Monday, March 31, 2008

The Rural Alberta Advantage w/ Camaromance @ the Alex P. Keaton - Mar. 30.2008

I managed to catch the Rural Alberta Advantage and a good portion of Camaromance at the Alex P. Keaton last night. The show was a really great way to close out what was a pretty busy (unblog related, and unfortunately, un-college basketball related) weekend.

Going into the show I had heard a few songs by the RAA (enough to get me to try and convince Liz to come along), and after seeing them I continued to be impressed with their stuff. The best description I can give (better descriptions exist here and here) is kind of a Cuff the Duke/Boy-Girl/Band with outstanding percussion and Sufjan Stevens-esque subject matter (Alberta, duh).

I am in process of digesting their full-length debut, Hometowns, and am hoping to have a review up next week-ish. The album is available through their myspace.

Now, here's a video, terrible quality (terrible lighting, the sound is pretty decent), but gives you the idea that the RAA are really worth seeing.

The Rural Alberta Advantage "Goodnight"

[mp3] The Ballad Of The RAA

We got to the Keaton late, so, unfortunately only got a few songs of Camaromance, but I enjoyed what I did hear, and Liz liked her a lot also. I'm hoping to get a hold of more of her stuff to get a better sense of her work.

The Black Hat Brigade EP tomorrow.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ron Artest is not just a crazy person .... he's also a Rapper... still...

I came across this today.

The long and the short of it is that Ron Artest (Sacramento Kings) has some new songs; they're up on his myspace. Somewhere David Stern is just wishing Ron Ron would just .... horribly, horribly, injure himself so that no NBA team would employ him, and he would just go ahead and get his own reality dating show.

She and Him - From Her to Him

I just wanted to take a minute to respond to Rob's She and Him post. I have been a big proponent of M. Ward for a long time now and also, so it would seem, of Zooey Deschanel (I fell in love with her voice in 'Elf' and assumed that she must have been a singer before being an actress but never followed it up). I therefore assumed that Rob was being a wee bit hard on the pretty girl and set out to defend her.

After listening to the album I have to agree that the lyrics are fairly mediocre and sometimes verge on silly. I found Zooey's voice insipid at first (actually skipping the first song) and think that the whole album is sung too high (her voice sounds much fuller and soulful when it's lower - from the little I've heard before). I much prefer the 60's-sounding pop songs to the Patty Cline-esque droners, but then that is just my personal taste (and distaste for anything too country). The duets I like. Period.

The album has come to grow on me - a little. I thought after the first listen that it would have no rotation on my very temperamental iPod but think that I was too quick to judge. It will never be a stand out album but it might just be alright.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tales of Interest: Friday Edition

I've been a little, or a lot slow this week due to an extraordinary amount of traveling - work related - but I did manage to take some time to do some sight seeing. Suffice to say the Yukon is gorgeous, and so are the parts of Northern BC and Alaska that we made it to. That said, the Klondike Highway was probably the most frightening drive of my life - can't imagine doing it in the middle of the Winter here... I probably couldn't recommend Whitehorse more, the people were phenomenally nice, even in March the weather was pretty good, and it'd be an especially nice vacation spot in the summer. So, there's my plug for the Canadian North...

  • Umm... La Blogotheque's webpage keeps kicking me out, but they've got a new 'Take Away Show' from the Black Lips. The guy singing 'Navajo' in the shower is awesome (its not running, and hes not naked so don't get any ideas). Also, there's another new(er) one from Yeasayer on the NYC subway:

    And my one of my favourite take away shows...
  • I had been a little slow picking up Jeff's recommendation of High Places' album 03/07 - 09/07, which feels like its going to be the weird-atmospheric-Panda Bearesque album that I can never listen to all the way through for 2008. I think 03/07 - 09/07 would probably be better if Person Pitch hadn't already done the same album, but better, last year. I could be wrong, I haven't spent a tonne of time with the album, but I don't think I am.
  • I'm hoping to have 'reviews' or thoughts on two really exciting albums up either this weekend or at the beginning of next week, Entire Cities Deep River and the Black Hat Brigade's self-titled EP. I really like both of them, and if you're in TO you should attempt to check out the BHB they're playing a few dates within the next couple of weeks, including tomorrow at Rancho Relaxo.
  • Both Dragonette (Sat) and the Rural Alberta Advantage (Sun) are in town this weekend if you're looking for something to do. If I ever get out of the North I'll be there too.
Have a good weekend.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A General Complaint About the Toronto Raptors

This is the photo I wanted to post.

