Thursday, November 20, 2008

For all your lies/ you're still very lovable

Bon Iver is not an artist for the ultra liberal, PETA crowd. His oft-told story of the conditions surrounding the recording of his debut album For Emma, Forever Ago (short story: secluded up in the woods, nobody around to interrupt but his own thoughts and the occasional deer hunt for food).

Bon Iver, Justin Vernon's stage moniker, self-released his debut back in late 2007. It was only when Jagjaguwar picked up the scent and re-released it in February of this year that it found widespread play. Since then it has become of the most universally lauded album of the year, well within the indie bubble at least. Given its mid-November and I heard my first Christmas song over the loudspeakers of a Walmart the day after Hallowe'en that means year-end/best-of lists can't be far behind. Expect to see For Emma, Forever Ago on many in a comfortable position.

But you probably know all this already. Justin recently did a session with Myspace Transmissions that I thought fit to point out. Well worth viewing and hearing. For Emma, though, is especially rapturous. Performed with piano as opposed to the album's acoustic guitar and if possible more stark and lonely even though Bon Iver is more effectively a trio than a solo venture these days. There is that moment when he sings out "Go find another lover" in that hushed bellow where you really see the Tunde Adebimpe comparisons justified. Both are just filled with these soulful voices that cast shadows over you.

Pitchfork reports that come January 20th in the new year the Bon Iver crew will release a four-song EP, entitled Blood Bank. Fantastic news indeed. Follow the link for full details. He has a string of dates in December along the eastern USA. Just don't wait too long to jump on tickets as I did last time he was in Toronto.

For those who enjoy the video above and the mp3 below I'd suggest checking out Bon Iver's contribution over at La Blogotheque/Take Away Shows.

Bon Iver - For Emma (Myspace Transmissions) mp3

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wilco loves you baby

A few weeks back Jeff Tweedy appeared on The Colbert Report and sat down with Stephen for a slightly awkward chat. They talked about name changes, the free market, and Obama fever.

After the commercial break the whole band came on to perform a new song they'd been working on. Entitled Wilco the Song, it is immediately more enjoyable than anything off their last full length Sky Blue Sky.

Its lyrics expose a fit of election weariness now thankfully decided in the positive. Great guitar line from Nels Cline and some excellent melodies that stick in your sinuses. I wandered around Toronto Friday night after the Kings of Leon show and found myself wishing they'd played this instead.

Wilco is heading out as support for Neil Young at the end of November. They'll stop in for two dates at the ACC here in Toronto December 4th and 5th. Excited is an understatement for me, who will be attending the second date.

Canadian viewers can view the October 3oth interview and performance here. American readers at Comedy Central's website.

Can Wilco cure those mid-election, post-election, mid-November, post-October, nearly December case of the blues? Yes they can.

Wilco - Wilco the Song

Website: Wilco

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vampire Weekend Remixed

There are two remixes of Vampire Weekend's Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa that have been floating around lately. Remixes typically are not my thing and I'm ill equipped to give a real critique or anything of the sort.

The first by The Teenagers gets synthed up and turned into dance hall number. It keeps the spirit of the song and improves it, making it more epic and life altering.

The second, by London collaboration Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit, only keeps the skeleton of the song, wholly taking it into new realms. For all the talk of Afro Pop that surrounds the Vampire Weekend boys, imagine this as them filtered back through Johannesburg.

For the record i enjoy the Esau Mwamwaya remix better and am excited for the release of their The Very Best mixtape on November 1st.

Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - The Teenagers
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit mp3
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend mp3

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday mornings wanna make me holler

Michael Pagliaro - Some Sing Some Dance mp3

The first Canadian songwriter to have a certified Gold record in both official languages. Apparently this song was quite the hit back in the early 70's. Probably only nationally. Doesn't change the fact that she's good though.

