Thursday, December 30, 2004

Time to wrap this baby up. I think I'm not going to reach a top 10 at this point either. I'll leave it at 9 with the previous 6 selections plus these final three picks.

Needless to say the Arcade Fire disc is my top pick for the year. Iwon't bore anyone with the reasons why. If you haven't heard them by now you haven't seen me since June.

Also making the list is another Canadian act that dare we say received slightly less attention than Montreal's finest. Royal City's "Little Heart's Ease" took its own sweet time winning me over and that's primarily because it's not a record that jumps up and down trying to grab your attention. They certainly aren't part of any musical movement of the moment, I assume they're not that cute and there's not even a song as catchy as "Spacy Basement" that their first record had. All reasons for them being completely overlooked perhaps.

Final record selection is from a couple of oldtimers, one of whom is no longer with us. At the time of recording Billy Higgins was 64 and Charles Lloyd 62. Higgins, primarily known for his drumming, died within 6 months of recording the music on this double CD, "Which Way is East". Judging by the elegiac nature of much of the music and the liner notes Higgins must have known that his time was short. The urgency in the music puts the noodling of many younger jazz artists to shame. If this is the legacy that these two class jazzmen are leaving for today's young lions they've set the bar awfully high.

Some other thoughts re this year's music:

Critically acclaimed albums that still haven't found my wheelhouse: Bjork's "Medulla", Madvillain's "Madvillainy", The Sadies' "Favourite Colours" and TV on the Radio's "Desparate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes".

Albums that I could come to love with a bit more time: Devendra Banhart's "Rejoicing in the Hands", Joanna Newsom's "The Milk-Eyed Mender" and David Murray's "Gwotet".

Best reason not to believe anything a 19 year old NOW scribe has to say: "Red Tape" by Brooks.
(this disc will be first up for bids if we reprise our CD swap)

That's it for the music. Looking forward to listening to some of the discs I picked up at Soundscapes last Monday. Didn't leave much for you Brian but if you were in the Kinks section buddy then there was no fear of us crossing paths.

Thought I would throw in my favourite films of 2004 since we're doing that sort of thing:

Triplets of Belleville
Eternal Sunshine
Before Sunset
Le Cou de la Girafe (film festival pick)

Two to avoid, regardless of what the critics have to say: Million Dollar Baby and Distant.

Happy new year to y'all.
OK, my top ten list has slowed to a crawl. Truth is, I think I've only really liked about seven records released in 2004. But I've probably only bought 15 or so, so percentage-wise it doesn't suck. Nevertheless, a very mediocre (at best) year, I think.

My number one favourite at this point is definitely the final (?) Elliott Smith record. See my earlier outpouring for details on why.

The Panda Bear record continues to grow on me and gets honourable mention, as does the Sonic Youth (but I'm a total sucker for them). And GBV's Earthquake Glue (2003) is magnificent (whereas this years' s "Half Smiles" is much less so) but I've decided to take the high ground and stop breaking the non-rules re choosing previous year's stuff.

A few songs that I liked and haven't mentioned:
The Black Keys - 10 a.m. automatic. Great retro sixties sounds on this tune, but the album sounds too much like coherent Jon Spencer (blues riffs...yippeee) meets White Stripes. Solid enough but ultimately unoriginal.

Death Cab for Cutie - A Lack of Colour. I know Derek likes Passenger Seat from this record, which is a goody (in the same vein), but for me Colour's clean bittersweet melody and simple folky arrangement caught my ear first. Unfortunately the album is spotty - often these guys are embarrasingly commercial sounding (in an eighties/early nineties indy rock way, sounding like Guadalcanal Diary meets The Odds), sometimes the songs are good enough to work in spite of that.

Camper Van Beethoven - The Gum You Like is Back in Style. Great to hear one of my fave late eighties' bands playing again, and this song is vintage sarcastic, intelligent, rhythmic CVB. Their new record has four or five equally memorable tracks/perfomances, but overall was disappointing. Since when did CVB play minute-and-a-half prog-rock guitar solos - I thought I'd bought a King Crimson reunion record after the first couple of tunes.

I scooped up a bunch of records at Soundscapes sale the other day (the ones Derek rejected, presumably); ended up with a lot of re-issues - the Kinks "Village Green", the Pretty Things "Emotions" and The United States of America eponymous and only record, all from '68, being the highlights. The fact that I spent a lot of the year looking back in history for pop gems (and finding some.....hmmm, can I mention Nico again) is a good indication that this wasn't a stellar year for me and pop music.

Happy New Year y'all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The only other disc I think worthy of the list for me is Max Richter's "the blue notebooks"....
Unfortunately I bought it a few months ago and lent it to Derrick immediately after purchase..(stupid stupid stupid) I only listened to it once , but thought it potentially great....Fortunately Derek returned it to me after only a few weeks, but unfortunatly it was immediately misplaced again with all our construction stuff going on at our house ( we are living out of 3 rooms and a hall)... I remeber it being moody piano and with spoken word --I know that is pretty much all anyone needs to hear from me to turn off and not finish reading my review, so Ill have to turn it over to Derek to ask him to comment as he has at least listened to the disc more then once... I realise putting a disc up for best of the year after only one listen is risky but hey ...what the fuck... So Derek do you even remember the disc?
Final album is the year is The Walkmen's 'Bows + ....wait, Derek already talked this one up, quite well I thought. So I'm gonna have to go with Elliot Smit...actually I haven't listened to it as often as my wife has so I can't really make that call.

Instead, let me go with Bebel Gilberto, whose self-titled album washes over me with its warm vocals, lush production, and fluttery bossa nova beats. Just noticed that all my faves from 2004 are ones that comfort me. Is this my reaction to the cold weather or do I have deep-seated womb issues? This is a rhetorical question so don't answer please.

One album that won't comfort me is the new Fiery Furances disc that you raved about, Derek. I've only listened once so I'm willing to give it many listens and chances and hope that it rewards me as it has you. However, jarring does not begin to describe my reaction to it on first play, particularly because I've listened to some tracks off of their EP and they are markedly different.

If I don't talk to yall tomorrow night, have a bitchin' christmas and may santa leave you many presents.

Topic for next week: discs I got for christmas or purchased at boxing week sales!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I forgot to post a song of the year......this week it'll be Arcade Fire's "Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)", (also known as track 2). I will say that I'm not entirely smitten by the whole AF package (yeah yeah, we all know that); too much self-conscious eighties sound-alikes that pulled me out of the musical moments and reduced the impact of their simple, strong songs. Regardless, there are some magnificent, completely successful works here, and Laika is my favourite of the bunch. Great lyrics, great Pixies-like angst and energy.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Well, Derek (the bastard) has scooped me on the Vanderslice disk, so I'll just add a couple of points. I agree with most of what DM said, and the after hours (OK, 7:14 pm) quasi-poetic tone which he used to describe the disk is very appropriate. Vanderslice is working in an ambitious and earnest - at times pretentious, at times melodramatic - voice, but while some of it feels unconvincing, the good stuff is very good. And it would likely be a different batch of songs for each listener - personally I think "They Won't Let Me Run", "Promising Actress" and "Lunar Landscapes" are the highlights.

My other notable 2004 record for this week is a Charles Ives collection featuring a selection of his songs performed by Susan Graham, and more importantly (for me), a superb rendition of his Second Piano Concerto (the Concord) by Pierre Laurent Aimard. This is a magnificent piece of work, which kept me stuck to a listening post for thirty minutes when I came across it in the summer. Very twentieth century, with all of the good and bad things thereby connoted, but with a central beauty (amid the chaos) that enthralled me. The performance is equal parts dreamy and high octane. Quite a revelation, and precipitated a headlong plunge into learning more about Ives and his contemporaries (primarily Elliott Carter).

I will be purchasing the Iron and Wine disk, owing to its universal belovedness. I downloaded "Naked as We Came" in the summer and am a fan.

Am I allowed to rant and rave about Nico as a 2004 experience? Though it's from the late sixties early seventies, it's my numero uno discovery of the year, but outside the bounds of these list. Damned unfair. Maybe I'll do a "best re-issue" list (though actually her music wasn't even re-issued in '04, goddamn it).

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I love the epic nature of the opening opus of the most recent Destroyer disc. Stuart was rather concerned about the over abundance of synthesized sounds on this track, "Notorious Lightning" and others on "Your Blues" but I've never let the presence of various Rolands and Kurtzweils deter me from wholeheartedly embracing a record. So Brian you've been warned.

The album really kicks in for me on track 3, "An Actor's Revenge", a melancholy piece laden with a plethora of sing-a-long "ba da ba da ba das". Dan Bejar's biggest strength for me is that he writes songs that deal almost entirely in metaphor. I now own three Destroyer discs and the lyrics to almost every song fall in to the oblique category. Compare this to the latest Elliott Smith record where he leaves one in no doubt whereof he sings. I admire practitioners of both styles but its so easy for straightforward lyricism to become trite in the hands of a less than proficient songsmith.

So perhaps Bejar is singing nothing but nonsense but I was a kid raised on Ogden Nash and the short-lived television show "Tomfoolery" which delighted in nonsensical verse. So please never give it to me straight. Don't bore me to tears with the facts. Give me Robin Hitchcock, the Jazz Butcher and Destroyer. The depressingly factual times that we always seem to live in cry out for the poets, the slanted viewpoint. God knows we wont find them in a blog.

Suffice to say a lovely piece of work and looking forward to the next crazy turn in direction he takes in 2005.

On to album number six of the year, although none of this is in any sort of hierarchal order. John Vanderslice's album "Cellar Door" took it's sweet time working it's way into my subconsciousness. And I am thankful that it did. Nothing worse than a record that grabs you by the balls on the first listen and dumps you without fanfare a week later. Think most of Franz Ferdinand or the Real Tuesday Weld.

Vanderslice is working in the same dark unnoticed corner of the music world as Dan Bejar. Neither one of these gents is likely to make much more than your average CFL lineman off their artistic endeavours. Unlike Bejar I think Vanderslice's music is much more personal. Still not in a straightforward manner but I get the sense that he's relating tales here of an intimate nature.

