Friday, December 23, 2005

Since I don't see anything that's coming out over the holidays that's likely to knock off any of my fave films from 2005 here's my top 10 in no particular order:

The World
Me, You and Everyone We Know
Tristram Shandy
Broken Flowers
The Squid and the Whale
Good Night and Good Luck
History of Violence

Also enjoyed some films that were not released in 2005: Elephant, Brief Encounter and Aberdeen.

Biggest piece of shit fawned over by the critics: Last Days. No doubt Brian will find it magical.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Forgot to mention the Coltrane/Monk record, outstanding. Plus, yes, I did enjoy the Decembrists record, they're incredibly consistent from release to release. No doubt seeing them live would have sealed their standing for me in '05.

Also forgotten, I really liked the Bjork release in '05 - The Music from Drawing Restraint 9. Not a Bjork record in some ways, but very rewarding mood music.
...I 'd have to say for me its the year of the decemberists....Picaresque for best album and also for best concert at the Pheonix....after that in no order I have a group of ;
Kanye West - Late Registration
Antony & Johnsons - I am a bird now
Monk & Coltrane - Carnegie Hall
Sigor Rios- Takk

Next bests group Rounding out the top 10 would be ;
Sufjan Stevens - Illinios (should have been 7 songs less, but that song about john wayne Gacy gets in the top songs of the year for me)
Broken Social Scene- Tragically both Brian & Derek are wrong with their opinions..the first record is a masterpiece, but this is too aimless & rambling but still a very good record....
Julie Doiron- Goodnight Nobody -The song "When the snow falls in December " this song evoking heartbreak and the early cold november snow.... ya all must have been here at some point the one song if the whole album is too much
Richard Hawley-Coles Corner

Finally 2 reissues...Belle and Sebastians-Push Barman...2 cd set of all singles and eps is pure bliss...I have all the records and thought I had all the good stuff ...but this would be what I would recommend to a neophyte....the most consistent band in the world...
Bill Fay self titled...I am a sucker for 70s sound ..horn section...production values...etc and this cd although it took me 3 or 4 listens has come to be a real favorite...

A final note...this is my last day at work and I dont have access to my email at home so if you want to contact me...its the phone baby ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I had a lousy listening year as you all know (I've complained about it ad nauseum) due to renovations and baby, but still emerged with a few favourites - all of which you know as well. Nevertheless, in the spirit of inclusiveness, I will add my brief list.

My favourite by far is Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens. I haven't had a connection to a pop record like this for a few years. It seems to me that he creates in his own space, with a musical/psychological idiom that is entirely his own. On Illinoise, the mix of folk, choral, and orchestra, combined with his soft voice made my heart do tricks on almost every track. His mix of supreme earnestness and goofy humour works for me as well (hmm...BD insight, maybe it's because I am also over-earnest and goofy?). It's funny, because I know that I could find the whole package, or certain aspects of it, very irritating, but I find myself caught up in the songs, and unable to criticize even their most cloying elements.

I was quite surprised (a little worried, frankly) to find that Pitchfork was on the same page for 2005:

Other fave albums for me were:
Teenage Fanclub - Man Made
Paul Motian/Bill Frissell/Joe Lovano - I Have the Room Above Her
Cardinal - re-issue of their 1994 (only) record (great chamber pop).
Bill Charlap - Somewhere (from 2002) - Songs of Leonard Bernstein

First few listens of the Animal Collective sounded very good to me, so I'm hopeful. And I really enjoyed The Woods but haven't listened to it enough yet.

Disappointing albums for me (Have I become very hard to please in the last 12 months?):

- Broken Social Scene - Derek and I disagree, but I find this record (and the previous) somewhat devoid of personality (perhaps too many contributors), with overthought arrangements, and lacking great songs. The song D chose as his fave is a good song, but it sounds almost exactly like Pavement (so what's the point?).

- the New Pornographers - some great songs, but overall the band lacks cohesion, and the generic AOR (ie., CFNY "rock" music) mixes destroy some of its originality for me.