Some Sing
Some Dance
Some like a romance
I love lovin'

Put that in your ears and smoke it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Loudon Wainwright III and his Motel Blues

Growing up my dad used to barrel down roads and whenever that familiar smell of a freshly mown skunk rose into the nostrils he would start belting out a few lines from Loudon's 1972 novelty hit Dead Skunk. His routine never failed to get a kick out of me and it is one my fondest (if slightly vague) memories

"You Got Yer
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
Dead skunk in the middle of the road
You got yer dead skunk in the middle of the road
Stinkin' to high Heaven"

I was attending this years Mariposa Folk Festival and was aware that Loudon was playing. To my delight he was on the bill for the Saturday I attended. Mid-Afternoon I found myself over at the registration tent helping a friend sort out some ticket issues when I turn around to see Loudon Wainwright III registering at the artist tent. I've never had a true fanboy moment before and would not have ever guessed that an artist that I only sporadically know and listen to would inspire such a moment. Sure enough though I found myself (loudly) nudging my friends and exclaiming "look, it's Loudon Wainwright." He clearly heard and turned around. Face to face with him I offered a sheepish and respectful "Hello Mr. Wainwright." Moments later I was calling my amused father to tell him the blow-by-blow.

Mr. Wainwright recently released Recovery, a collection of updated songs from his early records. My favourite song of his, which appears on the new album, is Motel Blues. It originally appeared on his second album, Album II. A poignantly lonesome tale about a songwriter on the road convincing a young admirer to sleep with him. His voice has aged in time, less squeaky and vulnerable than it once was, helping to add an intelligenceand detachment to the new rendering.

Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off Album II (1971) mp3
Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off A Live One (1979) mp3
Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues off Recovery (2008) mp3

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In the run-up toThe Stand Ins

In terms of fall releases, it is Okkervil River's The Stand Ins that has me the most anticipatory. Like Black Boy appendix was a follow-up in theme and sound to Black Sheep Boy, the Stand Ins is a follow-up to The Stage Names. Released in August of last year, The Stage Names is superb beyond belief. It coats my ears weekly; a fair achievement in these "drop it after it's hot" times.

To be released in a few short weeks, September 9th, Okkervil River have begun to release a series of videos in the run-up. Track by track, they are releasing a series of video performances on their youtube channel. The songs feature other artists performing the album's songs. Lead-off track, Lost Coastlines, gets the treatment from the New Pornographer's A.C. Newman (who just announced he is releasing his second solo album, Get Guilty, early next year). Every couple days they are releasing a new interpretation on their channel. Bon Iver and David Vandervelde have also lent their stylings to a song off the album.

Myself, I'm saving it all for the 9th, save for the first "single". It's included here for your daily consumption.

01 The Stand Ins, One
02 Lost Coastlines
03 Singer Songwriter
04 Starry Stairs
05 Blue Tulip
06 The Stand Ins, Two
07 Pop Lie
08 On Tour With Zykos
09 Calling and Not Calling My Ex
10 The Stand Ins, Three
11 Bruce Wayne Campbell Interviewed on the Roof of the Chelsea Hotel, 1979

Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines mp3

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday mornings make me wanna Holler

Ray Lamontagne - You Are The Best Thing mp3
This is the leadoff track for Ray's new album, Gossip in the Grain, out October 14th. Ethan Johns produced and tackled drums again. Leona Naess also guests on two tracks. Apparently the album is more of a full band affair this time around. If this track is any indication, its going to be quite good.

Kings of Leon - Crawl mp3
Off Only By The Night, out the 23rd of September. The Kings of Leon lads had this available for download for a while on their website. It's such a rocker and really ramps up my anticipation for the album. Their show at the Kool Haus in Toronto is all sold out. This really messed with me last week whilst trying to obtain tickets. I'm usually the guy who grabs the tickets, so when a friend casually mentioned he had grabbed an extra ticket as he said he would I was pleased as a pig.

Florence and the Machine - Kiss with a Fist
We live in a different time so it is doubtful the song will create the kind of stir The Crystals "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)" did back in 1962. But for those who want to set the tone for the week could do worse than this rocker of a gem. More than enough pep to get you through its barely two minute running time. For the record, Florence felt compelled enough to state on her myspace that this is not a song about domestic violence. The B-side "Bitch Had it Coming", however, leaves little room for plausible deniability.