I’ve kind of ignored posting anything on the Raptors in the last little while, but reading Michael Grange’s article in the Globe this morning (3.24.2008), or more likely a couple of mornings from now by the time this goes up, has made me feel that I have something to say about the Raps now 35-35, 2-8 in their last 10. Grange quotes Bosh as saying we need to stop standing around in the 4th quarter waiting for the game to fall into our laps, to which I say: true, absolutely, couldn’t agree more. My follow up question for Bosh would be how does this happen? He says we need to keep taking the ball to the basket, again, I couldn’t agree more. What Bosh doesn’t say is anything about defense. I think that speaks volumes about the Raps over the past 2 years.

An anecdote from last Friday week: I was hanging out with my buddy Atk, who is not a huge basketball guy, but he suggested flipping on the Raps game so who am I to object ... I'm a good host. It’s the beginning of the 4th quarter, tie game or close to it, he's now much more excited to watch the game (over the Leafs), and I said to him why don't we watch something else, its over. The Raps don't win close games against good teams with veteran players. In the next 5 minutes LeBron takes over the game and has at least 3 uncontested dunks - Cavs win comfortably by 7.

The moral of the story is not that the Raps got beat by LeBron, the Cavs, LeBron, but they lost another close one down the stretch, which is the calling card of the Raps over the last two years. What worries me is not losing in the playoffs this year, that is pretty much inevitable, but that the Raptors during the Bosh era will be the equivalent of Sundin's Leafs - always good enough to make the playoffs, never good enough to make a serious run at the Cup. This is not to say that BC ought to blow things up and try again, its way too early for that, but that he ought to recognize that Bosh is not Shaq, Duncan, or even KG. He is clearly a gifted offensive player, but he is not the guy that takes the tough defensive assignment or pushes everyone else to play better defense. And, if history has taught us nothing its that defense wins championships. Hopefully BC sees that and it doesn't take Steve Kerr to come in and give the Raps a shot at the title.

She & Him - Volume One

She (Zooey Deschanel – the actress) & Him (M. Ward) have been garnering a lot of attention lately – at least on my radar screen – but I had, initially, chalked it up to a number of factors: Deschenel's successful acting career with a recent appearance in a Oscar nominated film, a big push from Merge Records, and of course teaming up with the critically acclaimed M.Ward. At any rate, I had ignored the She & Him project for a while fearing that it might come out like the ‘indie’ version of Gwyneth Paltrow’s foray into music (anyone remember 'Duets' with Huey Lewis?). And, well, it probably is, except that M.Ward’s musical arrangements are great and highlight what Deschanel can do when rocking the mic (sorry, today just feels kind of like an inappropriate/awkward slang day). I mean, her lyrics are at best forgettable, and at worst mind-numbingly unoriginal, but the end result (somehow) is an eminently listen-to-able album. Maybe its my huge man-crush on M. Ward talking, but its worth a go-around especially if you’re the kind of person that finds a lot of the music that I talk about weird, or hard to get into.

[mp3]Sentimental Heart
[mp3] This is Not A Test

A Reminder...

Who: The Golden Hands Before God w/ Mahogany Frog

Where: The London Music Club 470 Colborne St., London, On

When: April 9.2008 - doors at 7pm, show at 8pm.

Why: The Golden Hands Before God - Interlude.mp3 (right click save-as to download)

PS - This should be pretty awesome. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Dø @ La Cigale March 20.08

When I first posted about The Dø I tried my best to describe what I feel is fairly indescribable, and a band for whom comparisons may be just as misleading as helpful. They continue to grow in popularity and notoriety, which for an inherently non-mainstream sounding band seems a bit odd (especially given the French love of regurgitating and rehashing old/popular favourites). So I thought that there must be something else, a missing element, an undiscovered country - and so there was ....