"Wild Strawberries" comes in at under 2 minutes, and it's no power pop song. It almost has a Ben Folds Five feel to it as it tells in consummate succinctness the tale of a man who has his own self-interest at heart: "still light follows, the same rules that I do, reflecting off the water, never making it down to the bottom."

Track 5, "Heated Pool and Bar" relates the stories of what can only be various internationally far flung enlisted men of the United States army tracking down such "villains" as members of the Sendero Luminoso. Its a political song with no political message at least not one that beats you senseless with its lack of subtlety.

"White Plains" is probably the most conventional guitar-drum song on the album until about the halfway mark where the strings and piano come in once again and lend more melancholy to an already world-weary track. Vanderslice can hardly be accused of having a fine singing voice but it's all the more resonant for it.

And lets give credit where credit is due. If not for the wonder of downloading music gratis I would never have heard of (or heard I suppose) this fine musician. The few tracks I downloaded about 3 years ago enticed me to seek out this latest disc. I read in the Guardian lately an author's thanks to our Scottish grannies for indoctrinating in us a disdain for authority. So on that note let me say fuck the RIAA and their petty lawsuits.

And in the spirit of the season should I not see you gentlemen this week have a wonderful Christmas and may Santa bring you all the wonderful music you so sadly overlooked in the last 12 months.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Listmania we've got NME whose choices for number one is a tad overgenerous, methinks.

i like boogie but it's out if you shorten it to boog, for obvious reasons.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Miles disc "ESP" is in fact mine. If it makes you all feel any better, espcially Boogie Phillips, I just counted the number of unopened discs residing on my shelves and it comes in at a rather mediocre and disappointing 19. Needless to say Soundscapes 15% boxing week sale will see me jack these numbers up to their usually healthy state.

Marc I also have your Tinkertoys CD which you should consider for you top 10 of the year becasue as far as I can tell you've only picked one so far.
Was the disc opened (ie. out of its wrapper)? If so, that probably rules out Derek.

Had to get in a dig at somebody since i can't think of any discs I purchased that I want to diss here. Is this because I've gone soft and will only purchase albums that I'm almost 100% certain are going to be good? Have I just been lucky? Or have I grown less cantankerous in my dotage? [Note: With such silly, self-amused rhetoric, I thus present myself for swift castigation]

Agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Snow Patrol disc, Marc. I enjoy listening to it, even though it borders on modern rock territory at times. The lyrics are fine but the overall production is unnecessarily smooth where it could be a little grittier. I guess I find it more authenic when I can sense desperation or urgency in what I'm hearing. My favourite track, "Tiny Little Fractures" is a notable exception, recalling the voice and jangly guitar of Sebadoh's Lou Barlow on 'License to Confuse'.

Thanks for the link to the Jazzland site, which points out that Buggee Wesseltoft's first name is, "...conveniently prounced 'boogie!'". Why can't my name be conveniently pronounced something fun like that? [Again, this one's right down the middle of the plate]
BTW I seem to have 'borrowed' someone’s Miles Davis at the last listening party but don’t know who to return it to…Derek? I apparently lost track after all the margaritas…did I lend anything out…anything I might want to put on my favourite list of almost my favourites?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

If I could only manage to get this dyslexia under control (or simply learn to read a tape measure) I might actually find time for leisure activities such as contributing insightful yet meaningless fluff to the blog.

Be forewarned that that I have not yet made it into my stack of favourites yet, but am currently working my way through the runners up/ the would be favourites if only….

First off… “To the Five Boroughs” is the Beastie Boys first effort in six years and is heavily influenced by the thick layer of post 9/11 dust that settled on the island. The boyz have used the voice of popular urban music in an attempt to bring a worthwhile message to their well established audience, and for that I applaud them. “Right Right Now Now”, “It Takes Time to Build”, and “An Open Letter To NYC” are powerful highly political songs that speak out against the insanity of the Homeland with a style that is crafted, catchy, melodic and accessible. Somebody had to say it and I am glad the Beasties had the courage to stand up for what it truly sounds they believe in. What stopped the Boroughs from reaching the top of my top 10 is that a large minority of the album is crap! The Beastie boys bounce back and forth between meaningful tales of injustice and unsophisticated rappa rhymes dissing fellow mc’s. wha da fuck’s up wid dat? Well worth the listen…”cause we got the power to make a change”

The Jazzland label brings us Bugge Wesseltoft ‘New Conception of Jazz / FiLM iNG’ (sic). The work blends Bugge’s smooth Scandinavian interpretations of 60’s – 70’s funk and jazz and fuses it with modern techniques and concepts and a little cross border ethnicity. I have had this one for a while and it’s still growing on me but I occasionally find it a little hard to get over the moodier sides of the music. Look out for Jazzland! I keep hearing stellar pieces from the label. Bugge also brought us ‘Moving’ a few years back. No regrets from either of them.

The girls of Organ released ‘Grab That Gun’ with much fanfare from the indie press earlier this year. The sound is post/post punk all gurl band with a slightly cloying sweetness to the sound that disturbs at times. Think Blondie without the edge…just a little too much GoGo’s. The songs are at times strong, the problem with the album being that the sound is tiresome, unrelenting. “I could care less if people bred themselves to death” …I wish the album were more than just an also ran.

Franz Ferdinand – yes Kyle, it’s so much better on holiday! This almost made it into the top 4. Nice to hear what might be a new face to Brit pop? Clever, boppy, catchy, fresh; but in the end, the latter part of the album drags and does not have the legs it needs. The package is, at times, passionless….”so if you’re lonely/ you know I’m here/ waiting for you” …now that’s conviction! … I love the change ups though, they’re so cheap.

Antibalas picks up the torch where they left off and bring it all home to the Bronx with ‘who is this America’ More politics from the streets of NYC and it pulls no punches. The sound of Antibalas has always been big and has followed the afro beat roots of Kuti’s soul, but in “America” it on occasions breaches the levies that have, to date, contained it. Check out Stuart Bogie’s ‘Indictment’ for a swift kick in the head. Think Tom Waits meets the wholly father of afro funk himself in an alley and everyone done gets beat up! Want to hear these fuckers really rock? Head down to the Shoe next time they are in town. Five thumbs up for the show and four for the album because it fails to “push the boundaries” towards the end of the album. Again, it almost makes it into the top 5.

Snow Patrol – ‘Final Straw’ The biggest surprise of the year for me is how I am craving the sound of guitar driven rock…(witness next weeks picks) Final Straw’s sound is big and lush, diving and feel good, straight forward and well crafted, beautifully engineered if a little shallow. Will it be on the top of my cd player next year or back in the stax? Only time will tell. Final Straw has its introspective moments but always comes around. Again, it almost makes it into the top 5. ok ok, maybe it IS #5.

Lastly, Jolie Holland ‘Escondida’ might well have made it into the top 5 but I have not bought it yet and besides, I’m sure Stuart will tell us all about it.

I've heard the voice of Hamilton Leithauser from The Walkmen described as 'Rod Stewart, if someone were pulling on his testicles'. That I think this is accurate in no way detracts from my admiration for this album and my decision to include it in my top 5 as well (so what the hell am I going to post next week?) I downloaded two tracks from the Fiery Furnaces recently and liked them...perhaps a trip to Soundscapes is in order. Or maybe I should wait until Boxing Week to do some disc shopping...

Stuart, I borrowed the Lekman disc from Marc (note that I did not put quotes around the verb, meaning that permission was granted for me to take the disc), so I'm not in any position to whine about wasted caja. Marc, on the other hand, has every right to take one of your cds in reparation and it's quite possible that he has already done so.

Also, while Feist may have it going on, I can't say I'm digging her music. Perhaps I need another listen, or perhaps a private performance from Feist herself. Actually, I can't recall what she looks like so instead I'll ask for a private performance from Natalie Portman.

I was hoping that the Onion would list their Least Essential Albums of 2004 today but it appears as though they've either abandonned this tradition or are waiting until next week. In the spirit of schaedenfraude and the continued smackdown of the Lekman disc, does anyone want to add their most disappointing/hated discs of the year? I'll think of some and then try to think of some really clever putdowns to add as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'm not sure that I loved either of these discs but they were fairly solid and in a year that left me vastly underwhelmed where popular music was concerned that was far more than enough. The first disc is "Bows and Arrows" by the Walkmen. Not as strong as "Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone" they're still a band who's next record I will look forward to with some degree of anticipation unlike say Franz Ferdinand, Clinic, Interpol etc who I think may have reached the limit of their creative powers.

There's no doubt that Track 2, "The Rat" was one of the best songs of the last 12 months. Visceral (love that fucking drummer!) and plaintive and schizo all in one song. One minute he's pissed off at someone re-entering his life, next minute he's lamenting his sad and lonely existence. Ah the tightrope of life that we all tread summed up in a beauty of a 4 minute pop song.

There's a bit too much shimmering guitar shit going on and not enough pedal to the metal which is where I might find the album a bit weak but tracks like "Little House of Savages" (kick-ass circa "Crocodiles" Echo and the Bunnymen vibe), "The North Pole" and their homage to the Pogues "Hang On, Siobhan" make it all worthwhile.

I think what holds it all together for me where the Walkmen are concerned is Hamilton Leithauser's "yet to have that first coffee after a hard night of drinking" vocals. The 21st century's answer to Rod Stewart and I mean that with the utmost respect.

My second pick for this week is "Blueberryboat" by the Fiery Furnaces. According to the album liner and my Denon CD player there are only 13 tracks on this 76 minute opus but I the first time I listened to this on the Walkman I swore there were at least 3 times that many. This can produce two reactions. Initially, extreme annoyance at the constant mid-song readjustments, then over time and with a bit of patience the pleasure of discovering something new within each 60 second segment of music. The album starts off with a 10 minute track so its obvious from the getgo that this brother and sister combo aren't out to conquer commercial radio.

I found it rather hilarious (especially since I wasn't there) to read in Now's live review of their September concert that they played for almost an hour without a break and the crowd were getting pissed off because they had no opportunity to go "whoo" or "whaa" which lets every true fan know they've been part of a history making gig.

