Saturday, January 31, 2009

Burgeoning Metropolis: Best of January

I thought rather than doing another round up of a bunch of albums only a few people have heard of it might be a time to do a little monthly round-up.

Best Movie: The Wrestler (although I thought Benjamin Button and Milk were both quite good also) which didn't try and do too much, and told a really compelling story about the athletes we glorify after their prime.

Most Disappointing Movie: There Will Be Blood - I bought this movie at Blockbuster for 5 bucks just after Christmikkah and Liz and I finally got around to watching it this week. After all the Oscar hype last year for Daniel Day-Lewis (who was excellent) I was expecting a better film, and not a story that seemed like it would never end.

Best TV Show: Friday Night Lights despite the fact that the story line of the show throughout season 3 is incredibly choppy (although, you might note that my complaints about this show should be tempered against the fact that I've been re-watching the Wire lately - thanks Liz's Mom and Dad for the best Christmas present ever). That said, the show has some of the best characters on TV: The Riggins Bros., Buddy Garrity, Mr. and Mrs. Coach, Saracsen (sp?), I even like the new QB. And, although it seems unlikely, I'm really crossing my fingers for a forth season.

Best Sports Story: Roger Federer becomes the GOAT (regardless of how he fairs in the Aussie Open Final). If he wins, he ties Sampras and gets the nod by virtue of having success on all surfaces and having much more consistent results; if he loses, at least he's shown that he can gut out a win or two and will have lost to a guy who is a top-10 best ever.
(Note: Although Fed is 6 - 12 vs. Nadal lifetime he is 3-2 on hard courts, winning the last two on hard both in Shanghai. Its also interesting to note that if you take out all the matches they've played on clay Federer is 4-2. See the Federer-Nadal rivalry page.)

Best Live Performance
Ketch Harbour Wolves was good, Jessica Lee Mayfield was very good, and Bruce Peninsula (tonight) promises to be unbelievable.

Best Albums:
#3 Bon Iver Blood Bank EP
[mp3] Bon Iver - Beach Baby

#2 Bruce Peninsula A Mountain is a Mouth (pick of the week #4)
[mp3] Bruce Peninsula - Steamroller

#1 Rah Rah going steady (pick of the week #2)
[mp3] Rah Rah - The Betrayal pt.1

Most Anticipated Albums (February):

Lily Allen It's Not Me, It's You
Mos Def The Ecstatic
M. Ward Hold Time
Beirut March of the Zapotec/Holland EP
N.A.S.A. The Spirit of Apollo

... feels like its going to be a good month... see you in February.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pick of the Week #4: Bruce Peninsula

Bruce Peninsula was #5 on i(heart)music's Hottest Canadian Bands Poll (which, I was a part of), but I had never sat down to listen to them (so, naturally, I didn't vote for them). At that point, a large part of their absence - from my ears - was because they had only released a 7" with 3 songs... and still they were #5 on a list that should make anyone whoever complains about CanCon on the radio feel really, really, bad.

At any rate, last week I got my hands on their full length A Mountain is a Mouth (mostly thanks to Allan and the fact that I've been writing a weekly review at and have been enjoying it since. Enjoying it, yes; do I have any idea how to describe it? No, not really, but that hasn't stopped me before I guess; nor, I'll point out, has it stopped me from making ridiculous analogies that are sure to turn some people off...

To me, Bruce Peninsula sounds like being trapped in a haunted old church full of ghosts. The band, which has 12 members (if I counted correctly), has this way of creating these massive (creepy) choral swells of energy that just make me picture this haunted country church... maybe its the reference to "moving to Kansas City" on "Drinking All Day"... it's impossible to say.

The bottom line, terrible analogies from the R.O.B. aside, is that A Mountain is a Mouth is able to capture this kind of mood the way that very few albums do (off the top of my head - Sufjan Stevens Illinois, Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago, Nas Illmatic, Beirut Gulag Orkestar). Its not just a collection of songs, its a story, its a feeling, it just moves you - in my case to picture the creepy country church - but it moves you to create a picture in your head; and I suspect it'll be one of those albums that'll make me remember being cooped up during Sno-Maggedons III - V.

Although, I may not remember the album so much as I may remember what promises to be a phenominal show on Saturday (Jan.31) at the Horseshoe w/ Tom Fun Orchestra (reviewed here) and the Darcys (and a quick reminder that Allan, Jen and Bob all still have contests running to win those albums plus tickets to the Toronto show).

