Not a big turnout so I'm hoping that you folks here in London may make the band's return visit a warmer welcome. Besides being named after our favourite Michael J. Fox character besides Teen Wolf, The Alex P. is a nice small venue. This makes it easier to snuggle up with your pretty girl, or perhaps Stan Flint if you ask politely.
You can go over to CD Baby and buy a copy of There Used To Be A Time. Or come out Saturday and buy one from the band.
I'll leave you faithful reader's with a few tracks from said EP. Don't they make you feel warm and fuzzy. Whats that, you only feel warm? Maybe you're coming down with the flu. Straight to bed you little sickie. Remember, lots of fluids.
The Flints' Myspace
The Flints' website
The Flints - Empire Hotel(mp3)
The Flints - Girl(mp3)
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
This marks the major label debut for the band. Snatched up by Capitol Records when the Portland buzz was at its apex, it finds the band up to its usual literary rock bag of tricks. Atleast that's what everyone else is saying. Why "literary?" This is because The Decemberists can read. They also write songs that deal less with copulation and more with Civil War-era romance, or 18th century chimney sweeps, or Antebellum riverboat gamblers. Or something like that. I've never really been a fan of Colin Meloy and his merry band of nerds, however, this summer I turned a new leaf when I heard the tune "16 Military Wives" off their 2005 album Picaresque . I hadn't intended to purchase this yesterday, however, with the tune knocking around in the back of my head, I instinctively grabbed it as I strolled past the D section at the record store. After a first listen I am incredibly surprised I love it. Sometimes the sheen wears off quickly. I'll get back to you on this one. There was a lot of hype when the Capitol signing was announced sometime in the early summer. I just hope Capitol doesn't have high hopes for the band moving a lot of units. I haven't seen a lot of advertising or marketing regarding the album so we'll assume that the label is being realisitic. Lots of potential.
The Decemberists' Website
The Decemberists - Sons and Daughters(Right click and "save target as" for tracks) off of The Crane Wife
The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives off of Picaresque
Buy The Crane Wife on amazon
Beck - The Information
Beck's newest release follows his Summer 2005 release of Guero. The album was seen as a return to form for Beck who teamed up with the Dust Brothers as he had on the success solidifier of Odelay. On any other week this record probably would have been big news. The album comes with a set of stickers and a blank album cover, letting the buyer design their own cover art. Each track on the album also has a video. 15 new Beck tracks, 15 quirky videos, all for 15 bucks. Beck is also playing the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto October 16th. Check your usual ticket outlets if you're interested.
Beck - Cell Phone's dead off The Information
Buy The Information on amazon
The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
This album has been the most highly hyped around the indie world the past few weeks. In a world where leaked records often appear months in advance this one managed to stay under wraps. The title of the album comes from Jack Kerouac's On The Road; "boys and girls in America have such a sad time together." Pitchfork media set the bar high with a 9.4 rating. Rolling Stone magazine (as prominently displayed on the shrink wrap) asks "how can any band be this good?"
I've been a fan for awhile. Their previous effort, Separation Sunday instantly grabs you. However, the basic guitar riffs, suited for a band who garners E-Street and bar band comparisons, can be grating and ultimately take away from the finished product. The standout are leadman Craig Finn's lyrics. He crafts epic narratives that recall both Dylan at his most rambling and Springsteen at his most brilliant(Greetings from Asbury Park anyone). As you can see I've joined the circle jerk of critical praise. It is hard not to. Off first listen The Hold Steady have changed. Although the lyrics and storytelling still prevail, the band has matured into something other than just a riff-maker. As I mentioned previously ther was a lot of hype surrounding this album. The fact that the band had moved from French Kiss records to Vagrant led me to believe that it would be getting a fair push from the marketing lads. Incredibly telling is the fact that I was up at the mall today (3 big box record stores under the same roof) and not one of the chains had the record in stock. We here in the Indie world sometimes get ahead of ourselves. Little details like this remind you that the music universe hasn't been altered as much as we might believe. Look for this disc. It'll be topping best of year end lists everywhere in a few months.
The Hold Steady on the web
The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy
Buy Boys and Girls In America on amazon
The Killers - Sams Town
Remember The Killers. They had a boyfriend, that looked like a girlfriend, that looked like... The album is inevitably going to be named a failure. Various reasons at play. The sophomore slump is a given considering how out of the blue the success of their first was. It doesn't help that Brandon Flowers is annoying and also described the album, pre-release, as going to be the best album of the past 20 years. Don't set the bar too high Mr. Flowers. This is basically the biggie of the week and/or month and/or year. Expect this to be played at your next college party. Also expect it to be played by that friend of yours with the "hip" dad (inappropriate knee touch) who is still down with O.P.P. You know, street style yo!!