I really haven't got a clue how to describe this record and I suppose for me that's its major strength. It's got very little to do with lyrics or even the bizzare array of instruments on display. Its all about the flux of emotions that the music induces. I'd be tempted to call it a concept album but I couldn't begin to say what the concept is.

Suffice to say that some of my favourite songs of 2004 come some 5 maybe 7 minutes in to these songs. I've got an inkling that if Guided by Voices and Fiery Furnaces hooked up not only would we have one helluva cool band name but the music that the necessary compromise, between focus and blur, would produce would be life-altering.
First off Id like to extend a heartfelt apology to all those that bought the Jens Lekman CD, I bought the cd a few months back when it first came out and gave it a good review after listening to it the first few times. This may have been a factor for Marc and Kyles purchase, and if so all I can say is that - yes it is completely tiresome and suitable only as a frisbie after 3 listens.....
As for next selections I am afraid I am following Kyle again ( we both picked Arcade Fire) with this next round with the Iron & Wine's disc. It has atypical melodies and a killer bit of instumentation w banjo that I never tire of even though I have listened much to it. His voice is never over the top emoting but somehow his understated mutterings seem very intense.
Im afraid Kyle was wrong with his second choice, sadly , and what he really meant to pick was Feist , because frankly shes hot... Lets face it.... Ok I like the eurobeat meets Burt Backarach sound much and I found this album to be the perfect summer album...Sauvinagn Blanc , Italian Cheese , black olives, Feist nakid.....ahhhhh
Unfortunatley I dont seem to focus on just songs anymore so Ill pass on that catagory.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Okay, I'll step up to the plate. Here's what I was going to post on Wednesday before I got caught up in actual work:

'Our Endless Numbered Days' by Iron & Wine, a beautiful, lush album despite its relatively spare instrumentation. The lyrics are intelligent and heartfelt without being clever or maudlin, conveying the hitherto discussed and lauded sincerity with elegance and seemingly without effort. The perfect accompaniment to those cold winter mornings when I'm sitting inside with a coffee and the newspaper and want to feel at once insulated from the world and connected to it . He has one of those rich, warm voices, like Nick Drake's, that seem to reassure with each note. Highly recommend, as the disc gets better with each listen.

'Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts' by M83, which goes 180 degrees in the opposite direction, cranks out a massive, swirling wall of sound, that channels My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless", and at times, Sigur Ros. The melodies build slowly and patiently before exploding into a hammering yet blissful crescendo. What the hell am I talking about? I don't know. But I can say that for all its colder, electronic harmonies, I find it puts me in that same cosy state of being as the Iron & Wine disc.

So to sum up: Quieter record + immediate, soft vocal = intimate whereas Louder record + barely discernable vocals = intimate.

Rather than slowly trotting these out as if they were manna from Heaven, here are the rest of my songs of the year:

'Float On' by Modest Mouse, which can get a wee bit tiresome in spots, particularly its military drum beat, everybody-join-in-with-the-chorus denouement, but the syncopated beats more than atone

'Take Me Out' by Franz Ferdinand, starts off like a great Strokes song, switches gears and gets even better, and which should be the single of the year though I'm willing to replace it with 'Jacqueline', if only for the kickass chorus, "It's always better on holidays...that's why we only work when...we need the money!"

'Check it Out' by the Beastie Boys for that pow-pow-like sample in the verses that packs a whallop and puts an extra little spring in my step. Used to great effect in an episode of 'The OC', to a series of quick edits of characters walking through the lobby of a casino.

'Surfin' on a Rocket' by Air, which pairs a sweet poppy harmony of overlaid vocals with a souful catchy ambient sound that most critics would call 'ethereal'. Sometimes that's not a good thing but in this case it is.

Honourable mentions include: 'The Love Song' by K-Os, 'Fallen Angel' by Elbow, 'Run' by Snow Patrol, 'Train from Kansas City' by Neko Case, 'Fit But You Know It' by The Streets, 'Sommersault' by Danger Mouse and Zero 7, 'Loosen Your Hold' by South, 'Little House of Savages' by The Walkmen, 'Retour a Vega' by the Stills and 'Farther On' by Vetiver. more album to post next week...

OK OK let me belatedly break the ice on week two of the much ballyhooed (but reluctantly posted) Top Five/Ten/yeah whatever countdown for 2004.

Some more albums:

Frog Eyes - The Folded Palm. Victoria BC-based band's second release - it's intense without being loud, mostly due to the eyes-bulging-out-of-the-head vocal style of singer Carey Mercer, whose lyrics are paradoxically (given the aforementioned vcoals) poetic and ephemeral, though at times they do embrace a more direct angst-ridden style. Reminiscent (vocally, at least) of eighties other times it's more like whacked out Bowie. As a whole, it's powerful stuff, but not an easy listen, and it's possible it would just be exhausting if it weren't for the underlying songs - sympathetic and inventive organic instrumentation, melodically and musically rich arrangements, and they grow and grow.

Eric Friedlander - Maldoror. Mentioned this one before, and you kind of have to hear it to have a discussion about it. It's ten improvised cello (solo) tracks (first takes, no overdubs) referencing and drawing inspiration from a series of surrealist poems by Comte de Leautremont called Les Chants des Maldoror. Not really difficult listening ultimately, certainly not as atonal as it might be - he has a beautiful tone and is a spectaculalrly inventive player, and has crafted a gorgeous, flowing, synesthetic, mood piece. Groovy cool. Top two or three of the year for me.

Songs - well, how about something from Modest Mouse? I originally was loving "Float On" big time, but the more I listened to the record the more "Ocean Breathes Salty" was the one for me. A great song, very similar really to Float On, but I love the verses with their sloppy, vaguely hip-hoppy rhythm and his over-the-top singing. Great driving song.

OK, who's next?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

My posts to come later today but first, The Onion's Best of 2004 .

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ja, ja ich kenne that both the albums I picked to review were released in 2003 but I promise the 8 remaining album choices will adhere to the very stringent rules that herr burkhalter (aka kyliep) has laid down. I only slipped initially because I noticed that Exclaim had slipped in both Jim Guthrie and Ulrich Schnauss in their best of 2004 and I purchased both of those last year. I also find it extremely difficult to come up with 10 albums released in any year that could possibly be labelled "best of", case in point being Marc. Don't worry though I will not include Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in forthcoming installments.

Some notes on your posts...

The Spring Heel Jack sounds intriguing given the band members but I'm not sure if I'm sold on your review of it, Derek. Aimlessness? Abrasion? Anti-tortoise? Sounds terrible, which of course means I'm really interested in hearing it and will in all likihood come to rave about it. Damned if I can locate anything more than a 20 second stream must bring it to the next cd club.

I may have to pick up the American Music Club disc...I've been digging the tracks I've downloaded recently...still hate the name of the band though...reminds me of Dick Clark or Columbia House...

Marc, wouldn't you say that the Hiorthoy disc represents an audacious claim to the vanguard of exceptional neo-minimalist experimentation? No? It's just shit, then? Ah, well. They all can't be good purchases. Which reminds me that soon the Onion website will be posting its yearly 'Least Essential Album List', which is always good for a cathartic giggle or two. Hope it comes out this week.

And did it feel good for those of you who have thus far listed discs which weren't technically released in 2004? Feel you're entitled to choose any goddamn disc that has crossed your path in the last twelve months? I guess there are no real rules here but if raging against these imaginery contraints has inspired you to passionate expression, so much the better.

I went with the idea of choosing five and then choosing my favourite 'singles' to highlight songs that were great on albums that were only just good. If you guys want to include more than 5 discs or any number of noteworthy songs, go for it. Or actually, don't. You're not allowed. Don't even try it! It is verboten. That's German for step off.

Since I'm out of the office Thursday/Friday I will post my picks tomorrow.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Interesting choices Derek. I've been reading about, and had on my list, the S/Heel Jack one for sometime now. Your review makes it sound pretty intriguing. Raises a discussion topic in my head, which I'll save for a rainy day.

And as for Ted Leo, I had just come across him a couple months back and finally downloaded some last week. I agree it's got a ton of elements I like, still trying to decide if I love the overall package - as much as some of the reviewers do, anyway. I haven't heard "Ballad of the Sin Eaters", so I'll seek it out.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Admittedly I've played neither of these discs at a CD club but for two pretty good and different reasons. The first disc entitled simply "Live" by Spring Heel Jack came out about mid-2003 but I purchased it late in the year and only now am I succumbing to its charms. With only two tracks on the album, running each close to 40 minutes, the allure of this album is far from being readily apparent. One might be tempted to simply switch off after the first 6 or 7 minutes of track #1 (entitled descriptively Part I) finding little to hold on to other than abrasion. This might be described as the anti-Tortoise. Some might flee at the rather aimless flight of take-off but with Coleman, Shepp, Ayler and others taken head on it would take a bit more than seeming pointlessness to scare me off. Unlike some of the aformentioned Spring Heel Jack and friends give you plenty of room to come up for air and this is where the wonders of the record come to the fore.

With Han Bennink on drums, Evan Parker on sax, William Parker on bass, Matthew Shipp and J Spaceman (ex of Spiritualized) on guitar there's plenty of talent here and they all get their chance to shine. It's still not something you'll want to play first thing on a Sunday morning but the music ebbs and flows and changes directions in a myriad of ways, that allows the listener to discover a bit more with each listen. And this is music that demands that you do listen to it. No dish-washing background noise this.

