Wednesday, November 29, 2006

As December rapidly approaches I've been mulling over the idea of doing a list. You know the kind. One of those best albums of '06 or best songs of the year. Why should I mull you wonder? The thing is everybody and their mother does a list. I'm not entirely sure that I could bring anything new to the table, thus, I will probably abstain. If lists are your thing though, just pick up any magazine's December or January issue or check any blogsite around the same time and you're sure to be placated.

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

Following up Friday's post, I went down and saw Joel Plaskett Friday. Not without a little trouble however. When I arrived at the venue the show was unfortunately soldout. Having my heart on seeing Joel that night, I stuck around outside the venue with the hopes that someone would have an extra ticket to get rid of. Their were a few others in the same boat with me and we all kept our fingers crossed as we slightly shivered in the November chill. I graciously allowed a chatty girl (also known as super chatty drunk girl with self-esteem issues and feeling lonely due to her embellished weight problem) to grab the first ticket chance that arrived confident that there would be others shortly. This proved to be false. As other would-be concert goers straggled off I waited patiently. Finally, about two songs after Mr. Plaskett had taken the stage to muffled (possibly raptourous, possibly polite) applause, the doorman let me in. It was a pretty decent show, with Joel splitting hs 90 minute set equally between older Thrush Hermit material, Down at the Khyber, La De Da, and Truthfully, Truthfully.

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.

Rogue Wave - Eyes

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tonight sees the return of Joel Plaskett to a London stage. The last 2 or 3 shows he was slated to play were inexplicably cancelled at variations of the last minute. Support is fellow east coast rockers Two Hours Traffic and the tepid emo/core stylings of local act Machete Avenue.

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

Sometimes you hear a song so good it makes you wet your pants. music is built on moments like that. One day down the road, a week later, two hours, 14 years, etc. the song may very well suck. But right then and there, in that moment, that song is making you wet your pants.

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.
Roommate Luke brought home last year's Daniel Johnston documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston the other day. Prior to this, my knowledge of Daniel didn't venture further than his peripheral knowledge of his cult status. For those reading who have never heard the name, let me bore you with a short biography.

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

So those who tune in on a regular basis will know took about a three week vacation from posting. Without getting deep into the specifics we'll list the reason for this as: file hosting issues, general malaise and laziness, as well as intangibles.

But we're back. Refreshed and with that fighting glimmer in our eyes.

Getting things rolling. I've always loved a good bootleg. Something about hearing a live show from one of your favourite artists immediately brings you back to the memories you have of seeing them live. Boots are the lesser known sister of live albums. The Live album is an official release and the quality is infinitely better. She looks good and all the boys at school know who she is. You're enamoured for a little while, but eventually start noticing that cute little thing hanging out back at the edge of the sister's shadow. Sure, they look kinda alike but she's a little edgier, as comfortable throwing rocks at walls as she is in a prom dress. While popular sister says exactly what you'd expect her to say, lesser known sis goes off on tangents. She says crazy things about souls, gets real intense when you talk about the stars, and just unexpectledly turns her head and kisses you.

Bob Dylan is easily one of the most bootlegged artists ever. His rabid fans have documented his live shows and non-released recorded output since his early beginnings. Playing them all end to end (provided you tracked them all down) would ensure you spent years with the headphones on. Today's post is all about Electric Black Nite Crash.
This a recording of a live concert Dylan gave on September 3, 1965 at The Hollywood Bowl in California. A few months back he'd (in)famously gone electric. This was only his second show post-Newport, a warmup gig before he kicked off his 65/66 tour that crossed North America, Australia, and eventually the UK, where he'd be play to audience's less than receptive to his electric material. The night is split into two. It starts with an acoustic set, intermission, and then concludes with Dylan returning with a full backing band playing material from Bringing It Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. This format would continue throughout the tour. On this night, Bob is backed by Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson of the Hawks, as well as Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks.
The concert feels a bit restrained. The shows from later on in the tour, especially the famed Manchester "Judas" gig, are powerful and venomous. Kooper and Brooks had both played on the Highway 61 record (Kooper on the undeniably iconic organ part of Like A Rolling Stone) while Robertson and Helm were 2/5 of an incredibly tight backing band that had cut their teeth in hundreds of shows behind Ronnie Hawkins. When the tour really took off in October, Dylan had dropped Kooper and Brooks and added the rest of the Hawks. This lineup (minus slight drummer replacements) would perform behind Dylan for the remainder of the tour. In one of those rock and roll moments that just clicked, Dylan and The Hawks completely gelled. On this show you find Dylan feeling out the musicians as well as the material. Tentative though he is, nonetheless, the concert serves as an artifact of rock and roll in an evolutionary state. Enjoy.
When Electric Black Nite crash originally surfaced it did not include tracks 8 and 13. They were edited off the bootleg due to space constraints. I've added them here to complete things, although the entire show will not fit onto one cd.
Apparently there was a few bugs with the first upload of the show. Tracks cutting off, etc. This should be fixed now. If anyone runs into any more problems let me know.