Monday, October 29, 2007

Are you ready for some.... basketball?

The NBA season officially opens tomorrow and the SportsGuy, Bill Simmons, has made his pick. Hint: it involves the team with TeenWolf Duncan (pictured above). Strangely, the Raptors aren't mentioned anywhere. Go figure.

At least I'm not a Timberwolves fan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Bullets: When Monkeys Attack!

  • My friend Rosie thought everyone should see this. I suppose as a pseudo-journalist I have a pseudo-responsibility for public safety. Hey, if the mayor of New Delhi can die from a monkey attack then so can you. Stay vigilant heros.
  • Slate also had a really nice article about Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman after the release of his third album Night Falls Over Kortedala. At first, the topics of Lekman's songs - about some extraodinarily quirky subjects see: Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo - don't seem to match up with the style of his music. You can visit his myspace here. No that isn't a mistake. Pitchfork is streaming one of his songs here.
  • The Black Lips, who somehow channel a little bit of Bob Dylan for me, have a version of 'Veni Vidi Vici' remixed by Diplo for download here. Very highly recommended.
  • Speaking of Dylan, the soundtrack for Todd Haynes' movie I'm Not There is streaming a couple of songs on, its myspace. The soundtrack has an outstanding list of artists including Sufjan Stevens (apparently writing a symphony isn't as time consuming as you'd think), Cat Power, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), etc. You can view the trailer for the film here. Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Calexico's cover of 'Going to Acapulco' is outstanding and streaming on the myspace.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dragonette: not just a girl who looks like Lily Allen/Kylie Minogue

Today I orginally had hoped to chat about one of my favourite hip-hop acts, Little Brother, and the release of their third full length album Get Back, but I came across Dragonette and decided I'd leave LB until tomorrow.

Dragonette, the project of Martina Sorbara (interestingly, daughter of Ontario Finance Minister, Greg Sorbara) and Dan Kurtz, her husband. The band, which also includes Will Stapleton and Joel Stouffer plays a kind of electro-pop that is very reminiscent of Metric, or if you'd prefer, No Doubt-Gwen Stefani meets the Go! Team meets Daft Punk. The whole sordid details of their meeting, the genesis of the band, and a whole pile of videos are available on their myspace page.

They are currently touring across Canada in support of their 2007 release Galore with The Most Serene Republic. Dates in SW Ontario are as follows:

24 Oct 2007 20:00
The Ale House Kingston, Ontario
25 Oct 2007 20:00
Mod Club Toronto, Ontario
26 Oct 2007 20:00
Le Gymnase Montreal, Quebec
27 Oct 2007 20:00
Zaphod Beeblebrox Ottawa, Ontario
1 Nov 2007 20:00
The Casbah Hamilton, Ontario
2 Nov 2007 20:00
University Of Guelph Guelph, Ontario
3 Nov 2007 20:00
Salt Lounge London, Ontario
4 Nov 2007 20:00
Level 3 St. Catherines, Ontario

Dragonette: "I Get Around", "Black Limosine" and "You Please Me"

The Most Serene Republic: "Where Cedar Nouns and Adverbs Walk" "Sherry and Her Butterfly Net" "The Protagonist Suddenly Realizes What He Must Do in the Middle of Downtown Traffic"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mozart, Bach, Wagner... Stevens!?!

I, like most living, breathing folks have been waiting a follow up to Sufjan Stevens' 2005 master piece Illinois, and a couple of months ago rumour had it that the next state would be Oregon and an album titled Oregon, With the Wind. Turns out, that was a hoax.

Stevens' next venture, a foray into classical music, "a seven movement orchestral suite" about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Mozart eat your heart out.

The full 2 page article is here at New York Magazine.

Sigur Ros vs. NPR

I'm not sure how many people have actually seen or heard this, Sigur Ros interview on NPR. The Bryant Park Project described this as: "possibly the worst interview in the history of electronic media". I might agree. I'm absolutely shocked that Jim Gray wasn't involved.

It can be viewed here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The National + Hayden x Canadian Dates near London = Hotness

It was really cool hearing about Hayden joining the National on stage to perform 'Dynamite Walls' when the National came to TO a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, the National front man Matt Berninger, cites Hayden as a big influence of his, so naturally Hayden is going to open for the National on their upcoming fall tour through Europe. But this isn't the exciting part of the story.

Prepping for the tour, I'd imagine, Hayden is playing three Canadian dates:

1 NOV ~ WAKEFIELD, Quebec - Black Sheep ~ Tickets
2 NOV ~ KINGSTON, Ontario - Grad Club, Queen’s University ~ Tickets
3 NOV ~ GUELPH, Ontario - UC 103, University of Guelph ~ Tickets

That's the exciting part of the story, particularly as these are supposed to be "intimate acoustic shows" (sounds sexy). I'd expect a few new songs from him at these shows as Hardwood Records is saying his new album should be finished and will be released in early 2008.