[mp3] Bruce Peninsula - Steamroller
[mp3] Bruce Peninsula - Inside/Outside

Pick of the Week #1: Ketch Harbour Wolves
Pick of the Week #2: Rah Rah
Pick of the Week #3: Glasvegas/Animal Collective

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Let's Book Club! The Last Shot

Given my propensity to avoid reading - anything that's not either on the internet or with some type of pictures - the fact that I finished this book in less than a week, read it on, to, and from the subway speaks volumes about the book.

The Last Shot is the story of four Lincoln High basketball players: Tchaka Shipp, Corey Johnson, Russell Thomas and freshman Stephon Marbury. The story follows the players through the summer and through the fall of their senior year of high school (except Marbury), and basically is a literary, real-life version of season 4 of the Wire.

The book, orginially published in 1994, is particularly interesting in light of the Starbury saga that has gone on this year. And, while I can't say that it makes me want to root for Starbury, it certainly has led me to understand him -- and his cousin Sebastain Telfair who is the star of the ESPN documentary 'Through the Fire'.

Grade: A++

Although, you may want to take this grade with a grain of salt since: a) I don't read that many books; b) I tend to only read stuff that I know I'll really like; and c) I have an intense facination with basketball, and more generally why athletes tend to fail/succeed.

Next Up:

Not sure yet, maybe The Road by Cormac McCarthy... but I'm not sure I'm ready for fiction yet... its all so made up.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Serena Williams on Obama, Brad Gilbert, Roger Federer, Allan, AI, Truehoop, Kevin Love, The Wrestler, New Beirut

Probably an inordinate amount of tennis stuff today, but, sorry, the Australian Open is (kind of) on TV now... feel free to skip down to the fourth bullet if tennis isn't your thing.
  • Roger Federer has a come back win over Thomas Berdych, which makes me think that he may now be the GOAT. Before my argument was that Sampras was the greatest basically by virtue of how he was able to gut out some huge, memorable matches (the Corretja vomit match, the entire Aussie Open after his coach, Tim Gullikson died, and the entire 2002 US Open run); and that if I wanted someone to play one match for my life, it was going to be Sampras - if he got down, he'd fight. Now with the Berdych win here, Andreev in the US Open last year, Federer is starting to show something other than an unbelieavably pretty game.
  • Allen Iverson as a starter on the East All-Star team... really? If you get to be an All-Star for making a team significantly worse upon your arrival shouldn't Elton Brand and Baron Davis have got spots on the team too?
  • Also, Truehoop determines, or tries to determine, what makes Kevin Love such a good a rebounder. The verdict: he understands the "dark arts of rebounding", which makes me think that if Jamario Moon knew half of what Kevin Love knows he might be averaging more than 4.5 rebounds per game.
  • I saw the Wrestler on Sunday night... highly recommended especially if you are a fan of sports at all. It really made me think about what happens to people who don't "make it"... scary.
  • Lastly, thanks to B for the heads up on the new Beirut album leaking... not that I support illegal downloading.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Annuals w/ Jessica Lee Mayfield @ El Mocambo Jan.24.2009

So, we walk into El Mocambo and my buddy Mr. Grosman tells me that Jessica Lee Mayfield is "an introspective female singer-songwriter;" at which point I'm thinking that if I tell him I have to go to the bathroom I can slip out, catch the streetcar to the subway, and not see him until school on Monday. But, he buys the first round of beers, I stick around, and I'm glad I did.

We start the night sitting down - Grosman talking about how he's sure that Georgia is going to win the Miss America pageant - and both of us determined to just kind of chill out until Annuals come on. Not that either of us are really fired up to see the band (Annuals), but more that we figure of the two acts, Annuals, since they're the headliner, are the band we want to expend the energy to get up and see. Turns out, that wasn't the case...

After about a song and a half JLM seemed to really get comfortable on stage, started to showcase an outstanding set of pipes, some excellent (and often quite dark) songs, and some cool arrangements. It occured to me about halfway through her set she reminded me of a cross between Jenny Lewis and Chad VanGaalen (ie. the voice of Lewis and the song writing of VanGaalen). She was quite good I thought, and it turned out that the "introspective singer-songwriter" label wasn't far off, but thankfully that didn't mean she is likely to end up on a Lilith Fair compilation anytime soon. On the whole, great set, and I hope to get my sweaty little mitts on her album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt sometime soon... MG I'm looking at you.