Friday, August 01, 2008

From The Fembots camp comes news of their fourth album. Calling Out will be released September 16th on (weewerk) records. It features eleven tracks:

01 Good Days
02 Can I Be Your Mirror?
03 My Hands Are A City
04 Get In The Van
05 God Keep Our Hands Clean
06 JL Recalls His Amazon Adventure From A Comfortable
Chair In The Window Of No.5 The Kingsway
07 Hand Print In Wet Cement
08 Lost At Sea
09 The Ballad Of Lucybelle Carter
10 The End Of The Day
11 Ship Breaking

The album was originally intended to be recording using the junkstrument creations of Iner Souster. Eight months into recording the unpredictability of these creations simply made it too hard to sustain for a whole album. The sessions were not entirely scrapped and will provide rhythm and backing tracks throughout the record.

The two-piece, Dave MacKinnon and Brian Poirier, also enlisted Nathan Lawr on drums for the record. Paul Aucoin provided string and horns.

They've got a few Toronto dates late August before things heat up after the release of the album. Check those out at their myspace.

Fembots - Gilded Age
mp3 (from 2005's The City)

Monday, July 28, 2008

She & Him, Opera House, Toronto, July 23, 2008

She & Him are M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel.

Mr. Ward you should already be familiar with. Whether it is his fine work on albums such as Post-War, Transfigurations of Vincent, and Transistor Radio or through various guest work with artists such as My Morning Jacket, Jenny Lewis, or Bright Eyes.

Zooey you may have seen in various roles on the silver screen. Whether it was in Elf, Bridge to Terabithia, or as the cool older sister you always wanted in Almost Famous. She seems to have taken the old actor's adage of "One for the studios, and one for yourself" to heart. It certainly has made for an interesting career trajectory.

A few years back while filming The Go-Getter, Zooey was introduced to M. Ward who was composing the film's score and soundtrack. They collaborated on a version of Linda and Richard Thompson's When I Get to the Border.

They got to talking about Zooey's home recording demo's she kept to herself and with some prodding her and Matt started working together on these. Via email from Zooey's home in Los Angeles to Matt's adopted city of Portland. Back and forth. Forth and back. In the interim She and Him, and their debut recording, Volume 1 was birthed.

Wednesday night at the Opera House brought the outfit to the fair streets of Toronto. Despite their moniker, leave no question, this is clearly Zooey's spotlight. Like on the album, Ward seems content to add flourishes and backing to Deschanel's vocals

The crowd was clearly putty in the hands of Ms. Deschanel, who to her credit never once offered anything aside to the fact that she was a wide-eyed ingenue. Aside from a few one-off shows, this was actually the first night of the She & Him extended tour. But even a few missed cues and confusion were not enough to put off the doe-eyed crowd. It speaks to Dechanel, whose "aw shucks" demeanor wins over even the most cynical. When faced with the chorus of groans that greeted her "last song of the night" proclamation, it only took a pluckish, "Hey, whaddya expect, we only got one album," to resign the masses.

Deschanel floated between vocals, tambourine, and piano through the set. Ward, playing to stage right quietly evoked until a short solo several songs in that brought yells of appreciation from the faithful.

The night featured a full backing band who rocked out a few numbers. As well received as they were, the highlight of the night was when the band departed mid-set leaving Ward and Deschanel alone on the stage. Through several songs they reminded the crowd of their moniker before inviting the band back on to close out the show.

Following one of the more resounding and heartfelt requests I've seen in a while, the duo returned for a pleasing version of Bring it on Home to Me, before concluding the evening with a run through of Ward's Magic Trick.

M. Ward - Magic Trick mp3 (from Post-War)
She & Him - I Was Made For You mp3

As previously mentioned they are out on tour. Check out their myspace for dates near you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Acorn

Photo Credit: Remi Theriault

While I remember reading and hearing much about The Acorn in the past year or two, I never quite felt the urge to investigate. Chalk it up to a period of discontent with the blogosphere/hype machine. Was I missing out? Most definitely. I came across the video for Flood Pt. 1 the other day while watching television. Enthralled by the visuals I had to ask "who that?"
Well, it is The Acorn.

The video was produced and directed by Chris Mills. A respected music and visual artist, he also directed the video for Modest Mouse's Float On.

