Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Bullets: You may be cool...

(Sorry, re: the photo, but it had to be done.)
  • While we're talking about Secret City Records, Miracle Fortress has done a cover of a Daft Punk song. It's pretty kick-ass. Also, according to their myspace they're playing a couple of US dates with the Most Serene Republic - to which I ask: why not play SW Ontario with them as well... I would be significantly more excited about tonights tMSR show if we could replace the Diableros with MF.
[mp3] Miracle Fortress - Digital Love (Daft Punk cover)
  • Jeff helped me track down Beirut's black session, since I am functionally retarded. For anyone who's interested you need to go here. Click on the link at the bottom of the page that takes you to some 'MegaUploader Site', and here's where I went wrong... I saw all these find a new adult friend ads and took off. You need to click on the ads... no wait don't do that... you need to enter in the code they give you, and voila you should have your hands on a zip file (in about an hour, its pretty slow, but worth the wait). While you're waiting:
[mp3] Beirut - Postcards From Italy [Black Session]
  • An interesting article via TrueHoop, on whether chemistry was a good enough reason to make the Shaq trade. Henry Abbott interviews Ithaca College's Noah B. Gentner, Assistant Professor of Exercise and Sport Sciences, who makes the distinction between social cohesion, or chemistry, and task cohesion, where the guys on the team fill out defined roles within a system to accomplish a goal. He argues that task cohesion is more important than social cohesion, although, the two concepts are inextricably linked.
  • If anyone has any new TV shows for me, I'm dying without new episodes of the Office, which I've been told will be back in April.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wednesday Bullets: A Significantly Less Terrible Movie Night

  • I mentioned last week that Liz and I usually go to the movies on Tuesday, and rather than going out and seeing Vantage Point (35% on Rotten Tomatoes), Jumper (15%), or Fool's Gold (10%), staying in and catching the much hyped Once (97%) seemed like a decidedly better option. I had initially been a little hesitant about seeing it, because I had bought a Frames (Glen Hansard) album a year or so ago and I found the lyrics in individual songs were a little repetitive (like the track 'When Your Mind's Made Up' from Once). That said, I was a little worried that I'd be annoyed by the music, but the music exceeded my (low) expectations, and in spots - basically everything other than the studio session, which I thought was very forced - the music was pretty powerful, and the chemistry between Hansard and Irglova was great. I loved the awkwardness of their dialogue, the ambiguity of their relationship, and the ending, which I won't give away if you are the other person on this planet who hasn't seen it. I'm thinking about giving my Frames album another spin - I may, or may not, report back on that. Anyways, my favourite (most expressive - I think Hansard is at his best when he builds into a controlled shout - least repetitive) song from the soundtrack:
[mp3] Glen Hansard - Say It to Me
  • Herohill, a great Halifaxian music blog, has posted its second in a series of provincially themed mixtapes. This one, the Ontario Mixtape, is a great way to hear some Ontario bands that you might not have otherwise heard of, and who are likely playing near you (provided you live in Ontario). They seem to have their finger pretty firmly on the pulse of Canadian music, so, while I'm not a big fan of them omitting the Sunparlour Players, Ohbijou, or the Golden Hands Before God, its nice that they're giving a little love to Shad K. Anyways, I think its a great tape, and you can download a zip file at their website.
[mp3]Sunparlour Players- Wave North
  • The Most Serene Republic are in London on Friday for what I'm hoping will be a busy show at the (cringe) Salt Lounge. They are always entertaining and energetic live, and so it'll be interesting to see how their relatively new album (latter half of 2007) Population, holds up live. The new one seems to be a little less experimental, and, I think this will suit the kind of building, choursy, stuff that makes TMSR a treat to see live. Opening, for them are the Diableros, who I've never heard anything about, so we'll see how that goes.
[mp3]The Most Serene Republic - Humble Peasants
  • Also, I came across this awesome cover. I know nothing about the band, but this is awesome. Sorry, I have the vocab of a 15 year old valley girl... but it is awesome.
[mp3]Deer Tick - Beautiful Girls (Sean Kingston cover)
  • Beirut, apparently, performed a live 'Black Session' for a French radio session back in November, and I have no idea how I might acquire it. If anyone has any ideas, this is something I'd love get my hands on.