- Xiu Xiu - maybe just not my thing.

Songs I loved - I could pick a bunch form the records I enjoyed (or was disappointed with) above, but never mind. I can think of one that is on an unmentioned album, which is Black Mountain's "No Satisfaction". Great anthemic Lou Reed-inspired number.

Enough for now. Gotta work.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas, Kwanza or Dia de los Muertos, I actually never work so having no excuse for my lamentable posting record here goes:

Songs that had me skipping down the streets of Toronto this year are as follows:

Bright Eyes - Gold Mine Gutted
Broken Social Scene - Ibi Dreams of Pavement
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth
Me and You and Everyone We Know S/T - Mirror
Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict a Riot
Kanye West - Gold Digger
MIA - Galang
Sigur Ros - Hoppipolla
Sufjan Stevens - The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us
The Go! Team - Ladyflash
The Mountain Goats - This Year
Wolf Parade - I'll Believe in Anything
Green Day - Jesus of Suburbia
The Clientele - Since K Got Over Me
The New Pornographers - The Bleeding Heart Show
The Decemberists - The Sporting Life

Best Live Show - The Decemberists at the Phoenix

Most Disappointing Show - Wolf Parade at the Shoe with Calexico/Iron & Wine at the Docks coming a close second

Fine Album that registered on nobody's radar (although Kyle is now digging it) - Beck - Guero

2005's version of Brian Wilson's "Smile" - Antony & The Johnsons - I Am a Bird Now (sorry, Stu)

Favourite Album of 2005 (keeping it singular) - Broken Social Scene - Self Titled

Best compilation of previously issued material - Orange Juice - The Glasgow School

Finally 10 solid records most of which wont end up on any year-end best of list:

The Lucksmiths - Warmer Corners
Jaga Jazzist - What We Must
Holopaw - Quit + Or Fight
David Pajo - Pajo
Drumheller - Drumheller
Akron Family - Akron Family
Thee More Shallows - More Deep Cuts
Dave Douglas - Mountain Passages
Tujiko Norkio - From Tokyo To Naiagara (from 2003)
Tinariwen - Amassakoul (from 2004)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seriously now, what are you people doing? Christmas shopping? Spending quality time with your family? Doing the job your employers pay you good money to do? Good grief!

Well, since I said last week that I would post some year end faves I may as well get that done instead of bitching at others. First, a brief list which probably reiterates those printed in other publications but hey, what can you do if other people have good taste too?


'Be' – Common – feel good, groovy, intelligent, poppy, just good
'Late Registration' - Kanye West – sometimes too poppy but enjoyable
'Arular' - M.I.A. – like a shot of adrenaline, recommended for the treadmill
'Illinois' - Sufjan Stevens – doesn’t tire
‘Picaresque’ – Decemberists -
'Feels' - Animal Collective – energetic, inventive, weird, wonderful
'Strange Geometry' - The Clientele – warm bath harmonies, like a lost Byrds record with better sound quality; what Teenage Fanclub would be if they were “great”
'Woman King' - Iron & Wine – Sam Beam’s voice.
'In Case We Die' - Architecture in Helsinki - kind of like the Fiery Furnaces, in more easily digestible (shorter) portions, but with more instruments and singers
‘Black Sheep Boy’ by Okkervil River, another reason why KEXP in Seattle, where I first heard their music, should be replicated in Toronto someway, somehow.


‘Golddigger’ – Kanye
‘Engine Driver’ – Decemberists
‘Feel Good Inc’/’Dare’ – Gorillaz
‘Sunshowers’ or ‘Hombre’ – M.I.A.
‘On a Holiday’ – Green Day
‘I Turn My Camera On’ – Spoon
‘Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood’ – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
‘Something Beautiful’ – The Real Tuesday Weld
‘Evil’ – Interpol (technically last year’s release but I really only listened to it in 2005 and it’s a song that makes sensible use of the ‘repeat’ button on your cd deck)

Disappointments: 'The Cosmic Game' - Thievery Corporation. I've liked their 3 previous discs but I guess this just seems like more of the same, without any interesting new twists or directions. Thought that appearances by David Byrne and the Flaming Lips on a few tracks would be interesting but these tracks are actually the weakest on the album.

