Monday, December 24, 2007

the nice list.

pretty sure i’m on it this year. here are the album’s of 2007 that made my musical nice list. instead of pitting bands and albums of varied genre/concept/sound/brilliance against one another for contention of top 10 status, i opted to let itunes do the work for me. the following is a list of the albums I listened to the most this year. in descending order…

The Snake The Cross The Crown Cotton Teeth
caw-ton tee-th: genius arrangement of relaxed guitar, subtle piano, rough vocals, and honest lyrics. songs of mention: all of them, especially "Behold The River," "Cakewalk," and "Electronic Dream Planet."

Dear And The Headlights Small Steps Heavy Hooves
s-mawl st-eps hev-ee who-vs: running almost in the front. a voice that breaks in all the right ways at all the right times. nostalgic lyrics that leave me comfortably pensive. songs of mention: all of them.

Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha
are-mmm-ch-air ap-aw-cri-fah: delicate guitar, whistling, melodic, strings and more. against the saturated vocals, odd but pleasant. songs of mention: "Imotosis," and "Heretics." how about some credit now where credit is due.

LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver
sow-nd ahv sill-vher: my favourite album of 2007. it ranges in emotion and theme, the results: maturity and cohesion.. songs of mention: "All My Friends," turning the simplest of piano riffs into 7 minutes and 37 seconds of sonic bliss.

Menomena Friend and Foe
fur-end ahnd f-oh: weird and wonderful, quirky vocals, piano, use of percussion, and tech sounds. songs of mention: "Wet and Rusting," for highlighting how hard it is to take risks with a pessimist. "My My," for its use of organ.

The National Boxer
bawk-sir: johnny cash esque vocals over ivory gold and guiding drum lines. this album is heavy in all the right ways and deserves special mention for it’s skilled use of brass arrangements. songs of mention: Fake Empire for being beautiful and driven. Ada, for the same reasons.

Portugal The Man Church Mouth
ch-er-ch m-ow-th: rock and roll. it didn’t die, it’s alive and well. songs of mention: "Tellers Telling Me," and "Dawn," sit down and listen.

Kings Of Leon Because Of The Times
bee-k-awz ahv th-uh tie-mz: stretched vocals. catchy enough to gain mainstream notice, good enough to maintain indie street cred. use of bass much appreciated. songs of mention: "My Party," and "On Call."

Justice (cross)
k-raw-s: sound. noise. beautiful beautiful sound and noise. songs of mention: "Genesis," nominee for most brilliant opening track to a record. "D.A.N.C.E." for making people want to.

Band Of Horses Cease To Begin
see-suh tew bee-ghin: pretty. songs of mention: "Is There A Ghost," and "Ode to LRC," for not caring what the people say.

Bring on 2008.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

miss mixalot

It's that time of year again. The snow is falling, exams are being written, and music snobs around the world are making their best of 2007 mixes, with tracks from what they think were the best albums released this year.

Because I am off in dreary ol' Amsterdam, my close circle of snobs will be exchanging their mixes without me this year. Even though the event is taking place at my house. No, I'm not bitter. I'm in Amsterdam. Amsterdam trumps all.

Since I can't share my lekker mix with my friends, I would like to share it with all of you.
And before I get criticized for not having Vampire Weekend or MIA or Miracle Fortress, may I remind you that a CD only holds 80 minutes of bliss. And I don't like MIA.


1. Flux - Bloc Party
2. Black Mirror - Arcade Fire
3. Nineteen - Tegan and Sara
4. On Call - Kings of Leon
5. Pioneer to the Falls - Interpol
6. The Past is a Grotesque Animal - Of Montreal
7. Missed the Boat - Modest Mouse
8. Drunk on Aluminum - Wintersleep
9. You! Me! Dancing! - Los Campesinos
10. North American Scum - LCD Soundsystem
11. Phantom Limb - The Shins
12. Wooden Sky - The Wooden Sky (formerly Friday Morning's Regret)
13. Four Winds - Bright Eyes
14. Fake Empire - The National
15. Videotape - Radiohead

Of Montreal X 2 + Girl Talk = 12

Twelve euros isn’t a lot of money. It can buy you two pints in an Amsterdam bar. It can buy you one gram of weed in one of the numerous coffeeshops around town. And as of Wednesday, December 12th, I found out that it can also get you a ticket to see indie rockers Of Montreal. Two nights in a row. With Girl Talk. Yes, you can be jealous.

Walking into Paradiso, one of Amsterdam’s premium music venues, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had assumed that Of Montreal would play on the main stage. Instead, I was pleased to discover that they were to play in a small room upstairs that probably holds no more than 300 hipsters. Score.

The room filled fast, and Of Montreal hit the stage full force, no opening band necessary. Even though the bright, eclectic outfits of all the band members and lead singer Kevin Barnes’ sparkled eye makeup would have been enough to keep my attention the entire set, it wasn’t necessary. The band launched right into their not-quite-12-minute masterpiece, "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" off of the 2007 release Hissing Fauna, Are you the Destroyer? (FYI, the song is also featured on my Best of 2007, in stores now). The show never slowed down as the quintet played most songs from Hissing Fauna and 1995’s Sunlandic Twins, with a few tracks from one of their numerous other albums. Barnes’ voice could only be described as heavenly, hitting some notes that I never realized were so high when listening to the albums. Highlights included a costume change for Barnes off stage as the band played the instrumental track "October is Eternal". The end of the song saw Barnes slither on stage in green, thigh-high fishnet stockings and a pair of jean booty shorts so tight that even I blushed when I first saw. I never blush.