Flood Pt. 1
Lift your head from wild and wicked sleep
where seven-headed serpents hiss soliloquies
and while picking snails from the river of the valley
you don't see the storm clouds piling up so quietly

The rushing river rattlesnakes your legs
and baby boy has got you drinking from the dead
you lick your lips and paddle for the levee
the sinking banks are sifting through your teeth

As you float up, see the river skins the valley
and strips the sleeping sediment of memory

You lift your head from wild and wicked sleep
the withered river sputters at your feet
and all around the sound is slow and muddy
the sunlight scatters pennies through the leaves

As you wake up see the river skins the valley
you'd love to wash this summer from your memory

I was struck by how evocative and visual the lyrics are. Alliterative too. I recommend picking up the first full-length proper, Glory Hope Mountain, on which this song appears.

There is a great article that talks about the band and the creation of Glory Hope Mountain from October of last year. Go here for a good and interesting read.

The Acorn - The Flood Pt. 1 mp3

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Mornings make me wanna holla

Some Monday morning grooves for you. Or Monday eve, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc., whenever you come across it.

The Hombres - Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) mp3
The Hombres were a bit of one-hitter with this tune from '67. Modelled after Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues, which according to the band was a lark masquerading as profound.

The Fugs - Kill For Peace mp3
Oldie but a goodie. It feels like the spiritual brother of Country Joe's Fixin' to Die.

James Brown - Your Cheating Heart (Hank Williams) mp3
From Dirty Laundry: The Soul of Black Country, which has soul artists covering and doing originals of country tunes. I'm not sure when the song was recorded, but it sounds like peak James Brown. All swagger and tight as fucking hell.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I wouldn't consider myself a Death Cab For Cutie fan by any stretch of the imagination. Neither before or after their Seth Cohen moment did I ever find them pleasing to my tastes. Yet, I found myself struck by a melody the other day. Upon further investigation I found the source to be Cath by Death Cab. From Narrow Stairs, their latest disc, the song has invaded me.

Cath describes a woman standing at the altar in resignation. Despite his loving her she is marrying him out of a fear that she may never be loved again, thus, she must commit or face a life alone (possibly). The plaintive "Caths," nearly yelped, the sonics that set the mood and enhance the picture, and the detailed lyrics that add texture to this portrait all combine to create a bold song.

Death Cab For Cutie - Cath mp3

The Death Cab play the Pemberton Music Festival in British Columbia on July 27th.

They recently released a video for Cath. It sticks fairly literally to the lyrics but still worth checking out

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Polaris Shortlist announced

For those unfamiliar, the Polaris Music Prize, in its third award season since its inception, awards "accolades" and a $20,000 payday to the single best Canadian album (at least 8 songs and plus 30 minutes) of the last year. Any album released in-between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2008 is eligible.

this year's shortlist, with the winner to be announced September 29th, is:

Black Mountain - In The Future
Basia Bulat - Oh, My Darling
Caribou - Andorra
Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers
Holy Fuck - LP
Plants and Animals - Parc Avenue
Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War
Shad - The Old Prince
Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs
The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

I've listened to all of the nominees minus Caribou and Shad's offerings and my early pick is Plants and Animals. A fantastic album, although considering last year's winner was from Montreal and Final Fantasy/Owen Pallet won the first year and his well known Montreal connections, P & A could suffer from a slight Montreal backlash. Of course, this thing is debated on "artistic merit" alone so that couldn't happen.

Now there were 40 albums long-listed a while back so there is bound to be some debate over who didn't make the cut. For my money, The Constantines' Kensington Heights and Welcome to the Night Sky by Wintersleep deserve to be there. Alas, I am no judge or jury.

The Weakerthans cordially invite the rest of the nominees to settle the matter of a winner the old fashioned way. If by old fashioned you mean a croquet tournament, which i do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Kings of Leon for September

Photo Credit: KOL website

Out of the Kings of Leon camp comes news of an impending album. Titled, Only By The Night, their fourth disc is set to come out September 23rd.

Their last one, Because of the Times, showed a welcome maturity. Written off by many, it's an album that I've only grown fonder of with repeated listens.

