Friday, December 24, 2010

Big sighhhhh. Forced to defend my beloved New Porns right to the very end of the musical year. I suppose since it was released early in the spring it did get many repeat listens throughout the summer and it is a very good record. It didn't make my year end list as perhaps it had worn out its welcome by the time the crisp autumn weather rolled in. That didn't make it any less of a worthy choice for 2010 and yes it did make some year end lists in Pop Matters and Now Magazine.
Hey boys my favourite pop and near-pop records for the year were (in no order):

Dean and Britta - 13 Most Beautiful Songs
Midlake - The Courage of Others
Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett
Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
Laura Veirs - July Flame
Broken Bells (self-titled)
Avi Buffalo (self-titled)
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
The Morning Benders - Big Echo
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

HM's to Les Savy Fav, Belle and Sebastien, Badly Drawn Boy, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Sufjan, and MGMT.

The Mediocre-is Being-Kind Awards go to every one of Kyle's list (100% concurrence) plus the Pernice Brothers, Apples in Stereo, and Matt Pond.

And the You-Like-These-Guys-Way-More-Than-Me awards in 2010 are reserved for the three most prominent bands in this category, with well reviewed releases by the National, Arcade Fire, and the New Pornographers (who were mostly absent from the Best Of's?).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'll second that emotion where Brooklyn Rider is concerned. One of the few, of not only disc, with a classical bent that got any sort of heavy rotation for me in 2010.

As far as jazz is concerned I really enjoyed the Vijay Iyer "Historicity" disc, the Gareth Williams Power Trio and their album "Shock", Dave Douglas' "The Spark of Being" Get the Blessing's "Bugs in Amber" and a couple of oldies Bobby Jackson's "The Cafe Extra-Ordinaire Story" and The Lloyd McNeill Quartet's "Asha".

Unlike Brian I have not come to love Liam Sillery's disc with repeat listens. This got a rave 5 star review in Downbeat and I've really tried with this one but it leaves me cold.

As for the best in pop/rock etc for 2010 here's my list in no particular order with the exception of #1 which goes to the lovely Charlotte Gainsbourg's "IRM". The rest:

Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett
Forest City Lovers - Carriage
High Places - High Places vs Mankind
Women - Public Strain
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
P.S. I Love You - Meet Me at the Muster Station
Mice Parade - What it Means to be Left Handed
Lower Dens - Twin-Hand Movement
Massive Attack - Heligoland

I think I'm with you Kyle on the Jonsi disc which has a few decent tracks but never really comes together as an album and the Book's disc I've almost come to like less with each listen.
another interesting classical disc i picked up recently at emusic was brooklyn rider. since you aren't going to be at lunch on thursday stu, i'm gonna email you a link to your christmas cd in mp3 form, via yousendit.com. mike, one's headed your way too. likely sometime tomorrow morning.

finishing work shortly so this may be my last post of 2010. merry christmas and happy new year to all!
thanks for the classical and jazz tips, will look into it...I will posty my music picks later, i have been sick and am now in catch up mode...interesting how most of the picks posted this month in all genres have been emusic available.....
s

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Also, keen to carry on our discussion from last Friday about whether year end lists contain certain types of sounds vs. strong artistic vision/songwriting. Someone who can better recap or state this can chime in.
More 2010 recapx:

Honourable mentions: Avi Buffalo, Kanye West, Flying Lotus, Thermals,

Dishonourable mentions: Stars (meh), Plants and Animals (blech), Besnard Lakes (yawn), Magic Kids (no longer on emusic? lucky you!)

Just not happenin but suspect others here may like (derek, esp on last two): Sufjan, Jonsi, The Books (all on emusic still).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Perhaps I need a few more tastes (or a few more years) before I can indulge, then.

For now, my best of 2010:

10. Mount Kimbie - Crooks and Lovers



Took a few listens before this really began to catch on with me. Standout track (dance track?) above, but really, this is less about individual cuts per se than it is about enjoying the journey of beats, feedback loops, and incantative vocal samples that are at times challenging but mostly soothing.

9. The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme



Dreamy gauzy shoegazer vocals over poppy electronic and dub beats at times, lively guitar at others. Easy to dismiss after one or two listens as ear candy but there was enough variation and redeeming moments on the album that kept me coming back.

8. Olafur Arnalds - ...and they have escaped the weight of darkness



Slightly sad piano and string dominant Icelandic instrumental music. Quiet and beautiful.

7. Wild Nothing - Gemini



Another dreamy pop one for me, of course, this one channeling 80s guitar work (Johnny Marr, Peter Hook) for the most part. Damn catchy without being too derivative.

6. Beach House - Teen Dream



Didn't quite care for this one on the first couple of listens but it's easily their best release, with the characteristic drone-like female vocal style paired with more straitforward pop song structures without giving up any of that 'washing over you' feel to their music that defines it (and why it resonates for me). Kudos to Stu for lavishly overpraising it to me, forcing me to give it the additional spins it needed to really gel.

5. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening



Mostly on the strength of four to five tracks like the one above are enough to overlook some of the weaker tracks on the disc as whole.

4. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast



The Pavement-like jangly guitar bits on the track above are just one reason I dig this one. Not really a bad track on an album of power chords and judicious use of distorion.

3. The National - High Violet



This one is good and it's probably their best, and I couldn't really choose the order of the top three so it's here but could easily be #1. Accomplished is probably the best way to describe this album. The songwriting is impeccable. There are no missteps. It's restrained, expansive, poetic, depressing, uplifting and sincere without being preoccupied with being sincere, poetic, expansive, etc. Sorry haters.

2. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest



Consistently puts out interesting work, this may be his most accomplished. Love the sweet harmonies on tracks like this one and that driving immediacy on tracks like 'Revival' and 'Fountain Stairs'. Not a miss.

1. Tame Impala - Inner Speaker



Beatles influenced psychedelia? Check. Early 90s shoegazer? Check. Well put together collection of songs that manages to be groovy and cool without sounding like it's trying to be groovy or cool? Done.

List of stuff I hated or didn't give a crap about to follow...
That kind of singing (and song) is a bit of an acquired taste....I really love it, but I understand your perspective. It's just another sign that I'm getting old, I guess.
Just listened to the samples and though I love the Mehldau piano work, the Von Otter participation has me running for the hills (and not to joyously inform them that they are alive with the sound of music).

Also, I notice that TPL has 0 holds on any of Kopatchinskaja. Yes, this is Stuart-bait.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stu - a few classical recordings I liked this year (some may be late-ish 09):

-Helene (the beeyootiful) Grimaud has a new-ish recording of Austrian composers' solo piano music, including Mozart, Liszt, and (my fave) Berg which is very good.
- Younger, less beautiful violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja's recording of Ludwig Von B's complete works for violin and orchestra is great. Period instruments and austere stylings make it different from so many similar recordings.
- I really enjoyed a recording of guitar in symphonic settings by Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang, including (of course) Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, but also pieces inspired by and written by Isaac Albeniez which are great. I've really grown to love the guitar as a classical music instrument in the past couple of years.
- One of Mendelssohn's less famous works, his 2nd Symphony, with conductor Andrew Litton leading the Bergen PO, is worth a listen as well. It's a big bombastic symphony with choral parts in the final movement or two, kind of a lesser cousin to LWB and Mahler's more notable efforts in that style. I liked it.
- Mehldau accompanies singer Ann Sophie Van Otter on two disks - the first a Mehldau composed song cycle that is contemporary classical, and the second a selection of "modern" songs, many French. I very much enjoyed this, each disk for its own reasons.

The Kopatch, Mehldau, and the Litton are on emusic.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Though I probably only picked up a handful of jazz releases this year (support for Stu's hypothesis?), "Historicity" was one of them and a great record through and through.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another quite wonderful jazz artist is pianist Vijay Ayer, who had two strong releases on 2010, "Historicity" (trio setting) and "Solo", in a well, setting by himself.
Hey Stu, re your question on good jazz a few posts ago, I've had a reasonable year on that front (probably more so than in the pop rock vein). A few that I think are really interesting are:

Phenomenology, by Liam Sillery. Fantastic. Somewhat "free" in style though it has enough structure and melody to hold your interest. Definitely hear some peak-period Wayne Shorter influence. Grows with each listen.

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow - by Christian Scott. Really strong modern trumpet based jazz, with tons of soul, groove, and indigo moods. Might be the first of these to try.