The Dø are one of the more interesting, charismatic, flamboyant and energetic groups that one could hope to see. Olivia exploded onto the stage wearing a tiger-print unitard (a leotard with arms and legs) and a gold tutu-esque skirt. She danced, gyrated and gesticulated with grace and enthusiasm without the smallest glimmer of fatigue. It was almost like she was in character, playing a role (though I think that she is really like that - all the better, I say).

And the staging and aesthetics were also pretty remarkable and original. Five panels on the back wall displayed different lighting throughout (I liked the tiger-print lights because it matched Olivia's outfit). The drummer was housed in what looked like an over-sized backyard garden ornament with metallic panels hanging down. David and Olivia used the entire stage, moving backwards and forwards, and sometimes kicking or hitting some homemade percussion instrument attached to the floor.

The visuals were nearly as good as the sound. Olivia's voice is more resonant and harmonious live with less of the ear-irritating transitions that can be a little difficult to handle. What struck me most was how easily she was able to sing a variety of kinds of songs and moreover how no two songs during the whole set sounded like one another. They did a cover of 'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley, which was fantastic, and brought the opening Eastern European brass band (their choice, obviously) back on at the end to do a rap number.

I don't know how often such multi-talented and musically multi-faceted musicians come along, but The Dø are a wonderfully bizarre, shiny example.

[mp3] on my shoulders
(which when heard live made me think of Rob and his enamourment with the lyric 'why do I always help you carry your boulders?')

[mp3] at last

I'm not sure where you can pick up their album A Mouthful yet, except iTunes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited - Working Out The Kinks

The Darjeeling Limited is finally out in France (usually big films come out about the same time but I guess the latest Wes Anderson flick didn't have quite enough hype) and that means posters of Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody and their deadpan faces everywhere. They do not instantly bring to mind my recollection of this touching off-beat comedy (that I saw while in Canada over Christmas) but rather the soundtrack, and more specifically The Kinks song that I had to find in the credits.

So I found the song and got the 'Greatest Hits' and have to say that I think The Kinks are probably one of the most underrated bands out there (or ever?). Wikipedia says that they were part of the 'British Invasion' and incredibly influential but many people I've spoken to don't seem to know all that much about them or be all that into them.

As a group they are incredibly diverse with pop songs that remind me of a somewhat toned-down St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ('Denmark Street'), harder classic rock à la Led Zepplin ('Lola'), folk-infused Dylan-esque melodies ('Death of a Clown') and probably a ton that you didn't ever know were The Kinks, but are The Kinks ('Apeman', 'Waterloo Sunset', 'You Really Got Me', 'All Day and All Night', 'Plastic Man').

For my part, I prefer the earlier albums. The three tracks from 'The Darjeeling Limited' soundtrack are from the album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970) and is arguably one of their best albums. The group stopped recording in the mid-90's, which already is a fairly substantial career, but like so many of my favourites (The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen) I prefer the earlier recordings.

Tracks from 'The Darjeeling Limited'
[mp3] Powerman
[mp3] This Time Tomorrow
[mp3] Strangers

And here is the official trailer with 'This Time Tomorrow' very audible in the background (it's like a montage but with talking).

Buy 'The Darjeeling Limited' Soundtrack from Amazon

Plants and Animals 'Parc Avenue' ... I'm probably not going to have to call Cartman...

I've never been one for anything psychedelic, including, but not limited to, tie-dye t-shirts, acid, or hippie jam bands. In fact, I cheered for Cartman when he tried to rid South Park of its hippie epidemic. Isn't that a nice lead in...

so after hearing a few snippets of Plants and Animals With/Avec EP late last year, I was sufficiently unimpressed, or just convinced that they were some Canadian version of Phish after listening to a couple of songs. That said, I heard enough good things about the new full length Parc Avenue, and the fact that I came to learn that it was released on Secret City Records (Patrick Watson, Miracle Fortress, The Go! Team) made me realize that the album is bound to be a Polaris Prize nominee for 2008. Much like labelmate Patrick Watson's Close to Paradise, I didn't really 'get' this album at first, and while Parc Avenue wanders into hippie-jam-band territory, it stays far enough away to make it ... worth listening to if you're not on acid.

