Friday, October 28, 2005

Ive often thought that all reviewers feel that putting a 6.5 to 7.5 rating on a disc would be not condusive to furthering their career. To be a successful critic one has to "discover " the next greatest thing. (ie a 9,0 to 10,0 review) Apparently Bowie and another famous rocker who I forget were slagging ea other about who discovered Arcade fire so its not just critics who are like this too. Tim Perlic is a great example of another career stategy for reviewers.... he makes his name slamming good acts to generate letters to NOW ....

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Here's a case in point of why it may not always be wise to follow the lead of the music critic. Could these two gentleman be discussing the same disc(s)?,11712,1576038,00.html

Makes me think that despite the 42/100 currently slapped on the new Fiery Furnaces disc at the metacritic site that I should just ignore the primarily disparaging reviews and buy the bloody thing. I always find the punters (users?) reviews funny. It's either 0/10 "it sucks" or 10/10 "if you skip this album, your going to be missing out on the entire world". Just glad these black and white types are not in the CD club.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

well, not to be contrary, but I have to say (at the risk of being framed as a guy who only likes slowserious music....what...OK maybe that is me...),but that Antony and the Johnsons cd is actually my favorite disc of the year so far, by a wide margin. Secondly, I actually quite prefer Feast of Wire over spoke...It aint even a close contest baby...SO what does this all go to show (besides that Derek has no taste in music) IT shows that although we all generally like and dislike a lot of the critically aclaimed music out there...there is always going to be variations on the final strokes . Ther will always be way overhyped bands and there will always be bands you never would have found without the hype.....Take it all with a grain a salt, turn up the music, and damn if I dont like bitching about critics too....

Monday, October 24, 2005

I actually don't mind "You are a runner..." by Wolf Parade and am hoping Brian does too, as it was a last minute addition to his belated birthday disc. I've only listened to the album twice and haven't really wrapped my head around it yet so I’ll hold off on judgments but I suspect that you and Stuart are now squarely in the anti-Wolf Parade camp, having endured an apparently less than stellar recent concert of theirs.

Also, when you say, “Threw on an oldie”, do you really mean, “I finally cracked the cellophane wrapper on a cd I purchased years ago”? I thought so.

Regardless, I've now decided to download 'Spoke' as I've recently downloaded the full album for 'Feast of Wire' based on Stuart's suggestion and can't believe it took me this long to get around to listening to the whole thing. In short, I'm quite hooked so I'm looking forward to 'Spoke'.

Re: your question: I often buy discs based on good reviews but I've become more discerning about who I take advice from in recent years. Rolling Stone loves it? This means nothing to me. Good review on Pitchfork? If the review avoids smarmy, nonsensical references, deftly parodied nicely by comic/actor David Cross , then I'm more inclined to buy. Then there are artists who I just don’t ‘get’. We all have them and for me, Fiona Apple, is one of them (along with P.J. Harvey, whose music just doesn’t work for me). Her latest album has been very well reviewed but I’m just not interested.

Glad you referenced All Songs Considered, which does a great weekly podcast, as does CBC Radio 3, whose most recent podcast I've quite enjoyed. Referenced this week was a website I'd not found before and may be of interest to you all: .

I've added this link to the list of links on the right side of the screen.

As for bad tracks to start an album, I continue to loathe the first track off of the Fiery Furnaces' 'Blueberry Boat'-- 'Quay Cur'--the remainder of which has grown on me (and only after 20 listens!). Can't think of any others at the present time but will add more.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Post Sunday night dinner I threw on an oldie (in relative terms) "Spoke" by Calexico from 1997. Allmusic gives it a paltry 3 out of 5 compared to the 4 they give "Feast of Wire" and 4.5 handed out to their sophomore record "The Black Light". Pitchfork gives these last two 8.9 and 8.5 respectively and don't even have a review for "Spoke". But for me the debut record is far and away the record for me that just clicks on every level. Despite many repeat listens to the supposedly superior follow-up discs they just don't register the way "Spoke" did and still does.

It's not as if I'm trying to be a "I was there for the first disc" snob. Burns and Convertino are part of Friends of Dean Martinez and their first two albums preceeded "Spoke" and as much as I enjoyed those albums I don't ever seem to traipse back to them and throw them on when the mood strikes. Which brings me around to the often unwarranted cachet we place on the voice of the critics whether they be internet or journal based.

