Friday, February 27, 2009

I tried searching for every (real) artist that stuart listed here in grooveshark and only added those that appeared on the list. If you want to create a grooveshark profile and upload some songs, I think you can even add these to my playlist (called stuart february 20th).
Stuart, you are just so hilarious my friend. And the Opera disk was Albanian, not Armenian.

Kyle, great comp, though oddly it doesn't include anything that I brought....just an oversight I'm sure :) . Interestingly, I noted that Department of Eagles (which I sampled last night and at first blush, really love) is a side project of Grizzly Bear, who have a new record coming out shortly, and whose song "Don't Ask" I am over the moon about.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thanks for posting Stu. Thought it would be a nice recap for those who attended and those who could not to hear some of those tracks, courtesy of my new favourite little tool, the grooveshark playlist. Enjoy:

Nicely done Stuart. Love that first list especially Marc's box set. You were obviously on form this morning mate.

For those of you that enjoyed Kyle's selection of Tinariwen the other band that you might want to check out is Etran Finatawa which is available on e-music.
Dylan -Bootleg vol8 89-2006
The pains of being pure at heart -young adult friction
Roy haynes-we 3
ted macero-with the prestige jazz quartet
Department of eagles
Horace Silver-doing the thing
Electrelane- no shouts no calls
Sin fang bous
Cut Copy- in ghost colours
Glenn Mercer-wheels in motion
Animal collective-merriweather post pavillion
Art farmer-farmers market
J-live - the upgrade lp then what happened
open sky unit - sunshine star
the new year
lykke li - touith novels

and there wasnt a bad cd in there.........
sorry for the delay in the list......

Brians choices:
Jazz compilation: Jazz so rare we cant find it
Opera Disc: eastern Armenian all male choir sings their favorite songs from the 14th century

I love to dance.....Whitney huston
I need your love stick....Rick Astley

Kyles :
The best of nickleback
Celine Dion: I love old bald men

World music comp: All african music ever made (1000 disc box set)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yeah, I'm thinking that this is another muxtape, waiting to be quashed by the labels, especially since I don't see any 'buy it here' type icons or any corporate branding. Seems like there's an ability to create playlists, as existed in muxtape, as well as the ability to email a song to a friend, so the friend can listen to a full stream. I'm in the process of 'creating a widget' which should, if it works, allow me to embed a little mp3 player with said playlist within the blog. will keep you all posted.

UPDATE: A little digging and I'm nervous about it's long-term potential. Still, I'm cheering these guys on.

UPDATE: Here's the playlist.

I don't get it - I'm currently listening to the latest album by James on Grooveshark. I was able to dial it right up and play it directly, which I always understood to be a copyright violation in itself (Pandora always allowed me to choose a song as a seed, but it wouldn't play that song right away because of copyright laws). I gather that Grooveshark also has an autoplay feature that suggests songs, although I'm not sure of the algorithm that it uses. But why is this service able to play in Canada if Pandora is not? I guess I should just enjoy it for as long as I can until some faceless bureaucrat shuts it down as well. Great find, Kyle!
Not sure if there are many others I can add to the list, other than Miki Berenyi of Lush and possibly Pat Benetar (one of my first pop music faves). Will second Liz Fraser, Emily Haines, Hope Sandoval, others but I guess I'm mostly curious as to when you all started drinking Irish whiskey....

Mike, I haven't had a chance to try out musicovery yet but I did come across grooveshark, which looks pretty good, though i should note that i'm typing this stateside and have not tested in canada. i'm assuming that it does work in canada, since i read about it in the globe and mail's technology section this morning.

Friday, February 13, 2009

i have to say that males outnumber females in my collection, that is not surprising as I would bet there are more males then females in pop rock, (as this is seen as a primary means of getting laid to all guys).
I am however very much enamoured by many female artists and find no difficulty in making a list of female artists who are at the top of my absolute favorite artisits.. (granted that is a big list)...
I will have to check out the cockteau twins and try for Nico once again though I fear Nico lands on my list of hip artisits I dont get... although Nico could also be on the list of artisits that Brian is frankly wrong about, and that is a big list too... )
Some of the favorites in no particular order are:
Dionne Warwick
Stevie Nicks
Sandy denny
Neco Case
Emmy LouHarris
Patsy cline
Joni Mitchell
Kate Bush
Julie Doiron
Marianne faithfull
Natalie Merchant
all these gals spend much time every year w me so to speak...
Like Mike I also browsed my record collection and I was quite surprised at the number of female vocalists that I've taken a shine to over the years. Many of them do tend to fall in to the period of late 70s through early 90s with very few in the last 20 odd years. Similar to Suzanne Vega I suppose.