Monday, February 25, 2008

SPP Run this City...

The Sunparlour Players have consistently been awesome since the first time that I saw them, and they continue to be a band that I go see every chance that I get. I've tried about dozen times to write a sentence that describes their live show, and frankly, I'm not a good enough writer to do it, because repeating how awesome they are doesn't really cut it. I've heard other people describe them as a Suf-Stevens/Arcade Fire hybrid, and I don't think that's far off, but, again, I'm not sure that does them justice either. The expressiveness in Penner's voice, their energy and enthusiasm are unmatched by anyone I've ever seen. Sorry, I'm gushing, but at this point there are very few bands (Sufjan Stevens, Ben Folds, maybe Hayden) that I'd go see over the SPP.

They have some shows coming up in SW Ontario in the next couple of months, since it appears that Rosie has recovered from a broken foot sustained during a show back in January. But this isn't even the most exciting part...

I mentioned in my last post about them, after seeing them at the London Music Club in November, that they'd played a couple of new songs that weren't on their full-length album Hymns for the Happy [2006, re-released in 2007]. Well, again, i(heart)music has come through and posted the mp3s of their CBC Radio 3 session, including 5 songs that we're on Hymns. Awesomeness.

[mp3] Sunparlour Players - Bless This City.mp3
[mp3]Sunparlour Players - Point Pelee Is The Place To Be.mp3

Also, a video from their November 2007 show at the LMC.

"Hymns for the Happy"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekend Update: Don (is) Campbell

I had every intention of seeing Two Hours Traffic on Saturday, and then, of course I didn't. I kind of feel like this is a re-occurring theme, not going to see bands that I'm genuinely interested in seeing. I think its probably a function of me being exhausted from working and the weather, ugh, I could really do without this snow/cold business.

Instead, a crew of us ended up seeing our longtime buddy, and all-round good guy, Don (is) Campbell play some covers at pub somewhere downtown (TO not London). Please don't hold the noise and camera work against Don, unfortunately, he can't control how much I have to drink. His cover of Snoop Dogg's 'Gin and Juice':

This performance has led me to make a formal request for Don to learn the following songs to play the next time I see him:

Blackstreet "No Diggity" (*as an interesting sidenote their wikipedia entry says that they've got a new album to be released 2008.)
Ma$e "Feels So Good"
Genuwine "Pony"

Anyways, please check out Don's myspace and go out and see him if you're up for a pub night with some friends. And, hopefully Two Hours Traffic's tour goes well enough that they'll swing back through London again soon.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Afternoon Drive/Dance Off

I don't really have anything of substance to say, but I kind of felt as though I've been slacking off a little bit lately. So, as a result, I thought I'd put up a couple of singles that I've really been digging to help you dance your way through your weekend.

Lykke Li is the next big thing from Sweden. I think she kind of kind of sounds like a cross between Feist and Nelly Furtado, but with a weird quirky/dancy Swedish thing going.
[mp3]Lykke Li - Let It Fall.mp3

MGMT, formerly 'Management', has a newish (?) album Oracular Spectacular, and it looks like they're touring, although I have no idea where and when because of the indecipherable design of their myspace. B(oot)log, had a post on them within the last couple of weeks.
[mp3]MGMT - Kids.mp3

Chromeo is more 80s than any 80s band I've ever heard. I think they're the music version of the tracksuit I'm wearing in the photo up there. And, yes, that was Halloween.
[mp3]Chromeo - Bonafied Lovin' (Tough Guys).mp3

Although it doesn't fit with the Friday Afternoon Dance Off theme, a track from Charlottetown , PEI 'powerpoppers' Two Hours Traffic . Unfortunately, I missed them on Tuesday when they were in London seeing that awful, awful, movie, but Brain and I are going to try and catch them at the Horseshoe in TO, Saturday night.
[mp3]Two Hours Traffic - New Love.mp3