The second half of the set was just as upbeat and energetic as the first, and after thirteen songs, the band left the stage, only to return and play "She’s a Rejector" as the encore. AND inform the crowd that they would be playing a free show the following night at the same venue with Girl Talk. This is where I would like to say thank you to the airport staff at the Athens, Greece airport. Because of your strike, Of Montreal could not play there the next night, and I got to reap the benefits. I hope your strike goes well.

The next night was just as good as the first, starting with a jam-packed room getting hot and sweaty to 1.5 hours of straight dancing to mashup DJ Girl Talk aka Gregg Gillis. He invited the crowd on stage. We went. Then we abused our power and took off his shirt to throw into the audience. And then we pulled his pants down. And that is how he dj’ed for the rest of the night. Track pants around the ankles and all.

Girl Talk ended at 12:30 and we had to wait until 2 a.m. for Of Montreal to take the stage. There were less people than the night before, seeing as the show was so late and there was a dance party going on in the main room downstairs. By the end of the show there were maybe 50 people in the room. Damn the ignorance of techno-loving Europeans. Regardless, Of Montreal played yet another stellar show, with only two tracks of the 15-song set being repeats from the night before. Even though I was a bit too drunk to fully embrace the full awesomeness that night, I definitely appreciated the cover of Prince’s "Purple Rain" as their final song. No encore came that night, as there wasn’t enough of a crowd to cry out for one. Unfortunately, the voices of myself and my friends weren’t enticing enough for Kevin and the gang. Alas, I left the room satisfied and feeling extremely lucky to witness what I did for the low, low cost of twelve euros.

Suffer for Fashion - Of Montreal

Forecast Fascist Future - Of Montreal

Thursday, November 8, 2007

a captive audience.

i gladly forwent a bed, sleep, and my city to see The Velvet Teen open for Say Hi along with the A-Sides in Montreal. the venue was the smallest and coolest i’ve ever been to. walls of stone and arched ceilings did little for acoustics, but were aesthetically beautiful. the A-Sides were a good start to the show. they began mellow but melodic and finished in an admirable rhythm.
second on the bill were my heroes and reason for the road trip, The Velvet Teen. a short and limited set due to lack of instruments and time, they still managed to out perform any expectations i had. Judah Naglers vocals are the most distinct and haunting i have ever heard. i will not give up hope of one day hearing Chimera Obscurant live, but for this concert, the boys played primarily tracks of Cum Laude.
if you don’t know who The Velvet Teen are, learn. if you do, good. with three brilliant lp’s along with a four equally genius ep's. the band has bled constant maturity on every release. their sound has evolved laterally, shifting album to album, growing artistically but keeping a familiar voice. i adore.

Say Hi were enjoyable, but their place in my heart is significantly smaller than the one i have set aside for Judah. after the show we talked with him and Matt (also a member of Polar Bears) about the downfall of the music industry, California-isms, and the pro’s of vinyl. we helped the band load their gear, and went to an indie bar on St. Denis for drinks and more conversation.
i can sleep anytime. giving it up for a night of live music and discourse with personal heroes and a great friend was a good call. listen friends. listen and love...

(reposted with permission of author. originally posted on The Snob Machine.)

Friday, November 2, 2007


Cette Halloween ne fut pas passée dans les rues pour moi, ayant finalement accepté le fait que je suis... adulte. Mais j'me suis quand même payé une autre sorte de bonbon. Heureusement pour moi (et pour la capitale canadienne), le 31 octobre marquait le début de la nouvelle tournée du groupe rock montréalais Malajube.

L’atmosphère lugubre de la boîte de nuit Zaphod’s fut l’hôte parfait pour cet événement, qui accueillait aussi les groupes rock canadiens Hollerado et The D’Urbervilles. C’est dans ce bar intime et sombre que furent réunis un mélange étrange de clowns, vampires et personnages de jeux vidéos, tous dansant avec énergie et attendant avec impatience l’arrivée du moment culminant de la soirée, l’entrée en scène de Malajube. L’anticipation fut tout de même plaisante grâce aux deux jeunes groupes qui s’acharnèrent à bien réchauffer les spectateurs costumés. Mention spéciale pour The D'Urbervilles, que j'ai vu dans le passé et qui ne font que s'améliorer.

C’est finalement devant une foule en délire que Malajube entre en scène, l’enthousiasme se lisant sur leurs visages. Ce n'est pas tous les jours qu'on fait face à une foule si.... diverse. Vêtus de costumes comiques et armés de leurs instruments, les gars s’empressent de livrer une prestation palpitante de Montréal -40, un de leurs plus grands succès. Le spectacle continue avec une énergie propre à un début de tournée, avec un enchaînement de hits tels La Monogamie, Le Crabe et Etienne d’Aout. Les fans accompagnent le groupe en criant les paroles, accueillant avec plaisir deux nouvelles chansons, Contrôle et Pirate d’Hoche.