Annuals on the other hand opened with a bang. Or, more accurately, with this Blueman Group kind of number - no stage lights, just about everyone in the band with a drum, and every time a drum was hit these LA Gear-esque lights would flash - it was very cool. From there, things were a little .... meh. It seemed like they were having a little trouble with the sound, but generally - bear in mind I had never heard any of their songs before - they were missing a little something. The instrumentation was great, they were really "tight" as they say, but I think both MG and I felt as though the lead vocals were, how-do-you-say, a touch emo. We also couldn't figure out why the girl (according to their wikipedia entry 'Anna Spence') didn't play a more promeninent role in the band... in the end we both got a little tired, left a little early, and had a pretty good time.

Jessica Lee Mayfield

(and yes, Rollie Fingers is her guitar player)


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Burgeoning Metropolis HOT 5: Episode #3

I suppose this probably won't be an unusual occurrence, that, this week, I don't have 5 new-ish albums that have been in the rotation, so you'll have to bear with me. You might view this as an opportunity for me to plug albums that I like/have been listening to, and so if you haven't heard something on the list I'll encourage you to check it out by at least clicking on the myspace link.

Classic Pick:
Metric Old World Underground
Mostly because their new single "Help I'm Alive" from their upcoming album (which I think is going to be released in March, but is yet to be titled) is excellent... although they've been sure taking their sweet time to put this album out...
[mp3] Metric - Help I'm Alive

#5 Plants and Animals Parc Avenue
... its a good album, which I've been listening to again since my buddy Mr. Grosman has decided to walk into class every morning saying something like "Gawd, Plants and Animals is sooooo gooood"...

My orignal thoughts on the album.

#4 The Rural Alberta Advantage Hometowns
Because, despite the fact that it was #18 on my year end list I've been listening to this, Lil' Wayne (when I run, mostly), Kanye and Chad VanGaalen more than anything else from 2008.

#3 Tom Fun Orchestra You Will Land With A Thud
Reviewed both here,, and linked at the Toronto Music Blog Collective. The nuts of those reviews: Tom Waits meets East Coast Celtic/Rag Time Band = a band that cannot be accused of being unoriginal.

#2 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion
... kind of like the B-sides to Panda Bear's Person Pitch ...

#1 Bon Iver Blood Bank EP
As a whole its nearly as good as For Emma, Forever Ago, but realistically that was going to be difficult. I mean, the actual single 'Blood Bank' is as good as anything on FEFA but I don't think the stuff with the vodacoder works all that well, since, I think the strength of FEFA was Vernon's strained vocals that made you feel his pain (or possibly feel how cold it was in Wisconsin).
[mp3] Bon Iver - Blood Bank

Pick of the Week #3: Glasvegas/Animal Collective

Probably because I like the idea of promoting local/Canadian music my first two picks of the week were local (Ketch Harbour Wolves)/Canadian (Rah Rah), but I haven’t been jumping up and down over anything local/Canadian this week. Instead, I’ve managed catch a lot of music from bands that have been pretty big blog bands… and, well, I’ve liked – but haven’t loved – a couple of them: Scottish band Glasvegas, and American ‘spaced-out-atmospheric-pop-collective’ Animal Collective.

What I like

Glasvegas Glasvegas: While I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the entire Glasvegas album, there a couple of killer singles, see: “Geraldine” and possibly “Daddy’s Gone”. Also, all the lyrics, particularly the campy ones stolen from nursery rhymes, sound about 150% cooler with that thick, thick, Groundskeeper Willie-esque Scottish accent.

Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion: Basically, that it kind of feels like an extension of Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear)’s Beach Boys inspired album Person Pitch [2007] (which, if I recall correctly was #3 on my Best of '07).

What I don’t like
Basically, I have opposite problems with the two albums. The singles notwithstanding, there are a bunch of lulls throughout the Glasvegas album, which includes a bizarre 2-minute “Moonlight Sonata” interlude.

On the other hand, the Animal Collective album kind of feels like a 55 minute acid trip, which, if you’re not on acid probably isn’t going to be enough to keep your attention (if you’re anything like me) for an hour.

The Moral of the Story
I like them, but now that its occurring to me that I could've picked Bon Iver's new EP Blood Bank...