I'm hoping, but not promising, that Jen and I will have the first in a series of he said/she said posts up next week. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Marion Cotillard - Ça Vie en Rose

With the Oscars only a few days away I want to take a moment to post about my Best Actress hopeful, Marion Cotillard for 'La Môme' ('La Vie en Rose' outside of France). I watched the film nearly a year ago now right before my French proficiency exam (requisite for all master’s applications in France for non-francophones). As a confidence booster it fell very, very, short as language from that era is comparatively highbrow, with a different accent and a richer vocabulary. Think of how people spoke at the turn of the century compared with all the ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ that perforate today’s common speech. The story is heartbreaking and real, with moments of overflowing joy (like seeing Piaf turn radiant on stage) and acute pain (like when she finds out her lover was in a plane crash). It would be difficult to write a fictional story so full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and knowing that it is based on real-life events makes it that much more moving.

And the twists and turns continue as the young actress playing Piaf won Best Actress in a Comedy/Music at the Golden Globes, and Best Actress at the BAFTAs. Cotillard's performance is magnificent. She not only captures the look and the sound of the iconic singer, but also portrays her life with grace and dignity, even during moments that were neither gracious nor dignified.

Recently, I was trying to figure out why she looked familiar and it occurred to me that she was in 'A Very Long Engagement' (the follow up to 'Le Fabulous Destin d'Amélie Poulain' by Jean-Pierre Jeunet). She won the César (French equivalent of the BAFTAs, I suppose) for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the vengeful and murderous Tina Lombardi.

She is proving herself a viable talent on both the national and international arenas, and Sunday my fingers will be crossed for the kid (la môme=the kid).

Here is her BAFTA acceptance speech:

Trailer for 'La Vie en Rose'

Definitely, Maybe.... orrrrrr, maybe not.

I'm sitting on the couch next to Liz, and she just gave me 'You're writing a post about that!?!' comment. And, yes, I am writing about a romantic comedy that was released on Valentines Day (we saw it on Tuesday), but more as a public service announcement so that you will avoid seeing this film at all costs. Liz and I make it to the movies just about every Tuesday, and after a Rotten Tomatoe score of 70% (although I swear it was 76% when we looked on Tues.) and hearing that it was produced by the people who did Love Actually (this was a big selling point with Liz), we thought we'd give Definitely, Maybe a shot.

Long story short, it was terrible. Really, really, terrible. Punch you in the face and steal your lunch money terrible. It poses as a kind of romantic-comedy-who-dun-it, but as Liz suggested its kind of like How I Met Your Mother, except without Barney (Doogie Howser), which, I added, is the best part of that show -- by a lot. After looking on IMDB, the fact that the movie was terrible shouldn't be a huge surprise, the man responsible for writing the screenplay wrote other hits like: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Wimbledon (2004), The Invisible Circus (2001), and Practical Magic (1998). If someone has any insight on how Rotten Tomatoes does their calculations, and this movie could have possibly got a positive score I'd be interested in hearing it. Frankly, I wish that I could've stayed home and watched the E*Trade commercial with the talking baby for a couple of hours instead... now that is cinema.

On a more positive note, Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago was re-released a few days ago and is well worth a listen. Justin Vernon will be in TO on March 5 - opening for Black Mountain (my thesis supervisor son's band) - which should be a pretty wicked awesome show at Lee's Palace.
[mp3] Bon Iver - Skinny Love.mp3

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Bullets: A Hip-hop Themed Kind of Day