3 cases in point are to be found on Metacritic's best of 2005 list.

#4 is Antony and the Johnsons, #8 is Wolf Parade and #17 is the Eels. The highest ranked of these albums is for me almost unlistenable. Actually I listened to the album in its entirety 2 months ago and have never gone back to it. Wolf Parade's album doesn't kick in until track 5 or 6 and as I mentioned to Stuart last week the opening track "You are a Runner and I am My Father's Son" might just be the worst opening track of any album I know. Any suggestions for any other truly vile album openers?

As for the Eel's disc it's two CDs worth of mostly forgettable music much in the vein of their previous 5 albums. I fell for the critics fawning over this one and made the purchase despite my stoic reaction to their first album almost 10 years ago.

So do critics play a large part in your purchase of new music? Do you give your music listening pals' advice more credence and if not why not? Is there any one critic you can rely on more than other's?

Check out the latest episode of NPR's "All Songs Considered" (episode 93) with the best song from the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah disc, cool new stuff from Portatsatic and Elbow, and for those who want more Kozelek (not me) a song from his new album of Modest Mouse Covers. Feel free to skip the Fiona Apple track (nothing new here) and Sinead's baldy spastic white girl attempt at reggae.

Best of all is "Carpet Crawlers" from the 3 CD set Platinum Collection of Genesis which amazingly enough shares disc space with "Illegal Alien". As another diminutive baldy Chuck Brown once said "Aaaaaargh!".

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Decemberists at the Pheonix last week was a 9 out of 10 for me... I only have the last cd (picked up recently) so not knowing much about them I found the show to be great song after great song with very memorable hooks that stayed with me for days. The sound was good, the pacing was great and the on stage banter was damn funny at times. They were soooooo relaxed between songs and very intense during the performances. The encore of Mr Blue Sky (by ELO and done with gusto and bang on ) capped the night. The only quibble being that the on stage banter digressed into the musicians swapping instruments for a badly done jam session for the last song rather then capping it with a great tune. But for that it would have been a 10.
The Wolf Parade, last night at the shoe, by contrast was a great disappointment,
The songs dont have memorable hooks , the sound is similar to arcade fire, but the songwriting is much weaker. The sound tries to be punkish, and admittedly Im not the most formost expert or fan of that genre, but it seems to me the great punk bands still have hooks and melody of a sort. "God save the queen" for instance stays with you even though the sound is rough. Well maybe I just dont get them but after 4 or 5 plays of the damn cd and seeing them live I think Ive tried hard enough....mercy... I give, I GIVE....stop ....I BEG OF YOU.......AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
You're havin my baby-Paul Anka,
Baby Baby Dont get hooked on me-Mac Davis (I think)
Its all over now Baby Blue-Dylan
Baby loves love??
All supremes songs.............

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Derek, nice list. I've never heard of three of them (bands or songs) so that's always fun. My list will be a little more straightforward, based in sixties music, when, let's face it, everyone was everybody's baby.

- It Ain't Me Babe (y) - Dylan, though the Turtles do a rousing folk-pop version as well
- Why Not Your Baby - Gene Clark
- Baby Blue - the sadly under-appreciated Badfinger (though Aimee Mann did a nice version in the nineties)
- Baby's In Black - Beatles
- Baby Love - Supremes, classic Holland-Dozier-Holland number

No baby yet, incidentally. Due date: Tuesday. Yowza.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Jon Brion first came to my attention a few years ago for the wonderfully quirky job he did on the Punch Drunk Love soundtrack. A lot of the critical acclaim sent Kanye's way was afforded to Brion's production work from what I've read. Have yet to give Kanye's 2nd disc a listen other than last Friday night but am looking forward to it.

I'm listening to the new Broken Social Scene disc as I write (thanks to the good folks at Soundscapes always getting several days headstart on the big box stores) and can say for at least the first 3 tracks it truely rocks. I was in my favourite record store early on Saturday morning and the guy behind the counter told me it was a great disc and I mentioned that it took me about 10 listens to get my head around the last album. This disc might not need that kind of patience. The great thing for me about BSS is that they can't be pigeonholed. They sure as hell aren't jumping on the post-punk bandwagon and they're about as far from the New Pornographers as a Canadian band could possibly be and I love the NPs. There's a definite Sonic Youth influence on some of the tracks but even Thurston Moore never sounded this shambolic from track to track.