Anyways, judging by the hype and big money marketing pushes this album will probably find itself atop the charts come next week. The Killers kicked off the season premiere of SNL last week as the musical guests. Although I mock The Killers often, I also have a soft spot for them. "All These Things I've Done" off their debut, Hot Fuss,is one of the best songs, dare I say it, of the past 20 years. Pure pop genius as i'll begrudgingly admit every now and again. The SNL appearance saw them perform lead single "When We Were Young" and "Bones". Apparently gone is the dandy/new wave image the band crafted first time around. replaced is the more american/western vibe of their second release. I found the SNL performance of "When We Were Young" completely irresistable. It made me love a song I had already trashed from my periphery. I've decide to go ahead and post the video( can't post it. check out the links for "When We Were Young" and "Bones" on SNL). My favourite part is the completely "natural" yelp about 2:20 in. The awkward lyrics( a Killers trademark) are made more evident while viewing. Something about the performance just really grabs me though. I've heard horror stories about The Killers live performance before. If their shows are anything like this though I might consider going. Once you get over the realization that these guys are pure image you can settle into a nice appreciation of the awesome pop music they churn out every now and again.
The Killers go to the internet
The Killers - When We Were Young
Buy Sams Town on amazon
Rob Sheffield gives a pretty fair review of Sams Town over at Rolling Stone
Besides the four listed above, October 3rd also saw the release of Akron/Family's Meek Warrior, a new Sean Lennon disc, a new Evanescence album for all you mainstream goths out there, as well as Jet's Shine On which is "reviewed" over at Pitchfork.
Monday, October 02, 2006
The above picture is of David Thomas Broughton. David Thomas Broughton is a 24 year old singer from Leeds in Britain. David Thomas Broughton has invaded my ears.
His (to my knowledge) debut recording, The Complete Guide To Insufficiency, came out sometime last December. While it may be only five tracks and might, by this fact, technically be called an EP, it spans over 40 minutes. Somehow, somewhere in this crazy ramble I came across the track 'Unmarked Grave' (Which I'll include below for you). Me and the track played around like new lovers, unable to part, until I broke down and orded the full album via some internet type record store. My compatriots in this thing increasingly being referred to as the "blogosphere" have pointed out previously how Mr. DTB can be described as a kin member of the likes of Devandra Banhart and Joanna Newsom. For you math types: David Thomas Broughton = that folky music floating around the sub-sect of the music world (sometimes referred to as "freak-folk" or *gasp* "Weird Beard." DTB might be construed as sounding "folky." Atleast in the same vein of "folky" as the previously mentioned comparable artists. In my own words, DTB sounds like music. The album is a haunting and atmospheric endeavour. Each song on the album bleeds into one other. It is quiet yet permeates your entire reality, taking over your ears. The album works well with long walks you meant to take to clear your head, yet inexplicably took your Walkmen/Discman/Mp3 player along for. It is heavy, not necesarilly in a negative way, but simply heavy, as if DTB conveys the weight of his mind onto the recorded material. Believe it or not this is entirely rare.
I've include two tracks for your perusal. I highly recommend going out and buying the entire album.
David Thomas Broughton - Unmarked Grave
David Thomas Broughton - Walking Over You
David Thomas Broughton on Myspace
Buy The Complete Guide To Insufficiency
Friday, September 29, 2006
I apologize for the lack of posts all this week. I've been sick as a dog and lacking anything resembling energy or a desire to move from my couch/bed. Still I wish to get atleast one post in this week. As you may also see I stole a stock photo off the internet. Alert the authorities.
If you read and check back frequently you'll have noticed up to this point the blog updated inconsistently. Although I'd really like to have this running five days a week, for the most part that is unlikely with school and other committments. Still, I'm thinking that 3 times a week, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is certainly do-able. We'll start with these self-imposed deadlines and if we're able to contribute more we shall.
As for today, I'm just going to leave some songs that have been floating around my head these days.
The first is a Bob Dylan song called Pressing On. Off the 1980 album, Saved, the song finds Dylan defending his faith to his detractors. Aside from 1979's Grammy-winning Slow Train Coming, Dylan's so-called Christian era is often unfairly maligned. These days its hard to find a bad word volleyed in the old bard's direction. I'm still digesting his most recent release, Modern Times. Any new Dylan release fills me with a bit of trepidation and sadness. In the future I might share my thoughts. For now just grab this track and revel in its glory.
