Thursday, December 27, 2007

Best Albums 2007

20. Handsome Furs Plague Park

The other half of Wolf Parade (Sunset Rubdown) has got a lot of attention, but I much prefer the electronic-infused music of the other half (Handsome Furs). The HFs come a little closer to the Wolf Parade sound, and that's a good thing.

19. The Acorn Hope Glory Mountain

After seeing The Acorn cheer on Ohbjiou at the London Live Arts Festival (LOLA), encouraging the crowd to "Get their 'O's up" ('O' is for Ohbijou). I thought the guys in the Acorn seemed like pretty fun dudes. Their album, a tribute to lead singer Rolf Klausner's mother, is a little more experimental (read Latin American influenced) than their previous two EPs, Tin Fist and Blankets.

18. Brother Ali The Undisputed Truth

Brother Ali is probably my favourite rapper (albino or otherwise), and I had been waiting for a new album since .... the last one. Sometime in between releasing the Champion EP, and the releast of tUT, Ali split with his wife which had an obvious impact on his work, see 'Walking Away'. Tracks like this, represent the softer, but not best side of Ali, who is strongest when he is confident and telling us the way the world should be. For his best work see Shadows on the Sun [2003] , or Champion EP [2004].

17. Mark Ronson Version

In the aptly titled Version, Ronson, producer for Lily Allen gives his take on a number pop songs 'God Put A Smile on Your Face' Coldplay; 'Toxic' Britney Spears. Amy Winehouse on 'Valarie' is the highlight of the album, and an outstanding, outstanding, song.

16. Iron & Wine The Shepard's Dog

All of Iron & Wine's previous stuff (that I'd heard at least) was really, really, really, slow. This album is certainly more upbeat, and as a result it possible to listen to when you are not horribly depressed, or trying to fall asleep.

15. Voxtrot Voxtrot

I managed to ignore Voxtrot for a while, despite hearing good things, but since seeing them on's 'Interface' their catchy, poppy, rock songs really grew on me. It also encouraged me to find out what 'kid gloves' are...

14. Basia Bulat Oh, My Darling

The world would be a better place if the female vocalists Canada exported sounded more like Basia Bulat, and less like, say, Celine Dion or Shania Twain. A great album, and, I've said it before, but a good one that Mom and Dad might enjoy also... so you can avoid hearing 'A Very Shania Christmas' this year.

13. Beirut The Flying Club Cup

I was a big fan of last years 'death march through the Balkans' aka. The Gulag Orkestar, and thankfully this year's trip through France is less depressing. In my first post on this site, I recommended the videos that Zach Condon put out just before releasing the album. If they don't hook you on the album, you might be dead. You might also just be weirded out.

12. Miracle Fortress Five Roses

It's hard to believe that I'm ranking this as the third best album out of Montreal this year. Five Roses sounds to me like an interesting combination of the Beach Boys (very appropriate since there is a song called 'Beach Baby'), with a dash of singer-songwriter and a hint of electronic keyboard. This album would probably be about 7 or 8 spots higher if Panda Bear's Person Pitch hadn't filled my quota of atmospheric, loopy albums that were clearly influenced by the Beach Boys.

11. David Vandervelde The Moonstation House Band

I wrote about Vandervelde a couple of weeks ago here.

10. Amy Winehouse Back to Black

She may not be someone you'd want to come within, say 100 feet of (for fear of catching some type of disease), but she sure as hell can sing.

9. The Arcade Fire Neon Bible

With so much to hype/expecations to live up to it was inevitable that this wasn't going to do it for everyone. Including me. Still, in my opinion, they are the best band of the 00s.

8. Ohbijou Swift Feet for Troubling Times

Ohbijou (Toronto, On) definitely deserves more attention than they've been getting from Canadian blogs, and hopefully with a new album and some touring in the new year more people will be exposed to their music. I managed to catch them twice, or maybe three times, this year and every time they captivated everyone watching. I would expect them to be a breakout band in 2008. Great for fans of Stars, Feist, any female singer-songwriter, softer stuff by BSS.

7. Great Lake Swimmers Ongiara

Hopefully, opening for Feist on her last North American tour gave Tony Dekker a little more exposure for what is a more polished, upbeat, singer-songwriter album than the previous two GLS albums.

