Monday, September 29, 2008

I like them, but not like-like... like, like a friend: part III.

(photo courtesy of "Animals through a Wide-Angle Lens"... I knew this would bring the readers back!)

Number 3: Dr. Dog Fate

So, I decided on Friday to write about three albums that I was kind of on the fence about, and as you may have guessed this is the third. Although, thinking about it now, I've listened to this album a lot - 7 times according to the new (and horribly designed) iTunes v 8.0, and at least a couple of times on my iPod - for something that I'm on the fence about.

The album, which was recommended by a school friend, has steadily been growing on me with its Sgt. Peppers Beatles kind of jangly pop. But, I guess the catch is, I'm not sure why I keep listening to it. I mean, after at least 7 listens, I can't say that I really love any of the songs; and, I think the ultimate test, to me, is that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't put any of the songs on a MixCD to go in the car.

Maybe its because I grew up listening to the Beatles on car trips with my parents, since they were the band that everyone could agree on, and, I think it goes without saying, they aren't the Beatles. There was (like I would know since I was there) something about the sixties where all those acid-tripping kind of 'Wonderland' lyrics made sense, and now that we live in the age of the internet - and not the world where people float around in Yellow Submarines - these kind of lyrics don't really fly. I think the best example is the chorus on "From" where they repeatedly use the word "Choo-Choo Train"... unless you're really stoned, AND its the sixties saying "Choo-Choo Train" isn't really acceptable unless you're six (AND you're stoned).

Here you might say: "Rob, its unfair to compare them to the Beatles... there will never be another band like the Beatles..." to which I'll reply: "You couldn't be more right, there will NEVER be another pop band as good as the Beatles. So, if you're a band, why would you make an album that sounds SO much like a Beatles album?". I mean, if I were, say, a writer, I wouldn't go out and try and writer an epic novel about a guy chasing after a whale... would I?

A little harsh? Yes.
Yet, I still keep listening to the album.

[mp3] Dr. Dog - The Old Days

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I like them, but not like-like... like, like a friend: part II.

Number 2: Forest Fire Survival

I think the first song on Survival - 'I Make Windows' - might be one of my favourite songs of the year (for those of you keeping track, that's only the 18th time I've said that this year). 'I Make Windows' has an intro that, for the first 5 seconds or so, sounds almost identical to 'I'm Not There' by Bob Dylan, and while it deviates from there to incorporate some Fleet Foxes-esque harmonies (but not as pretty) it really nicely maintains that kind of nostalgic 60s/70s feel.

From there, 'Fortune Teller' kicks it up a notch - BAM! - telling us that "[They're] going to melt some faces, with Gatling-Gun social skills"; slows things down with 'Sunshine City'; becomes pretty generic 'Thru My Gloves' and then just turns into an all out disaster 'Promise'. The CD follows and becomes a disaster - I think mostly because I'd given up by this point - in pretty generic 70s rock fashion to the end.

So, I'm kind of stuck on this one. The first two songs might be among my favourites of the year, and are certain among the best album intros of the year, while the rest of the album - to put it mildly - is terrible. The best part of all this though, is that you can judge for yourself, since, the album is available for free. Here.

In case you trust my judgement so much that you're not going to bother, here are tracks one and two:

[mp3] Forest Fire - I Make Windows
[mp3] Forest Fire - Fortune Teller

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I like them, but not like-like... like, like a friend: part I.

Number 1: Winter Gloves About a Girl

Frankly, I'm not sure I how I feel about this album being given the same name as a Nirvana song, particularly one of my favourite Nirvana songs, and particularly since Nirvana was one of the defining bands of my generation. I mean Nirvana influence so many terrific bands like Nickelback, Theory of a Dead Man, Default, 3 Doors Down ... nevermind... but, thankfully, Winter Gloves sounds like the opposite of all of those bands.

With that (super elequent intro) out of the way, About a Girl starts off with a bang - 'Factories' - and, to me at least, kind of feels like it winds down a little from there. Not that the songs are any less enjoyable, but that the tempo and intensity of the songs drops a little, or that the energy hits me a little less, or something.

Really, I feel like I should enjoy this album a lot more than I do. I think it might just be that I don't feel like there's a real time or place for me to listen to an album that's so, for the most part, uber-intense and full of that kind of electronic-pop-dancebility. Maybe its because I, well not maybe - I do - live a relatively sedentary kind of life. Maybe this is also an indication that I should start going to the gym again... cause that'd be a time to listen to something like this... I think.

If I do ever make it out of my hobbit-hole hopefully I'll catch them as they make their way across Canada - since I'm pretty sure it would be impossible to sit, let alone fall asleep (not that I've ever done that while seeing Sloan) at their show.

My two favourites from the album the 'banger' 'Factories, and something a little more subdued - the closing track - 'Piano 4 Hands'.