At this point I kind of feel like I've been tricked into liking a hippie-jam-band, and I'm going to wake up one morning in a tie-dyed t-shirt and have no idea where I've been for the past few days. On the other hand, every time I listen to Parc Avenue I like it a little bit more; I find the whammy bar on 'Feedback in the Field' more endearing, I find 'Guru' less aggravating, and I wouldn't be surprised if towards the end of the year if this was a top-5 album.

I'm still glad Cartman rid South Park of all the hippies.

[mp3] Good Friend
My favourite lyric of the year so far: 'It takes a good friend to say you've got your head up your ass'

New Kind Of Love

You can pick up Plants and Animals Parc Avenue at Zunior for $8.88.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

D'Urbervilles w/ Fox Jaws @ The Alex P. Keaton. Mar. 18. 08.

(take note of the matching vintage Reebok tees... nice.)

Of the three show in London last night (LadyHawk & Immaculate Machine, Tokyo Police Club, and this one) I decided to go to this one for several reasons. All of those reasons include very nice reviews from the usual suspects both Matthew and Paul, as well as B(oot)log. The D'Urbervilles We Are The Hunters has also got a round of praise from some 'heavy hitters' Chromewaves and My Old Kentucky Blog.

The show... was great. You should really consider picking up their album.
[mp3] We Are The Hunters

The D'Urbervilles We Are The Hunters can be bought at Zunior for $8.88.

Fox Jaws, (Barrie, On) is best summed up by Matthew at i(heart) music. Front woman, Carleigh Atkins, has an unbelievable set of pipes - which Liz compared to Melissa Etheridge (I don't think that illuminates how great and interesting her voice is) - but the band doesn't really know how to showcase it quite yet.

Fox Jaws Goodbye Doris is available here.

All things considered, this was a nice way to come out of hibernation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barack Obama/Has A Posse/Democratic Primaries

Its strange that I feel in no way qualified to discuss American Politics given that I was a TA for an upper years American Government class, but, I do... feel unqualified. So please forgive me if what I'm about to say sounds completely and utterly retarded, or possibly very self-evident.

I'd been meaning to read something by Barack Obama for a little while now; actually, probably since the Obama Girl vs. Guiliani Girl video came out, but I hadn't been able to find anything in paperback. Finally, thanks to Liz, I've got a copy of Obama's newest book, The Audacity of Hope.

The book thus far, much like Obama's incredibly moving and inspiring oration, talks about a new politics - or maybe more accurately - an older politics, where people would rally around the idea that in general we all want the same things, to be happy, healthy, have the opportunity to work, go to school, etc. After hearing this message through the Democratic Primaries I have been more than a little skeptical, often asking myself if you can really unite people towards these common goals when politicians have such diverging ideas of how we get there, especially as the two parties have moved progressively further left and right. So, I guess the question I was really asking myself was, are we, as citizens of the world, better off with someone to try to inspire us towards a new (old) type of politics (Obama), or someone who has proven they can play the game and understands how the machine works (Hillary).

For a while I had teetered back and forth, and the practical-both-of-my-parents-are-accountants side of my brain pushed me towards Hillary. I thought similar to some like LBJ (Lyndon Johnson, not LeBron James) would be able to work out compromises, offer carrots and sticks, and push through legislation to help mitigate and adapt to global warming, re-orient America's foreign policy towards multi-lateralism, universalize health care, but you get the picture. I mean, she's had an outstanding record, as I understand things, of working the phones, eking out compromises, and passing legislation in the Senate. In this way, I felt that President Obama would be all inspiration and would not be capable of 'getting things done' whatever that means; this was the point that Hillary's 'who do you want to answering the phone' ad hit on. Then it occurred to me, that even if this is true, that we'd be better off with Hillary answering the BatPhone, to which as Rosie has pointed out to me that there is no evidence to suggest that Hillary would be better anyway, maybe the election isn't about now. Perhaps the biggest hope we can have for Obama is not in terms of the legislation he passes or doesn't pass - I mean, I'm pretty sure the President can't introduce legislation anyways - but the way that attitudes are changed for the future. I think this election could be a tipping point for America to re-invigorate the social safety net, take action, or at least recognize the severity of environmental issues, as well as re-establish their reputation as a world leader. That kind of turn around won't happen with incrementalism (Hillary), it may happen with Obama.