The likes of Kate Bush, Siouxsie Sioux (from the Banshees), Liz Frazer of the Cocteau Twins, Clare Grogan of Altered Images, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, Bjork (with and without the Sugarcubes), the lovely Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays, Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab, Beth Orton, Michelle MacAdorey of Crash Vegas and Natalie Merchant were all a big part of my life through my late teens and twenties.

More recently I've enjoyed Neko Case, MIA, Tujiko Noriko and Emily Haines both her solo work and her music with Metric.

If I had to pick any one of these as a standout it would probably be Liz Frazer. Her ethereal voice, an almost indecipherable musical language and the complete lack of information about the band on their record sleeves (in a pre-internet age, pipping Belle & Seb by about a decade) lent an air of mystique to her that will likely go unsurpassed and unrepeated now that I'm a rather jaded and cynical music fan in my mid 40s.

Given the number of live shows I've seen over the years it's strange that with the exception of Neko Case and Stereolab I didn't see any of these artists in concert. When I see somebody live I usually hope to hear a band rock out and bring something more that just a regurgitation of a record to the concert hall. Is it possible then that with the exception of the Pretenders, as Brian brought up the other night, there just aren't that many female fronted bands or solo artists that are likely to bring that to the table?
I found your new post, Brian, misleadingly nestled among those older posts. Who'd have thought that MetaBeats would have such a burst of activity that we'd be in danger of missing entries? I was pleased to see that somebody picked up on my Zappa thread. And I found your challenge quite - well, challenging. I've been thinking about it and scanning my albums, and there are certainly lots of women represented, but very few that I would even consider as my favorite. My choice would have to be Suzanne Vega I think - I've got almost all of her recordings, and I've gone to see her in concert a couple of times. It's a less passionate connection than your unhealthy obsession with Nico, but I think it's the best I can do. When it comes right down to it, female musicians have generally not inspired me as deeply as male musicians have, and I'm not sure why that is. There are generally a lot fewer females than males in the business, but I don't think that fully accounts for it. I wonder if, at some hidden level, the female perspective is different enough from the male perspective that it impedes the musical and lyrical resonance that the very best music can produce.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Boys, I put up a lengthy yet typically intriguing post earlier today which was sent back to last week because that's when I started it. Just thought you might want to know that.
I agree with Kyle about the highly irritating pricing policies of Ticketmaster. I suppose it's really the scalpers that I find irritating, but Ticketmaster doesn't seem to exert much if any effort to control them, and the implication of this article seems to be that they might even be profiting from that mechanism. But apart from all of that, I think that concert tickets are ludicrously expensive now. When I was in high school, I went to quite a few concerts, and I seem to recall paying between 25 and 50 dollars for them. At the time, that was the equivalent of 2-4 albums, which seemed reasonable to me. These days, even at face value the ticket price for a big name act can be over $200. That's the equivalent of 10 CDs - does that seem reasonable? And yet, they seem to have no trouble filling up the stadiums.

As for whether bands have an obligation to play their hits, I am firmly in the "no" camp on that one. Performers can choose to perform anything that they wish, but they have to understand that the size of their following will be dependent on those choices. If Smashing Pumpkins wants to divorce itself from its catalog, it'll lose some large percentage of its current fan base. I think that the prospect of a smaller and more discerning audience probably has appeal to many artists as they grow older.

Finally, have any of you played around with Muiscovery? I recently stumbled across it - I don't find it as interesting as Pandora was, and I don't yet have a good sense of the breadth of its catalog (although I did notice that their list of genres didn't include either country or folk). But it is interactive, and it does have stream some good music.

Offhand, I'd say Calexico's Feast of Wire, which I didn't love off the bat but about 10 listens in it all came together, the mariachis, the brooding slow orchestral build of 'Black Heart', the sweet guitar strings of 'Not Even Steve Nicks', the twangy instrumentals, all make this one of my favourite of the decade. I also recall not liking The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me after what seems now like many listens (apart from the odd song like 'Just Like Heaven' or 'The Catch', which were instant-pleasers) and now I find I myself going back to some of the lesser known tracks on the disc like 'The Perfect Girl' and 'Like Cockatoos'. I liked but did not love 'Kid A' after the first dozen listens but find it gets better with each listen, in a way that arguably a more accomplished or at least feted album like 'OK Computer' does; perhaps this is due to the layering of sounds or the beauty in the cacophony of tracks like 'The National Anthem'.