Hayden's Myspace.

Recommended tracks: "Dynamite Walls", "Bad As They Seem", "The Hazards of Sitting Beneath Pine Trees" "Trees Lounge"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to Stop the Planet From Burning

I've committed to writing this blog mostly about music, but I'm about halfway into George Monbiot's Heat: How to Stop The Planet From Burning and thought I'd just post a few quick thoughts on the book so far.

Chapter 1: Monbiot outlines the problem of global warming/or human induced anthropogenic climate change, and the staggering emission reductions that will be necessary for some semblance of the planet to remain in tact within the next 25 years. Increasing scarcity of water and other natural resources (which may mean resource wars - wait don't we have those now?), greater temperature extremes, rising sea-levels, and the more rapid spread of diseases are all things we have to look forward to. Rob is sad. Although, his Faust analogy is kind of neat, mostly because the German legend Faust is something I had seen mentioned, but never bothered to learn about. Faust is added to my reading list.

Chapter 2: He gives the most thorough explanation I've heard on the distortion of the scientific consensus surrounding climate change. Discussing the support of pseudo-scientific organizations supported by large oil companies, and the PR companies that developed Exxon's climate change denial strategies. Rob has decided he may be selling his soul - not unlike my new friend Faust - by doing a degree-program in Public Relations/Corporate Communications.

Chapter 3: Monbiot touches on some of the economic/ethical questions related to climate change, e.g. who is benefiting from CO2 emissions, who will pay costs - hint: they're not the same group of people - and examines some of the economic implications of different approaches to addressing, or not addressing climate change.

The simplest, most straight forward argument thing he has suggested thus far is: if we (the nation-states of the Western world) want to do something about global warming, a first step would be to eliminate government subsidies to corporations and government activities that contribute to the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. For example, he explains that while most Western states spend a significant amount on road expansions - this money might be spent on improving public transportation. Rob is wondering why we don't have Platonic Philosopher Kings like George Monbiot, Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Brad Gilbert and Bill Simmons running the planet.

Monbiot has a blog, fittingly at:, which I haven't gone through all that closely, but seems to cover a wide range of topics and looks pretty interesting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It was kind of a disappointing weekend, given that on Saturday I thought I was going to see two of my favourite local (read: Toronto) bands, Ohbijou and Cuff the Duke at the London Music Club. However, that didn't happen, mostly because there seemed to be some miscue between their management and the club. By Saturday, they had been replaced by Emm Gryner and the Fugitives - neither of which I'll comment on because it wouldn't be fair either artist - although I will say, because I can't stop myself, that Emm Gryner did have a wonderful voice.

In other news:
  • Devendra Banhart does the theme for Weeds "Little Boxes", streaming here.
  • After suggesting that Patrick Watson, may not have deserved the Polaris Music Prize, I'm starting to come around on his album. At this point I'm willing to say that its pretty uneven, but includes some really interesting moments that sometimes sound like, M.Ward, Jenny Lewis, and even Chris Martin.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Battle of the SmokeMachines: The Besnard Lakes vs. Young Galaxy

I went into Thursday night expecting to be impressed, again, by the Besnard Lakes, and I was. What I didn't expect was the opener, Young Galaxy, to throw down the gauntlet and put on the impressive performance that they did. Especially here (in London), I find people tend to talk through opening bands, but with Young Galaxy those in attendance had little choice but to pay attention. The band gained the attention of the crowd very quickly and held it throughout their set.

Front man Stephen Ramsay was incredibly likable, joking through the set with Jace Lasek (of the Besnard Lakes, pictured above) at first that, "Montreal wasn't big enough for the both of them" and that "his smoke machine kicked their smoke machine's f--kin' ass". Lasek responded only by coughing vigorously the next time the smoke machine was turned on. Also, about halfway through the set Ramsay told the audience that they would play a new, yet to be titled song, he indicated that they were leaning towards the title 'BarfWolf'... he seemed to think that would receive a particularly high rating on Pitchfork.

High points of the set included: Outside the City, Come and See and Swing Your Heartache, which was a terrific choice to close the set on.

Sounds like: the resolution of, and waking up from, a superhero dream.

Also, the Besnard Lakes continue to be awesome.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Bullets

Some interesting things I've picked up through the week.