Been away for a little while, so a few quick, or possibly not so quick, notes:
  • I'm pretty excited about the second half of the NBA season. Lots of intriguing story lines with all the deals that have gone down in the last couple of weeks: Bibby to the Hawks - possibly putting them in contention to be a playoff team in the East - although they would've been out of it in the West ages ago; almost 35 year old J-Kidd to the Mavs; whether LBJ can make the conference finals again with literally no help; how the Lakers will fare without Andrew Bynum, and possibly Kobe if he opts, or is forced, into having surgery on his pinky; and, of course, how the Diesel will fit in with the Suns and how Steve Kerr will manage to fit his enormous testicles into his pants. The later of the two storylines begin with the Lakers/Suns tonight 9:30pmET on the Score. An interesting ESPN writers round table on the Lakers/Suns. Also, a looming Raptors post-season storyline - what they'll do after they get thumped in the first round of the playoffs by the Cavs/Magic.
  • I've been listening to Shad K (of London, On)'s The Old Prince in the last couple of days, courtesy of my friend Jacob (who is apparently, so he says, friends with Shad). He is (Shad, not Jacob) nominated for a Juno for the album, which without hearing any of the other albums I assume he deserves. If K'naan winning the 2006 Juno in the same category tells us nothing else, it says that the voters are happy to give the award to someone who has been inspired by an awful experience in a war torn nation (K'naan - Somalia, Shad - Rwanda). Hopefully, I'll be able to put together some more thoughts on Shad in the next couple of weeks.
  • After a little bit of a legal struggle, AmpLive was able to release its Radiohead RainyDayz Remixes, which, is pretty cool especially since includes guest spots from some of the best in the Bay Area - Del the Funky Homosapien, Chali2Na of Jurassic 5, among others. The best part is that its a free download on AmpLive's myspace. My pick:
[mp3] Video Tapez (ft. Del the Funky Homosapien).mp3
  • Lastly, a couple of Kanye West remixes of, probably the best track on my favourite album of '07, 'Flashing Lights'. I'm not sure either of them are any better, but I think the track was so good in the first place, it would be pretty hard to screw up.
[mp3]Flashing Lights (R. Kelly remix).mp3
[mp3] Colin Munroe - I Want Those Flashing Lights.mp3

Also, if you haven't seen the video for the actual song... it might be the Fargo of music videos... kind of horrifying.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Basia Bulat

Basia Bulat (London On) opened for Hayden at the end of January, she was terrific as always, and played a couple of songs that I hadn't heard before. This was a little surprising since I had seen her a couple of times live, bought her album Oh, My Darling, and was unaware that she had anything new in the works. So, after hearing these songs I was a little crabby not knowing anything about them, when or if they had been recorded, how to get a hold of them, or whether they were originals or covers. Well, I've completed part of the puzzle courtesy of i(heart)music (Ottawa) who posted Basia's CBC Radio 3 session this December. The CBC performance is basically identical to her set opening for Hayden except she played solo in her opening gig, which, again, was outstanding.

I've got three new mp3s for you, including a very Tracy Chapman-esque opening to her set with 'Home', and a couple of videos from her set in London.

[mp3]Basia Bulat - Home.mp3
[mp3]Basia Bulat - Heart Of My Own.mp3
[mp3]Basia Bulat - The Shore.mp3

The rest of the CBC set is available at i(heart)music.

"Heart of My Own"

"The Shore" - the sound is great on this video, highly recommended.

Do yourself a favour and buy Oh, My Darling for your mom/girlfriend/sister I guarantee they'll love it. And you probably will too, unless you are a heartless a-hole. Its available here - and probably everywhere else.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Songs for your Sweetie...

If you aren't the biggest Futurama fan, you may not think this is as funny as I do (and my buddy Atkison does), but as soon as I typed the word sweetie into the title I couldn't help but think of this dialogue in 'Fear of a Bot Planet' (1999):

Robot Guard #1: Be you robot or human?
Leela: Robot, we be.
Fry: Yep, just two robots out roboting it up.
Robot Guard #2: Administer the test.
Robot Guard #1: Which of these would you prefer? A. a puppy; B. a flower from your sweetie; or C. a properly formatted data file? Choose!
[Fry and Leela discuss in whispers]
Fry: Is the puppy mechanical in any way?
Robot Guard #1: No. It is the bad kind of puppy.
Leela: Then we'll go with that data file.
Robot Guard #1: Correct. The flower would have also been acceptable.
Robot Guard #2: You may pass.

These songs are for Liz, who puts up with me giving plot summaries of my favourite TV shows to people who have never seen the show... Happy V-Day.