[mp3] Animal Collective - My Girls
[mp3] Glasvegas - Geraldine

"My Girls" video:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tom Fun Orchestra - You Will Land With A Thud

Tom Fun Orchestra's You Will Land With A Thud is interesting, and not interesting in the I don’t-want-to-say-anything-bad-about-them kind of way, but in a they're-really-really-unique-and-different kind of way. I've got a post in the works about the Glasvegas and Animal Collective albums, and while I liked those albums, they were both a little derivative (from every British band ever and Panda Bear’s Person Pitch respectively); and certainly, everything is a little derivative – in as far as all artists, I think, have music they're influenced/inspired by – but if you are looking for something truly unique the Tom Fun Orchestra is worth a listen.

From my point of view they're kind of a bizzare combo of Tom Waits and a big, bad ass version of an East Coast fiddle/rag time band. At first, for me at least, this blend of styles was a little bit of a tough sell - this could because I really don't care for Tom Waits (the theme from the Wire notwithstanding) - but it grew on me. And each time I've listened to the album over the last half-week or so, its got better to the point where the songs I enjoy most are where they slow down the music and really allow the vocals to do the heavy lifting.... whatever that means.

So, given my penchant for the Waits inspired vocals its probably unsurprising that the transition to the more sing-songy Eddie Vedder style vocals on "Marshall Applewhite" in particular were not met with much enthusiasm. In part, because the he sounds exactly like Eddie Vedder (at least as I remember him on Ten, Vitology, and that album with the sheep on the cover); and in part because it doesn't really seem to fit with the flow of the album... there's not really any reason for the switch, nor the switch back to Waits voice in the middle of "Last of the Curious Theives".

The moral of the story: if you're in for something completely different, the likes of which you have never heard, Tom Fun is what you should be listening to.

If you want to hear a couple songs:

[mp3] Tom Fun Orchestra - When You Were Mine
[mp3] Tom Fun Orchestra - Watchmaker

If you want to win their album (along with albums by Bruce Peninsula and The Darcys):

Allan has a contest
Bob has a contest....
and so does Jen.

If you want to see them live:

Jan 24 | Halifax | The Seahorse
Jan 25 | Fredericton | The Capital
Jan 28 | Montreal | Petite Campus
Jan 29 | Ottawa | The Heart & Crown (Byward)
Jan 30 | London | Call the Office
Jan 31 | Toronto | The Horseshoe Tavern

Feb 1 | Guelph | Vinyl
Feb 3 | Thunder Bay | Black Pirate's Pub
Feb 6 | Edmonton | The Pawn Shop
Feb 7 | Calgary | The Marquee Room
Feb 8 | Banff | Wild Bill's
Feb 9 | Banff | Wild Bill's
Feb 11 | Victoria | The Upstairs Cabaret
Feb 12 | Nanaimo | The Queen's
Feb 13 | Cumberland | The Waverly Hotel
Feb 14 | Vancouver | Pub 340
Feb 15| Kelowna | The Minstrel Cafe
Feb 17 | Nelson | The Spirit Bar
Feb 18 | Canmore | The Canmore Hotel
Feb 19 | Saskatoon | Lydia's
Feb 20 | Regina | The Exchange
Feb 21 | Winnipeg | King's Head Pub
Feb 24 | Quebec City | Le Cercle

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping to get to the Toronto Show (w/the Bruce Peninsula and the Darcys), but I suppose we'll see what happens.

A note to readers of my blog: my pick of the week and (hopefully) the Burgeoning Metropolis HOT 5 will be up tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let's Book Club! The Inner Game of Tennis.

Kyle, Rosie and I have, on Rosie's request, entered into some sort of contest... no, not like on Seinfeld, but a book reading contest. Mostly, its just to push ourselves to read more, which, I think, is probably a good thing. And, while I realized I am absolutely going to get slaughtered, because I can't sit still for more than 7 minutes at a time, I'm going to try and read a book a month.

This month I've given myself a little bit of a soft-ball to ease my way into the competition The Inner Game of Tennis. It's a pretty easy read, short (134 pgs.), and right up my alley. Even though the book talks about tennis - mostly because Timothy Gallwey was (and presumably still is) a tennis guy - the book really talks about how to get the best out of yourself in whatever you're doing.

Grade: A

Up next: maybe Outliers although I suspect its a pretty standard Gladwellian - find an interesting study, explain how its different than the public perception, and ignore any interesting counter arguments that undermine his point; or, possibly, The Last Shot which I'm pretty sure is the book equivalent of Hoop Dreams... which wouldn't be a bad thing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My New Oprah Diary, Golden Hands Before God, Michael Jordan, LBJ and the LeBrowns, Matthew De Zoete, Kyle, Marion to the Raps?