  • Mandy Moore gains some street cred by covering Umbrella. No wait, she kind of sounds like Jan Arden.
  • If Donnie Darko was a music video, it would be this, which is kind of cool because it opens the door for a new Olympic sport in 2012, synchronized BMX biking.
  • A couple of months ago The National recorded over at Daytrotter, and the songs are available here.
  • A really great acapella version of Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago". Andy from the Office would be proud.
  • The Besnard Lakes is going to be awesome.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Besnard Lakes @ Call the Office

Polaris Prize nominees the Besnard Lakes are at Call the Office tomorrow night. If you are in or near London, you should strongly consider going for the following reasons:

1. The show is $7 bucks through

2. They have released one of the most overlooked CDs of the year, according to Pitchfork. This is a terrific chance to see them in a small venue before they takeoff.

3. If you trust my judgement, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, is one of my top 3 albums of this year to this point, and their live show is better than the album.

4. If you like both Led Zepplin and the Beach Boys, why not a band that sounds a little like both (see "Disaster").

5. In the words of my good friend of mine, "Look at that shirt. Look at that shirt! LOOK AT THAT SHIRT!"

The Winks 'Birthday Party' @ APK

I first came across The Winks a few months ago when somebody at the local record store recommended their album. So, I managed to catch the aforementioned 'Winks' at the Alex P. Keaton last night. The band, as performed on Tuesday included:

Tyr Jami (Cello, Voice, tap dancing, sparkler - as pictured above)
Todd (Mandolin, Voice, Programming)
Soren (Keys)
Emily (Drums)

The majority of the show included songs from their last full length album, Birthday Party, which seems to have inspired the theme of evening. Apparently, they have a new EP called Chorus Girls that is going to be released soon, and while it wasn't available at the show the track 'Ohio' can be streamed on their myspace page or downloaded in mp3 format (for free) here.

Recommended if you like: Regine, of the Arcade Fire, cellos, catchy pop hooks.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Iron & Wine "The Shepard's Dog"

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Iron + Wine's ultra-mellow sound, but I re-listened to their 'In the Reins' EP after hearing the track "Dead Man's Will" on an episode of Friday Night Lights. (Aside: I think that the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights sets the mood for the show far better than anyother show on TV).

So after reconnecting with Iron + Wine through FNL, I've been through their newly released "The Shepard's Dog" a couple of times now, and suffice to say its probably the best singer-songwriter album of the year. The whole album is streaming on their myspace page, and its definitely worth a listen.

'Pagan Angel Borrowed A Car', 'Love Song of the Buzzard' and 'Resurrection Fern' are all highly recommended.

On another note, bad things seem to keep happening to K'naan. He explains the problems he had in a Sweedish nightclub in "KickED, PushED".

Also, if anyone knows anything, or knows anyone who knows anything, about public domain or where I can get photos to use here, that aren't going to get me sued I would be grateful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

.... And the winner is....

The Polaris Music Prize, a "$20,000 prize for a full length Canadian album, judged solely on artistic merit without regard to genre or record sales" was announced a couple of weeks ago. The nominees included:
  • The Arcade Fire "Neon Bible"
  • The Besnard Lakes "The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse"
  • The Dears "Gang of Losers"
  • Julie Doiron "Woke Myself Up"
  • Feist "The Reminder"
  • Junior Boys "So This Is Goodbye"
  • Miracle Fortress "Five Roses"
  • Joel Plaskett Emergency "Ashtray Rock"
  • Chad VanGaalen "Skelliconnection"
After all the votes were tabulated, here is who won.

Now that's investigative journalism.

And while I'm not quite ready to say that Patrick... whateverhislastnameis ... shouldn't have won, The Besnard Lakes, Feist, Miracle Fortress and the Arcade Fire (even though it was a little bit of a let down - I probably had impossibly high expectations) all released outstanding albums.

Maybe this shouldn't be such a huge surprise since this guy beat out the likes of Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Metric, Wolf Parade and Somalian/Canadian K'naan (who put out probably the most interesting hip-hop album in the last couple of years) in 2006.

On a side note, K'naan has a really interesting back story that is covered on his album 'The Dusty Foot Philospher' or here, if you don't like the rap music that the kids are so fond of these days.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Flying Club Cup in Videos

Beirut and the people over at La Blogotheque have put together videos for each of the songs from the soon to be released album 'The Flying Club Cup'.

All the videos were shot in Brooklyn, NY and feature some pretty interesting locals ranging from the inside of an apartment, to what appears to be an abandoned building, to the steps of the Cosby's townhouse (see #4).

Videos 1 and 5 are highly recommended.

Video 6 is highly recommended if you like the ukulele.

They can all be found at

And, apparently, I'm not going to their show at the Danforth in Toronto tonight.