Tapestries for Small Orchestra - by Bill Dixon. He's an old free jazz war horse, but this is brilliant stuff. So much space and mood in these long lingering pieces. Not for all tastes but I love it.

Mirror - Charles Lloyd Quartet. Mr reliable....this is a nice, expressive ballad-based bop session with Chuck bringing out the most from each number - many of which are standards. He has a remarkable band, sounding somewhat classic-Coltrane-quartet-esque at times. The version of the Beach Boys' Caroline No is a good starting point.

Things Have Got to Change - Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet. Another record filled (from late 09) with creative jazz built loosely from the bop tradition. Piano-less quintet with the horns up front, but with a a focus on rhythm and interplay. The lack of piano opens up the core of the music as it always does.

Weary Already of the Way - Matt Bauder. Sax player who works (on this record) on large scale modern composition (though small number of instruments and found sounds)....same school as Bill Dixon above, if anything, more chaotic.

Saturn Sings - Mary Halvorson Quintet. My second record by this guitar player, diverse and complex music. Horns play a big part, often muting the guitar bases of these songs. Some tracks are energized and wild, others like Crack in Sky much softer and layered. Very interesting.

The new Guillermo Klein sounds really interesting 0 I loved his record form a couple of years back, and I discovered pianist Craig Taborn this year - his last album where he led the session was "Light Made Lighter" from 2007, which is a stunner. He also plays on Michael Formanek's much-lauded 2010 release The Rub and Spare Change...which I like a little less than his own work. Jim Rotondi's 100 Rainbows from 2010 is really good - fairly straight ahead post-bop with his trumpet front and centre.


I'll try to catch up on some other posts over the Christmas break.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great pic, Marc. For any of you planning on traveling through the southwestern states, do try the Shiner Bock, a case of which is featured in the photo.

Now that my business travel for 2010 is done like dinner, time to get things rolling with the end of the year list, if only so I can then start reading through the lists on some of the usual websites and publications.

Top songs of the year first, in Grooveshark Playlist for your pleasure, in no particular order:



Heads up: the Kanye track is NSFW.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Still reviewing what's gone down in the last year and i finally got around to ripping and labelling "The Bottle Let Me Down" and found some appropriate artwork on mIphone from our trip through Freidricksburg Texas. Thanks Stuart, i'm lovin' the cuts. ...admittedly there was much consumption but little "reliance" on the bottle on our trip. Incidentally, back in June Stuart made reference to "skunky Jack Daniels in a dusty Cotton Field" so i thought i would google image that and try and find an image for my album pic and i landed on a photo of an obscure little town that we visited, Bisbee Arizona. ha! ...but instead...my pic from our lovley cheapo italian meal on New Years eve in the sleepy (sleeping) town of Freidrickdburg.... hey Stu ...there's your Peroni!

.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hey Stu, not sure what you are looking for or if you have heard of Wadada Leo Smith, but check him out. Jazz ain't dead ....yet" Particularly like South Cental LA Kulture. It ain't dinner jazz but nor was Kinda Blue when it came out.
AS the year rolls to an end, I wonder if any of you have found stellar classical or jazz cds this year. I seem, to not be bying nearly as much of this as I used to and could do with some recommendations...no need to rank, jsut stuff that has stayed on your cd player / ipod...
s

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just call him Captain 'cus Kirk's out of this world! Beam me up Scotty!
I borrowed a stack of Rahsaan Roland Kirk from Derek on Friday and m.e. and i is both diggin' it so far. Ecclectic, not always serious, flippant, at time soulful and a little crazy a times. It ain't always dinner jazz! Reminds me at times of Gil Scott Heron ...or the other way around ...the whole art of the spoken word, the oral tradition and the birth of rap. Speaking of which, Gil Scott Heron, the anthology that i brought to the playdate a few years back ...i have never grown tired of it and it remains a staple in my workaday life ...surprising.
With regard to the TPL's holds, this is a fine example of how researchers set out to demonstrate a hypothesis and seek out data to support it.
Now i guess that every kid is different but my nephew who is now 19 seems to enjoy the books on music, film and pop art that i get him ...either that or he is overly polite ...he has always enjoyed reading and history. He is also big into vinyl and seems to appreciate the tactile quality of collecting it so records always seem to go over well whether they be new releases of used classics. ...i saw he recently picked up some Nena Hagen ...WTF?

I am always glad to be able to hit the mark on a gift that i feel is worthwhile and opens his eyes to something he was not previously aware of but always fear feeling like i am simply imposing my taste or views of what is important. I guess it is a little bit of chicken or the egg ...i started him on some "cool" music when he was young (not that his mother has no influence in this department) and that helped foster an interest ...always nice to pass on the passion.

Other options have often included pop art t's and hoodies etc. something a little unique, local and often ironic ...kids like irony these days ...hows that for a blanket statement.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I've got 2 teenaged boys (16 and 15) and I can tell you what mine generally want. They ask for video games and DVDs. They also like to buy clothes for themselves, so they like money or gift certificates to stores like American Eagle. Of course fashions and trends change fast, so we tend to avoid store-specific gift certificates. We either use cash or mall-wide certificates. They don't want CDs because that generation pretty much helps itself to anything they want on-line. They are also both tied to their cellphones - we've bought media cards and cellphone cases for them. We've bought them headphones for their ipods. They hang posters on their walls, but you have to know what movies, bands, sports teams etc. they like of course.

On another note, there's been a lot of Beatles chatter of late and I hesitate to add more (it would be terrible if they were overexposed) but a friend recently showed me a film that is worth watching. Apple posted a video of their first concert in the US (7000 fans at the Washington Collesium in 1964) in its entirety. It's a 45 minute set of their early hits, and it is very strange to see how low budget and unorganized it was. They hit the stage and then spend 2 minutes getting their stuff set up and oriented properly before they play a note. They have absolutely no idea of the phenomenon that they are on the cusp of becoming. Definitely worth watching.




Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hey Stuart if it makes you feel any better there are 50 copies of Justin Bieber's 2009 CD in the TPL and only 2 holds. Whereas Arcade Fire's the Suburbs has 174 holds on 80 copies. There's a voice in me that wants to say something about lies, damned lies and statistics.

More relevant to your point is that Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" has 34 holds on 25 copies. That disc was lavishly re-issued this year but the single disc copy in the library is from 1999.

So people, to some small extent, are still paying attention to jazz, the major problem being that the mainstream media gives jazz no airtime to speak of unless we see, as in this case, the re-issue of a groundbreaking jazz record by a very major player.

Still holding my breath here for all those creative ideas re gifts for late teenage boys. I wasn't joking when I asked for assistance.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

sonny rollins tenor madness, 24 copies, 0 holds, saxophone colosses, 17 copies 0 holds,
davis, kind of blue 17 copies 0 holds, sketches of spaion, 16 copies 0 holds.......(toronto public library), sort of tells the story of where jazz is in the publics eyes....when you combine those stats with the death of live jazz venues in toronto, its very very depressing

Monday, December 06, 2010

I've been known to have a chilling effect on conversation. Nice post Derek. I'm going to start off my top ten list with the top posted sentence of the year ....goes to DM for referring to being fed the not so fab four "since i was running around in nappies eating rusks in the rain" ...lovely image ...is that a pint I see that little runt holding in his other hand?
Well spotted, Deeman. Also here's the christmas playlist you created and emailed, here for everyone's listening pleasure. Tried embedding but there must be something wrong w/ their code.
Yes Black Eyed Peas. And I didn't Google this. Right, wrong or not even close?
Also overwhelmed with all the music out there that's apparently quite good. At the same time, glad that I continue to studiously avoid releases described thusly in a review in the Globe over the weekend:

"...a senseless album of futuristic beats, robotic vocals and dance songs about dance songs...a one-hit-wonder-band four times over...bruise humanity, insult intelligence and commit rape against the beauty of music"

Can you guess the band?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Apparently ye all have headed south for the winter. What gives? Marc shows up on the blog after a very extended absence and everyone else scurries off like moles to their little holes.

Since we are now in to December and the year-end is looming perhaps it would be cool if some of you (anyone?) could post yer best ofs for 2010.

What I find amazing around this time of the year is when I start reading various blogs that are already starting to post lists for the current year is just how much music is out there and how little of it I actually get to listen to. And I listen to music at every available opportunity. Kids or no kids that hasn't really changed. It's all a bit overwhelming. (the barrage of music not the kids).