Bob Dylan-Pressing On
Bob Dylan on the web
M. Ward's latest album, Post War, has been tearing up a place in my heart for a few weeks now. Its a constant companion wherever i go. Magic trick is a sly and beautiful track. Also happens to be one of my favourites. My interest in M. Ward was almost non-existent prior to this release. I've seen and heard of him often, although I could never really get into him. I bought the album on a whim and have yet to be disappointed. Give it a shot.
M. Ward - Magic Trick
Visit M. Ward
The next track is a new one from Swan Lake. A supposed "supergroup" with all the flashing warning signs that conjures up , it is comprised of Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown), Dan Bejar (Destroyer, New Pornographers), and Carey Mercer (Frog Eyes). All Fires made its way around the web and blogs this summer. The song never really took hold of me. It seemed to be more of a Spencer song, not necessarily the sum of all parts. Most recently, City Calls became available. This song seems like more of a team effort and is peaking my interest for when the band releases their full length debut November 21. Called Beast Moans, it is being released by Jagjaguwar records. I've included both tracks for your listening pleasures. You can check up on the band on their myspace.
Swan Lake - All Fires
Swan Lake - City Calls
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Land of Talk have been getting considerable attention on the strength of their first EP Applause, Cheer, Boo, Hiss. Hailing from Montreal, this is the brainchild of Elizabeth Powell and her compatriots. Catchy their music may be, catch them that evening i did not. Unfortunately things at work kept me late and i missed their entire set. They were the ones I was most hyped about seeing.
Land of Talk - All My Friends
Land of Talk - BreaxxBaxx
Alas, my broken heart was assuaged when I walked in to the dance party that is......
Shout Out Out Out Out. Besides having an incredibly annoying name to type out, they also put on the best dance party I've seen in awhile. Its always a great feeling when you walk into a club and the air feels warm and electric and the collective heads and bodies are dancing and moving in tandem spirit. I've heard of the supposed legendary shows SOOOO puts on from a couple of friends who live in the band's homebase of Edmonton. I was definitely grooving within moments. They come off as a bit shticky, what with the excessive high kicks and all that vocoder. Nonetheless in the moment, its just the band and its collectively sweaty and entranced audience.
SOOOO - Forever Indebted
SOOOO - Nobody Calls Me Unless they Want Something
Holy Fuck is the electronic project of Brian Borcherdt. As stated by his bio on New Music Canada, Brian "founded the indie collective Dependent, whored music out to FOX's '24', makes music videos, is developing a piece of film editing equipment as a music instrument, frequently makes up alter egos, plays in By Divine Right, and is friend to all animals."
As you can see, he is a busy man. I'd contest the last claim though after seeing Mr. Borcherdt bite the head off a bat on Saturday. This may or may not be true. I first came across Brian through his work in By Divine Right. I fell in love with him after I heard the song "Can't Stop Loving You" off his 2004 solo release The Remains of Brian Borcherdt. His music with Holy Fuck could most aptly be described as electronic. What separates them from the norm is their assortment of trash toys and instruments which aid their sound. Although they start from a base, their songs are never the same twice. Incredibly captivating to watch and listen to. The band released an LP last year. You can grab it over at Maple Music.
Holy Fuck website
Holy Fuck - Tonebank Jungle
Holy Fuck - Casio Bossa Nova
Holy Fuck, Shout Outx4, and Land of Talk are crossing Canada together. Most of their Ontario dates have already passed, however if you are hailing from outside of the province, you may still yet get to see this great bill. Check their respective websites/myspace to find a date. Also check out the aforementioned Dependent. Its a great label with a charming roster of bands.
Wrapping things up I'll leave you with the link for the video for Can't Stop Loving You. I take back my earlier claim. Watching the video you can clearly see Mr. Borcherdt shows an incredible empathy and understanding in his capturing of the urban ennui of the adult bunny rabbit.
The Remains of Brian Borcherdt - Can't Stop Loving You(mp3)
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
So, by now you sgould be aware that Mr. Owen Pallett AKA Final Fantasy went ahead and won that Polaris last night. I was gonna say congratulations to that little cocksucker, however, due to his sexuality, which veers down that road , that might be the least tactful thing I could possibly say tonight. If you read the previous post you should remember I had FF's He Poos Clouds down as my one of the albums i would liked to have seen replaced with another artist. What this proves? You probably shouldn't be taking any tips on horse races from me anytime soon. I do have a good tip on next week's Sooners game though. You may also remember I maligned Broken Social Scene's nomination. Apparently they were the brunt of many jokes at last night's awards ceremony. Clearly the backlash is already in effect. This breaks my heart a little and causes me to feel a need to explain myself. I think there is no possible way that there disc could have lived up to the hype prior to its release. The extended period of time between You Forget It In People and the self-titled disc almost completely ensured that. What YFIIP meant to people and did for Canadian music abroad put it behind the eightball from the get go. We the flippant public could never have possibly been satisfied. That said, it's a good record, possibly even great. This all depends on your subjectivity and personal preferences. Like any good album I continue to find something new in it every time I listen to it. Its an ever-evolving digestion. I hate to see the critics rear their collectively ugly heads especially when a year ago they were chomping at the bit for a listen. Lets acknowledge the incredibly huge role BSS has played in Canadian Indie music's recognition over the past few years. It is unheralded and unprecedented.
