Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hey Hey My My ... If You Like Country Wink Your Eye?

Hype is something that I am still not really how I feel about, especially as not being in agreement can often distance you from your friends and peer groups. Hey Hey My My is a Parisian group that I have been hearing about for ages; who everyone loves; who just played a sold out gig; and from what I had heard recorded I can't fully understand why. So I trotted off to La Maroquinerie to see what all the 'hype' was about.

Their name is stolen from a Neil Young song called, 'Hey, hey, my, my, rock 'n' roll will never die' (or maybe it's a lyric). The point is that clearly these guys are big Neil Young fans, enough to have his words represent their unique musical sound. I don't really like Neil Young. It may be unpatriotic of me to say so and perhaps I have sealed my fate as an ex-pat but I find his voice grating and mildly irritating. What I realised tonight is that when folk songs are sped up they sound very country infused, like country songs almost. This, personally, is not a mix that sits well in the old belly. There are exceptions, the Shins, for instance, have a 'country' feel during some songs and I DO love the Shins (who doesn't?).

Hey Hey My My, broken down, is about 40% rock, 35% pop and 25% lively folk, generally speaking. This ratio did oscillate between proportions and when the rock/pop content figured more heavily, well, I actually thought it was pretty good. There was kind of a Strokes-y feel to it, but not in a copying, can't-think-of-anything-original-to-do-ourselves kind of way. I would say maybe 5 songs I really liked. Period. It was also during these songs that the singer's voice seemed the most natural, at ease and in harmony with what was happening musically around him.

I am happy to report, on a much brighter less cynical note, that the crowd was nuts (not like and English throwing stuff nuts, but yelling and appropriate hand-clapping nuts - ok maybe boisterous is better). The majority of the audience was French, not surprising, but they really were into it from beginning to end without any pretension to look cool or act like everyone else (an annoying French tendency that I have noticed). Happiness spreads happiness, if I can venture so lame.... and I had a great time if not as much for the music as for the jubilant atmosphere.

Which brings me to my last point: Hey Hey My My sont les mecs adorables!!!!!!!! Mec means guy and adorable is like in English but includes even more wonderful qualities, like humorous, interesting, charming, nice, cute, and so on. The singer especially was so at comfortable on stage, cracking jokes like he had been your best friend for years - you just didn't know it yet. The music almost seemed better because it was made by good people.

I did take a video of the show but after attempting to upload it all night I have decided to choose the path of least resistance and post their proper video and what I feel is their best song. I tend to like anything with a harmonica. If I do manage to get my video up then you will all be the first to know.

Hey Hey My My - There's Too Much Space

Strictly Leakage.... is not a porno movie... its Atmosphere's newest album

You know how they say the best things in life are free, well, that might not be exactly the case with Atmosphere (emcee/Slug and producer/Ant)'s newest, freest, release, but its worth a once through at least for the production (which is heavy on the 70's retro, funk, soul). Atmosphere, the Minneapolis rap duo, is scheduled to release its full length When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold later this year, and has released Strickly Leakage as a "token of [their] appreciation for [me]" ... I'm blushing, really, stop it. You shouldn't have.

I think the best way to look at this freebie (downloadable here and probably at every torrent site across the internet), is as a collection of b-sides that didn't make the cut for the full-length LP. Although, with Ant's production you'd never know that these were beats that couldn't cut it. So, its not as tight as 2005's You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, which was angry, intense, and a great, great, rap album. But, on the whole, I'd say SL is a pretty solid value for your dollar.

From Strickly Leakage:
Atmosphere - Crewed Up ft. Stage One, St. Paul Slim, Muja Messiah, YZ, Brother Ali, Toki Wright & Blueprint.mp3

Because I think Ant is at his best with Brother Ali (Ali's 2007 The Undisputed Truth):
Brother Ali - Daylight.mp3
Brother Ali - Faheem.mp3

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Clichés of Paris

I couldn't think of a title that didn't include 'Bonjour/Bonsoir/Baguette/Eiffel Tower' and so have decided to forgo the sorts of clichés that might get us off on the wrong foot (ie by giving the impression that Paris, France may outshine Paris, Ontario for instance, especially, say, by having universal cultural references).

To give you an idea of why I live here despite the surly people, the bad weather (though I should talk), the crowded and often pungent metros, and everyone speaking a language that I don't understand (despite the odd moment, usually alcohol induced, when I think otherwise), here is a photo that was taken (not by me) very very close to where I live.