Speaking of kids my nephews are now 16 and 18. WTF do you get for xmas for boys/men at this point in their lives. No smart-ass answers please. I would ask my sister but that would require me to have to speak to her.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Assuming that the new Girl Talk isn't everyone's cup of tea let me suggest my favourite jazz album of 2010 as an alternative. It's a 2009 release but as I only downloaded it at the beginning of this calendar year it makes my year-end list and best of all it can still be found on e-music.

The Seamus Blake Quartet's Live in Italy double album clocking in at almost 2 hours of great swinging jazz comprises only 9 tracks and is thus an unbeatable bargain for those who subscribe.

Monday, November 29, 2010

This mash-up certainly won't be to all tastes, Kyle and mine perhaps, but I find each of this guys mixes very entertaining and the best part is you can download it for free.

Here's the review from today's Pitchfork.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gents I'm very much looking forward to Thursday but will likely be somewhat under prepared. I'll try to pull together some music before the get together but am overly busy with work at the moment. See you then.
Great link, Derek and interesting development. Wonder if the indies are planning on setting up shop elsewhere or their own independent platform. Whole bunch of interesting threads at Merge website discussing emusic, with a couple of posts suggesting that a consortium of indie labels could come together. Would love it if they did so. The last line of the lone commenter pretty well sums it up the direction emusic is taking.

What's worse for us non-US clients is that this supposedly massive dump of new music--the whole reason for the change to pricing and exodus of the big indies--is not available for download here. So the sacrifice of the great indie labels gets us zilch.

I sent an email to their customer service asking for clarification on the direction of the service for anyone outside the US but have not heard back yet. I'd guess that at least 50% of my purchases are from those labels. And when I then went for some jazz, half of the jazz I had saved for later (i.e. Miles "Workin' It") are no longer available for download either. Bugged emusic about this on twitter and they insisted that Fantasy/Riverside had not been removed for Canadian users but try searching for either of these labels and you'll find very little left for either. The one example I gave was for Monk's Brilliant Corners which I had saved but not downloaded. They located another copy I could download on Concord Records, which was nice of them to do, but I'm still struggling to find a lot of other stuff that I'm guessing is now gone.

I actually don't mind buying independent music directly from the lable or artists so if I could use my monthly allotment on more established artists and back catalogues that would be fine. But I agree with Derek that it's not looking good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here's some of the goods on e-music. I can't even download the new Belle & Sebastian now. Looks pretty grim. Might have to re-think the subscription as well. Something to discuss on Thursday night.
You'll have to bring some FandtheP to Stu's on Thursday, Marc. I'm unfamiliar with their body of work so would like to hear "Ladykiller". Not sure if that's snickering I hear in the background but whatever.

As for self-indulgence v. vapidity, wanking, onanistic meanderings, self-love sessions, jerk...okay you get my point which is, arent' they pretty much all synonymous? I mean, yes, by definition, an artist is going to be self-indulgent to some extent and we hope that they do so in order to produce something we can enjoy or appreciate. We only call them on it when it seems vapid. An album like The Wall is self-indulgent but we're not likely to complain because it's (mostly) brilliant. On the other hand, the superfluous 10 minute guitar solo at a Yo La Tengo concert or any Smashing Pumpkins album after 1995 stand out as easy targets for villification.

Interested in discussing more at Stu's. Will hopefully then have made a decision as to whether or not to sever my long-term relationship with emusic, which seems to have lost not only Merge records but also the Fantasy jazz label, while none of the exciting new artists and labels available in the US available to those of us in Canada.

Friday, November 19, 2010

DM, I must confess that Flash and the Pan has never really been unplayed on my turntable for more that a year or so and that in fact when you posted it had been sitting without its angel sleeve in a stack of recently enjoyed vinyl. I have to say that upon recent listenings that the tune "Ladykiller" takes on a wonderful poignancy now that we are one tenth of the way through the twenty first century. I tend to hate to think that i cling on to music for purely nostalgic reasons but F&TheP is a damn fine album. ...worthy of great debut album list? ...maybe not. One of the things that helps it to stand apart in my mind is that it still, to this day, sounds unique. First and Last is a surprisingly sweet wrap to a fine album indeed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sorry gents, i'm working my way back through the past nine months worth of blogaterial so forgive me for commenting on oh so passe topics.

I've been giving the idea of self indulgence in art some thought. I recently heard it said that the moment you stop doing things that YOU want to do as an artist, that is the moment that your fans will turn from you and loose interest. I think it is an interesting comment and i believe it in part but i think it is a very complex question. What make you popular as an artist? ...or as an individual for that matter!

I think we would all agree that good art does not necessarily sell and pop commodity often far outstrips the "popularity" or commercialization of that is truly good, meaningful, provocative or exploratory in art, or, in this case music.

I started to muse about it in relation to the conversation about the trio. I am of the belief that a musician can be as much of a wanker if he is playing with two others, by themselves, or with a stage full of musicians.

The greater part of me feels that art (music) should be self indulgent and needs to be so in order to say something meaningful. If not self-indulgence (from the Latin: to give free rein to, hence giving free rein to oneself), what we are always asking of them? ...to express themselves fully and without abandon? ...to open themselves up and expose their soles to us? ...if they have one?

The problem with self-indulgence is that it can open up a can of ugly worms ...all of a sudden someone feels the confidence and love of a crowd and goes off the deep end, deluded into thinking what they are saying musically is in fact, well, deep.

The problem is not with self-indulgence but rather with vapidity, vacuous wanking and supercilious noodling.

Which brings me around to the new Neil Young album LeNoise which i, unlike Stuart, thinks might have some merit. Incidentally, also speaking of noodling, i had the pleasure of seeing Daniel Lanois on Nuit Blanche and thoroughly enjoyed his soundscape and would have stuck around and let it wash over me for hours if i had not had frozen noixsettes and having also been dragged away by someone more critical and sane than myself ...the dancing girls where a bit much though Danny!

But onto LeNoise ...one could argue a very self-indulgent work? I think it's art, frankly. Neil is showing his age and is bitter and crotchety but i'm glad he's willing to share. Rarely have i heard anything so honest. I feel as if Neil has opened up his little black sketch book picked up his guitar and played. Many or most of the songs are not fully formed but are rather sketches, ideas that are gestures in charcoal on pages of cheap, coarse tooth art paper in book who's pages are flipped in frustration, anger and bewilderment.

Neil sings about his life and i feel as if i am reading his thoughts he has scribbled in his diary ...thoughts i was not supposed to hear ...thoughts that only someone who doesn't give a flying-fuck about what you think anymore (as if he ever did) is willing to bare his sole ...self-indulgent? yes. Good? huhm? work listening to? yes.

I have always been a HUGE fan of Lanois' and this album is no exception. I love what he has done with this "solo", live off the floor album. Frankly this cannot be considered a solo project; Lanois plays too big a part in it. Apparently it was all produced in one or two takes live off the floor with no overdub. That having been said, Lanois has manipulated the sound of Neil's guitar and voice to, on occasions, create walls of sound that are so remarkably rich. All the layers that form the bombastic tapestry of the sonic soundstage are all created in post from any one given take of any one given song. Lanois uses reverb, effect and memory of bygone sound in a way that echos Neil's rambling of a bygone life. My only criticism of Lanois's production is that he introduces "memories of sounds" that have not yet come into existence, a sort of pre-echo ...pre-echo ...pre-echo ...pre-echo ...or, or, ... is it foreshadowing? never thought of that until now! ...oh, he's so brilliant!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I was mulling over Stuart's post from last week re bands that underwent drastic changes in personnel and how it affected their subsequent output and success and the one band that kept rearing its head was Genesis. Here's a band that had several pretty great records as a fivesome in the early 70's and were to some degree fairly successful but then Gabriel leaves with "A Trick of the Tail" and within a few more albums Genesis is one of the biggest stadium bands on the planet.

And at least for the first couple of records sans Gabriel their output is every bit as good as during his tenure with the band. Their greatest success however seems to come when their material is at its weakest. Of course this coincides with Phil Collins' rise to megastardom which bad enough in itself (although I did very much like his debut album), doesn't compare to the pap that Mike & the Mechanics put out.