As you may have guessed, I've climbed aboard the Obama bandwagon, and am crossing my fingers to see an Obama/Edwards ticket make John McCain look like a tired, cranky, old man. And no, I didn't hurt myself when I jumped on the bandwagon thank-you-very-much.

Now this is entertainment via Analog Giant via Disco Devil:
[mp3]Cocoa Tea - Barack Obama

If that wasn't enough... I guarantee this will push you over the edge.

Also, Rosie, a self-proclaimed 'Toronto Law Student Extraordinaire' has started blogging on Politics - both American and Canadian - at Per Dog, Per Day (he gives an explanation of the title) and he is well worth reading.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Basia, Basia, Basia (in the Key of Jan Brady)

I've blogged about Basia Bulat probably more than any other artist/band since I started blogging about 6 months ago, and for good reason, she has an outstanding knock-you-on-your-ass kind of voice. The other reason being that I'm a little bit of a homer (Basia is from London, On also). So, anytime I come across anything Basia related I always feel compelled to forward it along:

Courtesy of the always terrific B(oot)log mp3s from Basia at the Wolfe Island Music Festival 2007.
[mp3]The Pilgriming Vine (live on Wolfe Island, Kingston On)

Via Everything is Pop, I found out that Basia recorded a few songs for Daytrotter, including an untitled orginal, a Sam Cooke cover, and an unreleased Daniel Johnson cover.
[mp3]The Hem of Your Garmets (Sam Cooke Cover)

From way back in January Basia opening for Hayden at Aeolian Hall.

"Little Waltz"
More videos from the show here.

Basia Bulat is touring around SW Ontario again and will be in London at Call the Office April 4. You can check her myspace for other tour dates.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Born Ruffians - Red, Yellow & Blue

Born Ruffians are another really good new(er) band out of TO. They have a new album Red, Yellow & Blue, which I think is pretty good, otherwise I wouldn't recommend it (see sidebar). There have been really positive comments on the albums from people who's opinions I trust here, here, and it got a good Pitchfork review, but that might just mean its a little weird. And it is a little weird, but also a great, fun, peppy album that's a good way to start your day. Especially when you don't feel like getting out of bed, and its better for you than a cup of coffee.

[mp3]Kurt Vonnegut
Badonkadonkey (great title, huh)

From their Self-titled EP:
[mp3]This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life

You can pick the album up from Zunior for $8.88.

You can check their myspace page for tour dates. They'll be in London (On) on April 12. 2008.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

If Bands Were Ballers....

Last week, I wrote a post on my new favourite band of the moment, the Golden Hands Before God. In the post, I compared them to UCLA forward Kevin Love, and Black Mountain to Gilbert Arenas. I was quickly corrected by Bryan of Herohill, who suggested that a better comparison for Black Mountain was probably Dirk Nowitzki (a big stats guy, who pretends to have an edge - Dirk's infamous scowl). And while I thought I was being particularly original, apparently I wasn't, since, when I emailed them to get an opinion on my comparisons - they gave me some helpful feedback and sent me the text of their June 2007 post.

Either way, here goes my best shot at picking out some of the best comparisons I can think of, with some sort of explanation where possible. This was the best I could do, but would be interested if there are other suggestions out there....

Kobe Bryant is Kanye West.

Both are hands down the best (shooting gaurd and rap producer) around, get a lot of attention and deservedly so, but they both know how good they are and carry themselves thusly.

Chris Paul is Feist.

It took a little while for people to figure out how good they actually are, and even if they don't/didn't win the prize (NBA Championship/Grammy) at the end of the year - they certainly demonstrated that the attention is well deserved.

Ron Artest is Amy Winehouse.

Because you could hear just about anything about either of them, and you'd believe it was true.

Dikembe Mutumbo is the Besnard Lakes.

They both look a little too old to be doing what they've been doing, but lately, they've been awesome.

Joakim Noah is the Sunparlour Players.

Energy, intensity, and passion. Just getting their grounding, but both will be very successful in their own ways.

And, as always, Chris Bosh is the Toronto Raptor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday Bullets: TV, Movies, TV and Rock Band (the songs that should've been)!