Youth and Young Manhood was a gut shot, a cannon off the balcony that tipped our ears to these so-called "Southern Strokes." Aha Shake Heartbreak repeated the format of the first, but with more cynical stories of the touring life. A bit of a dissapointment when all was said and done. But Because Of The Times was fantastic. Flawed enough in those interesting ways that beg you to delve deeper.

After two aborted/misses of amusing details with seeing them live I finally caught them last summer here in Toronto. About time.

They're doing the festival tour through till August, including a headlining slot at Glastonbury this week. I have to say, I'm surprised they nailed the headline gig. I didn't realize they had that big the audience. Either way, Good on 'em.

Kings of Leon - True Love Way mp3 from Because Of The Times

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kathleen Edwards' Asking For Flowers

Kathleen Edwards' latest came out about two months ago. I've been playing it fairly constantly since then. Crystal vocals and a songwriter's eye that continues to develop and mature make this , her third album, her strongest to date.

There's a lot to love on the album and I recommend any and all to pick it up and spend a few quiet evenings getting to know it.

Probably my favourite track off the album is Alicia Ross:

Alicia Ross may be a name familiar to anyone who lives in and around the Greater Toronto area. She disappeared in August 2005. Her body would be found later and eventually her neighbour would confess to her murder. In 2007, her neighbour was given a life sentence. Alicia Ross is a song written from the perspective of Alicia. It hits pretty powerful, though I wonder if it would as much if I wasn't already familiar with Alicia's story. I am a girl with a forgettable face, it opens. And I think how much I enjoy the song begins with these opening sentiments. Too often we romanticize the dead. But bookended with the closing words Now I'm a girl who's face they'll never forget, it drives home this idea of a very ordinary person, who in death remained an ordinary person, but had an out of the ordinary experience, which, for the most part, and unfortunately so, will be what most remember of her.

It's a fantastic song. Even better, all royalties from this song are being donated to Project C.A.N.O.E., a charity for "at-risk" youths that now works closely with the Ross family and represents Alicia's great love of the outdoors. So no free download for that. Hit it up at Itunes, or better yet go to ye olde record shoppe and grab the whole album. Also visit to learn more about Alicia and the various charitable endeavours in her honour.

Asking For Flowers can be found in all the usual hot spots. Get it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Deadly Snakes provide an aural document of their last show (s)

Photo Credit: Carrie Musgrave

Those familiar with me know I have a special love in my heart for two recent-times Canadian bands. The first, The Constantines just released their newest album a few weeks ago and I'll have some thoughts on that tomorrow on the eve of its U.S. release date. The second, The Deadly Snakes, played their last notes August 26, 2006, nearly two years ago (where has the time gone, etc., etc.).

The Snakes were a deadly rock and roll band. Four albums over their ten year existence. The last two, Ode to Joy and Porcella, are of desert island pick quality. Call 'em what you will. I myself like Garage Soul. There was always a real Jesus on the mainline, pipeline to the heart evident in their music and live shows. Of all the great acts I've been fortunate to see and hear, there are very few that keep punching me in the heartbox like the Snakes do.

Ten years after their inception the band decided to call it quits, never achieving much more than regional adoration. Their demise coincided with the rise in recognition of the indie scene in general and the Canadian indie scene specifically. These were days of Arcade Fires, Wolf Parades, and Broken Social Scenes. Good days all around, never mind you, but days that passed without the Snakes getting the true recognition they deserved. Forgotten in the back alley no doubt.

The last show was tipped to throw down at the Horseshoe Tavern on the 25th of August. Word circulated that the last real throwdown would take place the next night at the Silver Dollar. Indeed it did. That Friday and Saturday were pretty darn close to being the best weekend I've ever had.

Two years later comes news via Myspace that "The Snakes' last show live album should be out sometime in 2008 on In The Red. It's a 37 song monster and it sounds great."

I wasn't even aware that the last shows were being taped. I'm assuming it is only of the Horseshoe gig, where the band played two sets and covered nearly every damn thing they had ever put to tape. Either way, it will serve as a great addendum to the Snakes' ongoing legacy. Keep your ears open for that.

There is a plethora of Snakes related video on Youtube. Both the Horseshoe and Silver Dollar gigs have a presence there. Those with time and interest should head there.

