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...
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.