Le spectacle se termine et les fans en redemandent, et Malajube retourne sur scène sans se faire supplier pour offrir aux spectateurs deux chansons additionnelles.

Bien que le show fut fantastique et le son excellent, l’interaction avec la foule laisse beaucoup à désirer. Très peu de conversation entre les chansons, et aucune des anecdotes tant attendues qui servent à faire toute une distinction entre l’écoute de l’album et le show live. En tout cas, je ne fut pas déçue... Et pour mettre la cerise sur le sundae, les proprios de Zaphod's avaient caché du chocolat partout dans le bar, faique j'ai quand même fini avec du bonbon.

Malajube est en tournée nord-américaine jusqu’au 8 décembre.

Malajube - Montreal -40

Malajube - Etienne D'aout

Friday, October 26, 2007

i heart rock and roll.

i started the night as a couch potato, and ended it as a drop kick queen. my thanks to The Dudes and a good friend who saw my potential as more than a motionless television-watching vegetable.

a concert-esque pub-crawl started the evening’s musical journey at mavericks for some harmless pop punk. we were supporting friends and the local scene, sort person, not financially. i smudged some eyeliner along my wrist to mimic the entry stamp and made a noteworthy stealth entrance. while i was nowhere near the right frame of mind to enjoy three chord progressions to the extent of the crowd around me, i couldn’t help but appreciate the energy of the bands on stage.

ducking out after two half-sets, we headed to stop number two. i believed our mission entailed solely a post-concert social visit. however, to our surprise, Jet Planes of Abraham were just finishing up their set, meaning we were just in time to catch The Dudes. i would like to take this opportunity to note: i fully condone any/all support and concert attendance of Jet Planes. I had the opportunity to see them play a show last week with Do Make Say Think that was auditory heaven.

back to The Dudes, who are The Dudes? they are one of few bands i am willing to classify as legitimate rock and roll. without delving too deep into debates of genre, i will say their live show was energetic. (btw. according to Microsoft Word, full of beans is a synonym for energetic…) their sound was impeccable, and the crowd loved every minute of it. they were tight. the kind of band you can tell has been playing with each other long enough to sound like gold, but not long enough that they don’t care anymore. mostly playing upbeat and danceable tracks, even slower songs like Don’t Talk came across louder and heavier. i was standing rather close to the speakers, so that statement is relative. nonetheless, their recorded sound definitely translated into a kicking live show. the combination of witty lyrics and defined sound made every song stand on it’s own.

the interaction between crowd and band culminated during the encore. covering the legendary Bob Dylan is not an easy feat, but they covered I Shall Be Released and well. The Dudes invited lyric-knowing audience members to join them on stage for the song. two souls were brave enough to step up. the rest of the audience danced, danced and danced, compelling the band to play one last song. all in all, a great show and a great night. i’m glad i got up off the couch.

so said The Dudes,

i heart rock and roll.
(reprinted with permission of author. originally posted on The Snob Machine.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

for the love of mix, long live the demo.

b-sides and demo’s, beginnings and maps of the creative process involved in producing an album. perhaps more…they are an auditory glimpse behind the studio door, into the unmixed talents of artists we love…or hate. but the ability of a band to produce demo tracks that warrant listening and loving on their own merit speaks volumes about the talent who created them. this is a trend that i hope more artists start setting: it not only attests to a band’s ability, it is an invaluable marketing tool.

fans of Brand New were tided over between their three year album hiatus with 9 leaked demo tracks. those demos became an album of their own for me, and remain still. the changes that accompanied demo 8’s transition into sowing season morphed the same chords and words into something different but equally enjoyable. i listen to and love both. the most defining aspect of these tracks as a collective stems from the decision of the BN boys not to mix all of them into the final release; unintentionally solidifying them into an unofficial, technically unreleased lp. yesterday, one of those unmixed and unreleased demos made the leap into production. (fork and knife), otherwise known as demo 7 or The Piano Song, underwent some lyric changes, and the addition of a stellar bridge. it’s different, produced, enjoyable. keeping the melodic piano progressions and hint of hollow drums, the mix gives the track more depth. the clarified vocals give the lyrics more meaning and the song more balance.

another demo-friendly band is Jimmy Eat World. they released a dual disc of both the mixed and demo versions on their last studio album Futures. prior to the release of their new album Chase This Light, i was privy to a demo version. while the album is not Clarity, and i’m starting to believe none of their albums ever will be, there are some very addictive tracks, some extremely radio friendly ones, and one or two hidden gems. an instrumental demo titled Gotta Be Somebody’s Blues was definitely one of those gems. i had hoped it would remain instrumental, however it was given a voice in the end. to my surprise, the vocal additions actually made the track more epic. i have room in my heart for two versions, and am glad i had the opportunity to hear both.

i love the mix, but long live the demo.

(reposted with permission of author. originally posted on The Snob Machine.)