I'll leave you with a great track from Porcella. "If a man can't love when he is young, there'll be no love for him as he grows old."

If this is your first exposure to the Snakes and you wish for more take the yellow tinged road, or better yet get in touch with this kind soul and ask to come over for a rock and roll night. Nothing makes me happier then to share.

The Deadly Snakes - Oh Lord, My Heart
mp3 (sendspace link)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Entire Cities

"My personal contribution to the ol' pigeonhole is 'psychedelic cow punk'; I'm not really worried about it though, because I've tried to define the music myself and failed miserably. If I don't know what it is, then how the fuck is anyone else gonna know?"

So sayeth Simon Borer, guitarist/vocalist for Toronto's Entire Cities. I'd like his band just for the simple fact he acknowledges the futility of defining a band's sound. I'm just bowled over with these guys. A 7-strong core outfit with a revolving cast of additional players. Live show, by all accounts, is a ruckus. If that matters to ya. Don't know because I haven't seen them yet.

I'm not a lyrics guy naturally. I have to work at it. My ADD tends to kick in and I normally have songs hit me for how they sound. How they feel. How they hit me in the gut. Entire Cities meet all these instant criteria, but I'm enamoured by their lyrics too. they just have these lyrics that get you in that good part of your heart. Take Sunshine, to hear it go to their profile at CBC Radio3, backed by a banjo and some vibey guitar, these words economically oozed out like a fourth Followil brother, "I'm fucked up. On sunshine. Heartbreak. For a lifetime".

Or Dancing With My Brother, destined to bring back acid recall of cowboy hoe-downs gone awry, and one of the best chorus' I've heard lately, " I'm my brother's snakeskin motherfucker".

Coffee reminds me so much of a friend of mine when it opens with " She said, 'I ain't been without a man since I was a little girl of thirteen. Now's my chance to find out who I am without a man". I like those moments; when the music gets personal with you.

Keep your eye out for Entire Cities, They hit real pure.

Simon wrote in to say that they are holding their cd release April 11th at the King & Niagara Legion Hall. Be on the ball with that. No April 1st gig as previously mentioned.

Entire Cities - Dancing With My Brother
Entire Cities - Coffee mp3

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Constantines tracklisting and release date

Official tracklisting, album art, and title for the new Constantines album. As you can see the new album is titled Kensington Heights. It's slated to hit Canada on April 15th, and in the U.S. April 29th.

The tracklisting:

1 - Hard Feelings
2 - Million Star Hotel
3 - Trans Canada
4 - Shower Of Stones
5 - Our Age
6 - Time Can Be Overcome
7 - Brother Run Them Down
8 - Credit River
9 - I Will Not Sing A Hateful Song
10 - New King
11 - Life Or Death
12 - Do What You Can Do

Now Valentines Day is tomorrow. With that in mind I'll leave you one of the best love songs I ever set eyes and ears upon. Give 'em a great big kiss.

The Constantines - Saint You mp3

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Russian Futurists suck....But not this song

"The Russian Futurists suck!!!" These are the words that greeted me last week as I walked into the Phoenix just as The Russian Futurists were wrapping up their warmup gig for Wintersleep.
The man uttering those words was my buddy Winston Churchill. And that kid knows a thing or two.

The Russian Futurists are essentially the brain child of Matthew Adam Hart. He expanded it for live shows a few years back, but it still reallly remains his little lapdog.

Somehow or another it was recommended I listen to the RF track Paul Simon. I dig Paul Simon. Even better, I dig songs that reference Paul Simon.. There's The Clash's Fuck Art Garfunkel (I'm siding with Simon) and of course Eminem's early mixtape classic, Paul Simon Stole my Shorty. Good shit.

So I dug into the track and loved it. The video is awesome too. It basically features Hart walking around listening to the track and people he's passing by just start breaking out into spontaneous dance. Not just a good shuffle, but Fred Astaire shit. Big sweeping legs, swooping gestures. Have you ever had that desire? Walking down the street and having a track pop onto your headphones and just wanting to dance and shout your ass off. I normally stop myself; sometimes I'll allow myself an emphatic clap of the hands, but that is typically as far as I'll get.