Of course as Genesis and Phil Collins are reaching the zenith of their careers Peter Gabriel is also putting out great records and quickly becoming a stadium filler in his own right. I'm not sure there are too many bands that saw this many triumphs after a potentially disastrous parting of the ways.
Marc, ola! It's been a while, if not forever. Good to see your voice. I'm not allowed to mention "that group" for a little while (I'll give it two weeks) but I will say that "the guy you mentioned" was a phenomenal and uber-influential player and writer. If you look at The Band I Can't Discuss from a pure musicianship perspective, it's the guitar of Your Guy and the bass of My Guy that are standouts, that shape the sound of the band. Less so the Other Two.

And Ihate to dwell on old music even an instant longer, but I wanted to say thanks to Derek and Kyle for impassioned feedback on OMD...I have truly changed my opinion on them - have found and listened to "Arch and Mor" two nights in a row. It's an outstanding record, unlike their later work which I really (still) don't like. It's the spareness and "modern-ness" of the sound that grabs me, and the synths really stand out as a more experimental instrument - ie their use of them was promiment and somewhat exaggerated versus the smoothness / lushness / popiness of later recordings.

Re Bill F, I raised him because he is a frustrating musical personality for me. He comes from jazz, but has a ginormous range of styles that he incorporates into his recordings, not to mention his approach to the instrument. So unlike say John Scofield, whose pure playing isn't all that different, I find Frisell very difficult to pin down and make a "like him / don't like him" call on. I like Scofield, btw. I have a few albums, mostly from the late 90's onward. I like Blues Dream and one called with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones (both from early in the decade), I'm less thrilled with later work History Mystery, which is (and this would be my major coplaint of the man) absolutely all over the place. Still I have alarm bells inside me that remind that frustrating listening often equates with genius, so wanted to get other opinions. And Stu, is "not a headphone band" an insider term for he's crap? Banal? Not worth exploring? All of the above?

Re new music, what have ya'll downloaded with this month's emusic? Or better yet, bought in an actual store?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Whoop-dee-f**ckin-doo-indeed mr. Mercer but it all does seem a little ironic to me ...this battle that has gone on for decades over the "Apple" ...that it finally seems to be resolved when BOTH parties realise they can make more money if they put their differences aside and do what they do best and go out and make some more money. So ironic that when the battle over trademark started they had absolutely no idea they would be in bed together 30 years later!

Reminds me of the Harrison lawsuit in which he was sued and found guilty of unintentionally plagiarizing "He's So Fine" by the record label Bright Tunes and then his manager Allen Klein went out and bought Bright Tunes and continued with the lawsuit against his former client ...exactly the same but in reverse,no? ...huh?
Hey Marc, nice to have you back and to get your take on the Lennon-McCartney (and now Harrison) debate. Must give "All Things Must Pass" a listen one of these days.

Marc gets a free pass on this seemingly endless debate as he hasn't posted here since Flash and the Pan were topping the charts but could we put at least a temporary moratorium on all things Beatles. Even today's so-called breaking news was that iTunes now has the Beatles catalogue. Whoop-dee-f**cking-doo.

Those kids (and me) who thought the iPod and iTunes were so cool midway through the last decade must be chuckling at the codgers who think this is something worth getting excited about.

Would it be too much to ask that someone, anyone, tell us about some good new music. Maybe something that's off the beaten track. I'd love to hear about it. And could someone wake up Brian long enough for him to tell us just what he thinks about Bill "yawn" Frisell.
Bill Frisell? ....Bill Fizzle! I bought East Meets West on the strength of cuts i had heard off of it on the radio and stuff i had heard in the past, liked it on first listen and still like it enough when i hear a cut when my itunes genius throws me one, but otherwise, it's like a gentle fire ...good for putting me to sleep. And East Meets West ...I honestly don't get it ...would love to get it but i don't hear it!
Whenever the question comes up "would you choose McCartney or Lennon", some wanker has to come along and claim Harrison is his favourite Beatle. Now admittedly it's pretty well all brilliant, but when it comes to individuals, in a way i honestly have to say that i am drawn more to George as a human being and appreciate the WAY in which he went about expressing himself within the band and in his solo career. I know that the question was in part about who is your favourite songwriter but i honestly think that he had a lot more in him than he was never let to bring to the studio by his overbearing bandmates. Admittedly, it was that overbearing quality of John and Paul's that made the songwriting duo so successful but it was also no co-incidence that it was Harrison who was first out of the blocks and most successful when it came to early solo careers.

Of all the member's solo album's, it is "All Things Must Pass" that i have always been most attached to. Introspective, deliberate, crafted, passionate and soulful ...not overtly popish or bitter as some of his peers work was, it endures and is perennially listenable.

I think that George's contribution to the Beatles is often under-acknowledged. Though the quiet Beatle, i always thought of him as the glue that held them together or the lubricant that kept them moving forward through all their turmoil. His interest in the east had such a profound influence on the group that is cannot be discounted.

I love the Beatles and their music but in the same way that I am drawn to the songs of The Edge, I love those of Harrison. When given the opportunity to speak, he really shone. The things he said with his music stood out and were always stood out as powerful moments within (Within and Without You) albums.

Ah! what do you expect from a wanker!

On a similar note, i was interested to hear much focus on Double Fantasy recently as it was the 30th anniversary of it's release. I admittedly do not know the album in it's entirety but only cuts that i have heard over the years on the radio etc ...it might be time for me to give it a solid listen as i found it quite inspiring to hear the stories of it's creation. The anniversary of John's murder never goes by without it jarring me, but now it comes upon me as i realize that my years roll quickly on, and he, only 40 when he died ...such accomplishments in such a short life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remember Ross Porter and "After Hours" the late night jazz show that was a must listen on CBC radio back in the 90s. It's where I first heard Bill Frisell's " Blues for Los Angeles", the lead track to his 1998 album "Gone, Just Like a Train". Wasn't really jazz (the title sort of gives that away) and the song wasn't really what Bill Frisell's all about. I was new to this guy and he was already pushing 50 and closing in on 20 records.

I bought that album, 1999's Good Dog, Happy Man and have listened to a geat deal of 2005's "East West". As I write this I'm listening to ECM's selected recordings of his work on that label from 1981-1996 and I still don't have my head around what Bill Frisell is supposed to sound like. I'm not sure that I love what he does, it doesn't move me in any meaningful way, but I do find it interesting at times. There is an expansiveness to his sound that is very warm and inviting. Unfortunately there is also a tendency at times for the music to feel rather noodly.

That though could simply be a problem I have with much of the jazz-guitar catalogue. Listened to Stanley Clarke's 2010 disc today and I almost left the office at a run. Still to do Frisell any justice at all I'll need to listen to much more than 3 or 4 albums of a catalogue that's 10 times as big.
It's rather sad and surprising that 30 years on OMD are thought to be the lighter, less serious, version of "better" bands. What's not though is that 30 years on I still listen to OMD records on a fairly regular basis whereas Depeche Mode and New Order almost never.

Depeche Mode and New Order existed to be danced to at very loud volumes in sweaty nightclubs. That's why there was such a proliferation of 12" mixes of their biggest songs. OMD are a much more cerebral band than either of these other two.

I think the problem with OMD is the Simple Minds syndrome. Both bands had a brilliant opening run of about 4 or 5 albums right out of the gate, making music that used synthesisers to some degree, OMD more so, but I wouldn't have thrown either band under the bus called synth-pop a label as damning as it is enlightening.

Then came for both bands, at almost exactly the same time, the big North American chart topper in "So In Love" and "Don't You Forget About Me" and "click!" both bands almost immediately lost much of their long time fanbase, myself included, and within a couple of years were for all intents and purposes finished as a money making entity. And now they're both seen, on this side of the pond as one-hit wonders.

Around 1982/1983 I would have had both these bands at the top of my critical list. OMD's 3rd album "Architecture and Morality" is one of my all-time faves and has lost nothing with the passage of 30 years. There is a lush organic quality to their so called electro-pop that looks ahead to the sound of bands like Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin. It has a romanticism that is sorely lacking in bands who were lumped with them at the time like Ultravox, Gary Numan & The Tubeway Army and the Human League.