[mp3]Iron & Wine - Lovesong Of The Buzzard.mp3
[mp3]Ohbijou - Favourite Skin.mp3
Muscles - Hey Muscles I Love You.mp3

Update: I have a special V-Day surprise for Liz in the form of a post with new Basia Bulat songs.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Okkervil River @ La Maroquinerie Feb 8.08

This is my most concerted effort yet. Above is a picture that I took at the gig and below is the concert in full (which took some fiddling to get to the right size). I have now seen Okkervil River live 4 times and I am never unimpressed. The 'changing power of music' that I was waffling on about in my Dragonette post, well, where Dragonette failed, Okkervil River delivered. I was fairly tired upon arrival at La Maroquinerie, but one song in and I had completely forgotten about my fatigue and anything else that was bothering me at that point in time.

Will Sheff has an amazing energy on stage that is both captivating and engaging. Travis, the drummer, is enthusiastic and hilarious, especially when he mouths the words (positioned behind Will) and points his drumstick at the audience for emphasis. The rest of the group are solid and good all-round musicians. I love that they are continually stepping up their game by inventing interesting intros (the first song was a bit of a doozy) and transitions.

Truth time: I know the band, or Patrick and Travis. The last time they played in Paris I decided to be audacious and talk to them while they were tearing down their equipment. Patrick (guitar/backing vocals) and I chatted for a while, and he said that the next time they were in Paris to email and we'd arrange to hang out. Emails were sent but to no avail. I went down after the show to say hi and I received an apology and Patrick's personal email, phone number, and an invitation to see the group play at a festival in Spain (I will wait for a reply to the email I sent last night before booking my plane ticket). It could make for a fairly interesting posting.

Here is the concert in full, divided into three parts. Enjoy.

Okkervil River Part 1
Okkervil River Part 2
Okkervil River Part 3

New/Old/ New Buffalo: Somewhere, Anywhere

One of my favourite parts about visiting the big smoke, aside from visiting friends, is always the trip to Sonic Boom especially to sift through the used records (read CDs) to see what people have cast aside. Usually, for whatever reason, there is a lot of good stuff there and often I find something that I've missed, or that I used to really love but never bought.

So, as you might have guessed, on Saturday I came across New Buffalo's 2nd album, which I didn't know existed, called Somewhere, Anywhere. Apparently this album was released sometime in September 2007, but it seems like to me it just flew under the radar. This along with 'discovering' Ra Ra Riot's s/t EP, and actually listening to Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, has made me think that I probably should have waited until at least now to do my best of 2007. Not that I can think of anything that I'd bump, but all of the aforementioned albums definitely deserved strong consideration.

Kyle introduced me to the first album, after seeing her (NB = Sally Seltmann) open for labelmate, Broken Social Scene, in Australia a couple of years ago. He said she was great, I picked up the album The Last Beautiful Day [2004] and thought it was great, kind of like a nice lullaby from some type of super-cool Australian Marry Poppins. Unfortunately, because of her Australianess (or Australianosity if you prefer) we are unlikely to see NB in London, On anytime soon, so enjoy. My two favourites from the new (or newest) one:

[mp3] City And Sea (Lady Nameless).mp3
[mp3] I'm The Drunk And You're The Star.mp3

Also, Jen has done an interview with Stars and has some audio from the last Okkervil River show in Paris, hopefully we'll be able to figure out how to get those up.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Bullets: When Shaq Attacks!

  • Wednesday at around noon might have been the most exciting moment of my life. My favourite basketball blog (TrueHoop at ESPN) posted my comment on the Shaq trade:

If I'm Phoenix I make Shaquille O'Neal race Dick Bavetta [extremely old NBA referee] a la Charles Barkley. If he wins the trade goes through, if he loses then he promises to appear on a celebrity version of 'The Biggest Loser.'