There are also a few perks about being a cute girl in this city (sorry Rob, that won't help if you ever come to visit) which include but are not limited to random encounters and the odd free coffee. For me, this has meant becoming friends in the most roundabout way possible with the General Director of my favourite and the coolest venue in the city. I shall do more plugging later, but what this means for you fine people is lots of great bands that I get to see and will now be able to tell you about.

Isn't Paris great!?!?

To finish off I'd like to fully embrace this post's title and leave you with the kitchiest French song I can think of (Two things: one-can you pick out the mistakes in translation, two-I LOVE that this is not shot at all in Paris but apparently in Dallas' gay district).

An Homage to the Wire/Tom Waits

It is my contention that the Wire is the greatest television show ever (Slate magazine agrees). It's gritty, compelling, complex, heart-breaking, and it sounds authentic (although I'm not really in a position to determine what is, or is not real, when it comes drug dealing/ghettos/inner city Baltimore/municipal government/the newspaper business). Its consistently discussed as the best show on TV that no one is watching, and personally, I think half the reason is that it looks, at first glance, like a fairly standard cop show - but is just so much more. This, however, is probably a discussion for another time.

For the uninitiated, the theme of the Wire is a song by Tom Waits "Way Down in the Hole", which has been performed by a different artist each season. Where am I going with this? Well, after Jen convinced me (and she did) to listen to Radiohead's In Rainbows, by introducing me to the track 'Reckoner', I was hoping to gain an appreciation for Tom Waits. Tom Waits may not have as quite a, shall I say devoted (read: marginally psychotic) fan base, I do know a few people, especially my friend Leanne, who really love him. So, I'm hoping in the comments section to get suggestions for one track that'll make me love Tom Waits.

My video homage to the Wire:

Season 1: The Blind Boys of Alabama

Season 2: Tom Waits

Season 3: The Neville Brothers

Season 4: DoMaJe

Season 5: Steve Earle

Also, if you hadn't seen this Barrack Obama loves the Wire, his favourite character is Omar. God I hope he's president.

Update: Rosie has just sent me this link, an ongoing discussion on the fifth season of the Wire.

Update x2: Kyle has just given you 4 reasons to watch the Wire.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hayden comes Alive! w/ Basia Bulat @ Aeolian Hall, London On

Last night really couldn't have been better. It started here:

the Town & Country Saloon where Elliot cleverly pointed out, it was surprising that we didn't need a passport to get in. This place was definitely in a different world, possibly a different galaxy (for those who don't know me personally, I tend not to frequent bars where drunks sing karaoke at the dinner hour). Serves me right for wanting to get to the show early, I guess. Although, I would like to give a shout out to Mike, Serge, and Scott for their takes on Elvis and Bob Seger. Your performances were.... incediary. Also, to the host, who reminded both Liz and I of Miracle Max's wife, from the Princess Bride.

Rather than screw up the rest of the post, I'll just post the videos - not great quality, I know, but as I always say, you get what you pay for. They should be roughly in the order that they were played last night. Oh, Basia played a couple of songs - the second one with this tiny little hammer on her autoharp, supercool - that I didn't know, so if anyone can fill me in that would be appreciated.

Basia Bulat


"In the Night"

"Little Waltz" (probably my favourite of the night)

"Unknown 2"

I Was A Daughter.mp3


"In field & town"

"Where and When"

"Damn this feeling"

"Lonely Security Gaurd"

"Trees Lounge"


"Weight of the World" w/ Basia Bulat

"Bad As They Seem"

Now, as I've figured out this mp3 hosting thing, I thought this would be an appropriate one to post.
Hayden - Message from London.mp3

Also, thanks to the young chap who was good enough to slide over to make the videos possible.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Mix CD For Your Sister

I think I've got some good stuff for next week, including a story about hip-hop yoga, and some thoughts (hopefully photos and video as well) from Hayden. For now, just a tracklist for a MixCD that I made for Liz's friend Jenn for her birthday. Usually these CDs turnout being music that I think should be played on Muchmusic, MTV, Muchmoremusic, but don't make the cut for whatever reason. Until we acquire mp3 hosting my suggestion is, that you try and track these down from the Hype Machine, and support the artists (although neither Bob Dylan nor Rihanna really need your money).

If I was more ambitious or artistic, this would have been the cover art:

A Birthday Kiss for Jen P.