6. Feist The Reminder

Not much else to say that hasn't been said about this album, except to link again to Feist playing 'I Feel It All' on the city bus.

5. Jens Lekman Night Falls Over Kortedala

I think quirky, is best way to describe his songs, but he is a great storyteller and an outstanding composer of the Ben Foldsian variety; although with the use of a wide variety of samples Lekman is able to cover a lot more sonic territory than traditional singer-songwriters. My favourite track has got to be "A Post Card to Nina", a song about Jens pretending to be his friends' boyfriend, so she could continue to date her girlfriend. Welcome to the world of Jens.

4. The National Boxer

I had never listened to the National before this year, and hearing Boxer has made me go back through their entire discography. La Blogotheque's , always fantastic 'Take Away Shows', really display how interesting/poetic/cool the songs from this album are. The National's show here.

3. Panda Bear Person Pitch

To be short, this album will not be for everyone. I'd describe Panada Bear (Noah Lennox of the Animal Collective) as a terrific combination of the Beach Boys and Air (who did the outstanding soundtrack for the Virgin Suicides). The album is quite a departure from his first solo work, Young Prayer, after the death of his father. PP was written in Portugal, after the birth of his first child, and is decidedly more positive, upbeat, almost inspiring. This was Pitchfork's number 1 album, for good reason, and on a different day this would probably be my number one.

2. The Besnard Lakes ... Are The Dark Horse

For anyone who has been following along, its been pretty apparent that I'm really, really, into this album. I described them before as a combination of Led Zepplin and the Beach Boys, which on the face of it, sounds akward, but it works for them. Unfortunately, since we live in such an image driven world, I think people that look like this, may never be famous rock stars.

1. Kanye West Graduation

I'll admit, there are a couple of weak spots on Graduation, but the track 'Barry Bonds' notwithstanding, this might be my favourite hip-hop album of all time. Kanye has always been an outstanding producer, and I think this album he doesn't let his rapping get in the way, too much.

Meetings with Castro and Cuervo next week, back on the 4th of Jan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Handsome Furs @ Call the Office, Dec. 21, 2007

So, it has taken me about a week, but finally a video clip, some photos and a few comments on the Handsome Furs show last week at Call the Office.

The show was a little unlike any performance I'd ever been to. Brain, Pete and I showed up at about quarter to 11 figuring that we'd be there to catch the tail end of the opening band, and all of the Handsome Furs set. However, there was no opening band, and so, with the Handsome Furs supposedly going on at around 11:30 according to the bouncer, we were left to talk about the merits of reality TV for about an hour.

At about quarter to 12, the Handsome Furs, (Dan B. of Wolf Parade, and his fiancee, Alexei) went on to a conspicuously empty stage with only a guitar, mini-keyboard, and a small drum machine. They were incredibly energetic, despite playing over 150 shows this year (so they said), and really appreciative of an enthusiastic, but relatively small London crowd. Since HFs only have the one CD, Plague Park (only 9 tracks), the set consisted of songs exclusively from album, save one unfamiliar cover. On the whole, it was a great show, as evidenced by the video - which I think is my best "cinematic" effort to date. And, as mentioned in a previous post, I really think the album is terrific, particularly for anyone who like Wolf Parade.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Thought Experiment.

She has two children. Imagine she was your mother....

Update: I guess the video was blocked. But, in case you were curious, its Britney bitch!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Songs that Remind me of 2007, or, My Best of 2007

When I remember 2007, in music, these are the songs (I think) that I'll remember. I still don't have hosting for mp3s, but perhaps this is a project for the new year. If you feel compelled to download any of my recommendations, my suggestion is to search for them using "The HypeMachine". They'll point you to a blog where you can right-click, save-as, and download; that is, if you still use a PC.

I tried to keep this as brief as possible, so if you're interested in hearing more of my 'Best of '07' I have at least 3 mixtapes more of stuff (labeled slow, medium, and fast). So, rather than clogging up space here, you can email me, facebook me (via the London, On: Burgeoning Metropolis Facebook Group), or yell for me in the street, and I'll get the music to you somehow.