[mp3] Winter Gloves - Factories
[mp3] Winter Gloves - Piano 4 Hands

Tour Dates, via their myspace:

25 Sep 2008 22:00
Starlight Waterloo, Ontario
27 Sep 2008 22:00
The Salt Lounge London, Ontario
28 Sep 2008 22:00
Babylon Ottawa, Ontario
1 Oct 2008 22:00
La Tulipe [Pop Montreal] Montreal, Quebec
2 Oct 2008 22:00
La Clairiere Laval, Quebec
3 Oct 2008 22:00
Telephone Rouge Sherbrooke, Quebec
3 Oct 2008 23:00
Afterparty [Pop Montreal] Montreal, Quebec
4 Oct 2008 22:00
Bar Le Metric Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec
5 Oct 2008 22:00
Le Cercle Quebec, Quebec
8 Oct 2008 22:00
Hunters Ale House Charlottetown, Prince Edward
9 Oct 2008 22:00
The Phoenix Fredericton, New Brunswick
10 Oct 2008 22:00
The Manhattan Moncton, New Brunswick
11 Oct 2008 22:00
The Marquee Club Halifax, Nova Scotia
17 Oct 2008 22:00
Vinyl Guelph, ON, Ontario
18 Oct 2008 22:00
Grad Club Kingston, Ontario
19 Oct 2008 22:00
Wrongbar Toronto, Ontario

Saturday, September 20, 2008

File Under 'A' for Awesome: Keys to the ViP is back

Anyone who knows me relatively well, or has been reading the blog for a while will know that I have a real 'thing' for ridiculous reality TV shows (see, for example: Age of Love, Beauty and the Geek, The Hills, and, sadly, The Bachelor - but, in my defence Kyle made me.... or something). And, while I really do enjoy all those shows - and I do - none of them stack up to Canada's own Keys to the ViP.

For the uninitiated, Keys is a show where two self-proclaimed-comedy-network-selected contestants engage in a picking up girls olympiad (Barney would be proud). Each episode consists of three events designed to test the 'playas' skills, and the panel of (international) judges decide based on the contestants performance who wins the ViP experience with the "sexy ViP girls"...

The moral of the story is, its back (as of Thursday last week) and it was better than ever. Liz and I both agreed that it was the most lopsided victory we'd seen during the show's short history with Josh "the Matador" Maltin absolutely destroying "Maximum Max" Boateng. Maltin was absolutely clinical getting 3 phone numbers plus a DFMO*, while Boateng seemed to excell at picking fights and not so much in the picking up department...

Its on, in Ontario, at 10pm on the Comedy Network - kudos to Comedy for picking the show up again for a second season...

*Dance Floor Make Out

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

... My fellow Americans.

If you haven't seen it yet, Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin address the Nation. Very, very, funny, which is surprising since it was on SNL.

  • Some band, The Airborne Toxic Event, writes an open letter to Pitchfork for giving them a bad review... and, the letter, is quite well written.
  • I've heard a few songs from Winter Gloves (very appropriate for a Canadian band, no?), and am excited to get a chance to listen to the full album when they send it along... seems like a fun band to see live, and I'm crossing my fingers and hoping to see them later this fall.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Bullets: Sheeeeeeet

  • Today, or rather Friday, but I guess its still sad today... anyways, the writer David Foster Wallace passed away. If you are not familiar with DFW and you own a dictionary (he's wordy, but super hilarious), I would highly recommend picking up something by him. This is the part of the post where I vow that I will, in fact, get through the Infinite Jest, his 1,079 page masterpiece... eventually. Oh, and I suppose this - Presidential Election Season - would also be a good time to mention he wrote a really terrific essay on Rep. Presidential Nominee John McCain in his book Consider the Lobster.
  • Kyle's round up (in thumbs up, thumbs down fashion) of the US Open. And, for the record I still think, including Fed's win over Andreev, that Pete still trumps Fed as the greatest of all time. While RF did prove that he "isn't finished" and that he still really wants to win Slams (I loved seeing him get a little fired up), we still haven't seen him beat a top player at the top of their game -- Andreev doesn't count. Djokovic, who was clearly shaken by the NY crowd after his post-match stupidity vs. Roddick doesn't count, and neither does Andy 'I'm just happy to be in a slam final' Murray.
  • Apparently, my sources tell me, that the new TV on the Radio album has leaked. Suffice to say its no Return to Cookie Mountain (my #1 of 2006), and it might be as big a disaster as (for the record I was going to say Ike, but then thought better of it) My Morning Jackets 'Evil Urges'...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soft Airplane by Chad VanGaalen

I've expressed my hetero-sexual man love for Chad VanGaalen before, and so I should warn you if you're at all uncomfortable with that kind vociferous gushing, well, you should probably skip this post and move on.

So - the new album - Soft Airplane, I think, builds really nicely on his previous efforts Infiniheart (one of my most listened to albums in the last 5 years or so) and Skelliconnection (which, had its moments, but was largely average) to produce his best album, which is really saying something. Thematically, the album isn't alot different - death, destruction, death, dying, the aging process unto death - but musically, the album finds a nice median between the experimentation and more classic singer-songwriter stuff.