  • The series finale of the Wire was on a couple of nights ago. Wow. My buddy Kyle passed along these articles on the finale, which you shouldn't read if you haven't seen the 5th season yet. The first is an absolutely absurd critique, ironically, from someone at the Baltimore Sun (season 5's focus is the Sun). The second, is an incredibly thorough (and long) review of the finale, which is well worth the time to read. My thoughts: this season has taken the greatest departure from its strength: the ambiguity, unpredictability, and what I presume is a realistic take on the drug culture in Baltimore, by introducing a few one dimensional characters (everyone involved in winning the Pulitzer at the Sun), and one psychotic turn from Jimmy McNulty. However, I felt that the finale managed to return to what made the Wire great and provided a satisfactorily unsatisfactory ending. The best part for me was seeing the transformation of the kids from season 4, Michael turning into Omar, Dookie to Bubbles, Namond to Bunny Colvin or, cringe, Carcetti?, but also other characters changing roles (Carver to Daniels, Sidnor to McNulty) within a system that is nearly impossible to fix. The one thing that was missing, I thought, was some type of resolution with Randy Wagstaff. The last time we see Randy he is pushing kids out of the way in his group home when Bunk goes to question him. With Randy's entrepreneurial streak, and the hardening in the group home, its not a stretch to see him turning into the next Avon Barksdale, Marlo Stanfield, or, more likely Stringer Bell, but who knows... a sad farewell to a terrific TV show.
  • On a much, much, lighter note Liz and I have been going back through season one of How I Met Your Mother, which has been surprisingly hilarious for me the second time around. Doogie Howser aka. Neil Patrick Harris, has always been a standout character on the show, but I've found the other characters significantly less annoying than I remember them. The show is set to return on March 17 according to wikipedia.
  • And on the lightest of all possibly notes, I bought Liz Rock Band on Friday, which meant that we basically spent all of Saturday at home watching HIMYM and playing the aforementioned Rock Band. Its been just about as fun as everyone has said it would be except I'm terrible. At any rate, a few songs that I think should've made the game, but probably aren't popular enough...
[mp3] The Besnard Lakes - And You Lied To Me from The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

[mp3] Cuff The Duke - Ballad of a Lonely Construction Worker from Life Stories for the Minimum Wage

[mp3] Wilco - I Am Trying to Break Your Heart from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

[mp3] Tokyo Police Club - In A Cave from the upcoming (4/22/08) Elephant Shell

Monday, March 10, 2008

Patrick Watson @ Le Trabendo March 10.08

I, like Rob, was not quick to warm to Close to Paradise or the zany style of Patrick Watson (which eventually made his Best of 2006 retrospective). After 4 years studying Humanities with long-haired, artistic, eccentric but ultimately very talented people, tonight felt like a long-awaited coming home.

With Patrick Watson every song is a journey, an adventure, sometimes into the terrible, sometimes the euphoric, sometimes the ephemeral, but always the unexpected. His falsetto voice is more layered and haunting when heard live and frankly very impressive.

There was little talking (though some giggling towards the end as more alcohol was consumed), rather the band used musical segues full of distortion and reverberation. And in general, the show was much more experimental than the album. I like to think of it as a metaphor of how beauty can emerge out of chaos and commotion (that could just be the Humanities talking).

'The Man Under the Sea' was sung from the piano bench in the middle of the crowd with an acoustic guitar, a xylophone and foot stomping for accompaniment. A complicit moment was had by all during the 'ooohs'. The band also came back for 3 encores, which is unprecedented (particularly because of the noise laws). These would be the highlights.

If you want to go and hear the live version of the album you will be disappointed by Patrick Watson. If, however, you want an experience in the unexpected than buy your ticket and appreciate every cent's worth of the ride.

Patrick Watson - 'Man Under the Sea (live)' August 2007

[mp3] Close to Paradise
[mp3] Luscious Life

The Polaris Prize winning Close to Paradise can be purchased at Secret City Records, among other places.

Zach Stockill ... doesn't want to date high school girls... but plays good folk music

Here's the thing I like about high school girls, I keep getting older, but they stay the same age...

So, Zach Stockill and I don't agree on everything, but over the last half week or so I've been really digging his brand of singer-songwriter/folk/roots kind of tunes. The music behind Zach's voice may sound more like standard guy with a guitar tunes, but its his lyrics, subject matter, which kind of invoke Ben Folds, Jens Lekman, or another Ottawanian songster Craig Cardiff, have really drawn me in. That may not be an entirely fair comparison, Stockill is only 20 according to this Owen Sound SunTimes profile, and the names I just mentioned are some of my favourite singer-songwriters... ever.