In no particular order my favs of '07:
1. “Good Morning” Kayne West from Graduation
A great intro, to a great album. A song that demonstrates how great a producer Kanye is, and why he should let other people rap for him.

2. “Your Rocky Spine” Great Lake Swimmers from Oniagara
A more upbeat start to what is now my favourite GLS's album.

3. “Desire” Pharohe Monch from Desire
Best rap song '07 on a good, if very uneven, album.

4. “Pedigree” Brother Ali from The Undisputed Truth
From my favourite albino rapper.

5. “Comfy in Nautica” Panda Bear from Person Pitch
My favourite chorus: "Coolness is having courage/The courage to do what's right/Try to remember always/Just to have a good time".

6. “Apartment Story” The National from Boxer

7. “Kid Gloves” Voxtrot from Voxtrot

8. “Ice Cream” Muscles from Guns, Babes, and Lemonade
This was my song of the summer, after I came across 'Muscles' myspace page. The album, however, was an absolute disaster.

9. “Past In Present” Feist from The Reminder
The hand-clapping, oh, the hand-clapping.

10. “Kanse Ar Jag Kar I Dig" Jens Lekman from Night Falls Over Kortedala
Doo-wop meets quirky Swedish singer/songwriter with excellent results. Bizarre, bizarre, lyrics, but that's what makes Jens so entertaining.

11. “The Woods” Ohbijou from Swift Feet for Troubling Times

12. “Scenic World” Beirut from Lon Gisland EP

13. “Valerie” Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse from Versions
Ronson has produced much of Lily Allen's stuff, and, I found out this morning his music can also be heard on a show about high class ... escorts.

14. “I’m A Flirt (Shoreline)” R. Kelly vs. Broken Social Scene from The Hood

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Sea Inside @ Call the Office

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I've been friends with the lead singer of The Sea Inside, Geoff Callaghan, for a number of years. That said, I went out to see Geoff and the band on Saturday at Call the Office, where they were opening for The Speakeasies and Black Saturdays. In all honesty, I initially went to see them as a, I'm going to support my friend kind of thing, but after about a minute and I half I realized why their album A Beautiful Mess was in my rotation for a couple of months after they played an Engineers Without Borders benefit last winter. If you've followed along with the blog for a little while, you'll have noticed that I tend to get tired of albums relatively quickly. So, the fact that I kept it in the rotation I think speaks volumes about their work.

Although you can't tell from the video, The Sea Inside play the kind of music that is great in a small club, like Call the Office, but will translate well as they pick up steam and start playing larger venues. So, I would encourage you to visit their myspace, and if you like their tunes, pick up their album. This may be your chance to, get in on the ground floor, as they say. Highly recommended if you are into a more Rock 'n' Roll Coldplay, or early Radiohead.

More photos from last night (not from Brian's stupid iPhone):

Friday, December 14, 2007

More Best of '07 Lists

I've been away in Collingwood all week (unfortunately not skiing), hence no new posts this week.

On a brighter note, Stereogum has posted a bunch of best of lists from various blogs to give you a sense of what's hot in the blogosphere, if your not familiar. You can find "Music Bloggers' Best Of '07" here.

Stereogum's annual "Gummy Awards", as voted by their readers, posted their top-50 albums of the year. It may well be a 'most blogged' of 2007, but at least their are no awful surprises.

Earlier last week Gorilla vs. Bear posted their best albums of 2007.

Also, as a side note my friend Geoff's band The Sea Inside is playing at Call the Office, 9:45 (sharp) I've been told. Be there or be square.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Best Videos 2007

7. Carleton Singing Knights "Chicago" (Sufjan Stevens cover)
This acapella version was good enough that I felt compelled to share it even though it happened last year. For fans of Soofyan Stevens, and Andy Bernard's 'Here Comes Treble'.

6. K'naan "KickED PushED"
The story of yet another hardship for K'naan.

5. The Besnard Lakes "For Agent 13"
Very moving, even if Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas aren't really 'video people'.

4. Bat for Lashes "What's a Girl to Do"
Donnie Darko meets BMX bikes.

3. Kanye West "Stronger"

2. Destroyer w/ Final Fantasy & Cadence Weapon "An Actor's Revenge" (live @ Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX)
How excited is Cadence Weapon to be on stage with Dan Bejar (the New Pornographers, Destroyer)? I think, very excited.