1. Bon Iver “Skinny Love” For Emma, Forever Ago
2. Patrick Watson “Luscious Life” Close to Paradise
3. Hayden “Message from London” Folk Music for the End of the World
4. Chad Van Gaalen “After the Afterlife” Infiniheart
5. Lupe Fiasco “Superstar” The Cool
6. Bodies of Water “We Are Co-Existors” Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink
7. Jenn Grant “White Horses” Orchestra for the Moon
8. Handsome Furs “Hearts of Iron” Plague Park
9. Broken Social Scene “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” You Forgot It In People
10. Great Lake Swimmers “Back Stage with the Modern Dancers” Ongiara
11. Jim James & Calexico “Going to Acapulco” I’m Not There OST
12. Bob Dylan “I’m Not There” I’m Not There OST
13. Great Bloomers “Catching Up” Great Bloomers EP
14. Jens Lekman “Kanske Ar Jag Kar I Dig” Night Falls Over Kortedala
15. Crime Mob vs. The Shins “Rock Yo Sea Legs”
16. Rihanna “Don’t Stop the Music” Good Girl Gone Bad
17. Feist “Intuition” (unreleased version)
18. Jose Gonzalez "Down the Line" In Our Nature

Friday, January 25, 2008

NBA All-Stars

The NBA announced the starters for its all-star teams.... yesterday? All done by fan voting, and, with a couple of exceptions, I think all is right with the world. My one gripe is that this fan voting (perhaps like all 'elections', really) that names tend to overshadow data, both qualitative and quantitative. In my mind, the all-stars I have selectioned below, have pushed their teams to be better than were expected to be. So, by that criteria, anyone playing on the Heat, Bulls, or Rockets is pretty much eliminated (with one exception) by virtue of having disastrously underperformed. So, to decide who made the team, or missed the cut, basically I asked myself if I was a GM who I would pick based on their performance this year and their history (whether they looked like this was a one shot deal, or, it was the beginning of an upward trend). Things like character, toughness, competitiveness, were all big factors in my decisions rather than just raw numbers, i.e. I'm not just picking all-stars based on their Player Efficiency Rating like John Hollinger. At the end of the day if I'm picking my team, I want good guys who are 'winners' I don't necessarily need everyone to be able to put up 40 points a game, although it doesn't hurt to have a few of those guys (see the Spurs and Blazers formula).

That said, Caron 'tough juice' Butler (best nickname in the NBA) has been carrying the Wiz after Arenas went down (maybe that's just b/c its a contract year), has got to bump Dwayne 'we've lost 14 games in a row and I don't look like I care because I'm living in Miami' Wade. Also, Jason Kidd, has been very disappointing, shown little if no leadership, and, just looks like he wants to leave. Meanwhile, Jose Calderon has been playing the point more efficiently than anyone else in the NBA with only one reliable scoring option (Bosh).

Eastern Conference:
C - Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
F - Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
F - LeBron James. Cleveland Cavaliers
G - Caron Butler, Washington Wizards
G - Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
F - Chris Bosh, Toronto Raptors
F - Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
F - Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
G - Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
G - Rip Hamilton, Detroit Pistons
Token Rookies
F - Glen 'Big Baby' Davis, Boston Celtics
F - Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Western Conference:
C/F - Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
F - Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz
F - Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers
G - Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers
G - Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
F - Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
F - Andrew Bynum, LA Lakers
F - Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
G - Stephen Jackson, Golden State Warriors
G - Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
Token Rookie
G - Kevin Durant, Oklahoma Cowboys

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday Bullets.... I promise I'll stop... after this weekend....

  • I just can't help myself. Hayden is three days away and I promised myself I wouldn't talk about it anymore, but I came across another couple of concerts in mp3 format that I thought were worth passing on. First one, courtesy of i(heart)music, of a live session at CBC Radio 3 in 2005. The second, is from B(oot)log, of Hayden's Nov. 2/2007 show at the Grad Club in Kingston. If you haven't seen Hayden - it gives you a good idea what his shows are like - probably more so that Live from Convocation Hall [2001].
  • Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago was on a pile of year end lists and I finally heard something off the album, say, about a week ago. After doing some research (I probably should have just looked at his myspace), I found out that FEFA was released independently and is being re-released on Jagjaguwar (home of the Besnard Lakes, Sunset Rubdown, Okkervil River) on February 19th. I think I read that the album was recorded in a cabin in Northern Wisconsin, and if it wasn't, at least it sounds like it. I think it'll be the album that reminds me of being holed up in my apartment for the winter of 2008... as far as I know you can find 4 tracks through the Hype Machine: "Flume" "Skinny Love" "The Wolves (Act I and III)" "For Emma". All recommended if you dig that singer-songwriter ish.
  • I wasn't sure whether I was going to mention this, but, what the hell. I saw Sweeney Todd last night. Not sure why, by all accounts I hate, HATE, Johnny Depp and I don't like musicals - with the exception of the Buffy musical episode, which I grew to love. With all that going against it, I actually kind of enjoyed it. The music wasn't great, but it didn't distract from what was, at the very least, a pretty entertaining if not extraordinarily morbid story about cannibalism.
Update: As I was writing this the Raptors just beat the Celtics in Boston. I guess this is how good the Raps can be when Andrea Bargnani plays like a #1 draft pick (2o pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Bullets

