Thursday, January 17, 2008

Canadian Pop Culture's Wet Dream.

Douglas Coupland + the CBC + the Canadian music scene = jPod. Effing brilliant.

As a HUGE Coupland fan, it’s incredible to see jPod, one of his latest novels, come to life on the screen. Although I have only seen two episodes, I am crossing my fingers that this show will take off without disappointment. The author’s wry sense of humour and twisted take on the most mundane realities is always entertaining, and although some of the acting is questionable, I would venture that jPod is one of the best things to come from the CBC in a while. If you don't believe me, check it out - you can stream full episodes from the site.

But I’m not here to review television shows.

Here is a sampler of some of the (mostly Canadian) songs that graced the first two episodes:

"Celly Cue" by Fndmntl
"Flamenco" by
The Tragically Hip
"Walking With A Ghost" by Tegan and Sara
"Noctuary" by
"What The Snowman Learned About Love" by
"Tenderoni" by Chromeo
"The Sidewalk Cruise" by Cassettes Won't Listen
"Fashionable People" by Joel Plaskett
"Ketto" by Bonobo
"Blackpool Roll" by Mr. Scruff
"Food For My Soul" by The Dragons


And read The Gum Thief. It’s incredible.

The Future is... Yesterday?

Yielding from Vancouver, BC, Black Mountain is another name Canadians should be proud of. After all, they did open for Coldplay.

But seriously.

(side note – what the name Black Mountain actually stands for is a large pile of hash).

In the Future proves to be a valiant second effort for the band, with heavy guitar and dissonant vocals. An ironic name choice, this album does not present the listener with anything futuristic. Instead, they channel a vintage vibe, evoking classic rock legends such as Led Zeppelin and The Doors.

Ok. Before you decide to shun Black Mountain for jumping on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack, keep in mind that they ARE sandwiched between The Flaming Lips and The Walkmen on the track list. I realize that following in the footsteps of Canadian “darlings” Chad Kroeger and Hoobastank (Spiderman and Spiderman 2 soundtracks, respectively) is not the best career move considering their target demographic. But even though I have not seen this alleged catastrophe of a movie, I must admit that the track listing for the third installment of the Spiderman franchise is quite impressive. But that is neither here nor there.

At first, I was unmoved by the psychedelic rock compilation that is In the Future. “Stormy High” opens the album with anticlimactic, repetitive rhythms that fail to impress. But it’s tracks like “Queens Will Play”, with crafty lyrics and loud percussions, that make the album worthwhile… Or maybe just the songs where Amber Webber's incredible vocals dominate. “Angels” is an amazing addition to the album, a timeless gem like the classic rock songs you infallibly find in every diner’s jukebox. “Tyrants” is also a masterpiece, albeit its blatant “Stairway to Heaven” mimicking (and the fact that it’s 8 minutes long).

Black Mountain’s sophomore album is sometimes eerie, sometimes loud and obnoxious. All in all, it is an enjoyable listen with some remarkable songs. But this Future is not what you would have expected.

Black Mountain - Angels

Black Mountain - Tyrant

Monday, January 14, 2008

eden is a hell of a place.

keep those eyes and ears open friends. the boys of Colour Revolt are dropping their new LP April 1st, and i say listen up. they have much to say, and you have much to hear. if the released single is any indication of what this album holds, i'm going to be a happy camper with "Plunder, Beg, and Curse." the official track list is as follows:

1. Naked and Red
2. A Siren
3. Elegant View
4. See It
5. Moses of the South
6. Swamp
7. Ageless Everytime
8. Innocent and All
9. Shovel to Ground
10. What Will Come of Us?

the first time i heard the song "Naked and Red," was almost 9 months ago in an opening set for Brand New. the same is true for the second time. and the third. the recorded version just released does the live performance justice, and then some. opening with suspended guitar, the first verse plows into the next, breaking and building all over again. the drums kick up and drop in all the right places. it showcases, without formula. it evolves.

the overall sound of the band? lax vocals, breakable and effortless. methodical bass. definetly rock. but orchestrated. there's also something distinctly southern in the guitars of those mississippi boys. their self titled ep, boasts the same lines of sound as the new single. the full length album is long overdue.

talk talk talk all your devils out.

burn burn burn all your witches out.

check check check 'em out.

Peter Bird and John

I really can't justify this in any way possible. I'm sorry.

Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John

Saturday, January 12, 2008

do a few good apples save a rotten bunch?

i was under the impression that in the age of digital music, artists would no longer get away with selling a few gems amidst a pile of audio garbage. some bands are slow on the uptake I guess. frequently described as indie/pop, Lovers Electric are decidedly more pop than indie. most of the tracks on the album “Whatever You Want,” contain predictable lyrics, about love, happiness and adorable baby ducks. ok, so I might be exaggerating about the baby ducks. bottom line, the album is listenable, but aside from two tracks, I wouldn’t deem it something to shout from mountain tops about.

the two tracks I am willing to shout about? the song the album is titled after, and the most addictive track I’ve heard in a while called “Is it over?” both miles away from the rest of the album in terms of instrumental build. they contain the elements of dissonance missing from the rest of the release, giving depth to the vocals. supplementary piano parts don’t overtake either songs, but at the same time, they would be reduced noticeably without them.

the songs are incredibly bright silver linings to an otherwise dark cloud of an album.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Radiohead to Tour Canada

I don’t want to be responsible for music lovers not knowing such essential information, so, as such:


Radiohead has announced they will be making stops on their long-awaited In Rainbows tour in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. When? They haven’t told us. What venues? We don’t know. For how much? Hasn’t been released yet.