Also on my year-end list and regretfully an album I have never purchased (thanks to the TPL) is "Hearts of Oak" by Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Ted and the boys always seem to garner the good reviews which obviously I've always skimmed because up until recently I was under the impression, due to the band name, that they were purveyors of electronic music. To my delight nothing could be further from the truth. I have no idea if they receive much in the way of commercial airplay but if I was 17 again and looking to kick out the jams this is what I'd want to hear on my radio. Its hard poppin, briskly played but still erudite music. They've taken some of the best of the Posies, Elvis Costello, and the politically savvy Jam and turned it into something that College stations would find hard to resist. "Ballad of the Sin Eater" might be the best summing up of the mood in America post 9/11 that could be captured outside of a lengthy article in Harpers: " didn't think they could hate you now, did ya?". Time to invest some coin in their just released CD.
Mark Koselek's sun kil moon project- "Ghosts of the Highway". Ok this was released in November 2003, but I listened to it throughout 2004 as well as picking up another 3 of his cds. This is the one that started it all, and still seems the best of the bunch but they are all pretty great. The quality of the songwritting and the pacing of the album (mixing crazy horse like rockers w acoustic ballads) is pretty much perfect, (unlike his live show at the shoe). The etherial sound of his voice and his wash painted lyrics are a blend made in heaven. IT gets rave reviews from other friends who I haver played it for. If you have any of his other stuff and love it, dont miss out on this one, (on sale now for the low price.......)
The other pick would have to be Arcade Fire . Derek and I have been discussing how maybe this band will usher in a new era of sincerety and heartfelt passion in pop music. I cant handle the ironic tonge in cheek bullshit most bands push out any longer....They managed to capture a sence of the live showin the disc and the show for me had to top the list for concerts last year (but thats another list topic....) These kooky looking freaks are the real deal I think, no poseurs would choose this geeky a look..... The range of material on the album is something I hope they continue rather then honing in on one aspect of their sound...I never new eighties influenced rock could sound this great,( it helps not having that stupid production w the big drum bash). These 2 albums are polar opposites , but both have honesty rarely seen these days.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Marc. Sorry man.

Like you, an annual top ten is often a little daunting for me these days, as I rarely buy enough music released in the year in question, but for 2004 I think I can muster up a few options.

For albums, I'll start with......American Music Club's "Love Songs for Patriots". Great to see these guys back at it, and depressing as hell to think that it's been ten years since their last record. Frig, I say. This one is consistently good - their songs are so intelligent and emotionally complex (I hesitate to curse any band by labelling it "mature", but...), and musically rich as well. The sense of the dramatic reminds me that AMC started out in the eighties and worked through the grunge years, but it still sounds contemporary to me, and satisfyingly, uniquely them as well. The album opener "Ladies and Gentlemen" is an absolute stunner - but wait! I'm not choosing songs of the year yet, and will not be so gauche as to double dip (at least until I begin to run out of ideas next Friday).

Second album, released in 2002 but fuck off, is John Cunningham's "Happy-Go Unlucky", a gorgeous update on Beatle-esque songwriting (meets Elliott Smith, but more on him later), without a weak track on the record. At times it can be too reverntial, but mostly it is beautiful beautiful beautiful. Chamber Pop at its absolute best. I particularly love "Invisible Lines", "It Isn't Easy" and "Here it is" . Highly recommended and available only at Soundscapes I believe.

Now for a song. Since we're splitting songs from albums, which is fine, I'm more tempted to choose tunes I like to play in the car, quick hitters as it were. At least that's what my first choice is - it's Ben Kweller's "I Need You Back". I blew my brains out on this one all summer - light as candy floss, and in a way it's very cheesey (hmmm, two food metaphors, OK snack break) with BK's pretensions of naivete, but ultimately it works great because of its energy and angst, and his great singing. I remember driving back from my CFA exam in June, convinced I'd failed, and screaming this one at the top of my lungs (look out ma, I'm turning forty!).

Kyle, thanks for the metacritic site - it rocks.

The end of another year and the start of a season of top ten lists (or is it five)…a chance for reflection on where our musical choices have taken us…the same old predictable meaningless drivel or down new and inspiring avenues of discovery.

Starting off my top 10 list of favs. would be Kim Hiorthoy, "For The Ladies". Now the only reason this could make it onto my top ten is that I purchased less than ten albums released in 2004. This album, for lack of a better term is the greatest disappointment I have ever picked up in my life (music, that is)….EVER. I had heard some of Kim’s work on Denise Benson’s show and really dug it. A smooth Scandinavian blend of jazz and electronica, soulful and cool but pushing the limits of what I have heard…just a bit. So I walk into soundscapes not having done my research and pick up his latest release….not a song on the album…barely even a note. 10 tracks of ambient noise, much of it barely audible at normal listening levels, which is ok with me since it’s all shit! Often I might find myself being generous, embracing such an experiment as art, but not this time….sorry Kim. The only reason I am not throwing this one into the Michigan landfill is that I want the ultimate example of how absurd the record industry is. Will I ever pick up the Hiorthoy I was really looking for? I don’t know! Will I ever implicitly trust Soundscapes again? Not bloody likely. Caveat emptor! This sucker was born on a day long, long ago.

No. 9 on the top 10…Jens Lekman “when I said I wanted to be your dog”…I just don’t get It!...highly rated by the critics? Not sickly sweet but rather tastes of sacrine…has no nutritive value and leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. Ixnay on the Lekman eh!
...a dog indeed!
good god men! it's friday afternoon and no one has offered at least two of their five discs of the year for others to contemplate/congratulate/annihilate?

fine. then i'll offer up two of my choices:

'Cast of Thousands' by Elbow, an album that doesn't really push any boundaries, channelling, from track to track, everyone from Coldplay to Catherine Wheel to Primal Scream to Spiritualized. But hey, since I dig all those influences and since this is one solid album I can listen to and enjoy all the way through, and since, even after I've played it over 20 times I'm still not tired of it, into the top 5 it goes.

My other choice, 'Funeral' by Arcade Fire, is probably up there at the top of the top five, for the sheer energy and intensity of the music and the vocals and for the fact that it conjures up good feelings about the music I liked in the 80s.

as promised, here is one of my top 5 songs of the year:

'What are you afraid of?' by West Indian Girl. If you don't recall it from the cd club (we were probably 5 or 6 drinks in at that point), you can preview a copy at the new Itunes store, the Canadian version of which opened yesterday (meaning for a mere 99 cents, you can also purchase it, all legally.

Itunes is a free software program that you can download from apple's website and I use it to burn all my cds and organize my music. Recommended if you like to listen to music on your computer and necessary if you wish to purchase music from the itunes music store. Enough promo for apple!! (I've got my own software to sell!)

But one quick other note, in regards to the reviews topic last week, there is a site called Metacritic that compiles, among other things, reviews of cds from various sources. There was a reference to this site in an article I read today at that echoed statements made by those of you who own the Brian Wilson disc. The writer can't understand why it's the highest rated disc of the year. (Note: to read articles at Salon, you have to watch a brief commercial).

Okay, back to selling career exploration and planning software...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Admittedly, I've been less excited about BDB since the Fish record. Though I will say the the latest one has become a bit of a grower.

Damon was actually a little annoying the other night. Dare I say, smug? Self-indulgent at least. The show lacked intensity, and while there were certainly great moments (Once Around the Block, The Shining, and three or four from the new record were truly great, for ex), there was a lot of down-time, energy-wise, and a number of BDB's more recent songs showed themselves as banal piano singer-sowngriter efforts. Billy Joel, anyone? OK, that's a bit harsh. He seemed kind of in love with himself and indifferent to the audience at the same time - had to start songs again on three occassions when he forgot words or chords. Which I can deal with if it's honest or from nervousness. When he really lost me was when he took twenty minutes to introduce the band over a cheesy 60's soul bazz and drum groove ("take it down......OK....bring it up again"....I kid you not), and then didn't "have time" to play a number of the goodies from the first two records (I'm including About a Boy) .....well, poor judgment, if nothing else.

All in all, about a six out of ten. Looking forward to Friday's choices....meanwhile, back to reading about chimps tearing each other to bits.

Monday, November 29, 2004

btw, marc...while we may yet see i2i on wilco, i'm rapidly moving to your position on the jens lekman disc, which becomes increasingly cloy and irritating with each listen. sarah thanked me for turning it off the other day, something that usually only happens when i play eletronica.
even though i'm not keen on his last two albums i'm still pretty jealous that you got comped tickets for the show, brian. bastard!!!

i'll use the time i'm not watching free concerts to craft a haughtily worded treatise on 2 of my disc selections plus 1 of my top 5 songs of the year. though i can't promise wallowing or anything close to what stuart just came up with (i'm waiting for the abridgement), i will attempt to incorporate words like 'deftly' and 'replete' as often as possible.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Particularly smug this afternoon 'cause I'm on the guest list for tonight's Badly Drawn Boy show. Yeah baby.
Actually I have an egolilly disc and I had the following thoughts on it.
The narcissic manifestations of the egalitarian purvue simply resonated with a certain tempered wallowing of superficiality that seemed to condescend to the meager intellectual offerings suggested capable for the average listener. (Just practicing my review stye for the upcoming disc reviews)
That's the one thing we can always count on from you Brian. Smug, narcissistic wallowing. Can't wait to see how you incorporate the Egolillys in to each of your best of the year reviews.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I just noticed Derek's notion of each of us choosing two disks each week (I normally gloss over Derek's contributions and look for the meatier input from Kyle, Marc, or Stu....or simply re-read mine, savouring my choices of words and refreshing, thought-provoking concepts), and will reluctantly agree, despite my enthusiasm to offer up Kyle as a week 1 sacrificial lamb.

Two selections in the first week, let's say by next Friday, I can probably handle, though it'll still require more thought than I was budgeting. Goddamn it.
Five weeks, five best of lists. Perfect. I'm in. Just not first. I will, however, be the first to nominate Kyle as the guinea pig.

Just to ease Marc's fears re Wilco I too am coming around to the pleasures of this disc. It was only this past weekend, listening to it for maybe the 6th or 7th time on my MD player, on a cold and overcast Saturday morning that it finally struck a chord. I don't think you can ever rush a Wilco record.

In contrast I picked up U2's latest on Tuesday given that it was available for $10.99, had been garnering decent reviews and the last disc I have of theirs is "Achtung Baby" and that was over a decade ago and like REM their mainstream success has never completely soured me on their music. The disc certainly has its merits the main one being that it's immediately likeable. Methinks however that like a Canadian in an Olympic 1500 metre race it wont stay the pace.