‘Solarized’ – Ian Brown. Though I’ve read others rave about this and I know, Stuart, that you kind of dug it, this is one that never quite did it for me. Maybe it’s because he seems to be doing a pale imitation of his earlier solo and Stone Roses stuff.

Grew on me:

No Title - 'Petra Haden and Bill Frissell' - An album of cover songs which at times can get a little too sugary sweet for my taste (ie. not sure why they chose to redo 'when you wish upon a star'), petra's voice is quite pretty and frissell's arrangements on 'Yellow', 'Satellite' and 'I Believe' make it worthwhile for me.

‘Guero’ – Beck – Sarah bought it and I resisted it for months, even after rave reviews her and Derek but am now digging it large. He’s a great songwriter and this disc is up there with ‘Odelay’, albeit with less distortion and more quieter, straightforward, acoustic numbers.

Old Music but New for Me:

Brian Jonestown Massacre – pretty much all their discs, most notably ‘Take it from the Man’. I wasn’t all that familiar with their music until seeing the documentary ‘Dig!’ this year but have been hooked on their sound ever since. Their jangly, psychedelic rock at times channels the best of the Rolling Stones (without sounding too derivative) and at other times more contemporary bands like Primal Scream and Verve.

‘Remember the Future’ – Creeper Lagoon, a 5-song ep of sweet, dreamy pop songs. Heard one of the tracks while listening to the forementioned KEXP on my laptop in an airport lounge, surfed over to emusic and downloaded the whole thing for a buck and change, then transferred it to my mp3 player for listening on the plane. Music I want, at a reasonable price, in seconds. What this whole digital music—ecommerce thing should be.

‘Madvillainy’ – Madlib & MFDOOM and “Vaudville Villain” – Viktor Vaugh
With thanks to Derek, who leant me these discs. A lot of the tracks stop just when they’re getting going but somehow I love the smooth, rhythmic delivery of both MCs, the sometimes strange but effective mix of drum and accordion samples, old b-movie clips, and scratching, the humourous pop culture references. Hip hop that’s more geared to lounging on the couch than it is to the dance floor.

That's all for now. Back to work.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Where can I sue this Eastern European no-hoper? He was obviously listening to me sing in the shower earlier this week and is just blatantly hoping to cash in. It makes Ian Curtis' original sound like Dusty Springfield.
It's the year of Mariah? I thought this year was all about punk-rock throat singers doing cover songs? Think I'm talking smack? Then listen to Albert Kuvezin's cover of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" which to me sounds a bit like a drunk Henry Kissinger trying to channel Ian Curtis.
I'm pretty much in sync with the Grammy people. This has been Mariah's year and let nobody tell you different.

As for MMJ I've never owned anything by them and despite liking a song here and there have never felt impelled to make an album purchase. They do seem to be getting a lot of hype for this latest however so take the plunge.
Has anybody heard the new My Morning Jacket disc? It's getting tons and tons of hype, raves, kudos, esteem, acclaim, praise, laudatory get the picture...and I was wondering if it measures up?

Also, the end of 2005 fast approaches...what were your faves of the year? Overall, I think it was a pretty damn good year for indie/alternative music, with some pretty good releases from artists with which I was previously familiar (Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney), and from artists I only discovered this year (M.I.A., Okkervil River, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). I've tipped my hand already with some of those that would make my top list so rather than come up with a list that will closely resemble what you'd see in exclaim, pitchfork, others, I'll try to come up with some more interesting categories. Hold your!

(Also, it's been at least a week since the last post. Don't tell me you people are actually working! Get off your ass and type something in here).