My comments re Bill Frisell will follow.
I am listening to a compilation of the doobie brothers and It reminded me of how annoying it was for Michael McDonald to take over from Tom Johnson...Here you had a great 70's hard rocking hook laden , rock band, and it became a california muzak band with the blandest sound going..
So it got me thinking, how many bands have gone through serious personal changes and ;
a- gotten better ( arguable fleetwood mac but some Peter Green fans would disagree)
b- gotten much worse but still remained superstars ( aforementioned doobies)
c- made no difference still remained good and commercially sucessful ( van halen???)
There is no point naming bands that changed and became total failures artistically and commercially as almost all bands fit that catagory after the principal songwriter goes solo...
Is this a 70's and 60's phenominon or are there examples of this from the 80's and 90's?
Also seeing decent reviews for the new Paul Auster book, a perennial fave.
Perhaps the latest Peter Robinson/Inspector Banks novel, "Bad Boy". Not only an enjoyable read thus far (3/4 in), but references to Highland Park consumption while listening to Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective, and My Morning Jacket by several characters led me to accuse Derek of being the real author behind the series in an email earlier this week. For something a little more high brow but not too much so, Ian McEwan's latest, 'Solar' was also a good read and quite funny.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cant help you w OMD but I do listen to a small amount of Bill Frissell (1 disc) which is pleasant enough but its not really earphone music for me...more ambiant work music, (I am sure Bill F would be unhappy with this less then estatic comment, but there you have it....)

In exchange for that stunning display of music journaslism I wonder if any of you lot could recommend a book, I am in a severe drought ...last 6 books or so that I read (fiction that is) have been largely uninspiring ....

lets not have any of that this is a music blog not a literature blog crap either...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I'll defer to others on Frisell but OMD was one I really enjoyed as well.

I didn't deep into all the earlier albums as Mr. Mercer, but 1985's "Crush" was one I really dug at the time and still think stands up today. The wistful panging and falsetto vocals of 'So In Love' and 'Secret' being two songs that are indicative of their style:





Didn't really ever think of them relative to Depeche or New Order, though I suppose the front and centre synth is the commonality and the reason for your grouping (ghetto-ing? :)). OMD''s music was typically more heartfelt and emotive than the other two, both lyrically and vocally, with bigger, more dramatic synth flourishes. DM, by comparison, come across as more restrained, and detached, both in terms of lead singer David Gahan's delivery and the lyrics themselves. Contrast 'Just Can't Get Enough', which is celebratory and joyously enthusiastic about its unnamed muse, for sure, but doesn't hold a torch to the gushing, I-just-might-die-outpouring of sentimentality in a song like 'If You Leave'.

New Order definitely had some signature synth throughout their catalogue but to me, this always took a backseat to Peter Hook's signature high end bass lines. See, Age of Consent:



Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Gentlemen,

I require your input (back to the RR Kirk series) on the following two artists, quite different in nature:

- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (whom I've always though of as a "light" version of any number of better artists such as New Order, Depeche Mode eg, but whom Derek played with typical enthusiasm the other night - yes. we were on the couch).

- Bill Frisell - I'll withhold my thoughts on Bill until I hear from some of you.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

And you managed to finish off w/ a cool R.E.M. reference in the tag. Well done.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Hi Mike, I take your point about the solo careers of John and Paul - though I think the sense of disappointment that we all feel is relative to their brilliance as Beatles - but my question was more about their music in its entirety, ie including Fab 4. I actually think if there were no Beatles, then all three singers would be considered major artists of the seventies.

But regardless, back to the original question. I'm a massive Beatles fan of course, and won't hear a bad word about their talents. So my comments have to be taken with that in mind. Over my life I've heard expressed so often that John was the greater talent that my reflexive answer to that classic question has for many years been "Paul". I don't believe this categorically by any means, but I get frustrated by the apparently stock answer. Mac's genius is melody of course, IMO (by far) the greatest melody writer in pop history. I could say that again to emphasize the point.......such restraint on my part. The fact that he often tended to write in a jaunty style can mask that sometimes, but his songs, even his early ones, are complex and yet instantly memorable. Setting aside melody, I think he was the more representative of the Beatles, the more Beatlesque if you will. When critics generically refer to a sound or song being B /esque, I believe they are referring more to Penny Lane then Strawberry fields, for example. The Beatles scene and the huge influence thay had on the British Invasion was mostly about feel-good melodic pop music,which is more Paul's contribution than John's. He is the optimist, John the sarcastic cynic. Think about songs like "Got to Get You into My Life" or "Good Day Sunshine", two brilliant and life affirming songs that tend to get overlooked when counting the Fab's best, perhaps because they seem effortless, versus the more formally challenging Lennon numbers like Tomorrow Never Knows from the same period. I love the Lennon song, but those Mac Songs are wonderful.

Another thing, is that Mac was apparently more interested in putting the big packages together, the concept records if you will. ergo he was the driving force behind Sgt Peppers, Magical Mystery Tour, and Abbey Road. It's become a bit uncool to like Sgt Peppers (and certainly Mystery Tour), but it's a genre changing record, filled with a lot of great subtle melodic Mac songs, and relatively fewer (and two utterly magical) Lennon songs. It's not surprising to me that Mac made the more complete albums (well, a couple of them anyway) than JL in their solo careers - he was just better at that.

And finally a defense of Penny Lane versus Strawberry Fields. First of all, I think it's the greatest two-sided single in pop history. Why? Because both songs are equally brilliant. Strawberry Fields is a gender-bending psychedelic classic which I adore. Penny Lane is a song I like every bit as much. Such evocative lyrics, and a stunning melody and arrangement....again, clear, positive, sunny, gorgeousness. Hey I love the Velvet Underground too, but surely you can't be unaffected by the beauty of this song?? His voice is unbelievable, and the bass playing is beeyootiful. He is, as Stu mentioned, a world class player; very distinctive.

I'm running out of steam, but am aware that most of you stopped reading a couple of paragraphs ago. McCartney is massive for me, and perhaps more important than Lennon.
I wouldn't pick either of them. If I had to pick just one songwriter/performer, it would be somebody else. Neither Lennon's nor McCartney's solo work is good enough to crack my top list of songwriters and performers. They both had some very good stuff, and Band on the Run is right up there, but if they hadn't been the Beatles first, neither of their solo catalogs is consistently strong enough to warrant consideration. McCartney is too light and far too self-conscious, and Lennon is way too cynical and preachy. Together, they set the standard by which all others are measured, but individually they are both seriously flawed. There is no greater example in all of life of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Interesting.
agree w/ stu and will cite 'Strawberry Fields Forever' vs. 'Penny Lane' as an example to illustrate his point. both are on the soundtrack for Magical Mystery Tour and while both enjoyable, the former offers so much more than the latter.
sorry that first draft really had atrocious spelliong even by my slacke stdards so i have made it slightly more integible here..

metaBeats

metaBeats: "In terms of the paul vs john debate, it is much like the beatle vs stones debate... ubiquitous , so in brief.... generally for me ( and most fans) John is the more serious artist, deeper music, deeper lyrics, Paul is the more superficial happy go lucky vaudville type.. ( 'a day in the life' is a prime example of this within the same song, compare Pauls verses against Johns....) Johns music stays with you longer (mind games is a particular lyric and music masterpiece)
However that said, my favorite post beatles record and song by far is 'band on The run' and the title track. Pauls singles are a joy to listen to and I never tire of them, so though John gets the nod, Paul is not far behind for me... I will let Brian expound on the wonders of his bass playing , which I never really appreciated until Brian pointed this out to me, and yes he is a fantastic bass player., perhaps underrated here if you can fathom that..
My daughters friend made a mix tape of all John lennon songs from Beatles era and post beatles era..to hear his entire cataloge on a mixed playlist in one go is wholely satisfying to a degree which surprised me.. I seem to listen to his carreer seperated into the 2 halves, but I highly recommend this exercise for any Lennon fan... I think if it was Pauls music it would be like getting too much sugar in your tea.."
well , first off...
did Derek make it to second base on the couch last night and if so what was it like...

In terms of the paul vs john debate, it is much like the beatle vs stones debate... ubiquitous , so in brief.... generally for me ( and most fans) John is the more serious artist, deeper music, deeper lyrics, Paul is the more superficial happy go lucky vaudville type.. ( "a day in the life" is a prime example of this within the same song, compare Pauls verses against Johns....) Johns music stays with you longer (mind games is a particular lyric and music masterpiece)
However that said, my favorite post beatles record and song by far is "band on The run" and the title track. Pauls singles are a joy to listen to and I never tire of them, so though John gets the nod, Paul is not far behind for me... I will let Brian expound on the wonders of his base playing , which I never really appreciated until Brian pointed this out to me, and yes he is a fantastic base player., perhaps underrated here if you can fathom that..
My daughters friend made a mix tape of all Joghn lennon songs from Beatles era and post beatl;es are...to here is entire castaloge on a mixed playlist in one go id wholely satisfying to a degree which surprised me.. I seem to listen to his carre seperated into the 2 halves, but I highly recommend this exercise for any Lennon fan... I think if it was Pauls music it would be like getting too music sugar in your tea..
I never meant to denigrade Band on the Run, which is an absolute fave of mine. Derek and I were sitting on the couch at midnight last night listening to it at non-kid-friendly volume and admiring its craft. The whole record is so incredibly strong, but the single itself is pure pop genius.