  • In retrospect that might have been a little harsh, Shaq is not going to run with the Suns, but he'll be a good chemistry guy, a good inside presence, and a good mentor for Amare Stoudemire. Realistically, even though they had the best record in the West when the trade went through, they were something like 14-12 against the Western Conference which wasn't going to cut it during playoff time. Give GM Steve Kerr credit for having the testicular fortitude to make a move, even if it was trading their best defender, rebounder, finisher on the break. After I thought about it, I asked myself was Phoenix going to win a title pre-trade, and the answer was a resounding no. With Shaq, they're going to have to play a different style of game, and so, who knows...

I was going to post a Shaq song, but the Diesel is not a guy I want coming after me for copywrite infringement. Instead:

[mp3] Tokyo Police Club - Nature Of The Experiment.mp3
  • My friend Cali's band, the Sea Inside, is playing tonight at Call the Office with a slew of other acts. I wrote about them and posted a video a few months ago. I'll encourage you to go see them, its definitely worth your time if you're in the area. Also, it was his birthday yesterday, and its one of my BFFs (Rosie)'s birthday tomorrow, so a song for both of them from the Winks album Birthday Party.
[mp3] The Winks - Guitar Swing.mp3
  • Also, I missed Jane Vain & the Dark Matter on Wednesday, since the weather was terrible and I hadn't heard enough good things yet to warrant me risking my life going out into the snow. Hopefully it was good, and hopefully they'll be back. That said, if they're in TO in the next few days so if anyone makes it to those shows I'd be interested to get a review.
[mp3] Jane Vain & The Dark Matter - C' mon Baby Say Bang Bang.mp3

  • Last bullet. Thanks to everyone who keeps coming back and reading, as of today we should be over 1000 'total visitors', since I figured out how to add the counter a couple of months ago. Anyways, thanks, any feed back is always welcome, have a great weekend.
[mp3] Vampire Weekend - Mansard Roof.mp3

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dragonette, Draggin It @ the Nouveau Casino, February 6.08

This is an unfair post but I am going to make it anyway. It is unfair because I was unbelievably exhausted last night before heading all the way across the city to the concert (I had thoughts in the metro of just getting off and going home, maybe even dreams). So already I was not in the best concert-going spirit. I went because there was string-pulling involved to get me a place and I am continuing with this post because I believe fundamentally in the changing power of music: mentally, emotionally and, yes, even physically. How many times have you heard a song and instantly felt better, less ugly, rejuvenated, or prepared to overtake the most difficult of obstacles (it's not a miracle drug, I know, otherwise I imagine musicians would make much more money than most do).

In addition to exhaustion, through the course of researching Dragonette I came across some of the following pictures.....

so I was anticipating something along the lines of Of Montreal costumes and craziness. Apparently, Dragonette is only wacky on paper.

The singer, Martina Sorbara came out with very large hair and very tight black spandex pants (which you could all see if I had not left my memory card in the card reader instead of my camera, like a dolt). She bobbed lightly up and down for a few songs, and occasionally gestured with her hand what she was singing (like making circular washing motions during the first song). Once or twice she looked like she might have wanted to actually get into it and get her 'groove' on, but that thought seemed to pass quickly.

Luckily, the lighting was amazing. Mostly neon coloured lights shot from behind the stage in zigzags, waves, linear and non-linear patterns. Without this element the show would have been pretty dull. Martina showed that she sings well, which is maybe more of a skill than it sounds in these technologically enhanced production days. Her banter was annoying, and not really directed at the audience as much as the other members of the band. And the songs sounded very, very, similar to one another, which was not necessarily my feeling before going and after listening to the album.

In all fairness, fatigue may have been the only reciprocal emotion as the band was playing the last of a very long line of European dates. In the end I left early, i.e. before the concert ended (which I nearly never do). My advice should Dragonette by passing through your town: save some money, stay at home, turn the music up as loud as you can without compromising the musical integrity, and turn on a lava lamp or two.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ra Ra Remixes: That is to say, Remixes of Ra Ra Riot Songs

Jen and I had been having this ongoing discussion about how we'd been both been feeling like we needed some inspirational music. I mentioned the other day that I really liked the Do, but I definitely wouldn't classify them as inspirational, I think they're probably too experimental to really pick me up.