Commentary about the win and the going ons at the ceremony courtesy of Said The Gramaphone, Chromewaves, popwherry,Brooklyn Vegan, and Carl Wilson, who was one of the eleven judges, over at Zoilus.
All in all I'm happy with how the first year of Polaris went down. I look forward to it for years to come.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Later this evening, on top a stage at the Phoenix Concert hall in Toronto, Ontario, in a gala presentation, one lucky band/artist will hear their name announced and walk up to accept acclaim and a $20,000 payday. We're talking about the inaugural awarding of the Polaris music prize. Modelled after the UK's prestigious Mercury prize, the Polaris seeks to be "Canada's first monetary prize for a full-length album based solely on artistic merit, without regard to genre or record sales." I've heard various shades of cynicism in regards to the Polaris since its inception was announced months ago. In my opinion it sounds great. Ten canadian albums were shortlisted as based on the votes of over 100 Canadian journalist/music industry toughs/etc. Aside from the already mentioned merit citeria, a nominee must be a Canadian album released between June 1, 2005 and may 31, 2006. Tonight, one of those albums will claim the prize and reap a decent sized reward. Although it has been over four years in the making, the Polaris comes after a particularly flush year in Canadian music. Following on the previous year's Arcade Fire storm, Montreal becoming the supposed "new" Seattle, etc.. It has definitely been a great couple years for Canadian music in terms of recognition abroad, as well as awareness here at home. Despite this, the Juno's, Canada's answer to the Grammy's, has regularly ignored our nation's most relevant artists, aside from passing accolades in the usual sub-categories. This is due in large part to the fact that the Juno awards are decided largely in part on record sales. The Polaris seeks to recognize and bring attention to those many very relevant Canadian artists who don't sell alot of records. This lack of sales, as we all know, is not any indication at all of the integrity of their respective works.
Below each nominee will get a brief writeup. I'll also leave a song from each artist so you may get an idea what they are all about. The award put out a ten song cd sampler which you should be able to track down at your nearest big box record store. While you are there you may consider picking up the Veronica Mars Season 2 on DVD as an early Christmas present. My neglected studies thank you in advance.
Broken Social Scene - Self-Titled
I think we could easily consider this album the frontrunner. It was very much a highly anticipated album leading up to its release. Although it didn't fail to dissapoint, I would argue it does not compare to it's predecessor, You Forgot It In People. While the success of The Arcade Fire would certainly be considered the spark that ignited the flame in terms of Canadian indie music's critical recognition abroad, atleast on a widescale format. I think we have to recognize that BSS's YFIIP a few years prior really perked up heads. If Broken Social Scene wins, I'd argue its due to the fact that the judges are making up for the fact the Polaris wasn't around when YFIIP first came out. If I were to swap out a nominee, it'd be this album. Who would replace it? Either The Constantine's Tournament of Hearts or The Fembot's painfully overlooked The City.
Buy it on Amazon
Ibi Dreams of Pavement(A better day)
Cadence Weapon - Breaking Kayfabe
One of the two nominated albums that I haven't heard extensively. I don't know too much about Cadence Weapon AKA Oliie Pemberton. This we do know, the man hails from the always underrated Edmonton. He used to write reviews for the indie mecca called Pitchfork (insert self-aware jab at Pitchfork's continuing credibility. This album, his first LP, received a decent rating of 8.0 from his former employer. I'll be the first to admit my knowledge is not broad in regards to the hip hop umbrella Breaking Kayfabe falls under. Limited essentially to genre crossing singles that inspire me to dig out my old PE and Roots records, only to forget about them a few days later until another genre-defying single from a quasi hip-hop band catches my ear. Of the half dozen tracks I've come across, I certainly don't have any complaints. Check it out.