I'm sure there are some others....will think on it and add some more....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You're discounting the possibility that young Henry is/was a big Zwan fan and knew what he was buying into.

But rather than talk about albums that were bollocks upon release and remain so years later how about those albums that start off making barely a dent in your consciousness, whether you had high expectations or not, and yet end up being one of those "go to" discs that more than stand the test of time and you might have tossed aside after 5 or 6 listens and never ventured near again.

I've had this type of discussion with some of you from time to time but I raise it again having just read Tim Perlich's latest 5N review in Now Magazine of Dan Auerbach's (from the Black Keys) latest solo release. Up until yesterday, the release date, on the Nonesuch record label website you were able to stream the entire disc. I did so and as much as I enjoyed some of the music I kept waiting for it to wow me like a so called perfect disc is supposed to.

But of course in the real non-Pitchfork world most of us don't make bold statements about any record until we've lived with it for a long time and let it's magic, if it exists, have its way with us. Very rarely does that happen after a few cursory spins. Sometimes it can take years and having those whose opinion we respect continually harp on about what we're missing in a great album.

Which brings me to my question. Are there records for you which upon first, 3rd, maybe even 10th listen left you shrugging your shoulders and now you wouldn't be without. And likewise are there records that you have been told time and time again by those in the know that you just oughta love that you know will never click.

A few examples for me that remain treasures in my collection but took a lot of listens: Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot", Olivia Tremor Control's "Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle, DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing"and Magnetic Fields' "69 Love Songs".

As perhaps one acclaimed record (two actually) I'll never feel warm and fuzzy about how about that Gram Parsons "GP/Grievous Angel".

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

As someone who has long bemoaned the exorbitant fees tacked on by Ticketmaster, I'm quite pleased to see them taking a PR beating, and perhaps a big financial hit, for their recent tactics with some big name concerts.

What stands out for me in the article (assuming you've read the link), apart from the evil genius that lies at the heart of scalping your own tickets and essentially forcing the casual concert-goer to take a leap into a whole new level of fandom by ponying up airfare-like prices to attend what will likely be two hours of uneven musical performance, is that, in the year of our Lord 2008, somebody actually paid $536 to see the *#!*ing Smashing Pumpkins. I mean, okay, $200 of those charges were likely 'handling fees', but still I'm wondering how Henryk Krajewski felt when, after having doled out $270 per seat, Mr. Corgan et al refused to play their old hits?

Discuss. Or tear out your hair. Or just chortle smugly.
Harkening back to your note on Zappa, Mike, I had (and maybe still have) a strong ambivalence towards his music. Partially this stems from the fact that my brother played "Joe's Garage" incessantly in my mid-teens, which, to say the least, got under my skin, and partially it's from the overarchingly satirical nature of his work, which I often find smug and annoying. Musically, however, I think there is a fair bit to experience, and so I've gone back in the past year and downloaded a number of his early records, including Freak Out and Absolutely Free. They are pretty enjoyable pop-psychedelic records, with strong song structures and arrangements. I've also picked up Hot Rats, which many think is his masterpiece, a jazz-fusion-pop record that needs a few listens, but is pretty dynamic musically, more along the lines of what you described Mike. Having said all of that, and at least I've given the man chance, if I'm being honest with myself he's never going to be one of my guys.

So nice segway (how the hell do you spell that word?) into your blog Derek. Frank Zappa is a good BD example of a much-lauded artist whom I don't much like. If you look him up on allmusic his bio starts with "was one of the most accomplished composers of the rock era". Seriously, I question that.

Which segways into records that I didn't like initially, but grew on me, there are lots...genius, or near genuis, often is harder to digest, I find. Even in pop music. Examples like Animal Collective's "Feels" album (more on AC momentarily), the Deerhof's Runner Four, VU and Nico, Stones' Beggar's Banquet, Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dreams, Pavement's Slanted, Nico's Desertshore (more on Nico later), even Juliana Hatfield's Become What You Are, were all records that I grew to like and then love after repeated listenings and despite initial wariness.

And re Kyle's mention of Pitchfork's 9.6 for Animal Collective, I'll start by saying, I like these guys. I think they make really interesting music, with lots of layers. But I find PM's unfettered adoration pretty far off the mark. And it's not just this record, it's all of them, plus the solo efforts by Panda Bear and whatever the other guy's nom de plume is. I'm nowhere near feeling the genius that Pitchfork does.... and it happens a lot with them, both on the overly positive and opverly negative side, so it shouldn't bother me as much as it does (but it does). For the record, I'm far better aligned to allmusic as a source of reliable reviews.