Like your idea Kyle with respect to our year end picks. Each of us should select 2 discs per week over the next 5 weeks and wax rhapsodic about them on the site. Looking forward to see who's been holding out with the hidden gems.
hey, i like and respect stuart even if he can't manage to crank out a sentence without multiple spelling errors so respecting someone who has a different take on a given piece of music or art barely rates a second thought. though we like similar types of films, i find my impressions diverge greatly from those of derek and brian on any number of films. for example, where brian will enthuse over any mediocre piece of crap released by an independent film company and derek will instinctively loathe any film i give an advance rave, i actually think about what i've seen and....okay, okay, kidding...

disagreement is far more interesting than agreement. as any book club member will attest, when there's a wide consensus on a given month's selection, the ensuing conversation is usually pretty dull and short-lived. when there is a lack of consensus, the ensuing conversation is still short-lived but is at least much livelier. if i haven't liked the book, i find i usually come to appreciate it a little better after hearing a spirited defense. i may not agree but at least i understand where that person is coming from.

we're coming up on the end of the year and i'm sure that we'll each want to share lists of our favourite discs or to posit the best releases of 2004. may i suggest that we take turns presenting and defending our top 5 or 10 discs, songs, etc. for the year. there are 5 of us presently contributing to the blog and coincidentally 5 weeks (after this one) until the end of the year so could spend a week on each person's list.

what say you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Incomplete thoughts on a provocative subject…

What I find curious about music, art, friends, life et al, is that I never know what is going to strike a chord with me… jump out of the crowd and turn me on in one way or another. For me, music (and so much else of what I deem to be important in life) speaks to me on so many different levels that can range from the intellectual to the purely visceral. Equally, I think we can each extract such differing qualities from any given stimulus.

I find it fascinating one can be drawn to a particular artist that someone else is also into, and yet you can not see eye to eye on their body of work. The new Wilco might be a prime example of this. I cannot get enough of the album, while Kyle who is a die hard Wilco fan is less than indifferent about it. Could it have something to do with the fact that it’s my first Wilco album? Will I be disappointed with Yankee Foxtrot when I finally pick it up? Will my expectations of Wilco be formed by their latest departures?

We are all individual looking for different things in art at any given time. Interesting how it is possible to so pass things by at one point in one's life and then be so drawn to it months or years later.

The problem with music (art) review is many fold. Firstly, I think that the majority of readers are looking for the quick fix…am I going to like this album or not…should I buy it…am I going to get into it. I think that the majority of music listeners never go deeper into their music than that. Are they the ones reading the reviews in the Globe, probably not. They are more likely picking up a free rag like now or eye. Rag writers may well lose many of their readers at the mention of complex concepts and argument; besides if they were capable of profound concepts and arguments they would be going for a job that did not suck, like at the Globe. I think that people rarely listen to music in a profound way and seek out reviews that are as superficial as the way they think about the music.

I think that much of what is released these days is sophomoric and does not stand up to serious criticism or thought. It’s easy to write a dissertation on, say Moby’s Play, but try to find something meaningful to say about yet another release by a prolific artist who might have done better work?…it gets a bit harder.

Unfortunately, the way we see things critically in our society is by comparison…..”I like London. It’s such a cool place, but Paris is so much more romantic” …”Timothy’s is o.k but Starbucks is way better”...“Kerry’s frightening but Bush is worse”. Things rarely stand alone to be judged on their own merits without reference because that reference becomes the common ground for describing or understanding…at least superficially. It’s the easy way out.

As for Metabeats Blog reviews, I’m all for them, but how can Kyle possibly respect my opinion when we can’t even see eye to eye on the latest Wilco! and how can any body respect someone who's a pathological cleptomaniac!
For those who aren’t digging the futbah repartee skip down a few paragraphs. For Brian and Derek, a few notes:

I read a lot the past week about how the Wally Buono/Pinball Clemmons matchup tilted more towards the Lions and I thought, huh? As coach of the Calgary Stampeders, a team that had the most regular season wins in the 1990s and that should have won 5 or 6 Grey Cups (they won 2, lost 3), he had a bit of a history of choking in big games, be it the title game or the western final. And so I figured if anything, Clemmons would bring more to his team in terms of intensity than would Buono.

A lot of sportswriters are giving Buono a (pardon the pun) pass for starting Dickenson over Printers but I’m saying you don’t leave the league MVP sitting on the bench. Other than the opening drive in the first quarter and the spirited scramble into the end zone in the fourth quarter (sending me into nervous fits), Dickenson was only average. Wouldn’t it have made sense to switch things up a bit for the second half by having Printers come in? Wouldn’t it have forced the Argos to change their game a bit?

Apart from the QB decision, I think the biggest mistakes B.C. made were:

1) Abandoning their running game when it appeared to be doing very well; is there an unwritten rule that says you have to pass at some point during your drive? I was tearing my hair out watching Antonio Warren barrel his way through the Argo D with abandon and then breathed a collective sigh of relief when they started attempting passes again. Had the Lions run on every other play, my team would have been in deep shit.

2) Punting the ball with 2:00 minutes remaining in the game. Why not go for it? It’s a lot easier to erase an 8-point deficit when you actually have the ball. Had the Lions gone for it on 3rd and presumably long, and missed, the Argos would have had the ball at around midfield. Which would have meant what? That B.C.’s defense would have had to stop Toronto from getting the first down. Well, don’t they have to stop Toronto from getting the first down after the punt? What does it matter where they stop them? Let’s say you do stop them at the 20 instead of the 50? The Argos punt and you get the ball back with, say, a minute left in the game? You’re back where you were before, around midfield, down 8 points, except this time with no timeouts and less time on the clock. Now as a Toronto fan, I was thrilled to see my team get the ball back and overjoyed when they picked up enough first downs to run out the clock and clinch victory, but I was thinking, “Man, I’m glad the Lions were stupid enough to give us the ball back”.

3) Punting short and wussily: not what you’d call an impressive special teams strategy. Alarmed by the prospect of the Argos returning the ball for great field position, the Lions decided to kick short and away which kept the ball away from the Argo return team and resulted in… the Argos getting great field position. Though they abandoned this strategy later in 2nd half to much success, the damage at that point was already done.

By contrast, Toronto’s offensive and defensive coordinators ran the best strategy they could with the players that they had. The defense let the Lions run but shut down the pass. The offence knew they couldn’t rely on getting by BC’s run defense so they passed a lot but mixed up the passing plays to pick apart the Lions’ rather weak secondary.

As a long suffering Leaf fan, I am especially grateful to the Toronto Argonauts for rewarding my support with 5 championships in my lifetime. Sometimes they’re terrible, sometimes they’re mediocre (as they were midway through this season), but the last few weeks, and on Sunday in particular, they were champions!

Back to the (great, btw) topic of music reviews…

I like music reviews. I like reading them and agreeing or disagreeing with the reviewer’s comments. If not for print/online reviews (and my close proximity to Derek’s ever expanding though largely unwrapped collection) where would I find out about good music? Certainly not from FM radio, at least here in Toronto and in most cities in the United States. While the Ryerson and UofT stations feature one or two decent programs, I’m usually not fortunate enough to be listening when these programs are aired; whenever my dial dips into the 88s and 89s I’m treated to dancehall reggae or a spirited discussion on the history of the labour movement in aboriginal communities.

[Side Note: Not that the Globe and Mail is the definitive word on music but I’d really like it if they reviewed more than one or two discs each week. Carl Wilson and Robert Everett-Green both contribute interesting pieces each Friday but I always find myself looking for more. Perhaps we could do away with the far-from-droll comics or have them supplant Saturdays’ repulsively flippant ‘hatch/match/dispatch’ feature in the Toronto section, to make way for an expanded music review section].

Now I love digging into the reviews in Now, Eye, Exclaim, the Rolling Stone, and various websites. But I take all the reviews I read with a grain of salt and I’m willing to enthusiastically disregard any discouraging piece if my heart is set on the disc or if I just have a feeling that I might like it. A record review, be it negative or positive in tone, is really just an expression of the writer’s experiences, biases, and preferences. In the case the local publications, a lot of the writers are young and attempting to make a name for themselves and so they ratchet up the hyperbole in order to establish a ‘voice’, however irrational or asshole-ish this voice may be (ahem, Mr. Perlich).

Reading reviews requires a strategy akin to that of deciphering the Film Festival Programme Book. Words like ‘driving’ and ‘forceful’ usually connote straightforward drumming, ‘expansive’ hints at the presence of long stretches of nothing but guitar, ‘textured’ means that some 40 different guitars were used and dubbed over one another in the editing, and ‘personal’ usually means that the sound quality is going to be crap.

I also look for consistency among reviews. If more than one source is telling me an album is worth checking out, or is describing that album in a way that appeals to me, than I'm more inclined to bite. That’s not to say that 5, 10 or 200 reviewers can’t be completely wrong (most praised the latest Wilco album which, despite repeated listening, I’ve yet to embrace) but if a trend emerges it does give me a clue as to what to expect. What would be nice is if there was a website along the lines of that would compile all sorts of different reviews and give an overall positive/negative rating based on the content of each review.

As for longer reviews along the lines of NYT I’m all for it but I suspect that those who review discs often find themselves at a loss as to what to write about. This is why you get the inevitable comparisons/references to other, recognizable bands and silly proclamations like ‘A triumph...’ or ‘Shimmering brilliance...’.

My question for you: Are music reviews inherently limited because they are attempting to express in words what an artist is expressing in another medium, ie. through music?

Not that I’d embrace a review conveyed through a series of yodels or violin solos. And I recognize that the role that lyrics play in music but...I dunno...I suspect that music reviewers, perhaps unconsciously, recognize that they can't adequately describe that to which they have just listened.

