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

Last Saturday I headed down to Call The Office to check out one of the strongest bills CTO has put on in a long time: Land Of Talk, Shout Out Out Out Out, and Holy Fuck. Overall the show was fantastic. Almost had my head handed to me on the way home due to a misguided glance, but gladly I lived to tell the tale.

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

Polaris Music Prize

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
Black Hand

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
Artic Circle

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
Montreal -40

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
Monster Hospital

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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lions In The Street

Getting some play around here is Lions In The Street. Hailing from Vancouver, BC, the band has been hailed by Magnet magazine as "what the Stones were, what the Dandy Warhols should have been." I get the Stones reference. Listening to the five song Ep they are offering for free on their website it is all to easy to slip back into that heroin daze and mistake what you're hearing as some Exile-era Rolling Stones you just never got around to hearing. The Dandy Warhols reference is a bit confusing. It's no mystery that the Dandies wear their multiple influences on their sleeves, however, I think Courtney Talor and Co. always wished they could physically be the Stones, not actually sound like them. If you've watched Dig then you know Courtney was the Mick to Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre's Keith.

L.I.T.S. sound like pure rock and roll. Straight ahead and inspired by the blues. Often when a band can be summed up in this or some similar way, it implies a simplicity that usually finds the band's tunes to be quite disposable after a few lessons (think Jet or Wolfmother). That said it feels like the Lions have the ability to stick around. They've been on constant rotation on our speakers since the summer. Course we're just a kid on a computer so what the fuck do we know. Sexy and swaggering. Check 'em out.

L.I.T.S just finished up some west coast dates and don't appear to have any shows booked for the next while. I've heard a more expansive tour could be in the works so check their site or myspace for updates. I'll leave you with two of my favourite tracks off that afore-mentioned Ep. Head on over to their site to get yourself the rest.

Lady Blue
Feels Like A Long Time