And finally, in chatting with Derek over a Jamieson's last night, I wanted to pose an additional question to the group. And here it is :

Who is the coolest female pop / rock artist of all time? (If you've been reading along you know who I'm about to nominate...yes, that's right, Nancy Sinatra!) OK nope, I would put forth Nico as the most fascinating, imponderable, strangely beautiful and uncompromising female artist - who, unlike many uncompromising pop artists, makes music I truly adore - of the pop age.

High praise, I know, and based mostly on two records (Chelsea Girl and Desertshore) and her work with VU. I can't get enough of this music. Over the past five years she is probably my most oft-played artist. Every few months I go through another period of deeply unhealthy mini-obsession. These two and a half records are outstanding, weird-but-very-musical statements that inspired a couple of generations of avant garde artists. A Big Wow.

Anyone else care to put forward their not-as-cool-as-Nico fave female pop/rockers?

Monday, February 09, 2009

That sounds highly plausible, Stuart. Probably the best summation of the Billy Joel discussion can be found in an article written by music writer Chuck Klosterman, collected in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. I have a copy and will bring to Stuart's for those who care to borrow it.

So what's the best of 2009 so far? Beyond this.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Beast was reviewed within the last week in the star ben raynor....gots good marks...
and by the way what a coincidence, i was discussing the Billy Joel debate with some people I met in a new bar last week and turns out one of them is a booking agent and knows the guy who booked him with Elton john for this springs to make a long story short Billy Joel will be at the next cd club event at my we can disparge him to his face..
Definitely a distinctive voice. At times she sounds bit like Shirley Bassey but also like this singer Res who had an album out a few years ago (Derek, for some reason I think you own a copy of her disc but I may be wrong). Not sure that I like most of the songs on the Beast album at emusic. Then again, I'm not sure that I dislike them either. The production seems overly elaborate but I get that that's the point so not really a valid complaint. It's an interesting sound and I may have to download just to see if it catches on with me. Interesting find, Mike!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I heard a song on the radio the other day that caught my ear. It was released in 2008, but it wasn't mentioned on any of the "best of" lists in this blog. The band is Beast - they're from Montreal. The song is "Out of Control", and the album is available on emusic. For me, the compelling thing about the song is Beatrice Bonifassi's vocals.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Speaking of Frank Zappa, are any of you fans of his? I've never really heard too much of his music, but I happened upon a radio show about him the other day. They were interviewing musicians who were in his band, and they were positively reverent about him. One woman (a vibraphone player) was describing his system of hand signals. Apparently he had a very complex system that he used to control the music in real time. She said that they'd be playing something, and she'd be really getting into it, and all of a sudden he'd make the gesture that meant that she had to launch into a particular musical phrase from a different song at top speed. She had to do this on command, whether or not it fit the current piece of music, which everybody else kept playing. He had dozens of these signals - some for individual musicians and some for the whole band. She was playing bits and pieces while she talked - really complex stuff. One piece had a time signature change in every bar. But it was not cacaphonic - despite the seemingly random way he called for these substitutions, it all fit together nicely. These musicians described him as a kind of a sonic sculpter. As I heard some of the snippets they played, I had the same reaction that I often have to jazz - I was impressed by the virtuosity, but it's only academic to me. Somehow it doesn't engage me on an emotional level.
Good morning gents. I'm just kicking back listening to Pandora at work. Such a great site. Today's choice is "Stan Getz Radio". Awesome.

Re Billy Joel, I think the man has more than his share of pure songwriting and performing talent, but he's hopelessly devoid of the cult of cool. In that way, perhaps he would fit in well at one of our CD clubs. Ha! Just a thought....

Anyhoo, my sense is he has different heroes than the rest of us - I'm guessing he might list Frank Sinatra, or Frankie Valli, possibly even Frankie Avalon, though likely not Frank Black or Frank Zappa. How else can you explain his output over the years, consistently nowhere near cool, albeit reflective of the aesthetic of the times....say, aware of the beating heart but more content to hang out in the fatty middle-aged spread. What other explanation for his apparent smugness, which is how I interpret his lame bad-assedness?

It's indisputable that guys like Billy exist in the pop music spectrum and have their moments in the sun. It's the length and breadth of his success in particular that's a bit of a stunner, and perhaps should be taken personally - hands up for those of us that own a BJ record - mine is up. Though I do take comfort in the fact that I bought it when I was 13.

I like the idea of a guilty pleasures list. And not the ones that seem like gp's but end up looking pretty good, like, say, digging Black Sabbath. More the Leo Sayer (got him), Toto (got two of 'em) type of thing.