What’s important is I get to see Radiohead. And so do you. Anyone who wants to help me rent a bus and drive cross-country to see all three shows, let me know.

Radiohead will be hitting the continent twice. They will start the tour somewhere on this side of the Atlantic before June 6, head over to Europe, and then continue with North American dates after July 8.

Here is a list of all the North American shows, in alphabetical order:

Los Angeles
New York
San Diego
San Francisco
Santa Barbara
St. Louis
Washington, DC

Specifics about the tour will be popping up soon, so watch for it. Until then, try to fuel your excitement with some of these Radiohead tracks.

Bodysnatchers - Radiohead
Idioteque - Radiohead

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Songs III, Bird on the Water.

Played early in the morning, Marissa Nadler makes my quiet and gloomy basement apartment feel like the setting of an obscure indie movie, one with a tragic plot and perhaps (or rather, ideally) co-starring Ryan Gosling. Her songs are haunting and beautiful, and as I sit here with a cup of tea, I wish I were a tortured artist or something as poetic.

Her voice starts off almost timid, but with a breezy quality that is perfect for the delicate instruments she is accompanied by. The perennial acoustic guitar is paired with violins, harp and even electric guitar. This latter, found on Rachel, was an addition that I didn’t think I’d enjoy on a folk album, but it fits so well that I cannot seem to imagine the song without it. The airy flute on Thinking of You is another pleasant surprise, with the instrument sounding like an extension of Nadler’s voice.

On some of the folksier tracks such as Leather Made Shoes, Nadler often sounds like she’s channeling Patsy Cline’s ghost. I would venture to say that if Patsy Cline were alive today, they would be friends. Oh to hear them collaborate on Tomorrow is a Promise...

She has cited Leonard Cohen as one of her influences, and to support this claim, her latest album includes a cover of Famous Blue Raincoat. And while interpreting one of Canada’s greatest poets can be daunting, Nadler masters this task with a rendition that is both incredible and lingering.

Her breathy, ethereal vocals echo and chill, and though it may take a few listens to get used to her styling, the whole album is a treat that I have allowed myself time and time again. Kind of like a long poem that you have to read a few times to understand, but that you end up loving in the end. A little patience goes a long way, and in this case, it’s so worth it.

Songs III, Bird on the Water (2007) is the 26 year old American performer’s third album, following Ballads of Living and Dying (2004) and The Saga of Mayflower May (2005).

I am leaving you with a few treats that I think you will enjoy, one is my favorite, the other is a harder-to-find Radiohead cover that is not on the album.

Famous Blue Raincoat
No Surprises

big loves of 2007...

ok, so i’m a little bit late on posting this one, as we are well into 2008. but in the name of effort and in honor of the snobs christmas party, here is my compilation of the best songs of 2007.

this is a mix of what i found myself listening to again and again, from my favorite songs to drive to (tokyo police club, midnight juggernauts, the tough alliance), to mushy masterpieces (the cinematic orchestra) and sweet covers (marissa nadler, jose gonzalez).

uh, and i tried and tried to fit one of ms. spears new songs on there, but space was so limited… sorry about the huge letdown.


1. tokyo police club - box

2. liars - houseclouds

3. of montreal - gronlandic edit

4. the tough alliance - first class riot

5. klaxons - golden skans

6. M.I.A. - paper planes

7. midnight juggernauts - into the galaxy

8. shout out louds - you are dreaming

9. caribou - melody day

10. miracle fortress - poetaster

11. citay - little kingdom

12. beirut - nantes

13. the national - racing like a pro

14. jose gonzalez - teardrop

15. chromatics - healer

16. the besnard lakes - disaster

17. marissa nadler - famous blue raincoat

18. radiohead - videotape

19. the cinematic orchestra ft. patrick watson - to build a home

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Smashing Pumpkins EP "released"

Yesterday marked the release of American Gothic, a four-song, 17-minute EP from the Smashing Pumpkins. Also known as Billy, Jimmy, and some other people. Also known as Zwan.

The EP was released exclusively on iTunes and you can get it on its own or as a bonus when you buy the iTunes version of Zeitgeist, the July 2007 release from the Pumpkins after being apart for seven years. iTunes version, you ask? Billy and co. (let’s be serious, Billy makes all the decisions) decided that Zeitgeist needed not one, not two, not even three, but four different versions: one standard version, one to be released by Target, one by Best Buy, and the last for iTunes, with each of the last three featuring a different bonus track. Good business strategy, Billy. Suck the funds out of every diehard fan you’ve made wait so long for another album.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. I used to be one of those die-hard fans, and I hesitate to say I still am. It is just really hard to keep defending the Pumpkins when they so blatantly do it for the money. I’d rather hide behind my own ignorance, and Billy won’t let me.

American Gothic’s four acoustic tracks are worth a listen, but the songs won’t be stuck in your head hours after you finish listening to it. The lyrics are typical new-age Billy, with no pain or anguish in sight. It’s not that I don’t want my favourite musicians to be happy, but if a tormented soul means better music, sacrifices must be made.

Despite the lyrics, Billy’s musical abilities still shine through, with the voice we know and love and a progression of notes and chords that follow with the route the Pumpkins have taken as opposed to the Pumpkins we remember.

I might buy American Gothic when it's released in Canadian stores later this month, but only to complete my Smashing Pumpkins discography. Alongside those four Zeitgeist albums.

Rose March - Smashing Pumpkins

Pox - Smashing Pumpkins