Just as a pre-emptive apology to everyone before my (what I assume will be obsessive) campaigning to be on Jen/Tyler's podcast... and yes, I plan on taking a page out of David Letterman's book and beginning my own version of the "Oprah Diary" ... please tell me someone else remembers this...
  • Ack over at Herohill has a review of Matthew De Zoete's album Bottom of the World... he says that its a little safe, and I think I agree, although the more it gets played on my iTunes the less I'm concerned about it and the more I think its a nice singer-songwriter album. He's touring around SW Ontario and you check his myspace for dates, including the Feb. 28th date at the Tranzac here in the big smoke.
[mp3] Matthew De Zoete - Not on Fire (w/Jenn Grant)
[mp3] Matthew De Zoete - Warkworth Penitentary

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Burgeoning Metropolis HOT 5: Episode #2

Classic Pick: Nas (NYC) Illmatic
... with all the buzz (read: commercials) about the new movie about Biggie, it made me want to pull out all my old rap albums and, for my money, this one is the best. Most of the time my biggest beef with rap albums are that I never want to listen to them front to back, but this one... every track is awesome.

and now all the sissy stuff...

#5 The Rest (Hamilton, On) Everything All At Once
Haven't really digested this one, but I'm a sucker for a falsetto voice...
[mp3] The Rest - Modern Time Travel

#4 Notorious OST
other than the fact that "Hypnotize" has got to be a top-1o song you want to hear on the dancefloor at the bar - for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it may induce some type of Julia Styles in 10 Things I Hate About You-esque seizure - but the rest of the soundtrack, particularly the original stuff... meh.

#3 The Antlers (Brooklyn, NY) Hospice
I'm much more sold on the band/album this week. It's probably a little a spacey/atmospheric to really grab me, but "Kettering" and a bunch of their other songs have this really cool Explosions-In-The-Sky-esque (the band who scores Friday Night Lights) way of building their songs - although the vocals/instrumentation reminds me a little bit of Radiohead. Expect an actual review or something resembling a review at some point.
(See last week's chart for mp3s)

#2 Glasvegas (Glasgow, Scotland) Glasvegas
I'm amazed at how much cooler the mundane lyrics on this CD sound with a think Scottish accent. They kind of remind me of a cross between the Frames (Glen Hansard of Once's band) and U2. I'm shocked at how popular they -"Geraldine" has 400,000 + myspace plays - and I've never heard of them until a couple of weeks ago... huh... where have I been on this one...

#1 Rah Rah
(Regina, SK) going steady
My pick of the week (mp3s there)... a countrified-down-to-earth-version of the Arcade Fire... now that's a tag-line that the band can really work with.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pick of the Week #2: Rah Rah - going steady

Rah Rah going steady: a CD (that I'm pretty sure is about love and relationships, maybe with the exception of the song "F-- NAFTA") by a big sounding (I'm not sure how big they actually are) band from Regina, SK of all places.

Their press release, like press releases I get from small bands, rhymes off what other people have said about them and lists the bands they sound like: Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Wilco, Neil Young, The Weakerthans, Broken Social Scene. Which, to me, is just kind of a list of good Canadian bands and Wilco, not necessarily a list of bands they sound like.

What do they actually sound like? Well, I'd say the Arcade Fire comparison isn't too far off - big band, they have some epic sounding songs "The Betrayal p.1" "F--- NAFTA" "I've got Faith" (which is actually a cover of Limp Bizkit's cover of "Faith"... hahaha .. kidding), they use a fair bit of strings - but something doesn't quite fit.

I mean they are like the Arcade Fire... if they were a band you could sit around and have a beer with. I think the Arcade Fire are great, but I just don't see myself sitting around with Win Butler and watching the Super Bowl, ya know. Rah Rah on the other hand, write the same kind of songs - although they are a little tinged with a little countrification - but don't have the same kind of pretentious aire... not that I dislike the Arcade Fire its just that they're a little more ... artistic.

Also, they wouldn't write lyrics like these:
"I asked myself why is she being such a bitch tonight" (Cuba/Peru)
"It is fashionable to be single/In big cities but not in small towns" (Duet for Emmy Lou...)
"F--- NAFTA and F--- doubt/F--- all you stockbrokers in the ground" (F--- NAFTA)

Also, they are responsible for - as I mentioned last week - my favourite song of the last 3/4 months:
[mp3] Rah Rah - Duet for Emmy Lou the Greivous Angel


Rah Rah - The Betrayal pt.1

I(heart)music on Going Steady.
Herohill on Going Steady.