  • I saw Mariposa on Saturday at the Alex P. Keaton. No pictures or video since I didn't trust myself with the camera after a few drinks. Having only heard the songs on their myspace before seeing them, I was a little disappointed with the show - if only because of the absence of the keyboard, which I think speaks to the strength of their new myspace stuff, where the vocals aren't over powered by the guitars (like they were live). That said, I was intrigued enough to buy both of their EPs for $5 each, and it seems like they're starting to 'find their sound' and improve on each effort. Again, I think they're best stuff (in general, and for a night with a nice merlot) is on myspace, so I'll encourage you to visit them there at:
  • Congratulations to Andy Roddick on producing my favourite moment of the Australian Open so far.

If Andy's wondering why he isn't winning major (let alone Grand Slam) tournaments any more he need not look any further. Last time I checked I never saw Pete Sampras, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, act like a petulant child when something didn't go their way. Ugh. Moving On.

  • Good News! Jen, through my buddy Rosie, is going to be joining the London On: Burgeoning Metropolis team (me), via Paris (France, not Ontario). She can correct me if I'm wrong, but right now she is writing for both the Paris Voice and the Club Collective. So, hopefully things will be a little more active, trendy, cultured (this doesn't mean that I'm giving up American Gladiators),and, grammatically correct around here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

You got me on this one... but I will not smoke pot behind the school at lunch.

I'm still not totally convinced that Radiohead is the best band ever, but after hearing so much about how this album was more accessible, more like the 'old' Radiohead, I decided to give it a try. It didn't take. Still couldn't get into it. After being asked for the 100 millionth time why I didn't like Radiohead I decided give it one more try. Jen suggested 'Reckoner'. I played it, let the CD go and have slowly come around on it. I'm thinking that maybe the complexity of the sounds was probably something that really threw me off - much like it took me a little while to come around of Broken Social Scene's self titled, and Patrick Watson's Close to Paradise. Maybe this is a lesson in patience. Or that I need to succumb to peer pressure more often. Are you all happy now!

In case you haven't seen it.
'Reckoner' from Radiohead's 11/9/2007 webcast.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Field & Town

What's that you say? It's been over a week since I've posted about Hayden?

Yeah, well, this will be quick. In Field & Town came out yesterday (Tuesday) and I couldn't be happier. I've made no secret of my love for Hayden. In fact, I kind of feel like I've been acting like Andrea Kraemer does around Tom Brady although I've never spoke to Hayden in quite that tone. Anyways, the album is happier (thematically), more upbeat, has a fuller sound, but still contains all the great storytelling and interesting situations that makes Hayden's music so great.

I'm not sure I'm going to ever like any of his work more than his first album Everything I Long For, more for sentimental reasons than anything, but I think its probably my favourite since then (although Live from Convocation Hall is great when Hayden hasn't been touring in a while).

On an unrelated note I'm planning to go see Mariposa tomorrow night at the Alex P. Keaton. Their myspace at: is worth checking out if you in the mood for some quiety/keyboardy tunes to relax to. My two favourites are "Wishes Wisely" and "Surely but Sadly".

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A post-Festivus Complaint "I have a lot of problems with you people!"

I was running through my blogs in the middle of last week, and I was struck by how - as I've tended to look at less well known, typically Canadian music blogs - 1/ I didn't recognize a single band that anyone was posting about, and 2/how all the bloggers were very complementary to all of the supposedly great artists that I had never managed to come across. While I'm willing to admit that there are artists out there that I have never heard of, but I do believe that, eventually, the cream rises to the top. So, naturally, this was a little disconcerting, because I wondered whether I was doing this in my own blog, or whether I have been accomplishing what I set out to 'Oh way back when' I started blogging.