Plenty o’ thoughts to share re: music reviews and, yes, the awesome Argonaut victory/piss poor decision-making by B.C. coach but first things first. Here’s the music that was brought and enjoyed/loathed last Monday evening:


Panda Bear – Young Prayer
Archer Prewitt – Genoa Songs
Fred Hersch Trio - +2
Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism


The Hidden Cameras – Mississauga Goddam
Hugh Masekela – Grrr
The Futureheads – Self-Titled
Tyrannosaurus Rex – Unicorn
Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing in the Hands


The Arcade Fire – Funeral
K-OS – Joyful Rebellion
West Indian Girl – Self-Titled
Elliot Smith – From a Basement Apartment
Snow Patrol – Final Straw


Interpol – Antics
Jens Lekman – When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog
P18- Urban Cuban
Tinkertoy – Electric Wilderness


Brian Borcherdt – The Remains of Brian Borcherdt
Tom Waits – Used Songs
Jolie Holland – Escondida
Sindig – Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Major, Op. 45

Post-Argo victory gushing and deep, deep thoughts on the state of music reviewhood to come....

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The only thing stunning about the Argos victory was how stunningly stupid Wally Buono was as coach of a team that had all the tools to win the big one. Let me just say as a Ti-Cat fan in all seriousness that Mike Clemons and Damon Allen are two of the classiest individuals in the sporting or any other world and its extremely hard to be upset about them winning anything. Oh yeah and Mike O'Shea is still a world-class knob. He probably downs post-game pints with Marty York. Now back to the music.

First off, excellent topic. God knows with the proliferation of websites professing to be the last word and testament on what we should be listening to its certainly a timely subject. Personally I've always been a sucker for a glowing review. Now, perhaps more than ever given that my musical horizons have expanded to include almost all types of music.

Back in the early 80's I would read NME and Melody Maker with religious fervor and rush out to buy the latest import from Manchester or Glasgow based solely on their word that this record was the future of rock and roll. But they basically only covered that musical genre and my tastes surely didn't run to jazz, classical, country, rap, Mongolian skirl etc. Now though I pick up Exclaim and with the exception of the "Hard, Thrash Metal" section I feel I have to read every bloody review for the fear that I may miss the next big thing. (btw can someone explain why they feel the need to devote 3 or 4 pages to metal records)

So I am a sucker for reviews, good or bad. Unfortunately I spend as much time reading reviews as I do in immersing myself in the actual art. This is a problem.

There is no doubt that some venues are better than others when it comes to the art of the review. For example when NOW reviews a book they often devote barely 150 to 200 words and tell you its a 5 star book. So why not cut out the ads that are covering the remaining 90% of the page and give the book the space that it obviously merits. Suffice to say I ignore these reviews.

On the other hand, as Brian has mentioned to me several times, the NY Times Review of Books makes almost every book they review worthy of your undivided attention. Good review or bad the reviewers make you feel as if they have spent time with the book, and the authors body of work, and not merely skimmed it in order to dash off a quick review.

With music the reviews that I find the most annoying are those that spend their allotted 100 words telling you what other bands this record sounds like. Or like every review for Luna CDs since Penthouse or any Paul Westerberg album, telling you that this record wont win any new fans but will continue to please the faithful. How presumptious without really telling you anything about the musical progression the musicians have made.

I think Stuart has the right idea when he talks about a greater need to share the knowledge. Between the 5 of us it cuts a pretty deep and wide swath. I would be happy to read complete disc reviews by any of us right here. It doesn't do a record justice, 3 or 4 beers in, to say "this band's from Minneapolis and this disc rocks." Let's post some detailed album reviews, good and especially bad, on the blog. I think Brian has already started us off.
Re Reviewers;
Brian, I think its a very sharp double or triple edged sword. On the one hand I have had exactly the same experience you had with the smith disc. And been equally annoyed at the reviewer ( and myself moreso)....On the other hand I have been pointed to some truly beautiful music (like grant lee phillips last solo disc) ... which only came through reading reviews.
The other option of previewing discs reither at soundscapes or on the web (at all music guide) is equally dangerous because one ends up more likely to pick up music which is initially approachable, (and therefore usually quickly tiresome)...
Perhaps the best approach is to do what marc does and simply steal them ... just kidding..perhaps the best approach is to share the discs we have more sistematically, in other words share in larger quantities but record who has what. Listening repeatedly is the only way. I guess downloading off the web is the other option for some...
Derek is likely in a deep depression over the stunning, and yes, immensely satisfying, Grey Cup victory by our beloved Argos this past weekend. Or more accurately, not the win itself so much as Kyle's enjoyment thereof. See you at the parade big guy?

So new topic. I spent last week listening to the Elliot Smith disk almost exclusively, and after multiple repetitive listens (something I do all too rarely these days, though I'm trying to change my stripes), I've decided it's among his best recordings, rivalled only by XO. It's a very different animal then his previous ones, and of course we'll never know how fully realized it is, but I think it's brilliant. Increasingly the big boomy drums, layered discordant guitars and growly fuzz bass are working for me in the context of Smith songs. They add depth to the sadness and angst that is at the core of his music. Taken at face value, he was apparently re-inventing himself on this disk, going back towards his Heatmiser days (on the "rock" songs anyway), and the four or five harder songs are among his best - Coast to Coast, King's Crossing, Shooting Star, Don't Go Down. On the other hand, the still-plentiful ES quiet confessional material is equally beautiful - Twilight, Memory Lane, and maybe the best song on the record, A Fond Farewell.

But enough. Safe to say, I like it a lot.

So, to my question. I made the mistake of reading the Pitchfork review before buying and listening to the album, and was inevitably refering back to its (often misguided, ill-informed, or just plain wrong) comments as I listened. As a result it took me longer to like the album than it deserved , and ultimately, I got a little pissed at Pitchfork for dashing off such a piece of crap review and almost marginalizing the record for me.

In this context, the question is I asked myself is, am I too guilty of letting reviewers tell me what's good, particularly in music (I'm less likely to be fooled by a movie or book review) and do I truly listen to music openly once the reviewers have "told" me what it's about and what to like or not like? It seems to me we're all in search of the quick hit to good music with our busy lives (mea culpa anyway), and at times are over-using or over-valuing critical info as a means of getting there. Has the web made review a lost art (or at least diluted it down)?

Your thoughts.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Say Derek, any word on the twentieth century classical picks?
Say bout that there cd list?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Marc - thanks again...very fun night.

And for those unaware, Marc somehow managed to lift my copy of GBV's Earthquake Glue on, kind of eerie. How does he do it? And why doesn't he choose a band he actually likes?

Nice to see that y'all are interested in keeping that classical thing going. It could be a nice addition to the whole CD Club dynamic.

Stuart, my first thoughts for less jarring 20thC symphonies (mind you, it's 20th C which is jarring almost by definition) would include:

Sibelius' Fifth - clean, brooding, northern sounds
Shostakovich's Fifth - a little more jarring but amazing.
Janacek's Sinfonietta - beautiful, full of life
Prokofiev's Fifth - what is it with fifth symphonies?
Charles Ives - Three Places in New England (Orchestral Suite Number One)...weird and wonderful (but not too jarring).

I've ignored concertos, tone poems etc for now. Symphonies are actually pretty rare in the 20th century but these ones are all pretty great. Derek, anything to add?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Kudos to Marc for his gracious hosting duties last evening, which included providing extremely yummy snacks, an amazing sound system, and putting up with Stuart's apparently baseless accusations of malfeasance.

I'll second the inclusion of a classical music review each meeting; I'm very much a novice when it comes to classical music so I find these discussions/listenings very educational. The classical music section of the cd store is a bit overwhelming for a neophyte and having some starting points/suggestions is always appreciated.

I also like Stuart's (or was it Brian's) suggestion that we try to post a 'most ridiculous review of the week'. While I suspect we will be frequently referencing the pitchfork site, I still think it's a worthy endeavour. I've been a little lax of late when it comes to reading reviews so this will force me to pick up the slack.

I have the list from last night but I left it at home. I'll post these later this evening.

A few comments re last night; A) I thought the classical music group review to be pretty great and wondered if you guys were into a repeat performance, and if so picking one now would be better as I think Brian you might be right about the complexity issues with the Honniger, and perhaps if I had more time to digest the piece it would help. Suggestions for next piece anyone???
B) It was not my guided by voices comp that marc had ( Apologies to marc for the abuse...)
-so how did marc pick up a spare copy at the cd trade night from Brian???
c) Any suggestions of perhaps slightly more subtle 2oth c works that you guys like would be appriciated for my general info. (not necessarily for the cdclub disc choice)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Another entry in the rediculous music critic review. See below for review of new Can cd.

"Can's music anticipated both the musical trend toward decontextualization via electronics, post-production, and editing, and the cultural trend toward collective experience and shared information. "


Monday, November 08, 2004

Ahhhh yes! Young to a 13 year old is a little different than it is to us! Thanks for the great suggestions. Some artists I had not heard of before and some that I was not aware were so young ie. Brad Mehldau born in 1970…had no idea! That sent me off on a tangent and discovered that Medesky Martin and Wood were younger folk than I thought. Must be I’m just getting old!
A fair number of "youngsters" come to mind (quotes because when you're 40 everyone seems young) - Brad Mehldau, Matthew Shipp, Joshua Redman, Ingrid and/or Christine Jensen, the Sex Mob, the Bad Plus, even cross-overs like the Chicago Undergound Duo/Trio/Quartet - but I agree that "young" and "jazz" don't go hand in hand these days. My sense is that the record companies have no idea how to sell jazz instrumentalists anymore, so they've gone the route of trying to create superstar cross-over acts like Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, etc, rather than pure jazz artists. I think music without words is pretty difficult for most (although some of the popular techno belies that I suppose), and jazz has evolved (or deconstructed) to a point where it can be pretty strange to the average set of ears. Not to many pianists sounding like Bill Evans out there any more.

However, head down to the Rex on Monday night and check out the open stage, you'll see a mix of players and listeners that'll remind you that jazz still lives among young musicians (maybe the most exciting music to play....after punk of course) and young music fans - the Humber College set, the dweeby jazz guys with the glasses, the bad hair, and the nervous twitches, are still as prevalent today as they were in the forties.