That said, I'm anxiously awaiting his next next EP entitled Songs for the Ride Home tentatively scheduled for a May release, but I'll be sure to keep you posted.

[mp3] High School Girls <-- highly recommended
When I Get Home (rough mix)

In addition to Songs for the Road Home Zach's other upcoming release, which, I'll be honest, I'm slightly more excited about is called FutureSex/LoveFolk. The project which he tells me should be finished by the end of April, is a series of, you guessed it, JT covers.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Turning over a new leaf....

Rob has decided that he is going to be more active and I have decided that I am going to try to be more up-beat (and I have started with the Superfantastics - thanks Rob!). Interestingly, the French are the largest consumers of anti-depressants in the world. The recent questioning of the effectiveness of Prozac more than a placebo has just added yet another reason to worry to the already long list. This city seems to make people closed-off and depressed. Well, no more.

As a pick-me-up I try to find humour in the world, which right now means carrying on with my childish comments about combovers and posting some photos I found of famous and not so famous sparsely covered heads (it doesn't quite make up for menstruating and childbearing, but it's a start).

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Bullets: An Environmentally Friendly Friday

  • Thanks to Everything is Pop, I found four more live songs from Basia Bulat (London, On) courtesy of the Unniversity of Minnesota's Radio K. There are three that I've heard before, and another new one that I haven't heard before... I smell a new album for 2008... so, if you're behind the times and haven't picked up her album Oh, My Darling, do so at Zunior.
[mp3] Basia Bulat - Before I Knew (Live on Radio K)[mp3] D'Urbervilles - Dragnet
  • Chuck Klosterman wrote an article on the impact KG has had on the Celtics in this month's New York Times 'Play' Magazine. Its an excellent read, and demonstrates, I think, how important leadership and the mental part of professional sports is. If that isn't enough Basketball, there's the ESPN writers roundtable giving their takes on what will happen in the East come playoff time (hint: they're not predicting that the Raps are going to win).
  • Oh, I also should mention that I've decided to boycott Tim Horton's during their roll-up-the-rim-to-win contest. Its not because I haven't been winning, but because they're not allowing people who bring their own mugs to participate without wasting a paper cup. Do with that what you will. This is the first article that came up when I googled 'Tim Hortons paper cup'.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Golden Hands Before God are coming... no, that isn't a death threat

(Photo by Stephen Nilsson)

I've been bouncing some messages back and forth with Jamie from the Golden Hands Before God for a couple of weeks now, and here's what I can tell you about him/them:

1/ Jamie (second from the left) is way cooler than I am. By a lot. Although, this is probably not a really formidable task. That said, he's probably cooler than you are too. Sorry, I didn't mean to insult you, only to make myself feel better.

2/ They have an 7 song EP coming out sometime later this spring called Here, which is being produced by Jace Lasek (the Besnard Lakes) and mastered by Harris Newman (Wolf Parade).

3/The GHBG play the type of '60's classic rock inspired music that a band like Black Mountain should play, but to me, they seem devoid of any type of soul. If this review of a December show in TO is any indication, the GHBG play like they mean it. If I'm to draw a sports analogy, Black Mountain is Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is great, good stats, a lot of attention, but is never going to win a title, not a real winner. The GHBG are like UCLA Freshman Kevin Love, coming out of a good school, great intangibles, looks good, but somebody has got to put him into the right system and give him a chance.

4/Unfortunately I can't post it, yet (but maybe later I hope?) but the GHBG have produced what is hands down, without a question, my favourite song of the year 'Blood of November'. If I tried to described it, I'd ruin it, so I won't.

However, this is also very, very, good.
[mp3]The Golden Hands Before God - Interlude

The Golden Hands Before God will be opening for Mahogany Frog in London on Wednesday, April 9 and in Hamilton at the Casbah on the 8th.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Show I'm Actually Going to Go to....