Breaking Kayfabe on amazon
The Deadly Snakes - Porcella
This album from the now defunct Deadly Snakes is my pick for the prize. The fourth album from the Toronto-based band is easily their most dense and beautiful to date. I didn't think anything could top their 2003 release Ode To Joy, however, this release proved me wrong. Billed my many critic's upon it's release as the sound of the Snakes "leaving the garage behind," the album delves into their most ambitious songwriting and sounds to date. Shamefully, the band called it quits a few weekends back. Long a Toronto institution, the Snakes never got the recognition they truly deserve. They don't share the same circle's as the Broken Social Scene and as a result never truly got the recognition outside of Toronto and parts of Canada that they deserve. The band is beyond highly recommended.
Porcella on amazon
Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Possibly my second choice for an album I'd replace with The Cons or Fembots. Final Fantasy is Owen Pallet. Known for his contribution to Arcade Fire's Funeral. Universally loved by bloggers. Personally he doesn't do much for me. Also, the name of the album just causes me to cringe.
He Poos Clouds on amazon
Sarah Harmer - I'm A Mountain
It is hard not to fall in love with Sarah Harmer. The Kingston-based singer has been around since long before I was aware. Conscious and ever-evolving, the latest album finds Sarah simply reveling(I am Aglow)as well as reflecting on the destruction of her homeland (Escarpment Blues). It has a rootsy feel that is instantly inviting. Bought this album for my father for Christmas and he's a fan. Promptly stole said album from father. Thus continuing my giving yet truly receiving gift giving strategy.
I Am Aglow on amazon
I Am Aglow
K'naan - The Dusty Foot Philospher
The second album I'm not overly familiar with. This solidifies the apparent hip-hop bias more than apparent in my record collection. Up until a few hours ago, I had heard of but never heard any K'naan. After downloading a few tracks i am seriously resigned to picking up his album tomorrow/today. Really cool hip-hop. Good beats, cool lyrics. What else can my limited knowledge state. I guess that is the inherent beauty of Polaris: That simply by its inclusion, one might find him/herself inspired to pick up an album they might not regularly check out.
The Dusty Foot Philospher on amazon
If Rap Gets Jealous
Malajube - Trompe L'Oeil
Case in point of the previous statement lies Malajube. Based out of Montreal I believe, I picked this album up about a week ago based purely on its Polaris nomination. The album is sung purely in French, a language, despite our nation's bilingual status, is still completely foreign to me. French class, was officialy my least favourite subject in public school. When i was at the record store, the clerk, noticing my selection, attempted to engage me in a conversation in "Qubecois." Noticing the tell-tale confused expression of a non-French speaking individual when prompted with a conversation starter in our nation's second official language, she asked "you realize this is completely in French." I was more than aware. Despite the fact I cannot understand a single word being sung, it has to be said it sounds great.
Trompe L'oeil on amazon
Metric - Live It Out
Aside from the two albums, previously stated, that I do not own or have listened to substantially, my least favourite album of the ten nominees would have to be this one. While Metric may put on a respectable live show, their recorded work leaves something to be desired. Although the album is initially satisfying, prolonged listening inspires you to lose the album among your collection. I don't think I've listened to Metric's second LP since a month after its release. If the new new-wave trend is your thing then you are bound to love metric. If bands like The Killers initially satisfy you, yet leave you suspicious and weirdly unfulfilled, then you may very well agree with me on this one.
Live It Out on amazon
The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
The third album from Vancouver-based supergroup The New Porn. We could realistically call it a collective but everyone save our mother is in a collective these days. The common detraction, as always accompanying a new New pornographers disc, is the fact that there is never enough Neko. Neko Case, in this, uh, case. I truly believe this album to be their finest to date. In the past I've maligned the new porn's records for being like cheap strawberry bubblegum, ie. sweet, but too sweet. This album is the first where the band, Carl Newman's brain child, is able to bust out their perfect pop tunes and not leave the listener dissatisfied with the gum's unwillingness to maintain it's flavour. They have truly stumbled upon the perfect formula. As it is with any Broken Social Scene release, you're never too sure when Newman and Co, will grace your ears again with new material. You're best taking what you can, when you can. That said, what an offering.
Twin Cinema on amazon
Sing Me Spanish Techno
Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
While BSS's self-titled may have been the most anticipated, Wolf Parade's intial LP was certainly the most hyped. Everyone in the blogosphere and in the mainstream press was touting this baby months before it came out on Sub Pop, due in part to the Montreal hotspot buzz and the fact Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock was the one who "discovered" the band. When it finally dropped, we found it to be well worth the wait. Its appealing and fun on its initial listenings. The strength of the album only grows with subsequent listens.
Apologies... on amazon
I'll Believe In Anything
Stay tuned tomorrow. We'll do a wrap up post with reaction and commentary.