We were having Sunday dinner with family last night and the subject of music came up. We were talking about young musicians and Anthony wanted to know why all jazz musicians are old, to which we replied that young people do get into jazz, but damned it I could come up with any names. Even many of my electro/jazz favourites seem to have been around the block once or twice.

…so help me out, can you think of any good jazz that is being be played /recorded by young musician these days, or is jazz truly something that one has to grow into, give time to develop and mature? (it never used to be that way) Is the jazz market so slim and already saturated that it simply cannot support young talent? Am I just clueless as to what is going on in the jazz scene?

Friday, November 05, 2004

you guys will find the attached article interesting.
It deals with the relationship of the brain and music, updated by recent scientific research on brains. It gets into consonant verses dissonent
sounds and there impact on us. I have only skimmed it, but I'll delve into it prior to the cd club.
(On the other hand maybe its not such a good idea to know whats really going on as one can then find it more hard to get "lost" in the music as one is constantly tring to analyse it).......

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

we is rockin' out to the A.H. ...have been for weeks...ok, ok, i ploughed through it a couple of times when i first got it...Warren has been served notice of his duties!

Well, now that the American election has ended to my satisfaction, time to focus back on the CD club.

(a) Is everyone listening to Honneger?

(b) Has anyone (other than me and Derek) even bought Honneger?

I'm assuming "no" to question b, and would like to add some encouraging words. Get on it boys, this is very serious business.

Has anyone mentioned to Warren that he is being asked to break out of his (let's face it pretty narrow though cool) comfort zone for a week Monday? Won't he be bummed if he's the only guy who's not completely diggin' the Honneger?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Interesting points lads, and its your flatulant comments about the Band, Kyle , that brought to my mind the earlier debate about sincerety in music, and at the risk of being boring, I wonder if the whole live music debates sums up similarly.... that A) Pop bands in particular playing the same songs over and over again must sap all emotional integrity out of the music leaving it dead or "insincere"..
B) Seeing many live shows-- we all have experienced the somewhat rare event of a pop band giving its fuckin all (think arcade fire lees palace) .....and then some... but I bet next year it would not be as fresh for them or us.
C) Jazz artists have an extra chance at it because of the variations and independant experimentation which constantly evolves and changes there live shows nightly.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I have several of the Peel session 12" and I like pretty much all of them. The Slits, the Undertones and Madness are all personal faves. They always came with at least 4 tracks and for $5 at the time were a pretty good intro to any band that you weren't quite sure what they were all about. One thing Peelie did better than anyone else, Soundscapes included, was suss out all the music that everyone else seemed to overlook. An invaluable resource when there is so much music out there.
I guess what I'm saying is that once it's recorded it kind of loses its exciting qualities, some of which are attributable to what the musician or singer does and some that are beyond his/her like the acoustics of the venue or quality of the instruments that day (did the humidity in the tour bus adversely affect the string tension on the guitar, does the dj need a new belt on the ole wheels o' steel?) and that yes, a 'live recording' is a paradox. If I've been fortunate enough to experience a great live show then it's probably better to savour that memory rather than try to recreate it with a recording...

...Peel sessions. I'm embarassed to say that I haven't really listened to many of the sessions. I always used to browse the 12-inches in the 1980s and heard some that friends bought in that time period but never bought any myself. I recall that a lot of the live recordings were crappy, an opinion consistent with my thoughts above. However, for those who want to sample some of the Peel sessions you may have missed, this website has some downloadable recordings, including this live version of "Here" by Pavement.

Friday, October 29, 2004

So what you are saying kyle, is that a live album is an oxymoron and cannot, in reality, exists? ...either it's a recording or it's live?

I must say, tangentially, that i am frequently blown away by the sound quality of a live broadcast of someone playing in a radio studio, even if its some guy with a guitar in the basement at Rhy high, it sounds so different, full and alive that it makes you think about all the music (sound) which is being lost for the convenience of the digital medium.
How considerate of John Peel to die when we were having a discussion about what constitutes live music. I've always found the Peel Sessions to be very hit and miss. Anyone have any favourites?
Also, I don't know if anyone had heard that John Peel passed away this week. There is a nice piece about him in Slate today. You can also drive yourself insane as I have at this site, by checking the daily US electoral map to see how things might shake out in all the swing states. Go Kerry Go!!!
Time to chime in...where to start?

First, I'd like to say that it's unfair that Stuart has been much maligned for his lax syntactic standards when he really should be dirided for championing a 'best' version of 'The Night they Drove Ole' Dixie Down'. All props to The Band and their fans aside, a live version of this track does not excite me. I'm really not a big fan of folsky songs that tell me a story or recount some tragedy. Also, the inclusion of the word 'ole' in the title gets my back's just too hokey.

Second, when pondering Derek's (great, btw) topic, I couldn't come up with one live album that I really liked but was able to think of a lot of crappy live albums. I think this is because it's impossible to replicate the experience of a live show.

To me, Wilco did a far better representation of the tracks on their recent album in concert than they did in the studio, though why they chose to close the encore with the excessively shitty 'Late Greats' is a bit of a mystery. And the Tortoise show earlier this year really kicked ass, sounding even better than their recent albums. But would recorded versions of those shows be just as exciting when I listened to them at home? Probably not. Context is all.

I agree, Marc, that ‘Rattle and Hum’ probably captures what it’s like to be on tour. The problem with that record, for me, is that I don’t care. You got to play with B.B. King? Great. Do I want to hear you jam together? Not really. It seemed a little self-indulgent but I know quite a few people who disagree with me and think it's an awesome record.

Okay, what's more superfluous than a live album? How about a double live album? Or, topping that, a different live album for every show in one year’s tour, something that Pearl Jam foisted on its beloved fan base a few years ago? Can you imagine the type of freak who compares different renditions of ‘Better Man’? “Yeah, the Oakland Coliseum version was good but Eddie’s vocals at Madison Square seem a little tighter. Now the Staples Center show was a joke but the ‘Even Flow’ encore really…”. I picture myself trapped in line somewhere, without my walkman, and overhearing just such a conversation.

Finally, to answer Marc's question: I think it's live if you're witnessing, in real time, the creation of music through any means, music which can never be exactly replicated. It's an awkward and I'm sure wholly inadequate definiation but it's Friday morning and I'm pressed for time. Perhaps a better definition will come to me and I'll correct myself.

I've added a couple of new links to sites that I think are interesting, one of which is a link to the online version of eye weekly's anti-hit list. The other is a link to a Seattle Radio Station, KEXP, that I discoverd there on my last trip there. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

All kidding aside, I think this opens up a rather interesting philosophical discussion. What is it that defines music as being live?

Is music live because it is recorded with all musicians playing simultaneously? Does the final product have to be generated from a single take, session or performance? If there is no audience is the music still live? If an orchestra sits down in a concert hall with sound baffles in the place of the audience, are they still performing a live recording on their 5th take? How much knob twiddling, dubbing, over dubbing, splicing, and dicing can an engineer do before a recording is no longer live?

…and what I really want to know is what does it mean when a dj is going to perform a “live set”

oh! and is it possible to make a live recording of someone lip syncing?
weL i Thotgh aLL jaz recors wer Live recors, an anutter ting kut w all ths spelling Krap

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


ooops! if you're gonna try to be funny, at least learn to spell good! or as Tom Lehrer sang "don't write naughty words on walls if you can't spell"

midi hell! go to

just so the typo nazi don't get me...i was trying to say
"What about live jazz? Are there any good live jazz recordings? (lol)

Finally picked up Ellington's Live @ Newport 65, smokin' tunage, but man is there a lot of chatter and introduction on the CD...think it's time to burn an edited copy!

I returned last night from NYC, after a 36 hour whirl wind business trip, and I have to say that for the city that claims to never sleep it’s damn hard to find something to do on a Monday night!

I was going to check out Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Mercury Lounge but it was apparently sold out so I dropped by the Knitting factory around 11:00 to see a gig called “Kerry Rising” which was a political Springsteen covers night…thought it might be interesting…but it was over by the time I got there. By this time my tootsies are sore from having walked from the top of midtown through Soho, Greenwhich etc. down to the immense hole in the ground that once used to be the site of the WTC and back up to the Knitting factory, so I hop in a cab up to Iridium on Broadway @ 51st to catch Les Paul in action. Oooops, strike three, by the time I get there at 11:30, everyone is already pouring out of the club….time to quit and watch some late night tv!

“The city that never sleeps”….guess I just don’t know where to go!

Great live albums:

U2’s Rattle and Hum…not a live album in it’s entirety but more a chronicle of an American tour that includes a mix of new and previously released material …does not quite live up to “J tree”, but not much could. I think it works very well as a diary of a band in the middle of their career and includes some smoking work by Edge on Silver and Gold. A great portrait of the American West.

Springsteen’s triple box set of live recordings from though out his career is very well put together for a live album but is bound for glory considering his charismatic and energetic stage performances. Do we need it on top of all his great studio work? No; but it adds another level to the music as our memories of concerts with “hot chicks in tight cut-offs and tee’s” fade into the past.

What about live jazz? Are the any good live jazz recordings? (lol)


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

"Freedom" is an unbelievably soulful number, plus Country Joe and the Fish puts a lump in my throat. The sixties were, as it turns out, pretty cool.

Don't like to be a spelling Nazi (it's a blog after all), but it's Neil "Young", Stu. How Toronto-is-the-centre-of-the-universe is that? And Rust Never Sleeps / Live Rust is a classic exception to the rule.

Maybe it comes down to planning and creating something as a live recording (as per Neil's Rust Never Sleeps, where the songs were never recorded in the studio) versus the cheap cop out of "here's what our hits sound like live....."
I cant resist a list.....
Well I agree with byou guys that the era was the 60's-70s and I generraly hate them all, but there are a few exceptions: 1) Neil Yonge (yes he counts) Live Rust (camping w the drunks at Mosport Raceway as a teenager when this came out...virginal Neil Experience)
2) Woodstock (Who can resist Richie Havens,,, FREEDOM.....)
3) The Band- Last Waltz (Best version of "The night they drove ol dixie down")
4) Johhny Cash - Live at Fulsom Prison ( as good as the hype)
5) CSNY - 4 way street (I think one of the most under rated albums of all time period. Collects the best stuff from relatively crappy solo carriers from 3 of them (CSN) and also includes a few beautiful takes of neil yonge solo gems The acoustic version of cowgirl in the sand is worth the price alone)

OK Im done
Live albums, eh? Good one.