I picked up RF's '06 release Me, Myself & Rye as a result. It's a compilation of their first three albums. I was intensely disappointed by it. I knew they were opening the Wintersleep gig and had initially been excited by this. Listening to the album took the wind out of my sails and contributed to my laziness in making it to the show on time. Luckily I had my buddy Winston to confirm this. Wintersleep though was incredible. They keep on getting better.

Take a listen to Paul Simon. It rocks.

The Russian Futurists -Paul Simon

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Friday Night Lights

I've been watching Friday Night Lights all season long with mixed feelings. It has definitely stumbled in its sophomore season. The biggest one was right out of the gates with the murder plotline between Landry and Tyra. Almost right away critics called them on it with most supposing the direction was probably the result of the show trying to make a big jump out of the gates, looking for viewers and a stay of execution from NBC after barely making the cut and not getting cancelled last season.

Like some of the characters of the show, they seemed a bit over-eager to please. Given the focus of the show, perhaps a football analogy about how the green team playing in their first big championship comes out in the first half all nerves and trying too hard would be apt. But as countless movies have dictated, the team calms those nerves and comes out of the dressing room in the second half collected. All they had to do was remind themselves of what got them there. " You gotta dance (with who you came to the dance with)" as The Hold Steady might say.

Football may be the premise of the show, but it's never really been about that. It's about the characters. FNL isn't one of those typical shows that drags you into their lives by making you envious of how dramatic and blessed their existences are. Nope, it does it the old fashioned way, through character development. The beauty isn't just in the big moments; the victorious ones where a silent pumped fist is shared with the fictitious. It is in the defeats and the failings when you see them for who they are. And they're noble as hell. Not perfect mind you, but genuinely flawed characters who maintain dignity in the moments when life attempts to strip you of it.

One of the storyline's coming into the ep was Smash's suspension for the rest of the regular season. Over the past two season's we've seen how football is really the only thing Smash cares about. It's his passion. When the suspension comes down he is genuinely crushed. He's apologetic but still manages to carry that Smash swagger that as much a failing as it is off the field, is a necessity for him on the field. But then we find out his football scholarship has been taken from him and the bottom truly drops out. The episode closes out with Smash coming into the locker room just before the start of the game. His teammates, deflated and angry with their star player for letting them down, have been especially hard on him and he stands before them humbled. He reminds them of who they are and how they got to be here. And as they rush out of the tunnel to take on their competitors we see Smash in the now empty locker room bent over in tears. It is heartbreaking and powerful.

"Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose."

With the writer's strike going on most shows have already run out of new episodes to air. Friday Night Lights managed to get 15 in the can before the strike began. They still have one more to air after last Friday's 14th episode, which will air this Friday. With the writer's strike rumoured to be coming to an end I'm hopeful they can get back to work and give us another 7 episodes and finish out the season proper. If not, Friday's show will be the season finale.

I'll leave you with a track from last week's episode. It plays over an important scene between Landry and Tyra. It's by a band named The Avett Brothers. I'm not familiar with their work at all at this point, although I intend to do some listening in the coming weeks and reporting back.

Disclaimer: Skip the next paragraph and just download the song and give it a listen. Ear it on your own terms without my effusive praise.

Heard it?

Then lets talk about
If It's the Beaches. When a song hits you in the guts and soul you just gotta ride it. You're not sure how long it will last; whether it's true or not, but like I said, you ride it. It feels purer than all get out. It makes you deny any cynical "heard it all" bullshit that might try and fight up in your throat. It makes you want to call people just to tell them about this song,
"And by the way I love you, man."
First time I heard Paul Simon sing
Graceland. The first time I heard The Constantines sing I'm Onto You. The first time I sung along to The Deadly Snakes I Want to Die. They all come from the guts and soul. This song is having that effect on me. Something is there. That quiet acoustic guitar, some strings, the answering machine talkover halfway through. Then there's the introduction of the piano in the last verse. It feels like a baptism.

Fuckin 'eh.

The Avett Brothers - If It's the Beaches mp3 (sendspace file)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Constantines

This Tuesday past marked the release of the first single from the Constantines camp. The still untitled follow-up to Tournament of Hearts will come out mid-April on their new label (Toronto-based heavy) Arts & Crafts.