If you don't believe me, Ack of Herohill is thinking roughly the same thing about the album, although more articulately, saying its 'probably the best he's heard all year'. Allan likes it too. And, I suspect those won't be the last of the positive reviews for this album that has got to be a favourite for the next, next Polaris Prize.

[mp3] Chad VanGaalen - Willow Tree

"Molten Light" written and illustrated by Chad VanGaalen

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ra Ra Roger/Ra Ra Remixes/Ra Ra Riot

  • So, it was nice to see R-Fed come away the last Grand Slam of the year tonight even if the match, which was on Rogers Channel 166 on my box, took me 45 mins to find and wasn't particularly exciting. That said, the tournament on the whole was probably one of the more entertaining tournaments (Williams-Williams- even if they do fix their matches; Federer-Andreev; Andy Roddick playing unbelievable in week one and then falling apart; Djokovic getting booed by the NYC Crowd; Murray joining the top teir of Men's tennis; etc.). Of course, the best part of all this is the way it sets up for next year: Can Fed tie Sampras and/or regain #1? Can Nadal win a hard court major, or even make a final? Can any of the next generation (Sam Querry, Gulbis, Cilic, Tsonga, Monfils, etc.) establish themselves as a contender on a consistent basis? Also, great to see NYC following the rest of the majors setting an attendance record for the Open... so, even if tennis isn't getting the mainstream media coverage it got in the 80s, its indicative that tennis is still a growing sport.
  • Ummmm, I was up early on Saturday morning and was watching Much Music - mostly I just get kind of curious what the kids are listening to - and, well, I came across Katy Perry's 'Kissed A Girl' which left me... speechless. I mean, anyone who remembers Tatu probably remembers them for their... unambigious lesbianosity. But, this is kind of, different than that, somehow. I think its probably the way she brings in the lesbianity so casually, which, while not being the epi-centre of the decay of society; it is kind of troubling that tweens are going to be running around singing the chorus to tween-aged boys. Troubling in that this is a serious and difficult subject for a lot of people, and I think it kind of trivializes the struggle that a lot of young girls/boys/?s have coming to terms with their own sexual identity. But I guess this is no more troubling than it was when kids of my generation were singing Nirvana's 'Rape Me'... and I guess we turned out alright... right? Mom? Dad? Grandma?
[mp3] Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl (Hot Pink Delorean Remix) (but the song content aside, and the remix, is pretty catchy.)
  • Ra Ra Riot, who I wrote about a while ago, has a full length album out now called The Rhumb Line. Re-reading the old post I was pretty stoked for this album to come out, and it has met and exceeded what were very high expectations. I'm not sure I have anything particularly insightful to say about it (the album), or their sound more generally, but I'd urge you to check it out if you haven't already. My favourite song + a pretty awesome remix of a Tokyo Police Club's 'Juno'.
[mp3] Tokyo Police Club - Juno (Ra Ra Riot/Andrew Maury remix)
[mp3] Ra Ra Riot - Suspended in Gaffa

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Waiting for the Sunrise by David Vandervelde

The last time David Vandervelde released an album (the beginning of 2007) I was very excited about it, wrote a very positive review, and then probably didn't do it justice on my Best of '07 list. However, it serves him right, I mean, who releases an album in January... really...

His new album, Waiting for the Sunrise, released August 5 is: 1/now right in my wheelhouse, so I won't forget it come December; and 2/a similar sound to his first Moonstation House Band, but seems to draw more on the 'golden age' AM radio feel to generate a little softer sound than his previous album. The result, I think, is a smoother album from start to finish, and is a nice sort of denouement to summer. I described his last album as being like 'Almost Famous II', but a little sadder. So, if his first album was Almost Famous II, this is the album that should be rolling during the credits.

Maybe Vandervelde is getting more attention than I know about; I think he should be a really popular artist for the 25 - 45 crowd, but for some reason he's a guy that not a lot of people are talking about - I don't think. Highly recommended album, should be a top-10 pick this year.

[mp3] David Vandervelde - I Will Be Fine

Monday, September 1, 2008

I'm back, Baby!

I'm back, I've moved, etc...

I'm hoping to get to see a few more shows, which, I suspect will be much easier considering Toronto is, well, not half dead; also, I'm not working 60 hours a week. So, if you live in London (Ontario) and were following the site for London show listings you probably stopped a while ago, but, I'll start posting some Toronto shows I'm thinking about seeing. Starting with:

Shad @ the Mod Club September 17

Plants and Animals @ the Horseshoe September 18

Two Hours Traffic @ Lee's Palace September 26

Land of Talk @ Lee's Palace September 27

Common/NERD @ Kool Haus September 28

Chad VanGaalen, Women @ the Mod Club October 4

Lykke Li @ Mod Club October 24

Hayden @ Massey Hall November 1

The Acorn/Ohbijou @ Lee's Palace November 27

The odds of me getting to all these shows, of course, is somewhere between slim and none, but we can all dream can't we...

Also, you can expect me to pick up the posting pace a little bit now that the weather is getting shittier, and I'm back at school meaning back near the ole femputer...