That said, I think Ra Ra Riot is going to fill that void and really get me through the rest of winter. They even have an inspirational/tragic story about the mysterious death of their drummer. I don't want to compare their music to anyone, especially since I'm going to post remixes of their songs, but I get a kind of poppier Arcade Fire vibe from them sans banging on helmets, shouting through microphones, etc. I just compared them to someone, didn't I? The only shame about this is that Ra Ra Riot only has the one self-titled EP, but if you're jonesing (or rioting?) for more RRR I would check out their Daytrotter session from October 2007 where they perform 2 songs that aren't on their EP.

[mp3] Ra Ra Riot - Each Year [RAC Mix].mp3
[mp3] Ra Ra Riot - Ghost Under Rocks [Andrew Maury Remix].mp3

In other news: I'm going to try and catch Jane Vain & the Dark Matter at the Alex P. Keaton tonight. Also, I think Jen's seeing Dragonette, who I missed when they came to London (Ontario) in November.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Real Live Rock Star: Babyshambles w/ Dodoz @ the Zenith Feb. 4.2008

A few weeks ago I interviewed a Toulousian band called the Dodoz (article here) who were the scheduled openers for Babyshambles at the Zénith tonight. I cheekily emailed their manager (a lovely Scotsman) to see if he would be able to get me in (if you don't ask you'll never know, right?). I received a phone call today at about 5:15 pm today saying that if I wanted my name put on the list it was as good as done, and I was even allowed a plus one (wow! plus one on super short notice, great).

I have been following Pete Doherty and The Libertines since my first move to England in 2001 when they were just a crazy London band with a reputation for destroying things and putting on one hell of a show. I watched his descent, the media folly that ensued, the Kate Moss fiasco, and what looks to be a viable rehab visit. I have wavered between wanting to believe that he was just misunderstood and too brilliant for his own good, and thinking that he should just have an overdose and get it over with (harsh, I know). The troubled artist remains such an appealing cliché.

There are certain groups and certain sounds that have to be heard live because that is when they come alive... and where they live. An electricity and pulse emanates from the stage and that is why the music is made, why it speaks to people, and why it fuckin rocks!!!! (Rob, can I say fuck?)

And tonight, for the first time in my many concerts (including legendary bands like Radiohead, Muse, The Cure, Oasis) I saw a real live Rock Star. During the concert, Pete said very little (apart from a dedication to his late cat who just died, I guess). He smoked, sang, and kind of swaggered. Otherwise, what captivated the heaving audience was the charisma of a skinny pale Englishman.... that thing that you can't explain... well, that's the thing that makes an icon - a Mick Jagger or a Jim Morrison. I wonder what it must feel like to have all eyes on you like that, unable to look away?

Here is the interview that made me (glad ole' Pete didn't take those pills) want to believe that people, all people, are worth saving .

Newsnight Pete Doherty Interview
(I can't upload the clip here but please follow the link: it is also an outstanding example of what really good journalism can be like)

And here is my favourite Pete Doherty song (we have Wolfman to thank for this wonderful track)

A Song for Tom Brady

So, I'm as shocked as everyone else that back to back Super Bowls were won by brothers who make faces like this. (This website made my day approximately 700 times better, since, while I'm not a Pats fan, I kind of felt cheated out of seeing an unbelievable team make history.) Also, while we're in Super Bowl mode - Kyle has posted some pre-game thoughts.

Now that I've got that out of my system, I can wholly endorse Jen's recommendation of The Do's A Mouthful, which certainly has the potential to be an (not the) album of the year. I'm not sure whether the diversity of styles on the album, songs ranging from girl-with-ukele 'Stay (just a little bit more' to almost hip-hop on 'Queen dot Kong', will grow on me like Patrick Watson's sometimes freaky, sometimes beautiful Close to Paradise did, or whether I'll get annoyed, skip over those songs, and end up listening to only a couple of tracks from the album within a week or two.