Hard Feelings backed with Easy Money is, as well as being the first A+C Cons release, the first 7" the band has ever released.

Hard Feelings, will appear on the new album, while b-side, Easy Money owes an amount of debt to Neil Young, which the Cons have never been afraid to do.

You can order the 7" via the A+C online store. It was available at Insound too, but mysteriously seems to have disappeared in the past few days. Natch.

Both tracks are also available and streaming over on the band's Myspace. Ch-Ch-Ch-Check it out.

The Constantines - Hard Feelings mp3
The Constantines - Easy Money mp3

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Magnetic Fields

I gotta get too pissed to miss you/Or I'll never get to sleep
I got to drink not to pine for you/ And God knows that ain't cheap

I won't profess to be incredibly familiar with the Stephen Merritt canon of Magnetic Fields work. I have listened to their high-water mark triple album 69 Love Songs several times, although I'm still unsure if I ever got the whole way through it. Suffice to say it was one of those albums I put on the shelf and haven't paid much notice to in a while. But that doesn't mean we can't get excited about the new Magnetic Fields album. Called Distortion, it's out next Tuesday on Nonesuch.

The excitement stems from the fantastic tune Too Drunk To Dream. The lyrics, a cross-section above for example, are a touch on the downcast side. The music though is rather poppy and upbeat, which lends to an interesting contrast that actually complements each element.

The album's title should be telling of what is in store for those planning on picking up a copy. Distortion, lots of it.

The Magnetic Fields - Too Drunk To Dream mp3 (sendspace link)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

She & Him

A couple months back I heard a duet that M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel did for a still unreleased movie named The Go-Getter. Matt was soundtracking the film, and at the behest of director Martin Hynes teamed up with Zooey to take on the classic Richard & Linda Thompson tune, When I Get to the Border.

Zooey and Matt then began collaborating on a set of demos and songs she had been working on for a while. Repeat, this is not some haphazardly thrown together actress turned singer gig. Anyone who's seen Zooey on the silver screen can attest the girl is talented. For many years she used to perform in a jazz cabaret act, then there's that bit in Elf when Zooey gave us a glimpse at her voice. M. Ward isn't exactly a slouch either, 2006's Post-War is still one of my favourite records.

Word comes out that a full album of this collaboration will be coming out in March. Going under the moniker of She & Him, the album will simply be called Volume 1.

Today I'll leave you with the previously mentioned When I Get To The Border. Also, presumably to be featured off the new album, Change Is Hard. And because I'm irresistibly falling in love with this, I'll include a shortened version of Magic Trick off the aforementioned M. Ward album, Post War.

Once again, all files are sendspace links, so just click the link to get 'er.

M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel - When I Get To The Border
M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel - Change Is Hard mp3
M. Ward & Zooey Deschanel - Magic Trick mp3

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

I'm a sucker for a good Dylan cover. Ditto that for a good Van Morrison one. Sucker for a good love story and a good underdog one too.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova starred as "Guy" and "Girl" in this year's little indie film that could, Once. Shot for around $160,000, the film, about two musicians falling in love, has gone on to earn its money back many times over. It has been showing up on almost every year end best of list I have come across. Not bad at all.

The movies two stars were both relative new comers to acting. Irglova was a true rookie, never having acted in her 19 years. For Hansard, this was only his second role ever, although it had been some time since he first appeared as Outspan Foster in 1991's The Committments. Glen's regular dayjob, as it has been since 1990, is the main man in Irish band, The Frames. Marketa, barely out of high school, met Glen through friends, leading the duo to record '06's The Swell Season. The album contains songs previously seen on some Frames records and that would later appear on the Once soundtrack.

I've really been falling in love with Glen and Marketa's covers as of late. A collector's edition of the Once OST, released in December features their take on Van Morrison's Into The Mystic. They also contributed their version of Dylan's You Ain't Going Nowhere on the I'm Not There soundtrack/compilation from earlier in the year. Both are fantastically compelling.

Both files are sendspace files. Follow the link.

Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - Into The Mystic
Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova - You Ain't Going Nowhere mp3