They seem to me to be an anachronism at this point; almost every major act of the seventies /early eighties released one, and some of these appaling records were even their most popular - the obvious one being Peter Frampton, who never had a hit "non-live" (how about that for a genre) album; but also Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seeger, Dire Straits, the Kinks, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller Band, the Eagles..... yuck, that's some awful fucking music. Mind you, there is the occassional gem - like Sprinsgteen's "Rosalita" which blows away the studio version, and much of the stuff on "Live at Leeds"...."Shaking All Over" for one.

The record companies used to get away with issuing one of these as a third or fourth album to give a band a little more time to write some material...often signalling the beginning of the end. Too much blow and mindless sex I imagine. Ah, the seventies.

Anyway, hopefully these pathetic attempts to capture the live experience are behind us now; though I did note while surfing All Music yesterday that Rainer Maria's latest release is a live album. If Emo Rock goes live....look out. We were damn lucky that the Grungers spared us - can you imagine the Soungarden live at the Hollywood Bowl record?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Just sitting here quietly going about my business, listening to Britten's violin concerto, when I decided to check out the blog and here I see I'm now being coerced in to blogging. Don't actually have a hell of a lot to say but I suppose the purpose of the blog is to put down any old crap and say it like you really mean it.

Few dead seconds there as I struggled to come up with a semi-plausible discussion topic. And here it is. Live albums!!!

I bring it up as Neko Case's new live disc (recorded at Lee's Palace) comes out in a few weeks. What I'd like some of you chappies to do is fill me in on why we need the damn things. Perhaps what I'm hoping you'll do is let me know of any "live" records that I should have in my collection because of approx 2500 records I can't think of more than 2 or 3 that would qualify and they sure haven't seen a spin on the old deck in many a moon. Does Neil Young count?

Doesn't the entire bootleg scene survive on people passing along live recordings? I understand (well not really) the need for the obsessive collector to obtain every possible song the band has ever performed. Just gotta have that recording of Luna doing Soundgarden's "Jesus Christ Pose".

Personally as soon as I hear the words "live album" I run the other way. Alright my violin concerto is over so I have to go and cue up some more music in Winamp.

Would somebody BLOG, for Christ's Sake!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Luna breaks up! Sad but not entirely unexpected.
More info here at their website. They're playing here in a few weeks but I've seen them 3 times already and I'm more content to listen to them on disc than I am to pack myself into a crowded Lee's Palace to witness the swan song.

Monday, October 18, 2004


I luv William Shatner.

Lucy...... the sky...........

....with diamonds.

Pauses so pregnant they have babies by the end or the verse!

I caught a snippet of the his new album on d.n.t.o. (cbc 1) and they described it as being the height of self parity. Now if that is not a concept that could only exist in a post modern world, i don't know what is!

This one from Pitchfork's review of the latest (?!) William Shatner album caught my eye:

"While this humble music publication is hardly the platform to debate the merits and impact of irony in modern art, I will say that I'm glad that Shatner decided to make this music now. It's so confusing, enthralling, sincere, profound, and trite that it's nothing short of a mirror to society's own incongruities. Which, really, is quite an achievement."

Of course it is.

Friday, October 15, 2004

I don't really want to pick up the Brian Wilson thread all over again but Kyle asked for it so here it is. This from the Village Voice in its review of the "Smile" album:

"Whatever it was supposed to achieve originally, right now SMiLE sounds like a beautifully modulated, funny, sometimes unintentional meditation on a failed United States and counterculture, and the lost paradise, real or imagined, of Southern California, and the collapse and reinvention of the male ego."

I kid you not.

Nothing wrong with a little bit of romantic la di da every now and then, in my opinion. Stu, you have my ticket order.

Thought I'd end the week with what is probably the most ridiculous passage from a music review I've come across in a long time. This comes courtesy of the prats at who opine, "where Interpol were once synonymous with emotive desolation, they here opt for an atmosphere of poignant resignation." Don't you just hate when bands do that?

Perhaps we should come up with the 'most ridiculous review I've read this week' item for the blog. Anyone think they can top this?

Thanks Stu - I guess I'll pass on the $12 DH opera tix. The ones I'm most interested in are Siegfried (which I'll pay full price for) and Al "The Fish" Herring, which you can't help me with. All the other stuff is just overly romantic la di da (pardon my Italian).
Re operas,
I mentioned to some of you about $12.00 opera tickets for the full dress rehersals. I think I have access to all remaining operas except the Brittan one. Those who have not responded, please do so as I wont have time to contact you prior to getting the tickets. Just let me know what ones you are interested in. If you dont respond Ill assume your not interested.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

whoops its that damn spelling again,...Honegger not Honniger, honeyger.....
Thanks for the links to the Honniger Derek , the naxos website is great. Ill have to check other labels (classical) to see if this is the norm. The Honniger sounds pretty cool (lame adjective I know) . Good selection I think. Count me in , when is that cd club Marc?
Marc - welcome!

You guys haven't made me feel like I missed a hell of a lot at the Wilco show.

Re classical listening experiment, Derek, savvy negotiator that he is, appears to be playing the "silence" card as a means of ensuring his suggestion is selected. A clever and reliable tactic (used by women through the ages) which I will cave on. Let's go with the Honegger - his third symphony (subtitled "Liturgical"). Re versions, in addition to the two Derek cited, I own an excellent Von Karajan version on Deutsche Grammophone which contains Symphonies II and III plus a Stravinsky Concerto.

Hey Marc...when's that meeting?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

No Kyle, it was not Levon Holmes, but rather Levon matter, i was wrong. I thought it was the renowned keyboardist for The Band who was accompanying Wilco in the second encore...well i was right on that account, but wrong about who the keyboardist for the band actually was...Garth Hudson. So i think i deserve 1/2 a point for recognizing the distinctive sound of The Band's keyboardist but loose at least 1 full point for not knowing that Levon Helm was actually the drummer of The Band.

Enjoyed Wilco very much, but after the show i could not help think back to a conversation that came up earlier in the evening concerning the price of opera tickets and i came to a conclusion that it was not that bad a deal when you compare it to the cost of a Wilco show.

Let's an opera we get a full orchestra, maybe a couple dozen singers/actors who continually learn new works, a couple of really good singers (the superstars), a bunch of set decorators, designers choreographers, a printed program with lyrics etc. etc. etc. a Wilco show we get a bunch of guys basically regurgitating songs from a couple of their last albums, who are to lazy to show up for a sound check! That for almost $50 bucks...damn right i'm going to stick around and squeeze them for every encore their good for! Definitely think they should have stopped at two. I think they employed a very clever tactic in playing one of the very worst songs every written as their last song in the third encore..."you won't hear this song on the radio"...(taken from the end of their last album) shit you won't, 'cause it's crap! Absolute crap!...there was no chance in hell of the crowd calling for yet another encore after that.

...but really, i enjoyed the show!

As for expanding my horizons and challenging myself to think critically about some hard to wrap my head around music..i'm all for it. If it is deemed worth listening to (not necessarily liking) i will gladly go out and buy it do my homework.


I'm glad to be back in the office, where the internet connection is fast and stable, and where I can actually sit down and gather my thoughts for a few minutes.

I'm also glad that the 'Smile' experiment was kiboshed. As much as I like ‘Good Vibrations’, ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘When I grow up to be a man’, I’m not what you’d call a big Beach Boys fan. Some 40 years later, I can’t imagine the songs stand up very well. Plus I've purchased a few interesting discs from bands who are neither Wilco or Radiohead which i'm interested in sharing with the group. The date of that meeting is......?

I really enjoyed the Wilco show and thought their set was very tight. Jeff Tweedy also seemed to be in a pretty upbeat mood and a few early feedback issues aside, they sounded great. I liked his witty rejoinder to the fan who enigmatically shouted ‘St. Louis Cardinals’: ‘Um, thanks. That was very…cryptic’. While some of the distortion bits were a little long for my liking, I was impressed with the way they would rein in the chaotic noise and churn out a straight on pop song.

Marc, not sure if the guy on keyboards/guitar was Levon Holmes as I’m not sure I know who Levon Holmes is. I do know that it wasn’t Livan Hernandez, who was pitched for the New York Yankees the previous night.

Agree with you Derek about the ovation thing. It was good but did I really feel like leaping to my feet and cheering? Not really and so I didn’t, until the end of the regular set, when I needed to stretch my legs (Massey Hall—great acoustics, not so great when it comes to comfortable seating). I also find the whole ‘clap for an encore’ part of the show so incredibly tedious and inauthetic. What, if I don’t cheer, they’re not going to come out again? Unless I clap solidly for ten minutes, they’re heading back to the tour bus? Or is it like a performance of Peter Pan, where I have to clap to save Tinkerbell’s life? Did my lacklustre applause on Saturday night unknowingly put the band in mortal danger? No. They're going to come out anyway and we all know it so enough with the song and dance and bring on the, um, song and dance as it were.

And tell me, because I don’t understand, why do fans feel the need to shout affirmations during any pause in the vocal performance? Its as if the absence of a ‘whoooooo’ during the bridge were a slap in the face to the band.

Since the encores weren’t particularly impressive in terms of song selection and Sarah and I were meeting up with friends later for a birthday-drinks event, we decided to jet midway through the second encore. Just how many encores were there?

Anyhoo, I when I was in Seattle last week I discovered a radio station that I really liked and they have a pretty neat website so check it out here.

Way out of my depth on the classical music suggestions but am more than willing to dive in and purchase the disc that you think will be interesting. ‘Atonal’ is not a big selling point for me but I’m willing to keep an open-mind.

Tell me what to buy. And tell me when to show up to Marc's place. And then put me in a taxi home. And shouldn't we consider adding a bottle of scotch to the mix?