1. Feist "I Feel it All" (live on Jimmy Kimmel, on a moving city bus)
Reason #1,032 why I love Feist.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Feist @ Centennial Hall, London On w/ Great Lake Swimmers

Feist was great last night. She started out with this really neat acapella behind a white screen, so all we could see was her silhouette, and then powered through a set that included covers of Tony Scheer, Sarah Harmer, Ron Sexsmith as well as a big chunk of her 2007 release The Reminder (which, I think, is a lock for at least a couple of grammys). I was also thoroughly impressed with the production of the show - the lighting in the video should give you some idea, if you can see Feist (she's the really skinny one) or the band with the heads that are in the way.

The show closed with a particularly energetic version of 'Mushaboom' that had the crowd really going (which kind of made me feel like I was at Mama Mia). The highlight of night was the encore featuring a cover of, the legendary Nina Simone's, 'Sea Lion Woman'.

I was a little disappointed that no Broken Social Scene tracks made the set, but, you can't win 'em all.

I think I've made a point before of mentioning how much I like Great Lake Swimmers, and they were great last night also.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Best of 2006

I had been meaning to a blog for at least a couple of years now, and last year I put together a list of my favourite albums of the the year, but obviously didn't get around to posting it ... largely due to the lack of a place to post. So, I thought before I put together my best of 2007, I would post up my favs from 2006.

I took my list of about 20 - 25 albums and peared it down to a list of 15, that, a year later, are my favourites from 2006. Please feel free to tell me all the ways in which I'm wrong in the comments.

15. Patrick Watson Close to Paradise

It's kind of a weird album, but since coming across it it has really grown on me. Sounds in spots like Coldplay, M.Ward, the Beatles, and most of the time that's a flattering compliment.
Tracks: Close to Paradise, Luscious Life

14. Cold War Kids Robbers & Cowards

Robbers & Cowards had some of my favourite songs of last year, but for me, it was really, really uneven. Part of that could probably be attributed to the fact that this album was a mish-mash of a couple of different EPs.
Tracks: Hospital Beds, Hang Me Up to Dry, We Used to Vacation

13. Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

The female voice from the New Pornographers really shows off her voice and highlights why I tNPs have been one of the most successful Canadian bands over the last few years.
Tracks: Margaret vs. Pauline, A Widow's Toast

12. Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor

Great hip-hop album, that has worn well, although the beats that Roger's Sportsnet decided to rip (Intro and Kick,Push) have begun to annoy me to no end. However, I'm still excited for his upcoming release The Cool out Dec. 18/07. I'm anticipating it'll be one of the better rap albums of the year.
Tracks: Kick Push, Hurt Me Soul, He Say She Say

11. Tokyo Police Club A Lesson in Crime

For an album that is under 20 minutes total, it made quite an impact on me with its quick, punchy, punk/rock songs. It kind of reminds me of all the reasons I got hooked on bands like Blink-182, Goldfinger, etc. during my punk phase in high school. They have a great Daytrotter session that is worth looking up.
Tracks: All of them, if you like that punky sort of thing.

10. Land of Talk Applause, Cheer, Boo, Hiss

After seeing LoT open for Shout Out Out Out last year, I felt compelled to buy their EP, which was outstanding. While their live show wasn't real polished (likely because they had formed fairly recently before I saw them), they really impressed, and are certainly a band to watch.
Tracks: Seafoam, Summer Special, Breabaxx

9. Justin Timberlake Futuresex/Lovesounds

I'm comfortable enough with my sexuality to admit that he did, in fact, bring sexy back. Also, that video with ScarJo was wicked hot.