Jen's Pick = Zunior a great on-line record store, which I think Paul from Wolves, Hawks and Kites has something to do with.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shark City!

Shark City is a movie about sharks taking over the world in the same vein as Planet of the Apes (or so I assume based solely on the title and the google image search I did) staring Vivica A. Fox, Corey Haim, and Carlo Rota. Normally this probably wouldn't be quite enough to compel me into writing something about it, but my buddy Don IS Campbell is scoring the moving (which I assume means that he's some type of sex-stunt double).

In all seriousness this is really cool since Donny is a good pal, and a hell of a dodgeball player. He plays jazz, cover songs, and originals and you should check him out - he plays all over the city (Toronto) all the time. His gigs are listed on his myspace page.

Shark City has a blog.
CityTV had a little write up on the film.

And, the best song I could think of with Shark in the name, which I suspect will not show up in the film... although if I can get Don drunk enough...

[mp3] Cadence Weapon - Sharks (feat. Final Fantasy)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Welcome to the Welcome Wagon (where we will convert your heathen asses)

The Welcome Wagon and their appropriately titled album Welcome to the Welcome Wagon is likely going to get a substantial more attention than any other folk/gospel/singer-songwriter-esque albums are going to get. Why? Well, their connection to indie-singer-songwriter icon Sufjan Stevens who produced their album helps, as does its release on his label Asthmatic Kitty. So, anyone who is looking for their SOOF-fix (not unlike myself) is going to be all over this album... like a fat kid on a smarty.

If you're looking for the next SOOF album, it definitely has a Sufjan (c/o Michigan which is fitting since lead male vocalist Rev. Thomas Vito Auito is the Vito of "Vito's Ordination Song" fame) kind of vibe, so, you can tell that he had a pretty substantial influence on the production of the album. I mean, if you were to close your eyes and just listen to the instrumentation, its pretty clearly a SOOF album.

Lyrically, the album is a lot more overtly religious than anything Stevens ever did. While SOOF uses a lot of, or some, religious imagery, but more often - particularly on Michigan and Illinois - but mostly he is just telling stories about people, places, events. The Welcome Wagon, on the other hand, are more like missionaries. I listened to it on the subway on the way to school today and kind of felt like the CD should've come with some holy water, a cross, or something else equally religious.

... so that's where they lost me. But, if you're religious - or more accurately Christian and religious and like folk-y music - this is probably the album for you. If not, maybe the Welcome Wagon won't be so... welcoming... or maybe they will be... and they'll try and convert you and get you to drink the kool-aid....

[mp3] The Welcome Wagon - Sold! To the Nice Rich Man

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gladwell, Obama, Mark (bet you never thought you'd see your name beside BO did you Mark?), Jaydiohead, Movies, and Paul Shirley is a hipster.

  • An interesting take on Obama's cabinet and how playing pick-up basketball will inform who he chooses. I'm not sure its totally bang on, but fun to think about, since, I'm pretty sure the kind of "character" things they talk about when they mention basketball can be applied to just about any other team sport... except maybe baseball.
  • Ummm... someone may want to tell Jaydiohead that mash-ups are so 2005... except its still kind of cool. For my money the best mash-up album has to be God's Stepson the 2003 mix of Nas' God's Son by 9th Wonder... except that isn't really a mash-up at all is it... huh...
  • Since I had three weeks off (that's right... woot woot) I got a chance to see a bunch of movies: Milk which was an excellent bio pic of the first elected openly gay official in the USA, but it was disturbing seeing Sean Penn use some of the mannerisms as when he played the retarded guy in I Am Sam; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was basically a more fantasy oriented/less campy version of Forest Gump, told backwards, with - I think - better acting; Religulous ...while I am completely on-side with Bill Maher (in that I have no idea what to believe about God) it was really unsatisfying to see him take shots at religious people for 90 mins; Frost/Nixon which I had no idea was a Hollywood movie going in (I thought it was a documentary), but was really impressed with that guy's portrayal of Nixon... well worth seeing.
  • Also, Paul Shirley - NBA/Euroleauge/Basketball Vagabond/Writer/ESPN Columnist-Blogger - apparently reads Pitchfork, or, I imagine that he does based on his 'ear candy' '08... god... I'm such a snob.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Burgeoning Metropolis HOT 5: Episode #1

... and yes, its likely that one of these weeks I will post 5 pictures of ScarJo (like this one) instead of albums by bands no one has ever heard of. *Note to Liz... you are WAY prettier than her*

Classic Pick:
Bruce Springsteen (Jersey) Born in the USA
... mostly because Liz and I have been batting around the idea of using "Dancing in the Dark" as our wedding song. Watch the video and tell me you wouldn't pay big money to see us bust out some 80s dance moves (... wait a minute, people don't pay to come to your wedding... huh...).