Then I realized I didn't have an actual goal, and I started doing this because I thought it would be a fun place to write about things that I like, and I might also expose some friends to some new music. Now, I'll add to my new list of goals, avoiding the things that I dislike about most music blogs:

1/ Not recognizing anything. It seems like there is an overwhelming trend among bloggers to try to be the one to break the next big thing especially after Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Lily Allen hit the big time solely on internet buzz. So, it feels like every blogger needs to constantly introduce new obscure bands while avoiding discussions of even mildly popular bands. Like with all good things, there needs to be a balance. You also need to give people (all people and not just 'scenesters') a metric for evaluating any band that you'd recommend. That said, hopefully I'll continue to post about artists that are new to me, artists that have been blogged to death, as well as MTV darlings (like Hayden who I saw performing live on MTV as I've been editing here).

2/ Liking everything. There's nothing wrong with liking a lot of music, I like a lot of music, but COMMON! no one likes everything. Naturally, people will write about stuff that they like - if something is a disappointment you shouldn't feel as though you have to spin your review in a positive way so the band/record label/distributor will keep sending you free CDs. I can't imagine I'll spend a lot of time 'hating on' anyone, but I'm going to try my best to be honest about songs, albums, shows... unless someone starts sending me free CDs.

c/ Being too narrowly focused. I'd like to see more personality from most bloggers - kudos to My Old Kentucky Blog for being the one big music blog to post about stuff outside music that he was interested in. In that spirit you can expect upcoming posts from me on: week one of the Australian Open, my NBA All-Star team, and my thoughts on the Raptors mid-season.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Bullets

  • Kyle has finally posted his Kid Nation running diary. Even if you didn't watch the show, or watched and didn't enjoy the show, I'd encourage you to read it. I think he's a great writer, and my only complaint is that he doesn't post enough...
  • With Federer being sick and the surface speeding up, I'm picking Djokovic over Roddick in the Aussie Open final. I'm also picking Serena Williams to lead the tournament in excuses after a semi-final loss to Justine Henin.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hayden. Live in Copenhagen.

Everytime I get Hayden news I have a hard time waiting to share it. This is, in all liklihood, because Hayden has been my favourite singer/songwriter since Everything I Long For [1995] came out. For those of you who aren't "mathy" that's more than 10 years.

Anyways, looking for something to tide me over until In Field & Town comes out on January 15h, the Hype Machine provided me with mp3s for Hayden's set opening for the National. As you might expect, since Hayden was the opener a little chatter is audible through most of the tracks, but, kudos to him for asking the audience to give him a chance. (About 20 seconds into - "Bass Song", and, again right after "Don't Get Down"). I guess there's no pleasing some people.

1. Home By Saturday
2. Woody
3. Damn This Feeling
4. Bass Song
5. The Hardest Part
6. Don't Get Down
7. Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen cover)
8. My Wife
9. Dynamite Walls ft. The National

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Basia Bulat's New Video "In the Night"

Basia Bulat has been getting a whole lot of attention lately, which is great. The London Free Press declared her the local performer of the year, CHRW (Radio Western) awarded her local album of the year, AND most importantly, she was #14 on my best of 2007 list!

She has a new video, embedded above. Its reminiscent of Bat for Lashes "What's A Girl to Do?", because, really, who doesn't love people in creepy animal costumes walking around in the dark?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The ReBirth of the Cool

I think I mentioned toward the end of the year that was waiting to write my best of '07 until I listen to Lupe Fiasco's new album The Cool. Well, people say a lot of things they don't mean... I got busy, and it just didn't happen. The nuts of it is, that was a mistake, because I put it on and haven't stopped listening since I got back home yesterday (except to play TopSpin Tennis 2 for the new Xbox, which is excellent, thanks for asking).

The album runs over some familiar territory for the 'conscious rapper' the ills of hip-hop industry, the problems of gun violence and poverty in the ghettos (I guess the Bush Admin hasn't solved poverty yet), and a little bit of boasting. While this may be stuff we've heard from Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, before, they all seem to have got caught up in their own hype, get repetitive, or simply old and tired. In any event, I don't mind hearing Lupe re-iterate these themes, and not because he seems like he has anything new to say, but because he has some energy and he seems to care what goes on in the world.

Sidebar: The Wire is coming back tomorrow. Awesome.