If we ever get out here / thought of giving it all away / To a registered charity / All I need is a pint a day / If we ever get out of here

The question that DM and I debated, and concluded (remarkably) agreeably on, was this...(and it's a classic music blog question....which we may have asked before, this blog has been around a while) if you had to choose one song writer / performer, would you choose McCartney or Lennon? And why.
Stuart: I think you mean ..."black and white critical music history world in which we live in".
"Stuck inside these four walls (da na na na na na na na na na na)/Sent inside forever ((da na na na na na na na na na na)/Never seeing no one...."

It's actually one of the first albums I remember looking at as a young kid. I somehow thought that the members depicted on the album cover were actually on the run from the police, for some unknown reason.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I thought I could do it, turn a blind eye while others relegated one of my all time favorite songs to the dust bins of their own cliche riddled worlds, but no I must speak out about such blasphemes,and though Paul is derided mercylessly in the steriotyped black and white critical music history world we live in , I must say that that album and that song were serious buteresses in the cultural void that my life was for some years in my youth...i mean
for me I took the hero of the song ( the band) as a metaphor for an escapist world of music WITH frivolty and that that life was all you needed... music and fun and adventure and nothing more.... the song has 3 dstinct parts all with there own building lyrics and melodies that erupts in an acoustic bonansa of joy for the sheer love of music...in short what our cdclub exists for... how many songs are like that? not many? he doesnt take himself too seriously here, its just about the music stupid....
Denny laines 70's steriophonic guitar work sublimely lifted me to a nworld where nothing else mattered....heres to you Paul..
gnight
Also, would be interested in seeing this, which played at TIFF and opens today at the Lightbox. As there's little hope in hell in me finding the time to see it in the theatre, I can only hope that it will be avaialable as a selection on a future Air Canada flight.
All all songs considered playlist to get you through your day. Simply 'open' and it will launch your itunes and play.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Deeman's mind is like a steel trap, Stu. He also remembers you wincing slightly at a selection he played at the cd club meeting immediately following that blog post, and since that time has been quietly seething inside with rage while secretly plotting your demise. I suspect the reckoning will come when you least expect it, will involve an axe, and will feature selections from Gene Clark's live "Silhouetted in Light (1992) – with Carla Olson" playing in the background. Have I given away too much Derek?
the question I have is , how does Derek remember a 5 year old blog posting, given the alcohol marinated memory cells in his posesssion... I cant believe you go back and read old blogs Derek, though it would be an intersting way of getting a music snapshot of the past..I may have to dig up one of the old Mercer cd mixes from the inception days of the cdclub for nostalgia sakes...
You say Gene Clark, I say Gene Pitney.

"(slight warbling)...he was the bravest man of all"...
You say Jailer, I say Gaoler.
I spell Jailor, you spell Sailer.
Jailer, Sailor,
Sailer, Gaoler
Let's call the bloody thing off.
Derek, Absolutely. I love the Gene Clark catalogue - his next record, Roadmaster is fantastic too - but that DOES not give you license to tell Stuart to be more in our face!! Geez man!
You've got me on sailor, Bri, but most would most spell jailer with an e. or should it have been gaoler?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Apparently I'm getting around to this one about 5 years after Stuart posted on this very site about his love for a record by Gene Clark called "White Light". Can't say I've ever been or ever will be a huge Byrds fan as much as I respect what they did. But this Gene Clark record is a gem. Needless to say Stuart you need to be more in our face with the records you cherish.

Having said that if you had recommended this 15 or 20 years ago I'd probably have run in the opposite direction. I must be getting old.
Hey, when did jailor and sailor get "e"'s in them?? Wait a second, did STUART write that blog?!
The jailer man/and sailer sam/were searching everyone for the ...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Boom boxes were big in the early eighties though I only ever owned a very small one, somewhat belatedly gifted to me one so I could listen to my own tapes in my bedroom. Do recall some charity walk-a-thons we were required to participate in during high school where ghetto blasters were toted to provide musical accompaniment. Apart from chewing through those massive D batteries (minimum of 8 required to power), they were damn heavy.
My memories stretch back even farther - when I was in high school, people did carry their music around, but the only way to do that was with a boom box. Those things consumed batteries by the ton (we're talking C or D cells here - none of this AA or AAA stuff), and they played music out loud. Those who could afford to have one (not me, I'm afraid) would walk around with the thing blaring out their own choice of tunes, proudly identifying with either the disco or the rock crowd (the only two genres that we recognized) and defying anybody to complain about the noise. The cool ones had extra bass boosters and VU Meters. I have a distinct and fond memory of walking around in Mons Belgium (this high school of which I speak was an overseas base school) with 5 or 6 of my head-banging friends clustered around Tim Watson, who's ghetto blaster was generously sharing Black Sabbath with the locals.

I don't remember exactly when I got my first Walkman - it was probably late in my university days. I must have owned a dozen of the things over the years, and they were among my most prized possessions. They were great on flights, except for the need to haul around all those casettes. I later switched to a CD Walkman, which was a lot more efficient in terms of media storage, but was itself much bulkier and less convenient. Now of course I have an MP3 player, but I am a cynical and jaded adult, and incapable of loving anything as much as I once loved my Walkman!
I had forgotten all about the different tape modes and the toggle switch between Normal, Chrome, and Metal. Did anyone of you ever use metal cassettes? I recall them being more expensive but never quite understood what they offered that normal cassettes did not. Also, now I kind of want to go home and play some of my minidiscs, particularly those mixed discs that were made back in the early 00s. Easily the shortest time frame of all the music media I owned (2 years max) I did enjoy them, but found the volume was always too low on any of the recordings I ever made.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ahh the walkman. I have nothing but fond memories and kind words for the various forms of the "walkmen" that I worked my through over the better part of a decade from this to my Koss portable and on to the minidisc player.

The original walkman, that I purchased in the spring of 1984 as I was heading in to my last year of university, may have played a large part in my falling grades and the rapid expansion in my social life. Where music had heretofore been a large part of my life suddenly it became my all-consuming focus thanks to my own personal stereo system.

Walking through campus that fall the Cult's "Dreamtime", Talk Talk's "It's My Life" and Fiction Factory's "Throw the Warped Wheel Out" became ever present companions and all thoughts of that looming cost accounting assignment deadline could be banished. And given the analog nature of cassettes those albums and others were listened to with more care and devotion than I could ever hope to give to my musical downloads or even purchased CDs today.

What a wonderful invention.
Hey Kyle could you introduce me to some of those people.
Anyone else care to wax nostalgic now that Sony has stopped making the walkman?

For myself, even though I was still fairly young when it came out, I remember being blown away by the concept that you could take your music with you, and not have to wait for a radio to play what you wanted to hear. I do blame the invention for pushing me in the direction of purchasing cassettes instead of vinyl, where I now cherish copies of the latter and have pretty much chucked out all my tapes, save for a few mixed ones from the mid to late 90s that we can still play in the car. Certainly got me through a lot of bus rides to school and allowed me to become better acquainted with a type of music that, when played on the home stereo, would provoke instant protest from my parents and sisters; the charms of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me and Licensed to Ill proving somewhat elusive for my immediate family. And allowing myself to become acquainted with cooler music allowed me to meet cooler people with which I could have cooler conversations about music, literature, and life in general.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quick thought on "power trios", or perhaps trios in general. Like all things it's difficult to colour it good or bad, my sense is it was a natural evolution that started well and went in a few different directions - and agreed, one of those directions was absolutely execrable.

It'd be difficult to argue that the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream were not important and good (if not fantastic) bands that moved the art of rock music forward. And let's not forget the Who, as Daltrey was only ever a singer. All of these dudes added a huge amount to the rock library in terms of great songs, but also were iconic in changing the idea-making about what rock could be. And yes they wanked on stage a bit too much, but some of it, a lot of it, was and is absolutely stunning music. Unfortunately a generation of lesser musical minds (perhaps not lesser musicians) took the ball and ran with it, and so you have Triumph, Rush, numerous others. As is probably well known, I really don't like Rush, though I know others will take umbrage.