8. Lily Allen Alright, Still

Too be very honest this might have been my favourite album of last year if: 1. she had've put on even an average show when I saw her at Lee's Palace last fall; 2. if she didn't wine so much; but maybe that's part of her charm.
Tracks: Smile, LDN

7. Band of Horses Everything All the Time

I think the bass line in 'Our Swords' is really what hooked me on this album (2 parts rock, 1 part country twinge, 1 part beautiful vocal harmonies) , and in retrospect in might even deserve a higher spot on this list. That said, I've already spent a lot of time formatting this...
Tracks: Our Swords, The Funeral, Great Salt Lake, St. Augustine

6. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins Rabbit Fur Coat

Despite absolutely hating the cover of the Travelling Wilbury's 'Handle with Care' the rest of the album has got me back into enjoying some country infused rock/pop. If your dad likes Shania Twain (like mine) do yourself a favour, give him this album so you can put an end to Shania during the holidays.
Tracks: Run Devil Run, The Big Guns, Melt Your Heart

5. Camera Obscura Let's Get Out of this Country

Besides having the best album title of the year the Scottish indie-popsters put out maybe the catchiest album of the year. Something that is easy to sing along with, and coincidentally annoy the hell out of anyone who has to wake up hearing you sing these songs, over, and over, and over.
Tracks: Lloyd I'm Ready to be Heartbroken, Let's Get Out of this Country, I Need All the Friends I Can Get

4. Beriut Gulag Orkestar

If you feel you are in need of a death march through Eastern Europe, then this is the album for you. If not, maybe stay away. I wonder what that says about me if Beirut is one of my favourite bands right now?
Tracks: Mount Wroclai (Idle Days), Rhineland (Heartland), After the Curtain

3. Midlake The Trials of Van Occupanther

I'm not really sure what to say here except, great album, great lyrics, weird album cover.
Tracks: Roscoe, Young Bride, Van Occupanther
Sidenote - Team 9 produced a really wicked mash up of Midlake w/ Jimi Hendrix called 'Roscoe Eyes' available at the bottom of this page.

2. M. Ward Post-War

M(att) Ward has produced, written, and collaborated with a whole slew of important people. See his wikipedia page. He is one of the most respected singer/songwriters around, and his album - influenced by music of the 40s and 50s (that's where the title comes from) - is maybe my second favourite singer/songwriter album of the last 10 years (Hayden's Everything I Long For is number 1).

1. TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain

There really isn't a genre, or even group of genres to describe the sound of TV on the Radio, but whatever it is, its pretty cool. Its not going to be everyones favourite, they're never going to have a big radio hit (unless they already do and I'm completely wrong), but I'd imagine they'll continue to do well among people (like me) who look for something new and completely different from their music.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Handsome Furs... they sound alot like Wolf Parade

I've been attempting to get through some music that's just been sitting on my computer today, so I clicked on the 'recently added' on my iTunes and just let it run. I got about two songs into the Handsome Furs Plague Park and said to myself... 'wow this sounds a lot like Wolf Parade'. Turns out, that's because Dan Boeckner lead singer of Wolf Parade, also does the lead vocals for Handsome Furs - who will be in London On on Dec. 21 and probably have dates elsewhere in SW Ontario around then. If you like Wolf Parade, Plague Park is highly recommended.

Hopefully some comments on Feist and Great Lake Swimmers @ Centennial Hall on Thursday, and my best of 2006 by Friday.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I'm Not There/I Don't Want to Be Here

F-ck. This weather sucks.

I finally was able to get a hold of the Soundtrack for Todd Haynes' new Bob Dylan pseudo-bio pic I'm Not There. I was pretty excited about it as the two disk set as it is a veritable who's who of music including Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Sonic Youth, Cat Power, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Iron & Wine, Willie Nelson... and that's just the first disc. I've actually only made it through the entire two discs once so far, but the album so far is pretty impressive. Impressive in the adaptations of some of Dylan's songs, hearing 'I'm Going to Acapulco' and 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' have made me want to re-visit the work of My Morning Jacket and Antony and the Johnsons respectively. Impressive also how much Dylans lyrics resonate with me especially since I never really 'got' what all the fuss was about with Dylan. Now I do. Or at least I'm starting to. But it also kind of highlights the fact that, for me, Dylan was at his best when someone else was performing his work (see: Hendrix, Jimmy "All Along the Watchtower").

One question though... how did Avril Lavigne's version of "Knocking on Heaven's Door" not make this album? Yes, that was in fact sarcasm.

The movie trailer.

If anyone has seen the movie... I'd be interested in any thoughts.