#5 The Antlers (Brooklyn, NY) Hospice
I'm still kind of absorbing this one, and trying to figure out whether/how much I like it. I have a feeling its a grower since its one of those strange kind of atmospheric, ambient pop/rock albums. So far, when the guy sings = good, when the guy doesn't sing = meh.
To be self-released Mar. 3.
[mp3] The Antlers - Bear

Land of Talk (Mtl, QC) Some Are Lakes
I really, really, liked the debut EP Applause, Cheer, Boo, Hiss, but this more subdued - yet inexplicably garbly and chaotic in spots - effort isn't quite doing it for me. I thought they were at the best when they were pumping out aggressive, catchy, guitar parts with Liz Powell shreiking over them (like this "Breaxxbaxx").
To be released Jan.12.
[mp3] Land of Talk - Corner Phone

#3 Woodpigeon (Calgary, AB) Houndstooth Europa
I haven't had a tonne of time with this one, so, nothing really earth-shattering to say (surprised?) except that according to commenters at Herohill many people throw out the Suf comparison. I'd say that's probably fair, but, probably not as epic like Illinois... closer to Seven Swans, which is an outstanding record itself.

#2 Rah Rah (Regina, SK) going steady
I'll have more on this one next week... "Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel" might be the best song I've heard in a couple of months.

#1 Ketch Harbour Wolves (Toronto, ON) Dead Calm Horizon
No need to say anymore since I've written about them here, here, here, here, ... and here. (You should know that this officially concludes "Ketch Harbour Wolves Week" here at BM (Burgeoning Metropolis - not Bowel Movement) Headquarters.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pick of the Week #1: Ketch Harbour Wolves (Rob)/The Tranzac (Jen)

1. Let me take the opportunity to tell you how great it feels to be a syndicated columnist... it feels great.... really really, great (it should be noted that any future reading of "great... really really, great" should be read as Toby from Seinfeld - the heckler who Jerry heckles back in "The Fire").

2. You know what else is great... really really, great? Ketch Harbour Wolves and their debut EP Dead Calm Horizon.

3. They sound like, I think, a really cool combination between this year's it band Fleet Foxes and the under appreciated Scottish band Frightened Rabbit (who you might note is one of Allan's favs). The EP, which is a total of 7 songs, is incredibly solid from beginning to end, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a wasted minute in the 28 minute (29 if you round up) recording... which, sadly, makes it a minute too short to be eligible for the Polaris Prize.

4. It was 1c on my Best Albums of '08, but I'm definitely not alone in thinking they are... wait for it... great... really really, great. It was Herohill's favourite EP of the year, i(heart)music's favourite recording of the year, and Sean from Everything is Pop recently sent me a note thanking me for the recommendation. Basically, people who like music really like this album, and I think each of us had a different favourite song - or at least posted a different song.

5. I went to go see them live last Saturday and were good, not great, just a little messy in spots. And I felt terrible about writing that since: a) I really think the band is terrific; b) I typically feel really bad about saying bad things about small bands; c) I don't want to discourage anyone from going to see them, because they are still worth seeing, and d) Jon (from the band) sent me an email after I posted the review thanking me for writing a fair and "even handed review". That said, I now think: e) Jon and the guys are pretty chilled out and seem like really good dudes, and; f) are on their way to be a formidable live band, which, I suspect will be a chilling live experience once it all comes together.

6. The most insane thing? They're giving their entire EP away for free.

7. At the show I bought a t-shirt and its really slick. American Apparel black with shiny-metallic gold lettering gold and logo (to the best of my knowledge they're not available anywhere on-line). Awesome. Now all I need is metallic gold pants to wear it with.

8. My two favourites:

[mp3] Ketch Harbour Wolves - So Long to the Ground
[mp3] Ketch Harbour Wolves - Letters

Jen's Pick

This weekend I'm recommending the Tranzac Club. On Friday, there's a semi-formal dress Rock 'n' Roll Anniversary in the Main Hall with Mantler, Gravity Wave, and Wax Mannequin. Or else Nick Rose and The Stables in the front room. Come Saturday, spend the afternoon with Hexes & Ohs, Winter Gloves, Green Go, Sports: The Band, and Maylee Todd. Amazing! And at night celebrate Out of This Spark's anniversary with the record label's artists, including Forest City Lovers, The D'Urbervilles, Timber Timbre, and Jenny Omnichord. Pretty much anything going on at Tranzac this week, and every week, will add goodness to your musical diet, and will leave you feeling superior, like you're in on a well-kept secret. The Tranzac is a musician's venue more than any other place.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Stuff for 2009.