Musically I think it all comes down to freedom of expression - drawing inspiration from the jazz movement (as usual.... ha!) in the 50's and 60's jazz when bands began playing without piano players. Think of Coltrane's Village Vanguard record - three musicians playing long form improvised pieces. If you listen to it's far closer to a rock record - or what rock would become - then a jazz record. And yet it was done in 1961. Some would argue it's his purest and best record (not me though).

Being the only melodic instrument in a musical setting has big (musical) responsibility and creates big freedom. Great musicians tend to seek that. Doesn't always mean it makes for great music. I can't stand the ego of the early 70's Jeff Beck projects with Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice for example, though it could be said that they were the three (or among the three) greatest rock musicians of their time.

Ok, now I'm wanking. Next subject!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

When I commented on power trios, I was thinking of bands like Rush, Cream, ELP and the Police. All with the elitist posture that seemed to say, "We're such spectacular musicians that we don't need a rhythm player". But at the end of the day, playing long extended leads (which was the mainstay of all of these bands, with the possible exception of the Police, whom I despise primarily because of Sting's uberwhiny voice and grating persona) with only a drummer and bass player providing the groove is needlessly limiting.
Funny you should mention them, Derek. I'm working on my own mashup of 'Follow Your Heart' and 'Jive Talkin''. Should be awesome.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Jam, Nirvana, Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr. Power trios all and nary a naff self-indulgence amongst them.

Now if your talking Triumph...
And while I'm here - put me down for "both" when it comes to the number of people on a stage. I really like large configurations because of the arrangement options they provide. The E Street band would not have been nearly as interesting as a 4 piece. And I thought the arrangements of Leonard Cohen's songs on his Live in London DVD were excellent, as I believe I've said before. His was certainly a crowded stage. On the other hand, I've always thought that the truest test of a songwriter was the ability of the song to be played in a solo configuration, with just one voice and one instrument. Some of my favorite concerts have been solo shows. I think the format I like the least is the power trio. It seems self indulgent - as if to say, "See how much sound we can generate with only 3 of us!".
It's impressive to see what can be done with modern video editing tools. If only they'd used their powers for goodness instead of evil.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I've got no great insights to share on a busy Wednesday morning but of course, love to share all kinds of useful musical treats when I can so I give you this unholy mix as a midweek treat:


Friday, October 15, 2010

while you ponder my mind-bending question, some friday afternoon fun.


No love for a crowded stage? There is something to be said for stripped down efficiency, and the Wye Oak one girl, one guy knocking it out as the opening act for Barlow is another example of a great show performed without a lot of fanfare. Billy Bragg just plugs his guitar into an amp and can be completely compelling and varied for well over two hours.

Some acts require more bodies on stage, though and I'd argue that a B&S show without string instruments isn't as interesting as one with. The BSS show at Harbourfront last year, featuring homecoming performances by Feist, Haynes, and others (which I did not see live but mentioned enjoying in the concert film This Movie is Broken) was probably a superior show to one without, regardless of the visual clutter onstage.

Suppose there's a time and a place for both but I'm wondering if the rest of you prefer a more streamlined or a more fulsome (for lack of a better word) live music experience?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm fucked if I can remember 3 songs the Thermals played on Saturday night never mind the sequence or the obscure cover version they did for their encore. Oh yeah there was no encore. Great show though. Pretty cool to see a revved up kick-ass two-man, one-woman attack. Makes a refreshingly streamlined change from those bands that feel the need to welcome all their old high school mates on tour with them. Yes, I'm looking at you B&S, Arcade Fire & BSS.
i'm stunned, absolutely stunned, that you cannot recall every song played at a concert you attended only 4 years ago. it's not as if i'm asking you to recall the exact song order, though a real fan would have done so without question or complaint. and derek's silence on the matter thus far suggests that he's either unwilling or unable to recreate this list either. shocking. i thought you guys were fans. clearly, you don't care about the band or about music. sad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

yes Kyle I have had a look at your setlist (and I can easily recall every song played at the show I saw w Yvette and Derek 4 years ago ), the only difference is you missed a Lhasa cover tune which made the night..
in terms of the 49 cent fee, i did not get that emusic change, but I am paying 12 bucks for 30 tunes so perhaps they are only going after you hardcore older members, who likely never forget to do the monthly download.
I agree w Kyle that the fee of 50 c is still very reasonable, no question, also i have noticed that they have many more larger acts now as well as many more old classics so it is better value then 10 years ago by far....
I can honestly say 30 tracks is my limit if i want to give each disc 5 or 6 spins, which I am able to do....cant see needing more ever...
tasty nugget from last's night's fab Belle and Sebastian concert at Massey Hall (video not by me, seats were a little farther back, but still good).



setlist here. stuart and derek, any ditties they played for you last time around but not for me?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

i'm cool with .49 per track. i'm also okay with the 99 cents per song pricing of itunes, which is less than the price of a chocolate bar for something i'll hopefully enjoy a little longer, though many songs i download a la carte are precisely those consumable bits of pop candy that aren't really going to last the test of time. would prefer albums at around the $7-8 instead of the $10 price point, though, as not all songs on the album are worth the a la carte pricing.

as for emusic, i guess it's a bit of a wait and see. i was a little alarmed at the initial email and figured that it would ultimately mean halving the number of albums i'd purchase in a year. seeing the bonus that tops me back up to my total downloads was reassuring. you're right in that the 'bonus' will probably eventually expire but i wouldn't be surprised if they kept providing it for another year or so. i've been a member since 2004 and have been able to keep my 90 tracks for $24 plan that hasn't been offered for years. when i saw the email, i kind of figured they'd finally gotten around to transitioning me to a smaller plan. even if/when it does go away, i'm still looking at between $6-8 per album, which seems reasonable.

philosophically, and to a question stuart posed to me several months ago, maybe buying less but spending more time with what i do purchase (qual>quan) isn't such a bad thing. being forced to listen to less may therefore be a good thing.

on a more practical level, if the new system increases the number of labels and artists then i'll be very happy indeed. should be interesting to see.
Did all of you Canadian emusic susbscribers just get the same message I got? The one that informed me that all of their songs will henceforth be priced at 49 cents, and all albums will be priced as the sum of their tracks? It assured me that my monthly fees will not change, and that I will get as much music, if not more, as before.

In my case, my original fee of $11.99 will remain the same, but will be supplemented by a "bonus" of $12.51, which will enable me to continue to download 50 tracks. But it seems inevitable to me that the explicit introduction of the "bonus" foretells the end of my admittedly long stretch of very cheap on-line music purchases. It's only a matter of time before my bonus will expire, and I'll be left with the $.49 per track fee instead of the $.24 that I've enjoyed these last few years. It's understandable that they need to ensure that their business model is profitable, but it's very disappointing nonetheless.

So the question is - is $.49 per track an appropriate price? I certainly felt that $.25 was fair, and I always thought that the iTunes $.99 was exorbitant. On the other hand, I do appreciate the fact that the cost of an album on iTunes is slightly discounted from the sum of the tracks. That seems appropriate to me.



Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Also prefer the 25th as I will definitely not be travelling that day (US Thanksgiving) so let's go ahead and book it. We can play some recent faves as well as best of the year. Perhaps Mike, others can join us at times via Skype.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Hey Stu good thought. The 25th works better for me - V is having her gall bladder out on the 8th, which she's been advised will have a two week recovery time.
Brian, cant say i like the new disc... i am a big fan of both Lanois and neil of course, but Neil has once again ventured off into the ditch far as I can see...This is routine as far as he is concerned..but I do admire him for not playing it safe , especiall;y at his age now...
s
Pretty certain that either of those dates work for me.
CD club time.....
Its been a while , thought I would host the next one at our place on a thursday night in November...Not sure when the book club is....
How are you for the 18th or 25th of novenber, both thursday nights?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hey boys just catching up on the blog after a week's absence. Stu,loved the story about midlake, though I'm shocked and even a little skeptical that they haven't listened to early seventies folk stuff - the implication would be that they invented this sound based only on espers (which I've listened to a bunch of bit never really warmed up to - we'll have to have a convo about them). I love that Courage of Others record to death, just to say. Gloomy great.

Listened to the new Sufjan yesterday, and it's very different. Largely electronic and huge and bombastic in places. Some beautiful quieter pieces as well. Ambitious and brave, but less likely to please people. Makes sense now why he did the other release as an EP, as it is out of keeping with the new album.

