Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey Kyle,

Back to your post on the best of the 2000's, I salute your ambition to find 100 albums, if not the take-up from the rest of the gang (or indeed your own follow through after the first two, ha). Just to re-start the ball on this, I have put together a very prelim list (let's call it the Long List) of favourite albums, numbering about forty. Includes Jose Gonzalez, so good thought there. Doesn't include, incidentally, either Radiohead or Arcade Fire (let's get a little debate going here people). I DO hope it doesn't harm their sales when the word gets out about BD not endorsing them.

I'll throw out a couple to try to stir the creative juices:

Something by the Microphones off of their 2001 album The Glow Pt 2. This one's called The Moon.

And this one from Winnipeg's Novillero - from 2005's Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives - a fave of mine called The Hypothesist.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not to focus on the wrong thing, but wow - was that '70s TV show clip lame! How did anybody ever get that project green-lighted? I guess in the pre-Internet days, the prospect of having an attractive woman run around in a short dress was compelling enough.

Friday, June 19, 2009

If you're reading these posts today, Mike, and wondering if the Isis reference means that I played a long lost Saturday morning tv clip from the 1970s, unfortunately, no. I did, however, share a story about the perils of assuming that a 30-second sound clip is representative of an entire song.
Quite happy to come out of the closet where the National are concerned.

Brian, you did forget my favourite music played last night, well at least the story that accompanied it and that was Kyle's "Isis".
I like how these are listed by round...think it helps me remember each artist more better by associating them with what I was drinking/shoving into my mouth at the time; i.e. if it was beemster cheese, which i enjoyed early in the night when i was also enjoying that lovely xylophone jazz piece....so that was...Walt Dickerson!

Thanks for hosting, Bri. Kudos to Marc for the tech support. And to Stuart, for convincing Derek that he has always loved the National all along.
thanks for a great night there Brian, and for posting those cuts so quickly ..it looks good except you neglected to indicate that I had the best selections of the evening...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tonight's Playlist:

Round One
Derek - Terry Callier - Occasional Rain (1972)
Stuart - "Dark was the Night" compilation, featuring The National, My Brightest Diamond, Bon Iver
Kyle - Woods - Songs of Shame
Brian - Walt Dickerson - a selection from "This is Walt Dickerson" and "To My Queen" (early 60's)

Round Two
Derek - Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
Stuart - Ladyhawke - Delirium
Kyle - LCD Soundsystem - 45 and 33
Brian - Tapes N Tapes - The Loon

Round Three
Derek - The Handsome Furs - Face Control
Stuart - The Flowers of Hell
Kyle - Viva Voce - Rose City
Brian - White Rabbits - It's Frightening

Round Four
Derek - Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love
Kyle - Dirty Projector - Bitte Orca
Stuart - Fever Ray. Fever Ray. Fever. Ray.
Brian - Mary Halvorson Trio meets Cymbals Eats Guitars

Marc leaves.

Round Five
Derek - Elbow - Seldom Seen Kid
Stuart - Fanfarlo - Fire Escape
Kyle - Menahan Street Band - Make the Road by Walking
Brian - Sparks - This Town and Amateur Hour

Stagger stagger stagger...the night ends.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Okay, time to stop dawdling and start posting again. Following up on Derek's suggestion from a few weeks back, that we begin sharing our picks for 'Best of the 00s' (some describe this decade as the "naughts" but this to me sounds decidedly grandpa-ish). With that in mind, I'd like to put forward two nominees from earlier in the decade to discuss/share/debate.

"Rose Rouge" - St. Germain, from Tourist (2000)

If you ate at a restaurant in any urban setting on earth from 2001 to 2005, you likely heard this album playing in the background, either before or Bebel Gilberto's Tanto Tempo. That's really no reason to slag either discs, both of which are really all about establishing a more sublter, nightclub cool.

"Tourist" fuses jazz elements (mostly horns and flutes) with house beats to create a kind of dance space for adults. There are a few quieter tracks to balance out the album as well as the more groovier, bass-heavy tracks like the one above as well as well placed latin influences (see tracks 'So Flute' and 'Latin Note') that make this album a varied, satisfying listen.

In a completely different direction, I'll also nominate Jose Gonzalez Veneer (2005). This Swedish singer-songwriter (Argentinian background) appears on a few Zero 7 records, but this first solo effort stands out the most for me. There's a very warm vocal quality that recalls Nick Drake at times but it's mostly the combination of the vocals, the sweetness of the lyrics, and the very deliberate, almost overplucked guitar strumming that really resonates.