It's refreshing that many of the discs I am rushing out to buy, and unsealing immediately I might add, are Canadian discs. It's a great time to be a Canuck and a music lover. What with Destroyer, the Fembots, Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, NPs, BSS, Feist, etc we have a lot to be thankful for on this weekend. Hope you all had a good one.

5 favourite "baby" tracks:

"War Baby" - Tom Robinson
"Who Snatched the Baby" - The Band of Holy Joy
"Baby Judy" - The Hawaiian Pups
"Throwing My Baby Out with the Bathwater" - Tenpole Tudor
"Baby Ran" by 54-40 or "Combat Baby" by Metric

Friday, October 07, 2005

Also, Margeritaville isn't even the best song about fruity, girlie drinks; that distinction belongs, of course, to Mr. Rupert Holmes, whose 'Pina Colada' was an early 80s milestone. Haven't yet figured out what the 'dunes of the kate' referenced in the chorus means but still, a stellar hit. Really.
It was great seeing you all last week at the cd club. Though I was pretty tired and at one point, freezing cold, it was a lot of fun.

Stuart, you mentioned the production values on the Kanye West disc. Turns out that Jon Brion is the producer. I was listening to an interview on the radio this week with Fiona Apple, who has a new album out (not interested, based on what I heard) and mentioned working with Jon Brion, a name I'd heard before. Apparently he has worked with Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainright, and others . Keen your ears are, amigo.

Marc, if you have the list of music somewhere, if you could cut and paste it here that would be bitchin'. Really liked the two Nicola Conte discs you brought though the rest of the selections are somewhat hazy. I recall hearing some Neil Young and Waterboys but the rest is a little hazy.

Derek, your Thunder Bay story puts me in much more positive frame of mind for my San Diego trip next week. Clearly, I've not got it so bad.

Brian, the baby out yet? Question, to you and others: top 5 songs with 'baby' in the title.

The list from which to choose astounds. Bon weekend.
I know that northern ontario music wastelands, we had a similar experience in soux st marie this summer. We were having a respite from our camping by staying at the canal front holiday inn....they have redone there waterfront recently and have an ontario place forum like open air music venue. On a saturday night in the heart of the summer there was a 3 pc band playing a varirty of badly done smaltz covers to an audience of maybe 65 seniors. I didnt stay (but for a few minutes) because he perked my ears by saying a long intro to a song he stated was possibly the best song ever written. Well after our lists mania of said topic I had to hear what it was.....drum role...............Margaritaville!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Even more revolting than smog in early October is the fine scent of pulp and paper mill 24 hours a day. I just spent three days in Thunder Bay (I get all the glamourous assignments) while not really spending more than a couple of hours in the city. I was immediately whisked off 400km to the west to lovely downtown Fort Frances where its been cold, wet and windy and today even had a whole shitload of wet snow. So needless to say the air was fresh but you wouldn't know it as the paper mill smell permeates pretty much everywhere you go. So be thankful you got to walk about in 26 degree weather for the last 4 days.

Glad to hear you liked the Smog and kudos to you for uncovering their (his?) total non connection to Golden Smog. At least you've been able to listen to some good music this week. On our 4 hour drive back to Thunder Bay this morning I got to listen to Eric Carmen's greatest hits amongst other fine CDs. Apparently Northern Ontario has yet to plug in to the new wave revolution. What I wouldn't have given to hear Blue Peter, BB Gabor or the Diodes. Maybe next time I'm up I'll take the first Tall Poppies disc and ease them in gently.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I really dug the Smog music on Friday. Was reminded of it today by the smog (Toronto style), which was particularly revolting, given that it's early October. Anyway, Smog the band is definitely worth some further exploration......I would point out Derek, that it doesn't look like this is the same band (or a derivation thereof) as Golden Smog - Smog is a one-person show which, according to Allmusic anyway, has always been what it is. Bill Callahan has been making music largely on his own for fifteen years or so, according to the site. One of his occassional collaborators is Jim O'Rourke, a relatively new member of Sonic Youth whose solo record "Eureka" I came across a few months ago, and which is very appealing. But I digress. Basically here to say hooray for Smog.