That said, my iTunes playcount for 'On My Shoulders' is at 5 right now, and it'll likely be at 7 by the time I finish this post. I just can't get enough of that opening lyric: 'Why would I carry such a weight on my shoulders/Why do I always help you carry your boulders'... that strain in her voice just hits me where I live. Without further ado (pardon the pun):

[mp3]: The Do - On My Shoulders.mp3

- This one goes out to Tom Brady, at least your girlfriend is still wicked hot.

Also, I can't leave this post with out asking, was anyone else aware that Dennis Kucinich, perennial candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination and SNL punchline, has a young, superhot wife!?! And, get this, she has a tongue ring, go figure.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Dø - the Beginning and the End

A few months ago I received an email from a music-loving friend who told me that I ABSOLUTELY had to check out this group. I unfortunately received the email the day AFTER the concert, which is always helpful.

Firstly, the name of the group comes from dø at the beginning of the octaval scale and also at the end. It's kind of a nice image as both the beginning and the end, creating the circle and everything that comes in between (what's new and what's old, according to the group's MySpace).

The Dø is Olivia B. Merilhati and David Levy of Finland and France, respectively. Their first album A Mouthful was released on the 14th of January. I have heard 5 tracks off of the album, but have heard one or two of their songs over and over as they were featured on France Info for an entire week and my dance teacher choreographs routines to their music. I have almost the same feeling as I did when I heard the Arcade Fire at a Top Shop in Manchester after Funeral came out - that I was somehow being followed because their songs were literally everywhere.

Olivia's voice very is particular. It is resonant, but with an edge to it that almost makes it sound scratchy. The best comparison I can think of is Bjork, but she tends towards quasi-yelling where as this remains harmonious and tonal. There is also a soulful, bluesy element along the lines of Cat Power, but less raspy.

What becomes evident after a few listens is how musically interesting the compositions are. There is a plethora of sounds and rhythm changes that are subtle, effective, and very inventive. The band's list of the influences is long and comprehensive (follow the above link to see the list in full), which may have something to do with it. A congruity between the unique voice and the unique composition is actually somewhat reassuring (otherwise the world would be completely topsy-turvy).

My favourite song is 'At Last'. It incorporates everything that I have already mentioned, while remaining catchy, light, simple but almost achy. I picture someone walking down a deserted road somewhere in the Midwest, the sun shining, trying to look cool and happy but using all of their energy to keep it together and not completely fall apart. Maybe just me.

The Dø - At Last (live 01/25/08)

(this is fairly good quality, but visit their MySpace for a fuller sounding version and of course more songs)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Songs to Hibernate To

So, I've been couped up in the apartment for the last, say, 48 hours because of the weather and I'm praying that Wiarton Willie does (or doesn't) see his shadow, which ever one means no more snow. At any rate, I thought I'd share some songs that have made me feel better about being trapped in here:

The Golden Hands Before God (Windsor, On) Interlude.mp3
I understand that they have a record in the works, which is being produced by Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes).

Ohbijou (Toronto, On) Raccoons.mp3
My favourite record of last year that I have not heard anyone talk about. I highly, highly, recommend this track, their album Swift Feet For Troubling Times, and seeing them live.

Bon Iver (Wisc, USA) Skinny Love.mp3
Has been discussed on this blog previously here.

Stephen Malkmus (Portland, Ore) Out Of Reaches.mp3
Everytime I read or hear his name the only thing that I can think of is John Malkovich, don't ask me why, but I half expected Malkmus to be bald. He isn't. In fact, his myspace photo makes me think he is the portrait of a character that Hugh Grant should play. Anyways, I can't say that I'm a huge fan of his new album Real Emotional Trash, but I do like this song. Also, as Chris Neiles said, its kind of an appropriate song for Giants fans.

Julianna Barwick (Brooklyn, NY) Dancing With Friends.mp3
I literally know nothing about her, and I've come across her only once. This song ended up on my computer and feels like a really awesome combination of Sigur Ros and Panda Bear. It also was part of, perhaps, the funniest moment in my life when Liz's dad asked me (very curiously), "when exactly would you listen to that".