Will add a few new ones every week or so. As for my list of albums, think I should be able to get to 100 and maybe 100 songs as well. Looking forward to reading/hearing yours.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Ive been at a conference for 2 days so I was unable to respond, though i can see the comments I cant access the comments on my blackberry. So in short i was unable to come dashing to the defence of Jackson Brown ...As Mike pointed out Brian, Your enthusian was tepid at best, i sure hope I dont need you to describe my best asetts to others in the future...( well yes ,you know, I wouldnt say Stuart is uninteresting, and hes not really dull usually but etc...)
at any rate Running On Empty with the aforementioned "load out song " was an anchor record for me and still is.. I also love his first record (saturated) very much which has doctor my eyes on it as the single but it very solid throughout almost as good as runni9ng on empty. I then branched out to the raved about record at the time (this was late seventies) Pretender which frankly was very dull. I then gave up on looking furhter until a few years ago.

A few years ago I discovered Lucinda Williams back catalogue to be fantastic. I hated Car wheels on broken gravel which all the critics adored , so i never looked at her early work after that disapointment. i then saw her live opening for Neil at the ACC and then I went and found that all her other albums were very good, it was just car wheels that sucked. This eurka moment has made me go back to assess some earlier major artisits that I had given up on and jackson browne is one of them.
I have picked up all the albums you mention Brian and I agree they are great sat afternoon music. Most heartily recommended...
I will also second Something Anything by Todd Rundgrin, A long cherished record of mine too.
I gave another green world by Eno from late seventies which I like well enough and listen too semi regularly, but it is not essential listening for me..
Fair enough.   I didn't really imagine Jackson Browne would be a life changer for any of you, more curiosity on my part.   Though Mike I think he is in your wheelhouse.  Haven't heard from Stuart and he has a pretty big appetite for earnest 70's music, so I'll hold out a modicum of hope for a kindred spirit there.  

While I'm thinking of it, who among you have explored Brian Eno's 70's music? His first four or five records are, in turn, very different and uniformly outstanding (if that makes any sense).   Here's a lovely song from Before and After Science.

I've heard nothing but raves about the Leonard Cohen tour - I somehow thought Mike that you had seen him on this tour, I guess not.   I had always ignored Lenny (that damn stubbornness again) but in the past year have spent a fair bit of time listening to his first few records - which are remarkable as I'm sure you all know.  I'm esp. fond of this one (and, it's a nice impressionistic home made - I assume -  vid).

Re the Nazz, pretty sure I'd remember hearing that at Blow Up, inebriation notwithstanding, though they sure belonged there.    That's a fun song - the drummer must have been exhausted at the end of it.  As far as Todd, I'd say you want to start with the big hit record Something Anything.   Though he was prolific and pretty uneven in his solo recording, and I only know his early period stuff.      Interestingly, he is indeed born in the same year as Jackson Browne, and sported that same stringy long-haired look as JB.  Hmm.  It's almost eery.... Of course, everyone in 1971 looked like that.   I know I did.    Kyle wasn't born yet.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Jackson Browne seems like the sort of artist that I would have been interested in, but I've never really delved into his music.  Like James Taylor, I've always been aware of him, but never been interested enough to give him a serious listen.  I did like "The Loadout" when I first heard it, and he had a song in the mid '80s called (I think) "For America" which I liked, but I never bothered to dig any deeper.  I haven't heard any of the songs on the album that you referenced, Brian.  And your hesitant and qualified testimonial hasn't convinced me to run out and buy it yet.  I definitely agree that his excessively earnest delivery is off-putting.

I do have some Pogues records, and I still enjoy listening to them.  My daughter has recently become a fan of theirs, having discovered them through some latter day Irish folk-punk bands that she and her friends listen to (the names all escape me at the moment).  

To introduce another name into the conversation, I just watched Lenoard Cohen's "Live in London" DVD.  It's really a remarkable performance - he's doing 3 hour long shows at the age of 75!  And I really like the arrangements of his songs.  He referred to his bass player as the musical director, so I assume he had a lot to do with it.  There are lots of different voices and instruments, and they all interweave and slip in and out of the mix in a very appealing way.  And Cohen's voice, which was always rather dead sounding to me, seems to have taken on a deeper resonance and nicer tone as he's aged.  I really enjoyed the concert (on DVD - tickets for the recent live show were sold out almost immediately amidst much bitching about Ticketmaster).  