I decided on Saturday to turn over a new leaf, start being more active, which was of course a lot easier since the weather is getting warmer (I have a well documented hatred for the cold). It was also made easier by the fact that I found out over the weekend that the Amos the Transparent show at the Alex P. Keaton, is actually the Superfantastics show at the Keaton, with Amos and Laura Barrett opening.

I haven't heard much about the Superfantastics, except this review of their new EP Choose Your Destination, which is probably a good enough reason to go on its own.

It seems like for some reason the everything I've heard from the East Coast lately is an uber-happy fun pop band (Two Hours Traffic, I'm looking at you). Which is good, I think the world probably needs more music like this.

If you're not going tonight, these tracks might make you think about it.

[mp3]Amos The Transparent - After All That Its Come To This (ft. Amy Millan of Stars)
[mp3]The Superfantastics - Turn On Me.mp3

Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday Bullets: Hooray for New Music!

I'll be honest, I've been slightly disappointed with 2008 up until this point - I've mentioned these a few times, Hayden's In Field and Town, Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago and The Do's A Mouthful have all been excellent, but I haven't really thought much of anything else. That said, there are a few albums that have just been released, or are going to be released in the next month or two, which I may not be jumping up and down excited about, but I'm interested to listen to them at least.

The albums and some tracks from them, in order of interest:

Lykke Li (Stockholm, Sweden) Youth Novels [Mar. 4/2008]
[mp3]Let it Fall
[mp3] I'm Good I'm Gone

Born Ruffians (Toronto, On) Red, Yellow & Blue [Mar. 4/2008]
[mp3] Kurt Vonnegut

Plants and Animals (Montreal, QC) Parc Avenue [Feb. 26/2008]
[mp3]Feedback in the Field

Tokyo Police Club (Toronto, On) Elephant Shell [Apr. 22/2008]
[mp3] In A Cave

Gnarls Barkley (NYC and Atlanta) The Odd Couple [Apr. 4/2008]
[mp3] Run

Cadence Weapon (Edmonton, AB) After Party Babies [Mar. 4/2008]
[mp3] In Search Of The Youth Crew

The Roots (illadephia) Rising Down [Apr. 28/04]
No mp3, but a link to the video for '75 Bars' via Pitchfork. It's the second one down.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jens Lekman @ Nouveau Casino Feb 27.08

Jens Lekman walked onto the stage wearing a white shirt with a big red flower on it. If happiness and sunshine could somehow be personified it would be by Jens Lekman on stage, and if they could be aptly captured in a song, I think that it would be by Jens Lekman.

Jens is one of the most comfortable stage performers that I have seen in a long time. He is natural, and funny, and creative, and interesting. He surrounds himself with an all-female band, which might be off-putting for some men, but seems to create the perfect stress-free environment for him.

Here are the reasons to go and see Jens Lekman live (other than the shirt, which will probably be different, or so one would hope): the back story and more complete version of 'A Postcard to Nina' (including his decion to save 5 euros by taking a 20 hour bus ride to Berlin instead of a 45 minute Ryan Air flight); the entire band pretending to be airplanes during an interlude (I don't know why); Jens doing air-xylophone (kind of like air-guitar but much less cool, I'm guessing); his wonderfully rich voice that sounds even better in person; and a concert that will actually make you smile without realizing you are, like a spontaneous reaction or a reflex.

He said that Kortedala (the namesake of his latest album: Night Falls Over Kortedala) is a suburb in Sweden where he used to live. Apparently, it's a place like a maze, very easy to get into but nearly impossible to get out of. He said that when he finally left he was overcome with joy and has never looked back. I think that taken as a metaphor we can all relate, and it is this kind of simplicity and honesty (with a little humour mixed in) that makes Jens such an accessible and unique musician.

Here is 'A Postcard to Nina' live. He doesn't go into as much detail about the story as he did when I saw him, but it's all done on ukulele and the crowd is clearly very into it.

And as a last thought I will still continue to think of the 'Love Boat' any time I hear a Jens Lekman song (I don't know why, I just do). I don't know if he is actually going bald but I feel that the comb-over look, well, it may be time for a change (I hope that's not mean and it's just my opinion).

Update: I (now its Rob) have just added Jens' set from's Interface from back in December.

Tracklist: 'A Postcard to Nina','Shirin','Friday Night at the Drive-in Bingo','The Opposite of Hallelujah', Interview.