1. I'm going to make more lists.... kidding.... kind of.... not really.

2. The Toronto Music Blog Collective.

... with Jen (Narratives), Paul (Wolves, Hawks and Kites), Bob (It's Not the Band I Hate It's Their Fans), Mike (For the Records) and Pete? (Pete Nema)... all of these people do great work, so, hopefully that'll carry over to Blog Collective, which is, as you may have guessed, a cult that I'm starting.

In all seriousness, it'll be a central location for everyone to re-post Toronto and other Can-Con stuff. So, it may be a good way to take a peek at what's going on around Toronto without scrambling around too much.

3. A weekly pick/recommendation.

I'm thinking this is going to vary from week to week, but it'll typically be a song, an artist, an album, or a show... until in invariably turns into me predicting how many points the Raptors will lose by.

This pick is going to be "syndicated", meaning posted here, on the TMBC site, as well as over at

4. The Burgeoning Metropolis Music Chart

which, I envision will replace Billboard's Hot 100 in 2054. Actually, it will just be a way for me to do by 'Best of '09' all year. But, like all my ideas, this is subject to me giving up or forgetting about it completely.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ketch Harbour Wolves @ El Mocambo, Jan. 3.09.

So, last night I'm walking to the subway - in the freezing cold - and I'm wondering why I'm making the trip downtown when I could be sitting at home watching a competitive AFC Wild Card game. I'm wondering the same thing - and hoping I don't get stabbed/mugged - as I walk by the men's shelter on College.

When the band started playing it reminded me I left and why I like seeing live music. I think, for whatever reason, it took a little while for them to get warmed up - and for the crowd to settle down a little - but once they got into it they were very impressive for a band that has only a 7-song EP to their name.

And if that seems like a backhanded complement... it is... but only a little bit. There were parts of the show that were a little bit sloppy (which may - at least in part - be due to my hearing; since at times it felt as though Liz and I had wandered into a high school reunion at a school neither of us went to), but generally the longer the show went on, the stronger the band got. And, the song writing is just so good that when the live show really comes together they are going to be somewhere the other side of unbelievable (some kind of combination of Fleet Foxes and Frightened Rabbit... apologies if that reference means absolutely nothing to you).

I suppose the other thing I should say along with any criticism of this band is that their debut is outstanding... and also, free... which is pretty insane when you consider that not only was it my favourite (1c.) album of the year - which is pretty impressive since I'm very important/have many leather bound books - but it was i(heart)music's, as well as Herohill's favourite EP.

Some Photos:

Their video "Words":

Their album for free.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Years Resolutions.

Q: Why do people make New Years Resolutions... and never follow through with them?

The R.O.B.: Well, see, the problem is that people don't make enough resolutions. If you make enough of them you're bound to follow through on at least one of them... and with that in mind, 13 resolutions for 2009.

1. Get a job ... that doesn't involve getting people coffee.

2. Get more exercise and don't put on another 10 lbs. ... so I can fit into my own pants and don't have to buy maternity clothes, or the kind of clothes that men start wearing when they get fat.

3. Try and leave the apartment - and see two shows a month - which I think is a reasonable goal considering my propensity to come up with a variety of excuses for staying home... and to stop using the excuse, I can't because ____ is on TV.

4. Continue blogging, but do so regularly, and come up with some type of schedule.

5. Figure out how to improve the appearance of the blog so it looks slightly more appealing that a turd sandwich (or a giant douche).

6. Do something creative and/or entrepreneurial. Some ideas: learn to use iMovie (or something like it) and try and convince bands to do Blogotheque style videos, start a podcast, start some type of music/charity thing.

7. Take some time (presumably over the summer) to read stuff (that isn't on the internet), or write something longer than one page.

8. Make a new friend (that isn't, a/ imaginary, or b/on the internet).

9. Grow a beard.

10. Buy a cool hat... and wear it... at least once.

11. Listen to more rap/hip-hop/R&B.

12. Keep attempting to be nice, hold open doors for people, clean up after myself - especially in public places, say 'thank you'.

13. Call my parents once a week, and visit.