Anyone listening to the new Neil Young? Early reviews? Stu? Mike?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Still not a big fan of the new Sufjan ep. Maybe the album will be better. Full stream of it here for those looking for something to listen to on a Friday afternoon.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Deerhunter disc is getting a lot of positive reviews. Deservedly so, imo. Builds on Microcastles but adds a tighter poppier style without sounding too overproduced or polished. Only two listens in, mind, but catchy stuff.
Interesting list but I'd probably only cry at half of these and then only if there were no way for me to turn them off.
Figured one of you would be on here making a case for early Max Webster...at which point, your posting priviledges would have been indefinitely suspended. Also applies if you vote for Mr. Ford.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You had to ask didn't you. So enjoy
Thanks, Stu. I figured if I couldn't be at the show and enjoy a meaningful exchange with a set of talented musicians then I could at least crap on you for having had the chance to do so. I'm wondering, though, when HH became the placeholder for middle age-itude? Trying to think of another a tv show that screams 'middle age' but can't think of one; the first thought that came to mind was 'Matlock', but that's really more closely associated with the blue-haired set (and Grandpa Simpson).

Btw...was trolling through Toronto election thoughts last night on twitter and came across a tweet that used a musical analogy to describe the paucity of choices facing the electorate next month: "It's like being asked to pick your favourite Kim Mitchell song". Shudder. Indeed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This really is nifty, golly its such a good show..
well ummm thanks Kyle........that has to be the most professionally delivered insult I have had in some time....I have to admire the style...well done...I will go back to my uninspired middle aged life watching reruns of Hogans Hero's now...
I believe your story, Stu, but I'm wondering what it says about rock and roll these days. Not the part about the music and the change of style but the lack of grand debauchery and distant hero worship of concerts past. At last month's Lou Barlow show, the former Sebadoh/Folk Implosion frontman was selling t-shirts and cds during the opening act. Now a band like Midlake, who at one time may have dreamed of post-concert coke and groupie romps, instead face half-empty venues and questions about their musical influences from Stuart. Hope I don't become a rock star when I grow up.
Went to see Midlake and Rogue Wave last Friday night at the opera house with some friends ...and no Derek was not with us as some members of the book club suspected...

Midlake was fantastic, thoroughly enjoyed the show...Rogue wave was not very exciting,
kind of mid tempo indie rock without a interesting sound or decent hooks, perhaps they are better on disc..

After the show we went to a bar nearby and met the lead members of Midlake..I realise that most of you will not believe me due to my earlier Don henley prank, but I have witnesses to prove it and lets face it Midlake is not exactly at the superstar level)..

It was great because I find the change of songwriting from the Fleetwood Mac-escque 2nd album, to the fairport convention-esque 3rd album quite abrupt and not exactly a great comercially driven decision because aside from myself and a few other deluded fellow lovers of british folk rock , this is unlikely to light a fire with todays youth. This was evident in the only half full house in attendance.

So I put it as politley as I could to the lead songwriter; as to why the abrupt change is sound between the albums.. I was expecting that he would say someone introduced him to the sounds of fairport cionvention or the solo carrers of denny or thompson, or steeleye span / pentangle etc....hoping to get into a great discussion on the severly neglected merits of this era.

His response was that they toured with Espers last year.... Espers is a band I also logically love and have many discs of because they too are heavily indebted to this era of music,( well worth checking out if you dont know them) but they are a very youing band too...
I got the sense that the Midlake dude has still not really checked out these old masters...
perhaps this is best as the Midlake take is less a clone of this sound due to its subsequent filtering through Espers ...

interesting never the less...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

For those of you who are hoping for Pandora and similiar streaming services to come to Canada, keep holding your breath. Apparently, "Canadians have no appetite for a legal marketplace" when it comes to music. Certainly news to me, considering the hundreds I spend yearly on legal music, concerts, etc.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yeah that's me. I am one of those types that get's excited by new "tools"... but soon after, the novelty wears off. This excitement seems particularly fleeting, after about 4 days I am done.
I'm on the Ping network in Itunes but haven't found it to be all that useful or engaging, at least at this point. The only person I'm 'following' (ironic how much social media nomenclature is creepy, sinister and downright anti-social) is an LA-based dj that was suggested when I first created my profile. Though I buy the odd song or album from Itunes, I don't really look to it as a tool to connect to other people, at least not in its current form. I'm not sure what the maximum of 10 songs that I'm allowed to identify in my profile as examples of what I like actually do for me in terms of trying to make those connections. Of the 100 odd (in both senses of the word) artists that I can follow, I've specified a handful but again, not much has come from it, at least yet. Early days, perhaps or maybe completely useless. Time will tell. Also, are you the Adam from Mississauga, ON that appeared when I did a search in Ping? Should I follow you? Or am I level-jumping our blog relationship?

Btw...for those wondering what the hell we're talking about, you'll need to d/l the latest version of Itunes (version 10).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Afraid I am with you Kyle, to me they are less Superchunk and more MediocreIota. Sorry to pile on Brian.

Any of you tried Ping on Itunes? I have joined although I seem to be lurking on that just as well as I have done on this blog. Clearly I need to expand my personal bubble. Oh goodness, I've said too much. Back to lurking.
It's not you, baby. It's Superchunk. And band's like them. Honest.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Kyle, I've feel like we've been drifting apart these last few months. You come home late, we never find time to talk or even watch our favourite TV shows any more, and when I come downstairs in the morning I find phrases like "What does it mean when a band doesn't grow or evolve?" on crumpled bits of paper.
Can't get excited about it, Bri. Sounds like pretty much all their other records, which I liked but...I dunno. What does it mean when a band doesn't grow or evolve? If Radiohead had kept releasing 'The Bends', would we even be talking about them 15 years later.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hurrah hurray, the new record by The Chunk is here, and it sounds bloody good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm digging the Wild Nothing as well...love the name Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.....I'm guessing they're all about deep house?

Btw....though I've only seen one film so far this film fest (will see five over the next two days), I did see get to see This Movie is Broken on an air canada flight this week. As someone who has been less than thrilled with BSS' last two releases, I'm now more inclined to go back to them after seeing this film. Weaving together footage from their free concert at Harbourfront last summer with a love story that loosely follows three characters before, during, and after the show, it does a wonderful job of expressing the energy of the music and the city. Highly recommend.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Yeah well it's only four for me: Best Coast (gotta be the most well known of the bunch, but a bit overrated imo), Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr (quite like it), Wild Nothing (sounds like a melange of 80's UK bands, very pleasant), and Perfume Genius, which I like, thought it might be even more precious than my man Sufjan.
I got 4 bands of the 40 Kyle so you're one up on me you hipster. I wonder if my 4 are a subset of your 5. Like Brian I know of Best Coast and Perfume Genius and also know and own some Glasser and Tame Impala.

Talk to me about any of these bands 5 years from now and we'll see how well they've chosen.
40 best new bands of 2010, according to music blog stereogum. i own or recognize 5. so much for being with it.
ok this may be the dumbest question ever asked on this blogsite, but sinse you all think I am an idiot anyways, I have nothing to lose.
At our office we just switched to playing our music through itunes so we can access my entire 120gb library, rather then through my 80gb ipod.
However I am a novice at itunes since I tend to use my ipod at home as my interface.
How do you select just 1 album..?

I dont want to hit albums first and then select the album, because usually I search 1st fior the artist and then after that i pick the record...

I also cant highlite the entire album and then select play selection as that option does not come up...

If i go to artist it will play that persons entire catalogue rather then stopping at the end of the single album

I googled and It seems I am not alone in this...

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Even though I love 'Illinoise', I've always been of the opinion that it could use some editing. I've only heard the new EP and the track mentioned once, and with that one listen, would tend to agree that the prettier, far more interesting part of the song begins at about the 13 minute mark. Repeated listens will always tell the full story, though. I wasn't sure what to make of "Kid A" after first listen, for example, and so I'll give Sufjan another half dozen listens before rendering a verdict.

As for the new Interpol and Clientele, I may be past my 'need to buy their new record' with these two bands. "Antics" and "Strange Geometry" were the high water marks for both these bands, respectively, and anything since then has just sounded like material that couldn't quite make those previous albums. Always willing to consider a change of heart if one of you makes a case for either of these discs. Thermals will be d/led shortly, along with Les Savvy Fav, an example of where i'm trying to be open to suggestions of their greatness from others here, so i'll give this new one a whirl.