I'm not likely to get in to Jackson Browne any time soon and given my advanced state of decay you can read that as never. But given how much I'm enjoying The Nazz, a band Brian brought to my attention, I figure I should ask if there is a particular Todd Rundgren album or two that I should seek out. Rundgren was an obvious contemporary of Browne's but until Utopia came along I wasn't really aware of his previous solo work and didn't find out about the Nazz until 30 years later.

And a final question primarily directed Mr. Doyle's way did they ever play the Nazz's "Under the Ice" at the Elmo's Blow Up and if not why not. It truly rocks.
Kyle, you're showing your age buddy on Jackson. Or relative lack of it I guess. I've always found him mildly annoying - so earnest and idealistic and baby faced - until recently. And I'm still not convinced he's my thing, there's a problematic sameness to his music, other than the big singles, but the overall vibe is somehow working better for me now.

Monday, June 01, 2009

My only reference point for Jackson Browne is a mid-80s song that featured then-girlfriend (his, not mine, to clarify) Daryl Hannah in the video. Something about depending on me. I could easily look up and post the youtube video but it's not worth the keystrokes.

I also won't post a clip that a university friend emailed me recently of a toothless shane mcgowan performing 'Fairytale...' live sometime in the past few years. Not because I don't think that the song and the emotional performance are worthwhile, but because it was kind of difficult to watch someone in such a deteriorated state. We've talked a bit in the past about the poetic nature of suffering in music, particularly when it comes to some (most?) jazz greats, but watching it unfold before you in documentary or online video instantly takes the romance out of that notion.

Hoping to discuss further on June 18th...any chance of a child-sports-related reason to journey to Toronto on that date, Mike?
Greetings.  I've been struggling to find my blogging muse recently, so have decided to break out of this torpor by posting about a couple of pretty inconsequential things.     Firstly, I recently watched a doc about ex-Pogue Shane MacGowan called "If I Should Fall from Grace with God".  I was a big fan of the band in the 80's, saw them twice at the Masonic Temple (great shows, despite the forthcoming comment), and so wasn't too surprised when many years ago they booted out Shane for his alcoholism - famous for his drunkenness, and unable to stand up at the second performance we went to - but hadn't been aware of this film, which was made back in 2001, until a colleague at work mentioned it to me.    It's pretty hard watching at times, since Shane has apparently deteriorated in the ten years since he'd been in the public eye, and is still drinking straight from the bottle every day.  But it's also a pretty good telling of the story of the Pogues, and incorporates, as you might expect, a lot of their best music, some great live clips, and interviews with a few band members.    I've since gone back and listened to some of those great records, and for those among us (if there are any) who haven't heard anything other than a few numbers, I would recommend starting with the second and third records  "Rum Sodomy and the Lash", and the next one, the eponymous film title.   I was reminded upon re-listening me what a top-notch song-writer MacGowan was, and what an excellent group of musicians the Pogues were.  A Pair of Brown Eyes would have to make my list of fave songs of the 80's (were I to do one this week - ha).

My second note is on Jackson Browne.  Now here is a guy I thought I had no affinity for.  Sure I quite enjoyed Running on Empty and Doctor My Eyes as radio staples when I was in my early teens, but they never made enough of a connection with me to spend anything more than a passing listen or two with the albums.   He was a foundational element of that whole So Cal singer songwriter scene that I - in my twenties - dismissed as a soft, cocaine-addled Hollywoodization of what had been a great movement in the late sixties.   And his music in the eighties (as was typical of so many 70's giants), when I was listening more carefully, was over-produced and boring.    Can't recall what prompted me to go back and try him again, perhaps just an idle interest, or a radio spot, or the remembrance in the back of my head that he had written a few tracks on Nico's Chelsea Girl (they dated when he was 18, and she 29), but regardless, in the past few months I've bt'd a few of his early records - the self-titled debut, Too Late for the Sky, and For Everyman.    This is music that's not right in my wheelhouse, being very sincere, cleanly produced (overly so), and concerned primarily with relationships.  Also very straightforward musically - all within the standard four/five chord structure.    Having said that, I've found it to be a very rewarding listen, and improving with time, particularly Too Late for the Sky.    Very intelligent lyrically and played with passion.  And David Lindley's guitar work is extraordinary.  Overall a great middle-of-the-afternoon-on-a-weekend vibe.  Arguably just a further indication that I'm getting old, or that some of my adolescent pig-headedness  is finally wearing off.   I've definitely found myself able to enjoy this style of music in the past year - Joni Mitchell, Bill Withers, Roberta Flack, among others.    Frankly I'm still in shock.  

Any of you (I'm thinking Mike and Stuart but surprise me) loved JB before?  Or prepared to re-visit him based on my renewed enthusiasm?